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February 16, 2010
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- The extravagant samba parades began in Rio on Sunday night as the city celebrated Carnival. Tourism officials said almost 730,000 visitors arrived in Rio this year for the big party -- a 5 percent increase over last year. It's the first Carnival since Rio was named as host to the 2016 Olympics, and officials have been working hard to show that the city, known for the drug-gang violence that pervades its slums, can safely host major events.(22 images)

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A member of Beija Flor samba school performs on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, early Monday, Feb.15. An estimated 700,000 foreign tourists are in town to take part, many of them fleeing snowy winter conditions in Europe and the United States. AP / Martin Mejia


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Dancers of Portela samba school perform on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, early Tuesday, Feb. 16. AP / Martin Mejia



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Members of Grande Rio samba school parade during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, early Tuesday, Feb. 16. AP / Martin Mejia



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Members of Vila Isabel samba school parade during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, early Tuesday, Feb. 16. AP / Martin Mejia



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Members of Mangueira samba school parade on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, early Tuesday, Feb. 16. AP / Felipe Dana



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Dancers of the Porto da Pedra samba school perform during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, early Tuesday, Feb. 16.AP / Martin Mejia



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Thatiana Pagung, queen of the drums' section of Mocidade samba school, dances during the carnival parade at the Sambadrome, in Rio de Janeiro, Monday, Feb. 15. AP / Silvia Izquierdo



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A member of the samba school Grande Rio performs during the second night of Rio's famed Carnival, at the Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Feb. 16. AFP / Getty Images / Juan Barreto



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Members of Mangueira samba school perform during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, early Tuesday, Feb. 16. AP / Silvia Izquierdo



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Members of Mangueira samba school parade during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, early Tuesday, Feb. 16. AP / Martin Mejia



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Revellerx of the samba school Portela perform during the second night of Rio's famed Carnival, at the Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Feb. 16. AFP / Getty Images / Vanderlei Almeida



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Revellers of the samba school Portela perform during the second night of Rio's famed Carnival, at the Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Feb. 16. AFP / Getty Images / Vanderlei Almeida



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A reveller of the samba school Portela performs during the second night of Rio's famed Carnival, at the Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Feb. 16. AFP / Getty Images / Vanderlei Almeida



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A reveller of the Beija Flor samba school performs at the Sambodrome during the first night of Rio de Janeiro's famed carnival parades on Feb. 15. AFP / Getty Images / Vanderlei Almeida



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Members of the samba school Porto da Pedra perform atop a float during the second night of Rio's famed Carnival, at the Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Feb. 15. AFP / Getty Images / Vanderlei Almeida



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Members of the Uniao da Ilha do Governador samba school perform atop a float at the Sambodrome, during the first night of Rio de Janeiro's famed carnival parades, in Brazil on Feb. 14. AFP / Getty Images / Vanderlei Almeida



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Members of Unidos da Tijuca samba school perform during carnival celebrations at the Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro, early Monday, Feb. 15. AP / Felipe Dana



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Revellers of the Estacao Primeira de Mangueira samba school perform at the Sambodrome during the second night of Rio de Janeiro's famed Carnival parades on Feb. 16. AFP / Getty Images / Vanderlei Almeida



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Members of Portela samba school perform during a carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, early Tuesday, Feb. 16. (AP Photo/ Martin Mejia) AP / Martin Mejia



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A reveller of the Beija Flor samba school performs at the Sambodrome during the first night of Rio de Janeiro's famed carnival parades on Feb. 15. AFP / Getty Images / Vanderlei Almeida



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A reveller of the Villa Isabel samba school performs at the Sambodrome during the second night of Rio de Janeiro's famed Carnival on Feb. 16. A child samba queen who broke down in tears as she fitfully paraded in the harsh glare of the media, and two killings during festivities, marred the climax of Rio's famed Carnival on Feb. 15. AFP / Getty Images / Juan Barreto



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A reveler performs during the traditional carnival of Barranquilla, Colombia, Sunday, Feb. 14. AP / Christian Escobar Mora



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