October 24, 2018 / 01:51


Brazil is the largest country in Latin America. It spreads across almost half (47.3%) of South America, and occupies a total area of 8,547,403.5 km2. It is the fifth largest country in the world after Canada, the Russian Federation, China and the United States.

1 August 2011 December 00:01
Brazil is the largest country in Latin America. It spreads across almost half (47.3%) of South America, and occupies a total area of 8,547,403.5 km2. It is the fifth largest country in the world after Canada, the Russian Federation, China and the United States. Except for a small number of islands, Brazil is a single and continuous landmass. The Equator crosses through the Northern region, near Macapa, and the Tropic of Capricorn cuts through the South of the country, near São Paulo.

Brazil’s east to west extension (4,319.4 km) is almost equivalent to the distance from north to south (4,394.7 km). The country borders French Guiana, Suriname, Guiana, Venezuela and Colombia, to the north; Uruguay and Argentina, to the south; and Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru, to the west. Ecuador and Chile are the only two countries on the South American continent that do not border Brazil. The Atlantic Ocean extends along the country’s entire eastern coast, providing 7,367 km of coastline.

The official language is Portuguese; the accent and the intonation, however, are very different from what one hears in Portugal and other former Portuguese colonies. Some people say that Brazilians speak “Brazilian”, just like Americans can say they speak “American”, and not English. And there are also many Brazilians who are descendants of immigrants and who speak German and Italian, especially in towns in southern Brazil.

Brazil – a country which greets visitors with a huge smile
The mixture of races has made Brazil a culturally rich and at the same time unique country. This miscegenation began with the Indian, the African and the Portuguese, but soon after, immigrants from around the world began to arrive: Europeans, Asians, Jews and Arabs. The result is a happy people, open to everything new, a people one can only find in Brazil.

Because of this massive diversity, Brazil is one of the last places on Earth where no one is a foreigner, where one can change one’s destiny without losing one’s identity and where each and every Brazilian has a little of the entire world in his or her blood. This may be the reason why Brazilian’s welcome people from another land so openly. According to surveys carried out with foreign tourists who visited the country, 97.2% intend to return soon; 56.5% had their expectations completely satisfied; and, for 31.7%, it exceeded their expectations in every way. As you can see, those who come to Brazil become fans on their first visit.

Find out more about Brazil by navigating through our site. Or better yet: visit the country in person and feel for yourself the high spirits and enthusiasm of our people.

Brazilian democracy
Brazil has been a Republic since 1889. Throughout this entire period, the country actually experienced little more than thirty years of democracy (1946-1964 and from 1985 to the present). Nevertheless, it is one of the most democratic nations on Earth. Brazilian democracy, which was won back after 21 years of a military dictatorship, proved to be vigorous and became an important part of the life of its people.

The National Congress has been operating like clockwork for 175 years. In the entire history of the country, only on three occasions did the elected representatives not complete their terms. The strength of the Congress is actually so great that not even the military dictatorship of the 1960s could do without it. There have been national elections in Brazil since 1823. And these elections have been open to voters in a manner almost unheard of even for European democracy standards.

Brazil, the world's fifth largest country in geographical expanse and the Brazil


largest nation in Latin America, comprises slightly under half the land mass of the South American continent and shares a border with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador. It is the size of the continental United States excluding Alaska.

Brazil's physical environment and climate vary greatly from the tropical North to the temperate South. The landscape is dominated by a central highland region known as the Planalto Central (Brazilian Highlands, or Plateau of Brazil) and by the vast AmazonBasin which occupies overone-third of the country.The central plateau juts into theseaina few areas along Brazil's 4,500-mile-long, (7,240-kilometer-long) coast, but it more often runs parallel to the ocean, creating a fertile, lowland area.

Brazil is a land rich in natural resources, principally iron ore, bauxite, manganese, nickel, uranium, gold, gemstones, oil, and timber.

