Let’s do some quick word association. What pops into your head when I say "Brazil"? Carnival, bikinis, and beaches? You sporty types probably thought of the World Cup and Olympics. For those with a bent toward financial markets, maybe it is iron ore, soybeans (or soyabeans if you’re in Jolly ol’ England), and sugar cane, a few of Brazil’s major exports.

An unofficial poll of three Fools (including myself) shows that nearly everyone has heard that the 21st century belongs to China and its more than 1.3 billion people. However, in order to build, fuel, and feed this Chinese century, China will be relying heavily on outside help.

Companies like fertilizer giant PotashCorp (NYSE:POT), global miner BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP), and oil major Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) have seen market support thanks to this trend, as well.

It’s all here
This is why investors like Brazil. The South American giant is blessed with amazing rainforests, beaches, and samba dancers. It has also been blessed with massive amounts of mineral resources, fertile farmland, and, we are finding out, oil. These are perfect complements to the demands China will have as it emerges as an economic powerhouse.

Jim Rogers has been flogging Brazilian farmland as one of the best investments for the next few decades, and Warren Buffett made $100 million betting on the strengthening of Brazil’s currency, the real.

Wait, there’s more
However, this Sino-centric view of Brazil is missing a key attraction, in my opinion. During the recent global slowdown, Brazil fared relatively well, emerging from a technical recession (two consecutive quarters of falling GDP) in the second quarter of 2009.

A major key to this economic revival was the strength of Brazil’s domestic demand. Brazilian consumers contribute nearly 60% of the country’s GDP, which provides a level of stability that export-dependent countries like Germany, Japan, and China dream of, especially now that the U.S. shopping spree looks to be ending. In fact, holiday sales in Brazil are expected to be up 12% from a year ago, causing some to worry that stores may run out of big-ticket items like plasma TVs and refrigerators.

It’s already happening
The rise of emerging-market middle classes is what we investment types like to call a megatrend, which is fancy talk for an investment theme that is widespread and persistent. Over the next several decades, there will be lots of money to be made by retailers targeting the massive new wave of consumers who will come about as income levels increase in markets like China, India, and Indonesia.

The cool thing about Brazil is that we are already seeing this trend manifesting, as domestic consumer-facing companies make their presence known on the global scene. Hypermarcas SA, the Brazilian Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), has been on an acquisition spree this year, snapping up four over-the-counter drug companies and a condom manufacturer.

Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao (NYSE:CBD), a Brazilian retailer that has succeeded in pushing global giants Carrefour and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) into the Nos. 2 and 3 positions in the domestic retail market, respectively, is looking to further improve its position by gobbling up Casas Bahia, an electronics seller along the lines of Best Buy (NYSE:BBY).

Get in on it
There are sure to be many similar opportunities for investors in Brazil, as well as the other emerging markets, in the years and decades going forward. Tim Hanson, Nathan Parmelee, and the rest of The Motley Fool’s Global Gains team are here to help you position your portfolio to benefit. Click here for a risk-free, 30-day trial, and the next time we play word association with Brazil, you’ll be saying early retirement, fat nest egg, and bikinis.

Nate Weisshaar associates Brazil with wax and doesn’t own any of the companies above. Johnson & Johnson and Petrobras are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. Wal-Mart is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Best Buy is recommended by both Motley Fool Inside Value and Stock Advisor. The Motley Fool disclosure policy hopes to retire to Brazil and start an iguana ranch.