The Brazilian Southeast

Southeastern Brazil encompasses the wealthy and historic state of Minas Gerais and its capital city of Belo Horizonte. Built on a gold boom in the seventeenth century, Portuguese settlers, Brazilians from other regions, and African slaves flooded the region, which at one point at the end of the eighteenth century was digging up half of the world's gold. The wild, and often violent gold rush left its legacy in historical architecture dotting the many hills of Minas Gerais.

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Belo Horizonte
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Downtown Belo HorizonteBelo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais and Brazil's third largest city, has its roots in the art-nouveau movement, characterized by Ordem e Progresso (Order and Progress), the motto on the new Brazilian flag. The then mayor (and later President) Juscelino Kubitschek hired architect Oscar Niemeyer to design the city, resulting in wide avenues, gorgeous urban parks, and expansive skylines. The cosmopolitan neighborhoods of Savassi and Lourdes are sure to delight, while you should be sure to head to the Mercado Central for some of the finest local produce around. Today Belo Horizonte boasts one of the finest arts scenes in Brazil, and its denizens are noted for their friendliness and openness.

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Around Minas Gerais
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Church in Ouro PretoMinas Gerias state is one of Brazil's largest, both geographically and population wise, with over 20 million inhabitants and an area of over half a million square kilometers. While Minas feels the cultural pulls of its larger and more prominent neighbors of Rio and Sao Paulo, it has developed a culture all its own, characterized by beautiful historical architecture, great food, and remarkable ecological biodiversity. Towns such as Ouro Preto, Mariana, and Diamantina have long delighted tourists, and the Serra do Espinhaco, a jagged rock formation that traverses the length of the state, was recently named a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. You are sure to enjoy eating food cooked fogao a lenha, the traditional Minas style in a wood-burning stove.

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