Stunningly beautiful beaches, a very lively carnival and the largest architectonic complex of Portuguese origin in Brazil, São Luís in Maranhão is all that and a little more. Although founded by the French, the capital of Maranhão shows little evidence of that except for the names of a few streets and monuments – such as the beautiful La Ravardière Palace -, and a refined touch in its cuisine. The main features of the city have been inherited from the Portuguese: the incredible row of tiled houses and the countless surnames of Portuguese origin, among other influences. In 1997, São Luís was granted the title of Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in recognition for the preservation of its magnificent and homogenous Latin American colonial architectonic complex from the 18th and 19th Centuries. There are more than 3500 buildings of incomparable historic and artistic value that portray the way of life of the city’s old well-to-do families. São Luís is bathed by the warm waters of São Marcos Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, and permanently heated by the sun.
Here's your soundtrack. Okay, maybe they're not exactly brazillian but their music is awesome and their live shows legendary.Now, Brazil covers almost half of South America and its Amazon rainforest is the world's largest jungle... which is rapidly getting cut down. The country is basically one giant botanical garden with some bangin' cities on its edges.Brazil was colonized in 1808 by the royal court of Portugal, which was fleeing Napolean's troops. They didn't stay long, and Brazil won its independence in 1822.Its biggest city, Sao Paulo, is the financial hub of South America. Brazil is the "b" in BRIC -- Brazil, Russia, India and China. These four were labeled the world's fastest developing large economies in the year 2001.Brazil is known for three things: amazingly beautiful women, carnival, and Pele -- King of Football, Athlete of the Century, football ambassador of the world and a declared national treasure.Brazillians can tell foreigners a mile away, by the way their hips move. Samba is built into the soul of brazil and carnival is when it bursts out into twenty-four hour undying explosions of sound on every street.This picture of mask diving at the Taipus reefs makes me shed hot and salty tears all over my calendar, which is set on "January" right now.Text by Steve Smith.