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Brazil

Brazil

General Information

The Federative Republic of Brazil is simultaneously South America’s largest country (by both population and geographical size) as well as one of its most diverse and fascinating. It is filled to the brim with intriguing people, plants and animals as well as liberal doses of history, religion, culture and sporting greatness.

The most densely populated parts of Brazil are in the south-central regions, which include major urban conglomerates like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Because of the rapid growth experienced by this country in terms of urban development, industrialisation and population at the beginning of the 21st century, Brazil is facing a number of social, environmental and political challenges. However, it is also because of this growth that it is doing so well in terms of its economy. In fact, it is one of the world’s largest and most significant economies. It is also the only Portuguese-speaking country in both North and South America.

This Portuguese heritage dates back to the 1700’s, when Brazil was first colonised by this European nation. During its rich and complex history, slavery was a major part of the Brazilian heritage, although this was never formally recorded in the annals of history. Slaves were brought to the country across the Pacific Ocean from Africa. Therefore, there is also a large proportion of Brazilian inhabitants that have an African heritage. Others of European and Asian descent immigrated to Brazil in the 19th century. These ones were mainly from Japan, Poland, Spain, Italy and Germany. Therefore, this country is now a melting pot of ethnic and cultural diversity. Despite such diversity, Brazil maintains strong national pride and religious devotion. The vast majority, approximately 75%, of the population is Roman Catholic, while the rest are largely Christian or subscribe to the various African-based beliefs.

Brazil enjoys an extensive coastline that measures almost 7 500 kilometres (or more than 4 600 miles). Its other borders are made up of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. In fact, Ecuador and Chile are the only South American countries with which Brazil does not share its borders. There are various groups of islands that also belong to Brazil, such as Saint Peter, Trindade and Fernando de Noronha, amongst others. Its entire area measures exactly 8 514 876.599 square kilometres or 3 287 612 square miles.

Apart from being geographically large, Brazil is also naturally diverse. It comprises dense rain forests and jungles, expanses of coastline, towering mountains, oceanic archipelagos (or clusters of islands), rivers, scrublands and rolling plains. Because of such a variation in habitats available to plants and animals, Brazil boasts a rich array of fauna and flora. In fact,scientists estimate that this South American country is home to about four million different species. Particularly extensive are this country’s populations of birds and amphibians.
In terms of the local culture, Brazil continues to be influenced by the traditions and customs of the Portuguese. This is evident in the architecture, music, literature, cuisine, dance, religion and theatre of the country.

Being home to the Amazon Rainforest, many other such natural wonders, cultural attractions and historical remnants makes Brazil a fascinating tourist destination and home. As the Host Country for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, it is guaranteed an influx of travellers and football fans from around the world.

Geography

Brazil’s geography is a fascinating one. As the home of the acclaimed Amazon Rainforest, as well as the Brazilian Highlands and vast stretches of coastline, this South American country continues to impress visitors in its natural splendour and complexity. Brazil has a total surface area of 8 514 877 square kilometres (3 287 612 square miles) of which 8 459 417 square kilometres (3 266 199 square miles) is land and 55 460 square kilometres (or 21 410 square miles) is water. As such, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world (both in terms of area and population) and occupies almost half of the entire South American continent. The coastline stretches for 7 491 kilometres (or 4 655 miles), and continues to be a major tourist attraction for the country. The shore is made up of mangroves, lagoons, dunes and spectacular coral reefs.
Brazil has claims to the following islands:

  • Fernando de Noronha
  • Rocas Atoll
  • Saint Peter and Paul Rocks
  • Trindade and Martim Vaz Islands

Brazil has borders with Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. In fact, Chile and Ecuador are the only South American countries with which Brazil does not share its borders. As a country, it is split into five official regions; namely Central-West, Northeast, North, Southeast and Southern Brazil. These are then split into 26 states and a Federal District.

