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Rio Begins Carnival Celebration

Some 600,000 revelers are expected to pack Rio de Janeiro over the next few days, as the Brazilian city celebrates the annual Carnival before Lent - the Christian season of repentance.

Rio celebrates Carnival with parades featuring the sensual Brazilian dance known as the samba. The celebration culminates Sunday and Monday with a giant samba competition in the city's 60,000-seat Sambadrome stadium.

Outside the Sambadrome, Brazilians and tourists extend the party into the streets, wearing outlandish costumes and masks and eating and drinking to excess.

Similar celebrations take place in New Orleans in the United States, and in many parts of Europe, as people of the Christian faith squeeze in a last few days of indulgence before beginning six weeks of fasting and prayer.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.