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Pulsing to a samba beat and thriving in the hedonism of Carnival, there is literally no place on Earth like Rio, as the city natives — the Cariocas — will tell you. Founded in the early 16th century, Rio was once the capital of Brazil. It remains the nation's cultural and spiritual center, a dazzling amalgam of Latin and African cultures, with more than six-million city inhabitants.

Sugarloaf Mountain
This dramatic peak is one of Rio's two internationally recognized landmarks, offering stunning views of the city and its dazzling white-sand beaches.

Christ the Redeemer 
Rio's other symbol is the 125-foot tall statue of Christ on Corcovado Mountain who embraces the city below with his open arms.

The Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon are Rio's famous beachfront districts that have long been celebrated in song -- and have lured movie stars and jetsetters since the 1930s.