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0057 World Heritage Review 57: World Heritage in Brazil
Initially protected by the broadest expanses of virtually impenetrable tropical rainforest on Earth, Brazil still takes prides in a stunning variety of species found nowhere else. With giant snakes such as the anaconda, minuscule hummingbirds, iridescent blue butterflies, voracious piranhas, the fauna of Brazil seems to haunt the imagination of humanity quite as much as it does the vast and climatically varied territories on which it survives to this day.
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When the colonizers first reached these shores, the new world unfolding before them appeared boundless. They came in search of rare woods, minerals and precious stones, and they set to work with a will. The ravaged landscapes of the Northeast, the lateritized hills of Minas Gerais and other regions, are testimony to the energy they deployed.
So too, are the seven splendid cities, built between the 16th and 20th centuries – Ouro Preto, Olinda, Salvador, São Luís, Diamantina, Goiás and the country’s new capital, Brasilia, constructed at the very heart of the territory in three short years, as a unique summa of the modernist style – that were listed as World Heritage between 1982 and 2001. Seven natural sites attest to the fact that Brazil has become keenly aware of the frailty of the natural assets that had been ravaged at a time when nature itself seemed inexhaustible and utterly immortal.