The Brazilian Highlands or Brazilian Plateau (Portuguese: Planalto Brasileiro) are an extensive geographical region, covering most of the eastern, southern and central portions of Brazil, in all approximately half of the country's land area, or some 4,500,000 km² (1,930,511 sq mi). In addition, the vast majority of Brazil's population (190.755.799 2010 census) lives in the highlands or on the narrow cal region immediately adjacent to it.
Ancient basaltic lava flows gave birth to much of the region. However, the time of dramatic geophysical activity is long past, as there is now no seismic or volcanic activity. Erosion has also played a large part in shaping the Highlands, forming extensive sedimentary deposits and wearing down the mountains.
The Brazilian Highlands are notable for the great diversity to be found there: within the region there are several different biomes, vastly different climatic conditions, many types of soil, and thousands of animal and plant species.
Due to their size and diversity, the Brazilian Highlands are usually divided into three main areas:
In addition to the plateau regions, several adjoining or enclosed mountain ranges are considered to be part of the Brazilian Highlands. Some of the most important are (from north to south):
The highest point of the Brazilian Highlands is the Pico da Bandeira in the Serra do Caparaó, which stands at 2,891 meters (9,485 ft).
Caracol Falls, or Cascata do Caracol, is a 426-foot (130 meter) waterfall about 4.35 miles (7.00 km) from Canela, Brazil in Caracol State Park (Parque do Caracol). It is formed by the Caracol River and cuts out of basalt cliffs in the Serra Geral mountain range, falling into the Vale da Lageana. The falls are situated between the pinheiral (pine forest) zone of the Brazilian Highlands and the southern coastal Atlantic Forest. The base of the waterfall can be reached by a steep 927-step trail maintained by the Projeto Lobo-Guará.
Caracol Falls has long attracted visitors and is the second most popular natural tourist attraction in Brazil, trailing only Iguazu Falls. In 2009, it received more than 289,000 visitors. There is a nearby 100-foot observation tower that offers an elevator and a panoramic view, as well as a cable car that gives tourists an aerial view of the waterfall. The area also provides a restaurant and craft stalls.