The physical environment in each region determined the types of crops grown or the resources extracted and this, in turn, influenced the populations that settled there and the social and economic systems that developed. Brazil's economic history, in fact, has been marked by a succession of cycles, each one based on the exploitation of a single export commodity: timber (brazilwood) in the first years of colonization; sugarcane in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; precious metals (gold) and gems (diamonds) in the eighteenth century; and finally, coffee in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Brazil's northeast coast with its rich soils became the most prosperous region early on as vast sugar plantations were created to supply a growing demand for that product in Europe. Beginning in the seventeenth century, African slaves were imported to provide labor for these plantations. This is why even today the Northeast is the region with the strongest African influence.

The Southeast also received large numbers of African slaves during the gold boom of the eighteenth century and the coffee boom beginning in the nineteenth century. This region also attracted new immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and Japan who established family farms and eventually urban businesses.

In contrast, the South—with a climate unsuited to either coffee or sugar—became the destination of many German and Italian immigrants who raised cattle and grew a variety of crops. The heritage of the Northeast coast, based on slave labor and a plantation economy, was distinct from that of the South and Southeast, where plantations existed along with small family farms. Such historical differences partly account for contemporary contrasts between these regions.

Another regional distinction, that between litoral (coast) and interior (inland), arises from the fact that settlement in Brazil has always been concentrated near the coast. To say that someone is from the "interior" usually implies that he or she is from a rural area, even though there are large cities located far from the coast. Although the gold boom of the eighteenth century and the rubber boom of the nineteenth century led to the growth of inland cities, the real movement to settle the heartland of the country began only in the late 1950s with the construction of the new national capital, Brasília, in the Central-West.

Brazil is probably best known as the land of the Amazon, the world's largest river in area drained and volume of water and second only to the Nile in length. The Amazon forest contains the world's largest single reserve of biological organisms, and while no one knows how many species actually exist there, scientists estimate the number could be as high as five million, amounting to 15 to 30 percent of all species on earth.

Although now a focus of Brazilian and international media attention because of the negative ecological consequences of development, the Amazon region had long been isolated from national culture. Still, early in colonial times Jesuit missionaries traversed the Amazon River and its major tributaries and established settlements at Manaus and Belem. Both became thriving urban centers during the rubber boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Beginning in the 1970s with the construction of the Trans-Amazon Highway and other feeder roads, the migrant flow into the Central-West—the site of Brasília—expanded into the Amazon region.


The population of Brazil was about 170 million in 2000, the sixth largest in the world after China, India, the United States, Indonesia, and the Russian Federation. Despite its large population, Brazil's demographic density is relatively low. Although there has been significant population movement into the interior in recent decades, about 80 percent of all Brazilians still live within two hundred miles of the Atlantic coast.

Fertility rates have dropped dramatically in Brazil in the last three or four decades of the twentieth century, with the completed fertility rate at the turn of the twenty-first century down to an average of 2.1 children per woman. Nevertheless, the population will continue to grow in the first twenty or thirty years of the twenty-first century because of the nation's current youthful age structure.

The Brazilian population has three major components. Somewhere between 2.5 and 5 million Brazilian Indians inhabited Brazil when the Portuguese first arrived in the early sixteenth century. Divided into many different cultures with distinct institutions, Brazilian Indians spoke a large number of languages. Today they comprise only about .02 percent of the country's population. Their numbers fell rapidly as a result of displacement, warfare and, most importantly, the introduction of European diseases against which they had no immunity. By 1955, only 120,000 Brazilian Indians were left and they were thought to be on the road to extinction. This downward trend has been reversed, however. Their numbers are now increasing owing to improved health care, lower incidence of disease, declining infant mortality, and a higher fertility rate. Contemporary estimates of the indigenous population range from 280,000 to 300,000; the population may reach 400,000 early in the new millennium.

Afro-Brazilians, the descendants of millions of slaves brought primarily from West Africa to Brazil over a three-hundred-year period, are the second major component of the national population. Afro-Brazilians and people of mixed racial ancestry account for at least 45 percent of the Brazilian population at the end of the twentieth century.

Brazil also has a large population of mixed European, mainly Portuguese, descent. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Brazil was the destination of many immigrants from Italy, Germany, and Spain. During the same era smaller numbers of immigrants arrived from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Rounding out the demographic picture are, Japanese-Brazilians, descendants of Japanese who came to Brazil in the first decades of the 20th century, and Koreans who began arriving in the 1950s. Still, Brazil is among the most racially heterogeneous countries on earth and these distinct categories are somewhat misleading in that many, perhaps most, Brazilians are of mixed ancestry.

