Miss Angola Leila Lopes is Miss Universe 2011

Miss Angola Leila Lopes has won Miss Universe 2011, beating 88 other Miss Universe contestants in a lavish show at Sao Paolo’s Credicard Hall.

The 25-year-old Lopes, a business student by day, edged Miss Ukraine Olesia Stefanko into second place, and was praised by judges for her beauty and intelligence.

She spoke in Portuguese to charm the Brazilian audience (both Brazil and Angola are former Portuguese colonies), and revealed her status as Miss Angola had allowed her to assist various social causes in her country:

“I work with poor kids, I work in the fight against HIV. I work to protect the elderly and I have to do everything that my country needs,” she said. “I think now as Miss Universe I will be able to do much more.”

Lopes also modestly claimed to be a “woman endowed with inner beauty,” before she strutted on stage in a bright yellow bikini and a coral evening gown.Her beauty, she said, was down to getting lots of sleep, drinking lots of water, and using sun block – even when it’s not sunny.

She was also keen to point out that she was an entirely natural beauty, devoid of surgical tweaking:

“Thank God I’m very satisfied with the way God created me and I wouldn’t change a thing. I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life.”

Fans only scored Lopes a 3.6 for her swimsuit and a 7.2 for her figure-hugging evening gown of gold and silver sequins and feathers, but the panel of nine judges obviously felt differently. Lopes takes over the Miss Universe crown from Mexico’s Ximena Navarrete, last year’s winner.

Now, most importantly of all, which animal would she be?