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National Geographic publishes in 15 languages around the world. Who better to point you to the best places to see in their countries than the editors of our international editions? Each month a real insider reveals five must-see destinations.

May 2000 was a big month for California-born Matthew Shirts. That’s when the editor and his staff of seven rolled out the first issue of National Geographic Brasil. Based in São Paulo, the publication has attracted some 75,000 subscribers in its first few months, and the numbers keep growing.

So why is a North American editor running a South American magazine? “I guess someone thought I might be the man for the job,” says Shirts, who first went to Brazil in high school as an exchange student.

Despite being fluent in Portuguese, the language is one of the biggest challenges he faces in translating the magazine each month. “Our text goes through five editors before we put in on the page,” Shirts adds. “Although the text remains faithful to the original meanings, we try to make sure it reads very well in Portuguese and doesn’t show any trace of English.”




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Coming in 2001:
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We gave the editor our own challenge by asking him to describe the five best places to see when visiting Brazil, personal favorites he’d share with a friend. After kicking the question around his office a bit, this is what he came up with:

1. Rio de Janeiro
“There’s nothing quite like it. If you ever have the chance to see Carnival in Rio, you’ll certainly never forget it. It’s a beautiful city set among incredible hills right on the ocean. This is where bossa nova music began, and where some of the most attractive women in the world live.”

2. Salvador, Bahia
“This coastal city is the best place to see Brazil’s colonial heritage. Its population is overwhelmingly black, many of whom are descended from slaves. The Catholic Church has deep roots here, and it’s one of the real centers of Brazilian music.”

3. The Amazon
“From the city of Manaus you can move right up the Amazon River to the Rio Negro and explore some of the most spectacular natural beauty in the country.”

4. The Pantanal
“This enormous region is flooded part of the year and dry part of the year. UNESCO just declared it a World Heritage site, and with good reason. It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth with perhaps some of the greatest biodiversity. The cities of Corumbá and Miranda in the state of Mato Grosso put you right in the heart of it.”

5. The Beaches
“If you really want to see the most beautiful tropical beaches, go to the state of Ceará. You won’t regret it. These sand dune beaches are absolutely unspoiled and pretty much undiscovered by foreigners.”

Photographs by George F. Mobley, James L. Stanfield and Jodi Cobb

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