Nearly all Brazilians speak Portuguese, a Romance language, belonging to the Indo-European language family. The Portuguese language was introduced to Brazil by the Portuguese in the early sixteenth century. Prior to the arrival of the Portuguese, the native population spoke languages belonging to at least four major language families: Arawakan, Gê, Carib, and Tupi-Guarani. Tupi-Guarani—which was spoken by coastal Indians, the first to come into extensive contact with the Portuguese—served as the basis for lingua geral, a language developed by the Jesuits for their missionary work with the Indian population.

Aside from a small number of recently contacted indigenous peoples, all Brazilians speak Portuguese. Brazilian Portuguese differs somewhat in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation from the language of Portugal. Brazilian Portuguese contains a large number of indigenous terms, particularly Tupi-Guarani words for native plants, animals, and place-names that are not found in continental Portuguese. While regional accents exist in Brazil, they are not very pronounced and native Portuguese speakers from one region have no difficulty understanding those from other regions. The vast majority of Brazilians are monolingual in Portuguese, although many middle-class and elite Brazilians study English and to a lesser extent Spanish, French, and German. Brazilians are very proud of their linguistic heritage and resent that many foreigners, particularly North Americans, think Brazilians speak Spanish.

Most Brazilians would agree that the symbols that best characterize their nation are the exuberant revelry of the pre-Lenten celebration of carnival and the wildly popular sport of soccer, called futebol in Brazil.

Carnival is a four-day extravaganza marked by parades of costumed dancers and musicians, formal balls, street dancing, and musical contests, a truly national party during which Brazilians briefly forget what they call the "hard realities of life." Carnival is symbolic of the national ethos because it plays to many of the dualities in Brazilian life: wealth and poverty, African and European, female and male. The key to carnival's popularity is its break with and reversal of the everyday reality. Through the use of costume—notably called fantasia in Portuguese—anyone can become anybody at carnival time. Class hierarchies based on wealth and power are briefly set aside, poverty is forgotten, men may dress as women, leisure supplants work, and the disparate components of Brazilian society blend in a dizzying blaze of color and music.

Brazilians are also passionate about soccer and are rated among the best players of the sport in the world. Every four years when the world's best teams vie for the World Cup championship, Brazil virtually shuts down as the nation's collective attention turns to the action on the playing field. And when Brazil wins the World Cup—as it has on more occasions than any other country—the delirium of the populace is palpable. Brazilian flags are hoisted aloft, everyone wears green and yellow (the national colors), and thousands of Brazilians, seemingly intoxicated with pride, take to the streets in revelry.


Emergence of the Nation

In 1530 the Portuguese began to colonize the new land of Brazil, but during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries their hold on this vast territory remained tenuous as they struggled with an unfamiliar environment, indigenous peoples, and with French and later Dutch attempts to undermine Portuguese control.

People harvesting sugar cane in Salvador. Northeast Brazil has the most African cultural influence, due to early plantation labor.

A useful exercise is to compare the early colonization of the United States and Brazil since it sheds light on the ensuing differences between the two modern nations. Both countries imported large numbers of African slaves, but in Brazil the practice began earlier, lasted longer, and involved the importation of two to three times more slaves than in the United States. Estimates range from three to four million Africans forcibly taken to Brazil. Moreover, in contrast to the large number of families who came to settle in the North American colonies, the Portuguese colonists were more often single males. Thus, in the early 1700s, when the importation of slaves into North America was just beginning, the proportion of Africans to Europeans was much smaller in the United States than in Brazil, where the slave trade had been operating for more than a century. The smaller ratio of Portuguese colonists to slave and indigenous peoples in Brazil and the resultant tendency of single men to take African or indigenous women as concubines or wives led to the great racial mix that characterizes Brazilian society today. Extensive miscegenation occurred in Brazil among Africans, Portuguese, and indigenous peoples during colonial times, and later with the arrival of new immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

While many people today see Brazil's racial and cultural diversity as one of the nation's strengths, foreign visitors and Brazilians themselves have at times drawn a connection between extensive racial mixing and Brazil's "backwardness." The belief that Brazil was less able to develop due to its racial heterogeneity was at the root of governmental decisions regarding immigration. Nineteenth century government-sponsored colonization schemes, for example, hoped to attract white immigrants, especially northern Europeans. And, in the early twentieth century, when theories of eugenics were popular in many parts of the world, Brazilian elites were straightforward about their desire to "whiten" the country so that it would develop economically.

