A trip to Brazil will immerse your senses - this expansive country is stacked with culture. It boasts one the world's most ethnically diverse populations as well as outstanding landscape ranging from untouched Amazonian rainforest to crystalline tropical beaches.
Brazil's geography is characterised by its size - the country covers 3,287,338 square miles and possesses a landmass that is bigger than the US if you discount Alaska. The South American giant has a population to match with around 175,000,000 people living there.
Over two thirds of the population live on the coast while more than half live in the cities and while Brazilia is the capital, it is Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo that are the thriving cities - the latter with a stunning 24 million residents.
Since the arrival of Portuguese explorers 6,000 years ago, Brazil has had a varied history based strongly on immigration. Commercial ports were opened up with the United Kingdom in 1821 before Brazil was established as an empire the following year.
In more recent history Brazil was recognised as a federal republic in 1889 before attracting over five million European and Japanese immigrants throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
While the cities will no doubt be on your 'to do' list when visiting Brazil, the Amazon can offer the more intrepid traveller a host of exhilarating experiences. There are over 80,000 kilometres of navigable rivers and you can enter the Amazon by boat, bus or air - most travellers choose boat as the best method to explore.
Sao Paulo is a multicultural city with a bustling nightlife consisting of thousands of bars, clubs and restaurants. It is also home to the world famous Interlagos Formula One racetrack as well as two major art museums.
For those wishing to continue in the vein of outdoor exploration, Mamiraua Reserve national park offers excellent opportunities to view some jungle wildlife in an ecotourism environment.
Located northwest of Tefe in a floodplain forest halfway between Manaus and the Peruvian border, the park presents visitors with a stunning mix of jungle, rivers and lakes.
It is the world famous metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, presided over by the statue of Christ on Corcovado Mountain, that will attract many travellers to Brazil's shores. A visit to the high-paced city is highly recommended.
If you are lucky enough to be in the city during the carnival, which takes place for the five days starting on the Friday before Ash Wednesday, you will enjoy an unrivalled attack on your senses. Rio's centrepiece is its Sambodromo, a tiered street designed for parades, as 16 of the top samba schools compete frenetically for the crowd's affections.
Rio's other year round attractions include Copacabana Beach - the long sweep of golden sand backed by Sugar Loaf Mountain. Those wishing to enjoy more of Brazil's best beaches can travel west from Rio along the Costa Verde where many remain unspoilt.
An Organised tour to one of the Rio's shantytowns, or Favelas, covered in Fernando Meirelles' 2002 film City of God, presents visitors with an interesting perspective to view the city's ongoing growth.