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Dear sports fans, we’re cheering right along with you! Fortunately the long wait is finally coming to an end, because the Olympic Games will be opening soon in Rio de Janeiro. And that’s reason enough to take a closer look at the host nation of Brazil.

1. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world

It’s hard to believe, but Brazil takes up nearly half of the entire continent of South America. The country measures an unbelievable 8.5 million square kilometers and thus earns the title of the world’s fifth larges country. That means there’s plenty to see for travelers, but also that travel times from A to B can be quite long.

Foto: flickr, eflon

Photo: flickr, eflon

2. Brazil’s flag depicts a starry sky

Anyone who has seen the Brazilian flag up close will have noticed the 27 stars depicted there: they represent the 26 states and the federal district.

Foto: flickr, Bill Smith

Photo: flickr, Bill Smith

3. Rio is not the capital of Brazil

The mega-metropolis of Rio de Janeiro may be Brazil’s number 1 travel destination, but it’s no loger the country’s capital. It was replaced in 1960 by the planned city of Brasília, which was created almost out of nothing. One interesting side detail: Brasília looks like an airplane when seen from the air.

Foto: iStock/jcamilobernal

Photo: iStock/jcamilobernal

4. The famous statue of Christ is one of the new 7 Wonders of the World

It’s not the largest, but it’s certainly the most famous statue of Christ in the world: Cristo Redentor, Christ the Redeemer. A funicular takes visitors up Mount Corcovado, where the statue perches with outstretched arms high above the rooftops of the city. The city was chosen as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World almost 10 years ago.

Foto: flickr, Timmy Anselmo

Photo: flickr, Timmy Anselmo

5. Brazil is the world’s top producer of coffee

No country grows more coffee than Brazil. Thus it’s no wonder that Brazil is known as the land of coffee – and not only for export, but also for local enjoyment. Some plantations, better known as coffee fazendas, are open for visits – coffee tasting included!

Foto: iStock/dolphinphoto

Photo: iStock/dolphinphoto

6. Brazil is home to the world’s most dangerous island

Looks can be deceiving! The island of Queimada Grande is anything but paradise, because it is home to thousands of highly venomous snakes. The lighthouse on the island has operated automatically for years, after several lighthouse keepers lost their lives. That’s why: stepping foot on the island is strictly prohibited!

Foto: iStock/Joanne-Weston

Photo: iStock/Joanne-Weston

7. The Amazon is the largest river in the world

It may not be the longest river in the world, but it’s still considered superlative among the world’s many bodies of water: the Amazon. Around one fifth of the world’s total fresh water flows here. Although its source is in Peru, the majority of the Amazon basin belongs to Brazil.

Foto: flickr, Andre Deak

Photo: flickr, Andre Deak

8. Brazil is home to 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

There’s no shortage of cultural and natural monuments in Brazil: the country has 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This includes Iguazú National Park, with its gigantic and famous waterfalls.

Foto: flickr, SF Brit

Photo: flickr, SF Brit

9. The national dish of Brazil is feijoada

The preparation of this traditional stew varies from one part of the country to the next. But one thing all versions have in common: they’re incredibly hearty. Most consist of beans and meat, served with rice, cabbage, orange slices and a hot pepper sauce.

Foto: iStock/Dio5050

Photo: iStock/Dio5050

10. The 2016 Olympic Games are the first ever held in South America

Soon we’ll be celebrating a premiere: this is the first time a country on the South American continent has been host to the Olympic Games. And with that: let the games begin!

Foto: iStock/Gabriele Maltinti

Photo: iStock/Gabriele Maltinti

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