Others dissented from this view. In the 1930s well-known Brazilian anthropologist, Gilberto Freyre, argued that the richness of Brazilian society lay precisely in its mixed racial heritage. The Portuguese, he argued, had laid the foundation for a "new world in the tropics," a blending of African, Indian, and European elements that made Brazilian culture unique. While later criticized as a conservative romantic who downplayed the harsh realities of life for people of color in Brazil, Freyre nevertheless was instrumental in recasting discussions of the nation's multiracial heritage, making it a source of pride, rather than shame.

Historically the emergence of Brazilian national identity followed a pattern common to many other European colonial territories. During the colonial period (1500–1822), individuals born in Brazil were subject to rules and taxes that were decided in distant Portugal and most of the top posts in colonial administration were held by those born in the mother country. The relative lack of power over their own affairs encouraged the creation of a distinct identity among native-born Brazilians, albeit one made up of diverse elements.

In terms of wealth and power, colonial Brazil was dominated by a small white elite of Portuguese ancestry who owned sugar plantations worked by Indian and later, African slaves. Portuguese of more humble backgrounds and free people of color held the intermediate positions in colonial society; they were plantation foremen, artisans, small shopkeepers, low-level government bureaucrats, and members of militias.

Following Brazil's proclamation of independence from Portugal in 1822, Brazilian national identity was thrown into sharper relief, but its constituent parts remained largely unchanged. A small European elite still dominated Brazil's political and economic life, although gold had replaced sugar as the principle source of wealth (coffee would later replace gold). But the Brazilian masses still consisted of black slaves and free people of color who labored in gold mines, on coffee plantations, and as poverty-stricken sharecroppers and subsistence farmers.

Until the 1870s, in fact, Brazil was primarily a nation of people of color. In the first national census in 1872 over 60 percent of the population was classified as black or of mixed ancestry. Then a massive wave of immigration from Europe—eventually reaching some 2.5 million—helped shift the racial balance. At first a few thousand immigrants arriving from Germany and Spain added to the nation's existing ethnic melange, but once slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888, immigration really took off. It reached a peak in the 1890s with over one million Italians settling in the South and Southeast and additional tens of thousands emigrating from Portugal. During those years immigrants from Eastern Europe, including many Jews, also came to Brazil. In the early 1900s, as the coffee economy continued to expand, new waves of immigrants arrived from the Middle East (mainly Lebanon) and Japan.

While some cities in southern Brazil swelled with burgeoning immigrant populations, other immigrants, especially Germans and Japanese, established themselves in isolated rural communities. In many small towns and rural areas in the South and Southeast during the 1920s and 1930s, children were educated in German or Japanese and Portuguese was rarely spoken. But when it was disclosed that the German government was aiding anti– government groups in Brazil, the Brazilian authorities ordered the closing of schools in which the principal language of instruction was not Portuguese.

After World War II Brazil followed a pattern of assimilation common to many nations with a high percentage of immigrants. As the second and third generations settled in and moved up the economic ladder, they became "Brazilian" to varying degrees. They intermarried, no longer spoke the language of their ancestors, and came to think of themselves primarily as Brazilian.

Contemporary Brazilians not only share a common culture, they insist on distinguishing themselves linguistically and ethnically from other Latin Americans, a stance rooted in a sense of cultural pride, in the distinctiveness of their "race" as they call it. Brazilians have long been indifferent to their South American neighbors, dismissing their shared Iberian roots as of no particular consequence. As Brazilian anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro once remarked, "Brazil and Spanish America are divided into two worlds, back to back to each other."

Brazilians have a strong national ideology that their land is a "racial democracy," one without prejudice towards its darker skinned citizens. The ideology, although patently untrue, nevertheless shapes the contours of interracial behavior and discourse in Brazil, smoothing its edges. While racial prejudice and discrimination do, indeed, exist in Brazil, their expression is more subtle than in the United States and perhaps, therefore, more difficult to combat.

