San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tica finishes in top 10 in Miss Universe 2011

Costa Rican Johanna Solano, 20, placed in the top 10 at the 2011 Miss Universe pageant. The Heredia native gained a reputation for her impressive athletic ability after playing in the Miss Universe exhibition soccer game and awed viewers with her swimsuit and evening gown.

The 2011 Miss Universe pageant welcomed 89 women to São Paulo, Brazil to compete for the crown before a worldwide television audience in 170 countries. Contestants lived in São Paulo for three weeks where they dazzled the local media and enjoyed samba lessons, golf and soccer.

“I consider myself to be a positive and active person,” Solano said during a brief video segment during the broadcast. “I really enjoy playing all kinds of sports.”

Solano entered the competition as one of the favorites. She was cut after making it to the top 10. However, her finish is tied for the best in country’s history. She will continue her reign as Miss Costa Rica until March 2012.

Leila Lopes, 25, of Angola was crowned Miss Universe 2011 after charming the judges and audience in a bright yellow bikini and cream-colored strapless dress. Lopes gained support from locals in the audience after speaking Portuguese during the question-and-answer round. Angola was once a Portuguese colony.

Lopes’ platform is HIV awareness. A 2009 UNICEF report estimated that as many as 250,000 are living with HIV or AIDS in Angola. 

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