Everything in Brazil seems larger than life. It has the world's wildest party, greatest waterfall, biggest wetlands, mightiest river and largest rain forest, as well as one of the most unique and diverse cultures on the planet. For travelers, Brazil's sheer size and variety can be overwhelming.

Brazil's problems—poverty, crime, environmental recklessness—can seem larger than life, too. Although it is one of the industrial powerhouses of South America, Brazil has trouble feeding all its people. Deforestation of the Amazon basin proceeds at an ominous rate. But in fits and starts, the country is taking on some of its seemingly insoluble problems. Most noticeably, improvement is being made in the dangerous crime situation in Rio de Janeiro: A special branch of "tourist police" now keeps tourist sites—particularly the beaches of Zona Sul—relatively safe.

We recommend that you try to venture beyond the thousands of miles/kilometers of beach to explore Brazil's other remarkable attractions: the traditional Afro-Brazilian culture of Salvador, the colonial towns of Ouro Preto, Tiradentes, Sao Luis, Paraty and Olinda or the wetlands of the Pantanal, one of the best places to see wildlife in South America. Rio might draw you to Brazil the first time, but the country's unexplored corners and breadth of attractions will make you want to go back.

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