Unlike in the United States, in Brazil there is no "one drop" rule—the custom that defines anyone with any known or suspected African ancestry as "black." The Brazilian system of racial classification is both more complex and more in keeping with biological reality. First, Brazil has never had two discrete racial categories—black and white—and Brazilians recognize and have words for a wide variety of racial types. Moreover, how individuals are classified racially does not depend solely on their physical appearance, their skin color, hair type, and facial features or on those of their relatives. Social class, education, and manner of dress all come into play in assigning someone to a racial category. As Brazilians put it, "money whitens"—that is, the higher the social class, the lighter the racial category to which an individual belongs. A well dressed, well educated woman with dark skin and Negroid features might be referred to as a moreno (roughly, brunette), while an illiterate sharecropper with light skin might be assigned to a darker racial category than his physical appearance alone would warrant.

Ironically, some evidence suggests that since the 1960s Brazil has been moving toward a system of racial classification similar to that of the United States. That is, the multitude of racial terms commonly used by Brazilians may be giving way to a bifurcate system of branco and negro —white and black.

Whatever the trend in racial classification, Brazil is far from being a "racial paradise" as Freyre claimed. Some statistics bear this out. Dark-skinned people in Brazil are more likely to be poor than light skinned-people and whites have average monthly incomes almost two and a half times greater than nonwhites. Nonwhites have fewer years of schooling than whites, with illiteracy rates of 30 percent and 12 percent respectively.

In considering these figures, social scientists have long argued that discrimination in Brazil is more a matter of social class than of race. In other words, one's life chances as a poor person in Brazil are bleak, regardless of one's color. But recent research has questioned this assumption and has shown that even when holding markers of social class such as income and education as constants, nonwhites fare worse than whites in rates of infant mortality and average life expectancy.

The Brazil-as-a-racial-paradise ideology long served to dampen Afro-Brazilian social and political movements. Moreover, because of the absence of the one drop rule, racial consciousness has always been more muted in Brazil than in the United States, making it more difficult to organize on the basis of race. Nevertheless, the more inclusive term Afro-brasileiro (Afro-Brazilian) has gained popularity in recent years, more groups celebrating Brazil's African heritage and decrying racism have emerged, and an affirmative action program, called discriminação posítiva (positive discrimination), has been instituted by the Brazilian government.

By far the most important demographic change in Brazil's recent history has been its shift from a predominantly rural to an urban society. As recently as 1940, more than two-thirds of Brazilians lived in rural areas, but by 2000 the proportion of rural dwellers had dropped to 22 percent. The "urban designation," however, includes many small cities as well as the large population centers of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

With urbanization has come a number of intractable social problems. The large cities of southern Brazil have long attracted migrants from the impoverished north, but the economies of these cities have not expanded rapidly enough to absorb all these migrants. Unemployment, underemployment at subsistence wages, poverty, and crime have been the result. So, too, have been the growth of shantytowns, such as the famed hillside favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Favelas are extralegal settlements consisting of makeshift dwellings that lack urban services.

Until the late 1970s various municipal governments dealt with substandard housing through urban renewal, demolishing it to make way for "modern" buildings and thoroughfares and building public housing—often miles from the city center—for the displaced poor. Such benighted attempts to solve the problem were largely replaced in the 1980s with efforts to regularize the status of favelas by providing them with electricity, sewage, paved streets, schools, and clinics, a sign of the growing political clout of their inhabitants.

The desire of many of the urban poor to live in centrally located shantytowns stems from the fact that most Brazilian cities are ringed by miles of working class suburbios (suburbs) that necessitate long commutes to jobs in the city center. In other words, unlike in the United States, poor people in Brazil are more likely to live at the outskirts of urban areas—the suburbs—while the middle class and well-to-do tend to live in more conveniently located neighborhoods in the heart of the city.

Cities, especially big cities, have movimento —a quality of liveliness and bustle that most Brazilians value. And some Brazilian cities have a great deal of movimento indeed. São Paulo, a metropolitan area of sixteenth million people and one of the fastest growing cities in the world, is Brazil's New York, Chicago, and Detroit all rolled into one. Rural zones, in contrast, are generally viewed by urbanites as backlands, as dull places of unrelieved poverty.

