Guide to Brazil

Brazilian People

Brazil has the largest population in South America and is the 5th most populous in the world. People of Brazil are typically very talkative and friendly and they enjoy dance, party, and love to play soccer. Brazilians are generally very hard working as well as innovative. They come from varied origins and as Brazil often claims that the new ‘race’ of Brazilians is a booming amalgamation of Europeans, Africans and the indigenous strains.

The population of Brazil is rather young and almost seventy percent of Brazilians are below the age of 29 years. Inhabitants are unevenly distributed in the Brazilian territory and 3 in every 4 people live in urban areas or close to the coast. Portuguese is the official language and English is also widely used here. Most of the indigenous people like Tupí or Guaraní live in the Amazon River basins’ rain forests. Brazil is a country of contrasts and it is only here that one can find harmonic environs of towering mountains and tropic forests, fascinating beaches, megapolises and jungles with serene ocean bays.

Art & Culture

Brazil offers a rich cultural climate, perhaps the finest amongst all South American countries, and is well known for football, vibrant carnivals, attractions such as Iguaçu Falls, the luxuriant forests and the amazing Amazon Rainforest wildlife. There are numerous stunning beaches along the eastern coast of Brazil and Brasilia, the capital city, is famous for the imposing architectural ensembles.

The culture in Brazil owes its origin to the Portuguese who ruled over the country centuries ago and had established their supremacy over the region. They were the ones who imbibed Roman Catholic faith amongst the common people of Brazil, which still has a dominant influence over the population. With the passage of time, other religious organizations and tribes and affirmed their control over the indigenous people and significantly changed the language, religion, music as well as the cuisine of Brazil.

As far as the ethnic profile and cultural heritage are concerned there are a few cities which have an almost complete European look particularly in the south part of Brazil. Other areas like the Bahia State showcase a predominant African heritage. The capital of Bahia Salvador is identified as the “largest African city outside of Africa”. São Paulo, on the other hand, has the biggest group of Japanese outside Japan.

The azure blue sea beaches and the animated beat of the Samba dance offer an awe-inspiring glimpse into the effervescent art and culture of Brazil. The strength of Brazilian folk culture is best seen in the popular local music, which is also the best-known art form of Brazil internationally. African influences dominate in the unusual Brazilian forms and rhythms of the vibrating samba.

Brazil is a cultural melting pot as it has not only been shaped by the Portuguese, but also by the substantial African population, native Indians of Brazil and other European, Asian and Middle Eastern settlers here. Diverse heritages have been amalgamated intricately and transformed into something completely new. A visit to the imposing land of Brazil will stay incomplete without recognizing the diverse vicissitudes of the multifaceted aspects of art and culture in Brazil.

Language & Culture

Everyone knows that lively Brazil is made of fun, carnivals and an almost insurmountable love of football (futebol as they say in this land of multiplicity)! However, Brazil is also steeped in colorful customs and rich diversity of cultures that people may not be familiar with. For instance; their native language of Portuguese also serves as the basis for their laws and religion, making Brazil unified under its great legacy. The citizens, of Brazil, known as Brasileiros or Brasileiras; depending on gender, are predominantly Portuguese in nature and virtually all speak the mother tongue – Portuguese. Although primarily Catholic, the religious practice of Candomble indeed exists and involves the fusion of African and Catholic religious doctrine which is uniquely Brazilian.

This rich heritage derives from the oldest inhabitants, comprising of Native Americans, Portuguese and Africans and later the infiltration of German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Arab settlers who have helped to diversify the multicultural aspect of Brazil. These varied backgrounds have ensured traditions ranging from sports to dance; including the incredible soccer fever (Go Pele!!!) and world-renowned Capoeira (Brazilian martial arts pictured above) as well the seductive samba and electrifying carnivals that the rest of the world can only try to copy and fail dismally while trying. The reason for this is due to the customs and philosophy of the nation’s multicultural heritage.

One such customary carnival is the Lemanja celebration observed by the Candomble peoples. This occurs at Copacabana (Rio de Janeiro) where thousands of white-clad followers gather at the beach to show their appreciation to the goddess of the seas by offering the most fragrant flowers and incredible gifts to her by placing them into the ebb of the ocean waves.

