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If you’re already yawning at the thought of 2014′s FIFA World Cup invading every TV channel and personal conversation then this post is for you.

We’re going to ignore that event, and focus instead on the fascinating and vibrant host country, Brazil.

The largest country in South America, and the fifth largest in the world, Brazil is commonly regarded as the ‘Country of Football’. 12 major cities run from the Amazon basin located in the north of the country to the River Guiaba in the South: Manaus, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife, Salvador, Cuiaba, Brazilia, Rio De Janeiro, Curitiba, Sao Paulo, and Porto Alegre.

Football aside, here are six of our favorite things about Brazil to get you in a carnival spirit:

mojito cocktail

Caipirinha

The national cocktail is a nod to Brazil’s position as the world’s biggest sugar producer. Made with the cachaça, a distilled spirit made from sugar cane juice, it might be refreshing but be careful because Caipirinha packs a real punch!

The best way to drink it? Our favorite recipe is here.

danseuse brésilienne, bleu, blanc et rouge

Rio Carnival

Literally no one does Carnival like the Brazilians. During the annual event more than two million people descend upon the streets of Rio to watch the magnificently colorful and dazzling processions of Samba dancers. If they find you nearby then you will dance!

Amazonas

Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon rainforest covers over 60% of Brazil and 40% of South America and commonly referred to as the  ‘Earth’s lungs’. This tremendous rainforest of wild diversity and wonder is home to over 56,000 species of plants, 1,500 species of birds, and 14,000 species of animals.

The Amazon’s sheer magnitude is only matched by the terrifying rate at which it is being destroyed by deforestation.

Ipanema beach. Rio de Janeiro

Beaches

So famous are Brazil’s beaches that they have even been immortalized in song; who can forget Barry Manilow’s classic ‘Copacabana’ or Duran Duran’s ‘Rio’ (we’re sure that if you can, you’d prefer not to!).

Rio’s Copacabana is arguably the most famous beach in the world, and, it’s easy to see why: the expanse of white beaches offers some fascinating people watching.

make up mixThe Cult of Beauty

Brazil is famous for its more than fair share of beautiful people. The most successful and highest paid supermodel, in the world Giselle originates from Hirozontina, a southern region of Brazil. She paved the way for a wave of supermodels in the industry, many of who have become famous Victoria Secret Angels.

Brazil has a wonderful approach to beauty in that it’s non-elitist, inclusive and truly unique.

capoeira

Samba and Capoeira

Samba is one of the easiest to learn and best-loved dances in the world. It originated in Brazil, and every region has its own variation.

Meanwhile, capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that takes elements of dance, acrobatics, and music, mixing all three together to make a truly unique and captivating sight.

So, the next time someone tries to steer the conversation onto the World Cup (and it will happen!) you can use your new-found knowledge of Brazil to deflect their question, turn the subject around, and start a far more interesting conversation about one of the world’s most dynamic and flamboyant nations!

For more visions of beautiful Brazil, take a look at our Brazil Gallery.