Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil) is the largest country
in South America. Famous for its football (soccer) tradition
and its annual carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife
and Olinda. It is a country of great diversity, from the bustling
urban mosaic of S?o Paulo to the infinite cultural energy of
Pernambuco and Bahia, the untouched wilderness of the Amazon
rainforest and world-class landmarks such as the Igua?u Falls,
there is plenty to see and to do in Brazil.
Brazil has many exciting cities, ranging from pretty colonial
towns and coastal hideouts to hectic, lively metropolises; these
are a few of the more prominent travel destinations:
- Bras?lia - The capital of Brazil,
and an architectural spectacle. Noteworthy buildings include
a basket-shaped Cathedral, the beautiful Arches Palace (seat
of the Ministry of Justice) and others.
- Bel?m - The second largest city in
the Amazon region. Religious festivals (Cirio de Nazare),
traditional market (Ver-o-Peso).
- Curitiba - The capital of the state
of Paran? is known for its innovative urban solutions, it
still keeps its traditional spirit and features of the european
immigrants, mostly from Italy, Germany and slavic countries.
- Florian?polis - The major city in
Brazil located in an island in the Atlantic Ocean, with lakes,
lagoons, amazing nature and more than 40 clean, beautiful
and full of nature beaches.
- Fortaleza -- A good base for exploring
the beaches of the northeastern coast, including Jericoacoara.Also,off
the tourist track,for the adventurous,the interior 'bairros'(neighborhoods)offer
unparalleled views and experiences of richness,poverty,intimacy,
and sometimes danger.
- Recife - A major city in the Northeast
region, originally settled by Dutch colonizers. Nicknamed
"The Brazilian Venice", it is built on several islands
linked by many bridges. Rich in history, art and folklore.
Do not miss neighboring Olinda and Porto de Galinhas. The
city is also a gateway to the amazing archipelago of Fernando
Rio de Janeiro - World famous, beautiful city that welcomes
visitors with that big statue of an open-armed Jesus atop
Salvador - The first capital of Brazil is home to a unique
blend of indigenous, African and European cultures. Its Carnival
fun is famous, and the influence of African culture and religion
- S?o Paulo - Brazil's largest, richest
and most cosmopolitan city, where you can find traces of most
major cultures of Earth, including Italian, Japanese, German,
Russian, Jamaican, Greek and Arab.
History and Economy
Until 1500, Brazil was inhabited solely by indigenous people,
mainly of the Tupi and Guarani ethnic groups. Actual settling
by the Portuguese began later that century, with the extraction
of valuable pau-brasil wood, from which the country draws its
name. The following four centuries saw further exploitation of
the country's natural riches (gold and rubber) besides the rise
of an economy based on agriculture (sugar and coffee) and slave
labor, millions of Africans taken to the new world in a forced
diaspora. Meanwhile, extermination or Christianizing of natives
kept its pace, and the 19th century saw a second wave of European
(mainly Italian and German) immigration, adding to this unique
and complex set of factors that generated today's equally complex
and unique Brazilian culture and society.
Following three centuries under the rule of Portugal,
Brazil became an independent nation in 7 September, 1822. By far
the largest and most populous country in South America, it has
also overcome more than two decades (1964-1988) of military intervention
in the governance of the country to pursue a democratic ruling,
while facing the challenge of keeping its industrial and agricultural
growth and developing its interior. Exploiting vast natural resources
and a large labor pool, today Brazil is South America's leading
economic power and a regional leader. Highly unequal income distribution
remains a pressing problem. A consequence of this is a high crime
rate, specifically in large cities.
After 20 years of democracy, the country has grown
strong, and despite the social problems of the unequal income
distribution, the people have remained happy and festive.
Owing to Brazils continental dimensions, varied geography,
history and people, the countrys culture is rich and diverse.
It has several regional variations, and in spite of being mostly
unified by a single language, some regions are so different from
each other that they could have become different countries altogether.
Music plays an important part in Brazilian identity.
Styles like choro, samba and bossa nova are considered genuinely
Brazilian. Caipira music is also in the roots of sertanejo (the
national equivalent to country music). MPB stands for Brazilian
Popular Music, which mixes several national styles under a single
concept. Forr?, a north-eastern happy dancing music style, has
also become common nationwide. New urban styles include funk -
name given to a dance music genre from Rio's favelas that mixes
heavy electronic beats and often raunchy rapping - and techno-brega,
a crowd-pleaser in northern states, that fuses romantic pop, dance
music and caribbean rhythms.
A mixture of martial arts, dance, music and game,
capoeira was brought to Brazil by African slaves. Distinguished
by vivacious complicated movements and accompanying music, it
can be seen and practiced in many Brazilian cities.
Candomble and Umbanda are religions with African
roots that have survived prejudice and persecution and still have
a significant following in Brazil. Their places of cult are called
terreiros and many are open for visitation.
Indigenous traits can be found everywhere in Brazilian
culture, from cuisine to vocabulary. There are still many indigenous
groups and tribes living in all Brazilian regions, although many
have been deeply influenced by "western" culture, and
several of the country's surviving indigenous languages are in
danger of disappearing completely. The traditional lifestyle and
graphic expressions of the Waj?pi indigenous group from the state
of Amap? were proclaimed a Masterpiece of the World's Intangible
Heritage  by UNESCO.
Globo, the largest national television network,
also plays an important role in shaping the national identity.
Nine out of ten households have a TV set, which is the most important
source of information and entertainment for most Brazilians followed
by the radio broadcast. TVs broadcast sports, movies, local and
national news and telenovelas (Soap Operas) 6-month-long
series that have become one of the countrys main cultural