South Florida is the center of the universe this week.
That's because the region is the backdrop for the 63rd annual Miss Universe Pageant, which will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday from Florida International University.
The 88 contestants have been in Miami since early January for rehearsals, dinners, receptions, meet-and-greet events with their fans, golf and salsa lessons, and even a Zumba fitness class.
The contestants recently spoke with us about what the crown would mean to their country, and how the pageant is more than a beauty contest.
Miss Costa Rica Karina Ramos, 21, described beauty as "a light that comes from inside-out. It's not about your face, your body, it's just like a vibration that you feel when you get to know a person and you feel beauty. You feel it, you don't see it."
She said the crown would help put a spotlight on her country.
"I think Costa Rica wants to be on the international map like a big destination, and it is, but we need some more opportunities for people to get to know Costa Rica," she added.
Miss Haiti Christie Desir, 25, echoed a similar sentiment about her country. She founded a nonprofit called All She Desires to help provide hygiene products and continuing education for young girls and women.
"After the earthquake, we could no longer afford school. I focus on providing toothpaste, lotions and basic things they need every day. I try to open up the creative side of their brains because a lot of them think they could only be doctors or lawyers. I want them to know that in reality, you could be anything you want to be"
The Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants were started in 1952 in Long Beach, Calif., by a swimsuit company. Since moving to Miami Beach in 1960, the contest has been held throughout the world, including in Brazil and Russia.
This year's show, taking place at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus in Miami-Dade County, will be hosted by NBC morning anchor Natalie Morales, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts and TV personality Jeannie Mai.
Miss Indonesia Elvira Devinamira said the pageant has heart.
"A beauty pageant like Miss Universe, you are not a top model, you are not a Hollywood star. You make people believe you are a good person. You are pretty from the heart," said the 21-year-old who wants to work in international law. "You cook for the homeless, you visit hospitals, and that's what Miss Universe means. It's not about the glitz and glam but more about being humble and down to earth."