The Amazon Rainforest is a very important part of the world’s natural resources. It is home to an estimated one-third of all known animal species and makes up about half of the world’s rainforests. The Amazon River carries more water into the Atlantic Ocean than any other river does to any other body of water. This river winds for more than 3 200 kilometres (2000 miles) within the country and holds about one-fifth of the world’s fresh water. At its narrowest point, the river is 1.6 kilometres wide, and some 48 kilometres at its widest during the wet season. The Amazon Basin occupies about two-thirds of the country’s area. Brazil is particularly abundant in rivers and boasts eight major drainage basins. These basins direct their water into the Atlantic Ocean. There are 12 major hydrographic regions in Brazil, seven of which have dominant rivers, while the remaining five do not. These are:

1. Amazonas
2. Paraguai
3. Paraná
4. Parnaíba
5. São Francisco
6. Tocantins
7. Uruguai
8. Atlântico Nordeste Ocidental (Western North-east Atlantic)
9. Atlântico Nordeste Oriental (Eastern North-east Atlantic)
10. Atlântico Leste (Eastern Atlantic)
11. Atlântico Sudeste (South-east Atlantic)
12. Atlântico Sul (South Atlantic)

The Brazilian Highlands (also known as the Brazilian Plateau) are, in general, under 4 000 feet (or 1 220 metres) above sea level. They cover most of the central, eastern and southern parts of the country and are home to an astounding array of fauna and flora. The highest point in Brazil is Pico de Neblina, which measures an impressive 9 888 feet, which is equivalent to 3 014 metres. The huge central plateau (Planalto Central) is approximately 1 000 metres or 3 281 feet above sea level.

The majority of the coastline comprises the Great Escarpment, which gives those looking at the shore from the sea the impression of looking at a huge, imposing wall.

São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are two of the largest cities in the world, and are both prominent destinations in Brazil. They enjoy a rich culture and heritage as well as modern amenities and established infrastructures.

The climate of Brazil depends on the various areas’ elevation and proximity to the ocean. However, most of the country can be defined as being tropical and sub-tropical. In general, this means hot, humid conditions, although some areas can be fairly dry and even fall victim to the occasional droughts. Many areas experience only a wet season and a dry one, instead of four distinct seasons.

Brazil boasts five marked eco-systems:

• The tropical rainforest
• The Pantanal (a tropical wetland)
• The Cerrado (a tropical savannah)
• The Mata Atlantica (the “Atlantic forest”)
• The pampas (fertile plains)

Central Brazil is made up mostly of woodland savannah.

Brazil’s natural resources include: gold, iron ore, manganese, bauxite, nickel, phosphates, uranium, petroleum, platinum, tin, hydropower and timber.

Culture

The Brazilian culture is one of the world’s most varied and diverse. This is due to its being a melting pot of nationalities, as a result of centuries of European domination as well as slavery, which brought hordes of African migrants across Brazil’s borders to live in and influence the local cultures with their ancient customs and ideas. The European settlers also brought ideas, innovations and belief systems with them, shaping the local societies significantly. All of these different influences have meant that the modern-day Brazilian culture is unique and very complex.

At present, Brazil has a population of about 190 million people. Of these, more than half are white (which includes Portuguese, Italian, Polish etc... individuals), just fewer than 40% are mixed black and white and less than 10% are black. Approximately 80% of the population ascribes to the Roman Catholic faith. This is due to the intense Portuguese occupation of centuries ago. These European settlers taught the indigenous tribes Catholicism, built churches and established traditions and customs that originated in this church.

Also due to the mass Portuguese settlements during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, this language is the official language of Brazil. There are small numbers of indigenous people and immigrants who still speak their own tongues, but these are certainly among the vast minority.

Brazilians, as a nation, focus much importance on the family structure and the values that are entrenched within that institution. Families are usually large, and even extended family members are close with one another, providing much-needed help and support to each other whenever and however necessary.

Class distinctions are generally made based on the amount of money one has and the colour of one’s skin. Darker ethnicities tend to be disadvantaged. The huge differences in wage brackets is responsible for many of the disagreements and conditions of the Brazilian locals, with the upper classes seldom interacting with those at the lower end of the economic or class scale. Women are usually employed in the lower-paid positions, such as teaching and nursing.

