The central-western region of Brazil, comprised of the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso, and Mato Grosso do Sul, is dominated by the Pantanal region. It is also home to Brasilia, the modernist capital of the country.
The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland. Essentially a flood plain, it fills with fresh water every year during the rainy season, which lasts from November to April. In fact, early Portuguese explorers, arriving during the wet season, mistook it for a large inland lake.
The Pantanal is a vast area, larger than Greece, and very sparsely populated. Most of the human inhabitants of the Pantanal are remote native tribes or cattle ranchers, but the regions’ popularity as a tourist destination has surged in recent years.
It is home to more than 260 species of fish and more than 650 species of birds. It is possible to see jaguars, pumas, caimans, macaws, anacondas, monkeys and giant river otters, just to name a few.
Brasilia, the capital, is inside the Brazilian Federal District, a rectangular area cut out of the inside of the state of Goiás. A planned city, it was built between 1956 and 1960 for the express purpose of serving as the national capital. Today it is home to almost two million people – four times what was originally thought. It is known for its fascinating avant-garde architecture, for which it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Also in the central-western region is the Araguaia River, famous for a number of waterfalls and dams, but also known as one of the premier fishing rivers in the world.