Cities have played an important role in Brazilian history. After all, few other countries have had three national capitals. During the colonial period when sugar was king, the nation's locus was the northeast coast and Salvador was the colonial capital. Then with the eighteenth century gold boom centered in the state of Minas Gerais in the southeastern part of the country, the capital was moved to Rio de Janeiro where it remained until the founding of Brasília in 1960.

Urban architecture in Brazil owes much to the legacy of Portuguese colonialism. Cities such as Ouro Prêto and Rio de Janeiro grew in importance long before industrialization had brought the factory or the automobile to Brazil. These cities, which influenced patterns of urban construction throughout the country, were largely modeled on Portuguese cities. The neighborhoods built during colonial times have narrow streets with continuous building facades that converge on central plazas. These open areas are often the sites of churches or government buildings, constructions imbued with symbolic power by being set off from the solid mass of private dwellings that line the streets.

Brasília was designed to be the ideal modern city and its architecture and planning were meant to transform Brazilian society. But in Brasília today the distinctions between haves and have-nots are all too apparent, concrete reflections of the nation's social and economic divisions. In planning Brasília no provision was made for housing the thousands of workers who built the city or the thousands more who would service it. The only provision for them was the inclusion of tiny maids' rooms in apartments built for the middle class. As a result, jerry-built satellite cities ringing the urban core grew up to house the workers the planners forgot.

The complaints of Brasília's residents illuminate the customary use of urban space in Brazil. Many express dislike for Brasília's traffic circles which replace the intersections and street corners found in most Brazilian cities. This highlights the importance of the street in Brazil as a site of social encounters and public activities.


When it comes to architectural photography, very few hold as much international esteem as Leonardo Finotti.  His muse is the architecture of Brazil– the works of Niemeyer, of Bardi, of Costa, of Mendes da Rocha and others.  As Brazilian architecture is amongst the world’s most progressive, most intercultural, Mr. Finotti is that creative melting pot’s most storied visual diplomat.  To celebrate Brazil’s greatest architectural monuments, we asked Leonardo Finotti himself to share with us his favorite works of Brazilian architecture.  If the country of Brazil holds a special place in your heart, you will no doubt appreciate this list of the South American nation’s 10 greatest architectural monuments.


National Congress of Brazil by Oscar Niemeyer

In what building does your national congress meet?  If you take a step back, look at your national buildings with fresh eyes, they generally reflect a time far past and a symbolism long dead.  In Brazil, the renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer gave his vision to his own country’s congress with the National Congress of Brazil building.  The design yields the feeling of balanced emotion, with two opposing sides intersected by a symbol of equality.  Whether the cup is half full or half empty, it is the justice of the national congress of Brazil that provides the true balance.  Niemeyer’s vision is alive and well in the Brazilian congress of today.


Brazilian Museum of Sculpture by Paulo Mendes da Rocha

Fans of Ayn Rand‘s classic book The Fountainhead may recognize a bit of the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture from the story of Howard Roark’s temple of humanity.  While there is no scuplture of Dominique within, this simple, concrete structure holds this South American nation’s most prized sculptural works.  What is angular and barren is accented by vibrant, shapely works of art molded into forms more imaginative than can be seen.  Da Rocha’s museum houses them perfectly, providing an unobtrusive canvas that earns an equal respect as the art held within.


Brazil’s Civic Square by Burle Max

This work of architecture by Burle Max may not be as tall or renowned as other works by Brazil’s foremost architects, but its importance cannot be ovelrooked.  Brazil’s Civic Square is a carefully cultivated outdoor park project including mutiple acres of green space, a central pond, a set hiking path and a symbolic structure when viewed from the air.  This Civic Square almost looks like the Nazca Lines of the Inca natives, celebrated for their ancient involvement in South American history.  While the Civic Square may not be as high reaching as the others on this list, it cannot be ignored for its creative architectural value in Brazil.


