As a country, Brazil retains a certain sense of mystery, perhaps due to the huge distances its territory covers and the variety of cultures and landscapes it contains. From the deepest Amazonian rainforest to megacities home to tens of millions of people, this South American nation has it all. The descendants of Portuguese colonizers and African slaves were joined by German farmers and Japanese workers who arrived in the early 20th century, and ensuing waves of immigration left the country with a rich cultural tradition. The traces of these distinct cultures still exist all over the country, combining to make Brazil the fascinating destination it is today. Modern-day Brazil has suffered significant political unrest, with the fallout from a huge corruption scandal leading to calls for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff this year. Large demonstrations are not uncommon, and visitors should be aware of potential disruption. While the political power resides in the capital city Brasília, the business community largely centers in São Paulo. Business travelers will likely have meetings in this megacity, and its sprawling streets can seem unwelcoming at first. If you give the city a chance, however, it will reward you with outstanding food, art and culture to rival the best in the world while retaining a distinct Brazilian charm. With an estimated 20 million inhabitants, São Paolo is home to the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan and the biggest community of Italians outside of Italy — to say nothing of the sizeable Arab community and an estimated 1 million people of German descent. The best of these diverse cultures can be found on each street corner, and the city is renowned for its acceptance of the LGBT community.
Brazil’s second-largest city likely conjures images of sun, fun and the legendary Carnival. Known in the country as the “Marvelous City,” beyond the initial glitz and glamour lies a welcoming city of history, landscape, architecture and culture — as well as 23 beaches beckoning visitors to sit back, relax and enjoy. Rio de Janeiro is gearing up to perform on the world’s stage as the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics.