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Brazil Culture, Geography and History
Culture and Customs of Brazil
Brazilians are universally known for their infectious enthusiasm and lust for life. The wild celebratory atmosphere of Carnaval isn’t a one-off —impromptu street parties, heaving nightclubs and busy dance halls all display the same vibrant energy and passion all year round. Travellers will find that music, dance and good times are all passionately pursued by most Brazilians, regardless of income, gender or age. But it doesn’t stop there. Fun is not limited to the dynamic bars and clubs of the big cities - the natural world is also enjoyed by most Brazilians. With so many spectacular beaches, national parks, mountains and forests, there are plenty of places for Brazilians to enjoy their favourite past times – football, surfing, swimming, hiking, volleyball and capoeira (a Brazilian blend of martial arts and dance). Brazilians are also known for being one of the most open, friendly and affectionate nationalities – personal space isn’t regarded as highly in Brazil as in most other countries, so expect to be hugged and kissed by new and old friends when travelling here.
In contrast to the exuberant, modern life that Brazil's city dwellers live, are the humble, traditional ways of the indigenous tribes that live in the Amazon and surrounds. Despite modern advances, many still live off the land – hunting for wild animals and gathering fruit and berries - although sadly this is rapidly changing due to deforestation and urbanisation. In the face of this, many tribes still cling to their ancient culture through traditional clothing, dance and song.
Geography and Environment of Brazil
Being the fifth largest country in the world, Brazil shares land borders with many other countries including Venezuela, Guyana, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Suriname and French Guiana. Home to many different landscapes and ecosystems, Brazil’s natural environment is one of the most famous in the world. From the steamy tropical rainforest that surrounds the Amazon River and the swirling torrents of white water at Iguazu Falls, to the stunning beaches, reefs and islands of the coast, Brazil is certainly blessed with the very best of Mother Nature. Home to many of the world's most rare and endangered species, travellers will be able to see the full spectrum of colourful bird life, curious mammals, gigantic snakes and unique marine life.
With such a large population, Brazil’s major cities are busy, crowded and chaotic. It can take some getting used to, but once you’re working with the flow of the Brazilian way of life, you’ll begin to enjoy the pace. With a widening gap between the rich and the poor, housing can vary from large mansions in upscale neighbourhoods and modern apartments right in the heart of the city, to humble tin sheds in the sprawling favelas. In some ways, Brazil’s major cities are full of contrasts but the universal appeal of partying, dancing and drinking seems to cross all cultural and social barriers.
History and Government of Brazil
Indigenous tribes inhabited Brazil for centuries before the arrival of the first European settlers from Portugal in the 1500s. Colonisation brought agriculture and crop growing to Brazil, resulting in extensive land clearing which dispossessed much of the indigenous population. The growing of sugar cane resulted in an influx of new residents, mainly slaves who brought rich African traditions with them. Remnants of this can still be seen in much of today’s music, dance and food. By the 19th century, coffee had taken the place of sugar as Brazil’s most valuable crop. The increase in coffee production brought a new wave of migrants to Brazil, mainly from Europe, and Brazil’s economy continued to flourish until the military coup of 1889.
Brazil’s more recently history has also been characterised by wide spread immigration – especially during and after World War II - with large numbers of Jewish people choosing to flee persecution to live in Brazil, as well as significant numbers of people from the Middle East and other European countries.
In 1989, Brazil held its first democratic election in almost 30 years after decades of military rule. More recently, a stable government has resulted in increased economic prosperity, although many of Brazil’s residents are still impoverished, living well below the poverty line.
Brazil at a glance
- Brasilia (population 1.8 million)
- 203 million
- (GMT-03:00) Brasilia
- Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin), Type B (American 3-pin), Type C (European 2-pin), Type I (Australian/New Zealand & Chinese/Argentine 2/3-pin)
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