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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 08:29 GMT
In pictures: Carnival in Brazil

A female dancer in an elaborate gold costume

Brazil's famous carnival has seen four days of celebrations across the country.

A female dancer

The spectacle draws hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists each year.

A reveller of the Mangueira samba school in Rio

Few countries can match the sheer exuberance of Rio.

A carnival dancer applies make-up

The elaborate costumes and make-up are devised far in advance.

A sculpture of a man made from leaves on a float in Rio de Janeiro

Eye-catching floats are also a key part of the carnival tradition.

Two men wearing headdresses made of tropical fruits

Street carnivals take place all over the city, like this one in the Ipanema district earlier in the week.

Homeless man in the Sambadrome

Reminders of Brazil's poverty occasionally surface during the celebrations.

A float with dancers on it at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro

The Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro hosts the country's grandest celebrations and parades.

A costumed male dancer performs in Rio de Janeiro

Dancers from rival samba schools parade competitively...

A carnival dancer

But for the winners and losers, the end of this year's party is just the beginning of the hard work preparing for next year.

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