Such traditions offer those visiting Brazil a unique view of the mixture of its inhabitants by allowing complete inclusion into their very own lifestyle. This is, of course, only one of the delightful carnival traditions that Brazil has to offer. One can only visit Brazil to truly experience the melting pot of experiences and traditional cultures that it shares with all who care to come into contact with it and its entire melting pot of people.
Lindo maravilhoso! (‘Beautiful Marvellous’- for all of you dying to experience the language and customs of this stunning country!)

Food & Drink

There is nothing quite like visiting a country and experiencing the cultures and customs firsthand. That being said, however, there is one thing that wins hands down as the most scrumptious of things to do when landing in another land, and that is sampling the exquisite cuisine that that country has to offer.

Brazil, as people know, is filled with an array of interesting cultures and colorful traditions. This makes it the perfect place for sumptuous culinary fusion through its many immigrants over generations.

When visiting Brazil, it is suggested that one try the national dish (Feijoada, pictured above) which is a hearty black bean and pork stew consisting of ears, knuckles, pieces of beef and sausage, usually served with white rice, collard greens, and sliced orange. You could wash this down with the Portuguese drink known as Caipirinha consisting of wedged limes, sugar and cachaca. However, travelers should be wary of gobbling down this delicious dish in the blink of an eye as it truly is filling and even has Brazilians loosening a notch or two on their belts straight after this hefty meal.

As with most towns situated on the coast, one can find delicious seafood delights and Brazil also offers an array of self-service buffet type restaurants which have a fixed price known as Rodizio or by plate-weighing known as Por Quilo. These quaint eateries are, in general, clean and the kitchens can be viewed from the seating area as this is required by law.
Although these self-service buffets are incredible for dinner ideas, the true explorer might like to indulge themselves in some Brazilian fare for lunch. One could taste lanches ( a wide variety of pastries including coxinha, empadinha and misto quente – a ham and cheese sarnie). However, if pastries are not to your taste, you can also savor the tasty Churrasco or Brazilian barbeque.

However, when visiting Brazil, one needs to remember that it is still essentially a developing country and there are many small villages with their very own traditions and dishes that should be sampled if the chance arises. Fish tends to form the staple diet of many Brazilians and one should not be shocked to find sushi bars in the greater urban areas as well.

All in all, Brazil offers many tastes for many tastes!

Climate & Weather

It is generally believed that Brazil is enclosed by the Amazon Rainforest but despite the Amazon being huge, Brazil is bigger than that and is blessed with a number of different kinds of weather and climates.

Climate changes from one region to the other like Belém, in Pará state is very humid and hot with the temperatures often rising above 40 degrees Celsius while the average in the capital Rio de Janeiro is about 22 degrees Celsius. In contrast, São Joaquim, in the south has temperatures falling below 20 degrees Celsius often and there can be snow during winter. Temperatures go below freezing and overnight frost is seen through July and August here.

Brazil is bigger than the United States and is one of the rare countries in South America which does not have the Andes Mountains. Brazil does not have any permanent snowfields. Due to its enormous size, Brazil climate is divided into four distinct climatic regions: the Brazilian plateau, the Amazon Basin, the southern states and the coastlands in the tropics.

Abundant rainfall is seen in the equatorial Amazon from November to May, and less through June to October, although it stays drenched all around the year. Close to the mouth of the Amazon, all the months are very wet. The Brazilian Plateau is a very big area, but as it is in the south of the Amazon Basin with a moderate height, it has quite a different climate. It has a distinct wet season during summer and almost all the rains fall from October to April.

The warm temperate climate is experienced in the southern states but the coastal region has a distinct cooler season which sometimes produces frost. Winter is very significant here and the variation in seasons can be seen by temperature and not rainfall. This region often sees the invasion of Antarctic’s cold air but in summer, temperatures can go up to the levels of the tropical regions.

Even though Brazil is located mostly in a tropical climatic zone, due to its diversity in landscape and size, there are different climatic conditions right through the country, wide variations in seasonal temperature.