Brazil is the largest country in South America and fifth largest in the world. Brazil is an incredibly diverse country, in people, culture, and landscapes—from the famous summer carnaval in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, to the wild power of nature in the Amazon and Iguaçu Falls. You'll find bustling cities, laid-back beaches, and traditional lifestyles, often right next to each other.
Brazilian culture, which varies substantially across the country, comes from an international mix of European colonizers, African and Asian communities (notably in Salvador and São Paulo, respectively), and indigenous influence throughout the country.
Before Columbus arrived in the Americas, the area now known as Brazil was home to people mainly of the Tupi and Guarani ethnic groups. Colonization by the Portuguese began late in the 16th century and became the center of the Portuguese Empire by 1808, when the King fled from Napoleon's invasion of Portugal and established himself and his government in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Following three centuries under the rule of Portugal, Brazil became an independent nation on September 7, 1822.