Surrounded by exotic mountains, white sanded beaches and verdant rain forests, Rio de Janeiro is capital city of the state of the same name.
It's the second largest city in Brazil and the third largest metropolitan agglomeration in Latin America. With the nickname of Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City) it's considered Brazil's cultural capital for its combination of historic and modern architecture, 50 museums, music, literature and Carnival.
Come here for the vibrantly seductive sounds of samba, beautiful women, the world-famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the great surfing breaks off Prainha, exciting rainforest hikes in Tijuca and the dance halls, bars and open-air cafes.
Famous for it's statue of Christ the Redeemer, the first Europeans (Portuguese) landed here in 1502 and it will be the first South American city to host the Olympic Games in 2016.
The Carnival is held during a 6 day annual national holiday (although most Brazilians Parades celebrating all aspects of the country's culture through performance and dance take place in the Sambadrome between around 8.00pm and 4.00am.
Where is it?
On Brazil's Atlantic coast, close to the Tropic of Capricorn, facing largely south on an east-west shoreline. Founded on and based around Guanabara Bay, its centre and the greater portion of the city lies on the plains of the bay's western shore. The north is bounded by rocky mountains and the south zone, once cut off from the centre by coastal mountains is now easily accessible by new roads and tunnels.
What is it?
A huge metropolitan sprawl and ex-capital city of Brazil.
Best time to visit?
The carnival is in early to mid February, but Rio's great to visit any time of the year. Expect periods of heavy rain between December and March.
Take a sunset a cable car trip to or from to the 1,300 foot (396 m) peak of Sugar Loaf Mountain via the 720-foot (220-m) high Morro da Urca. Each leg takes about three minutes to complete and provides breathtaking views of Rio de Janeiro.