Brazil and Panama have made the top 10 countries to visitin 2011 from Lonely Planet’s new book Best in Travel 2011. Lonely Planet has drawn on the knowledge, passion and kilometres travelled by its staff, authors and online community to present the Top 10 Countries to visit in 2011.
Famous for samba, football and cinematic scenery, Brazil has always been known for celebration (Carnaval being the most obvious manifestation of this national joie de vivre). Yet, Brazil rings in 2011 with even more cause for jubilation. Winning the bids to host both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is undertaking a flurry of new projects, with billions of dollars earmarked for infrastructure (there’s even discussion of building a high-speed rail line between Rio and São Paulo). Despite the strong Brazilian real, travellers should benefit from the addition of thousands of new hotel rooms, while increased competition from low-cost airline carriers (including Azul, established by the Brazilian-born founder of JetBlue) should make travel across this vast country more affordable.
The belly button of the Americas, Panama has rhythms that hip-hop between modern and primitive, such as the line of skyscrapers and container ships set against clear seas and dense, dark rainforest not so far away. For many, the culture of commerce has defined this tiny tropical nation, best known as the world’s most famous shortcut. Yet its treasures – from millennial indigenous cultures to a biodiversity that astounds – run far deeper. Panama was always there, but who knew? On the world map and in the ether of sentiment, Panama occupies a continental crossroads where the 21st century meets the dawn of the ages.