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The only country in South America that traces its culture and language back to Portugal, Brazil is the continent’s largest nation and covers nearly half of South America with borders on every nation of South America except Chile and Ecuador. The Atlantic Ocean is on the east coast of Brazil and provides some famous beaches. Brazil is geographically divided into highlands and plateaus in the south and the Amazon River Basin in the north. The Amazon and its hundreds of tributaries drain more than a third of Brazil. The other major river is the Sao Francisco, located entirely within Brazil and navigable for 1,000 miles. Brazil has a long coastline with nearly two-thirds of the country’s population living near the coast.
Rio is a melting pot of cultures, and the Cariocas (as the citizens of Rio are called) are full of passion and vigor, a characteristic on full display during Rio’s famous annual Carnival. Many of the people who originally settled Rio de Janeiro came from Europe, but a sizable portion were Brazilians of African descent who brought with them the musical traditions of Africa and the Brazilian northeast. Rio remained the capital of Brazil until 1960, when the Federal government was transferred to Brasilia. Rio is now a city of over 7 million. It is the country's media capital, finance center, and Brazil's most famous tourist destination.