Brazilians are usually rather affectionate, tactile people. Men shake hands with one another, while women will kiss each others’ cheeks in greeting. They will start with the left cheek and then kiss the right. In business relationships, Brazilian businessmen will usually get to know one another before committing to long-term business dealings, as they want to know those with whom they deal.

Other interesting etiquettes and expectations in the Brazilian culture include:

• When invited to dinner or an event, do not under-dress. It is considered more appropriate to over-dress than to appear too casual in appearance.
• Always bring the hostess a small gift of gratitude (such as a glass of wine or some fresh flowers).
• Avoid giving anyone a gift that is black or purple, as these are perceived as mourning colours.
• Always arrive early for events and dinners.
• In business, Brazilians tend to ‘deal’ with individuals, not companies. Therefore, you will need to establish a trusting relationship with them if you wish to gain their business. It is important     that you do not try to rush them into making decisions or forming relationships.
• Manicures for women and formal dress for both sexes are expected within corporate situations.

Tourism

Tourism is becoming a major industry in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are two of the most visited destinations in the country, offering visitors (whether in the country on business or pleasure) a fabulous peek into the complex heritage and natural spectacle of Brazil. Tourism rates sky-rocketed from the year 2000 onwards as awareness of its multifaceted appeal rose. There was a period between 2006 and 2008 that economic issues hindered the tourism industry somewhat. However, Brazil is the most visited country in the continent of South America today.

While the major draw-cards to Brazil continue to be its unique cultural integrity coupled with its absolute beauty, it is also a viable business-related destination. Services, industry and agriculture make up the vast majority of its annual GDP, and ensure that corporate personalities from around the world visit the manufacturing plants, corporate giants, and so on that have their headquarters based in Brazil.

The main natural attractions in Brazil are:

• The Amazon Jungle
• The Amazon River
• The many other rainforests of this tropical and subtropical region
• The extensive beaches and bays that line the coast
• The many unique and fascinating plant and animal species in Brazil

Because of the abundance and accessibility of many of its natural attractions, Brazil has also become acclaimed for its increasing focus on eco-tourism. This means that service providers and locals, in addition to those visiting the destination, are aware of and actively promoting tourism that does not harm the environment or its resources. In fact, support of and participation in some of the attractions and activities actually aid the local communities to preserve and protect the plants, animals and landscapes around them for the future enjoyment of other generations.

Most of the international visitors hail from Argentina, Italy and the United States of America. Interestingly, tourist visa requirements have been waived for many countries; including Greece, Italy, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Turkey and many more.

Whether for their historical import, cultural contribution or natural resplendence, the following places have been deemed to be World Heritage Sites by the official body of UNESCO:

• Ouro Preto (a historic town) – declared as a World Heritage Site in 1980
• Olinda (a historic centre) – declared a World Heritage Site in 1982
• Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis: including San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana, and the Ruins of Sao Miguel das Missoes - declared a World Heritage Site in 1984
• Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas - declared a World Heritage Site in 1985
• Salvador de Bahia (a historic centre) - declared a World Heritage Site in 1985
• Iguacu National Park - declared a World Heritage Site in 1986
• Brasilia - declared a World Heritage Site in 1987
• Serra da Capivara National Park - declared a World Heritage Site in 1991
• São Luis (a historic centre) - declared a World Heritage Site in 1997
• Atlantic Forest Southeast Reserves - declared a World Heritage Site in 1999
• Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves - declared a World Heritage Site in 1999
• Diamantina (a historic centre and town) - declared a World Heritage Site in 1999
• Pantanal Conservation Area - declared a World Heritage Site in 2000
• Central Amazon Conservation Complex - declared a World Heritage Site in 2000
• Cerrado Protected Areas: Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas National Parks - declared a World Heritage Site in 2001
• Brazilian Atlantic Islands: Fernando de Noronha and Atol das Rocas Reserves - declared a World Heritage Site in 2001
• Goías (a historic centre and town - declared a World Heritage Site in 2001
• São Francisco Square in the town of São Cristovão - declared a World Heritage Site in 2010

Information Courtesy Of Brazil Tourism

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