Brazil is experiencing an economic crisis at the moment, there is a lack of employment and the people are really feeling the effects. I found it interesting that more than a few people I met were actually driving for Uber full-time because they were unable to find work in their respective fields.
There are currently lots of protests going on, largely because the people don't like what the government is doing and are fed up with corruption. I actually had to reschedule a flight due to the threat of a nationwide strike.
Onto the amazing beaches: Rio de Janerio of course has many of those! I stayed with my Brazilian family down there (my friend's family who have basically become my own) and had an amazing time as usual! I also visited Recife, Natal and Fortaleza, all of which are along the Northeast Coast and have their own respective incredible beaches!
Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia has a particular charm and is the epicenter of Afro-Brazilian culture. It houses Pelhourinho (the old town), and that place is amazing (though it can be a bit dodgy at night so I wouldn't recommend choosing an accommodation in that area).