Located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, Easter Island is a Special Territory of the South American country Chile, following its annexation in 1888. Of its approximately 5,800 residents up to sixty percent are descendants of the aboriginal Rapa Nui who were occupying the island at the time it was annexed. It was the Rapa Nui who erected the 887 distinctive moai that Easter Island is renowned for, and which prompted UNESCO to name the Rapa Nui National Park, which incorporates most of the island, a World Heritage Site.
Located primarily in the Mato Grosso do Sul state of Brazil, with parts extending into Bolivia and Paraguay, the Pantanal Conservation area is one of the largest tropical wetland areas in the world, and has up to twelve distinct ecosystems supporting an astounding variety of flora and fauna. This vast region of wetlands is bordered by the Gran Chaco dry forests to the southwest, and the Chiquitano dry forests to the west and northwest.
As the largest wine producer in South America, and the fifth largest in the world, Argentina offers tourists the opportunity of visiting some of its estimated 2,000 wineries along its 2,000 kilometer Wine Route (Ruta del Vino). The wine route winds its way through several provinces, with varying terrain and altitudes, including some of the most spectacular scenery one could hope to see in this exotic South American country.
Soccer fans by the thousands will be heading for Brazil in June and July of 2014 as the country hosts the FIFA World Cup, many of whom will no doubt take some time to explore the attractions of this vibrant destination in South America. Known for its colorful street parties, and particularly the annual Carnival, Rio de Janeiro is one of the host cities for the World Cup, with the others being Brasília, São Paulo, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Salvador, Recife, Cuiabá, Manaus, Natal and Curitiba.
With its history going back to 1580, and the founding of Buenos Aires, the district of Montserrat boasts some of the most significant public buildings in the capital city of Argentina. These include the City Hall and City Legislature, as well as the Ministry of Defense and the spectacular Casa Rosada (Pink House) – the executive mansion and office of Argentina's President, currently Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was sworn in to a second term on December 10, 2011. Interestingly, Cristina Kirchner, also known as CFK, is Argentina's first elected female president and is the widow of former President Néstor Kirchner.
Ranked by number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Mexico is first in the Americas and sixth in the world with an ancient history and fascinating culture. Chips of stone tools found in the Valley of Mexico, radiocarbon-dated to 23,000 years ago, are believed to be the most ancient evidence of human habitation in Mexico, which is widely considered to have been the site of domesticated agriculture, turning the region's paleo-Indian hunter-gatherers into agricultural villages as far back as 7000 BCE.
Straddling the border of the Brazilian State of Paraná, and the province of Misiones in Argentina, the Iguaçu Falls are a spectacular sight from either side of the border. Originating near the city of Curitiba, the Iguaçu River flows through Brazil, merging with the San Antonio River and forming the boundary between the two countries. Legend has it that this great rift in the earth came about when an enraged god struck the river upon discovering his bride-to-be had fled in a canoe with her mortal lover. Geologists tell it differently as a crack in the earth resulting from a volcanic eruption. Either way, the result is breathtaking and a major tourist attraction for both Argentina and Brazil.
Known locally as Pelourinho, or simply Pelô, the historic zone of Brazil's city of Salvador has been declared as a cultural and historic treasure by UNESCO, and offers visitors unique insight into the history, traditions and cultural customs of this vibrant city. An open-air market, art galleries, restaurants, theaters, churches, museums, monuments and more, are found in the vicinity of the main square, and cultural activities and events, including musical performances, concerts, dances and theater performances, take place throughout the year, attracting both locals and visitors to Pelourinho.