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Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro conjures images of spicy samba and the colorful celebration of Carnaval, Brazil’s most famous holiday, which is celebrated annually as a series of massive parades in the days before Lent.  In addition to its status as Brazil’s second-largest city, Rio also enjoys the prestige of being one of the most popular and frequently visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting tourists with nearly 50 miles of beaches and world-class resort hotels, a thriving cultural tradition of music and dance, and sites such as the towering Christ the Redeemer statue that has become synonymous with the image of Brazil itself. 

Although most travelers may only know Rio in terms of the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the city also wears the hues of a rich history and diverse influences from Portugal, England and France.  The Portuguese founded Rio de Janeiro in 1565, and in 1763 it became the capital of the State of Brazil – after the War of Brazilian Independence, Rio was made capital of the Empire of Brazil until 1889, and then the capital of republican Brazil until 1960.  While no longer the country’s capital, Rio was once the seat of Queen Maria I of Portugal’s court and the home of the Portuguese royal family after they fled Napoleon’s invasion of their homeland. Today, Rio de Janeiro is a hotspot for vacationers and cultural enthusiasts alike, home of the Biblioteca Nacional (the largest library in all of Latin America) and the Theatro Muncipal (one of the largest stages in Latin America) for those visitors looking to absorb more than a suntan.