Rio De Janeiro Museum of Modern Art by Afonso Reidy

If you’re heading to Rio, you cannot miss the art of the Rio De Janeiro Museum of Modern Art itself.  While what is contained within is truly a spectacle to see, the design of the MOMA in Rio demands respect unto itself.  The museum occupies two opposing design sensibilities– one of repeated concrete and another of formed metal, a design that shares the building’s stark contrasts.  Apparently, our friend Leonardo Finotti was lucky enough to capture a sky view of the museum to show it’s true nature of contrast.


Ministry of External Relations by Oscar Niemeyer

If you’re a foreign government rep not lucky enough to be invited to the Palacio de Alvorada, you’re likely to end up at the equally beautiful Ministry of External Relations.  This ministry houses Brazil’s office of diplomacy, the branch of government which sells Brazil’s stature to the modern world.  In a place so beautiful, as designed by Niemeyer himself, you couldn’t ask for a better setting.  Niemeyer’s work provides for hard evidence that design can play an active role in world politics, and the way our globe shapes itself in cultural awareness.


Food in Daily Life. Rice, beans, and manioc form the core of the Brazilian diet and are eaten at least occasionally by all social classes in all parts of the nation. Manioc is a root crop that is typically consumed as farinha , manioc flour sprinkled over rice and beans, or farofa , manioc flour sautéed in a bit of oil with onions, eggs, olives, or other ingredients. To this core, meat, poultry, or fish are added, but the frequency of their consumption is closely tied to financial well-being. While the middle and upper classes may consume them on a daily basis, the poor can afford such protein sources far less often.

Traditionally the most important meal of the day is a multicourse affair eaten after midday. For middle-class and elite families it might consist of a pasta dish or a meat or fish course accompanied by rice, beans, and manioc and a sweet dessert or fruit followed by tiny cups of strong Brazilian coffee called cafezinho. For the poor it would be primarily rice and beans. The evening repast is simpler, often consisting of soup and perhaps leftovers from the midday meal.

As Brazil urbanizes and industrializes, the leisurely family-centered meal at midday is being replaced by lanches (from the English, "lunch"), smaller meals usually consumed in restaurants, including ones featuring buffets that sell food by the kilo and such ubiquitous fast-food eateries as McDonalds. The poor, who cannot afford restaurants, are likely to eat the noon meal at home, to buy snacks sold on the street, or to carry food with them to work in stacked lunch buckets. In rural areas itinerant farm laborers who are paid by the day and who carry such buckets have been dubbed bóias-frias, "cold lunches."

Meals may be accompanied by soft drinks— including guaraná, made from a fruit that grows in the Amazon—beer, or bottled water.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions

While the principle foods consumed in Brazil are fairly uniform across the country, there are regional specialties, many of which are eaten on festive occasions. In the northeastern state of Bahia ingredients of African origin—palm oil ( dendê ), dried shrimp, peanuts, malagueta peppers—are the basis of regional cuisine in such dishes as vatapá (seafood stew) and acarajé (black-eyed pea fritters). A variety of fruit and fish native to the Amazon are featured in dishes of that region, while in southern Brazil, an area of extensive cattle ranches, meals of grilled meat ( churrasco ) are favored. Another southern specialty are rodizios, restaurants featuring barbecue in which waiters pass from table to table with large skewers of grilled meats and poultry.

Brazil's national dish, feijoada (literally "big bean" stew), is said to have originated during slave times. Traditionally feijoada contained inexpensive and less desirable cuts of meat such as tripe and pigs feet, Brazilian slaves having concocted the dish from the leftovers of the master's table. Today feijoada consists of a variety of meats slowly cooked with black beans and condiments. A feijoada completa or "complete feijoada" is accompanied by rice, fresh orange slices, a side dish of peppery onion sauce, chopped greens, such as collards, and farinha. Caipirinhas —a potent blend of Brazilian sugarcane alcohol ( cachaça ), crushed limes, and sugar—or batidas ( cachaça and fruit juice) are usually served as aperitifs; beer is the drink of choice to accompany the meal. Feijoada is served in restaurants, typically on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and when made at home, it is a favorite dish for guests.


Leadership and Political Officials

Brazil's return to free elections in the mid-1980s after two decades of military dictatorship has not resulted in greater social and legal equity, and unequal treatment of rich and poor is ongoing. Government officials and well-to-do individuals who have committed crimes still are more likely to escape the long arm of the law than are those of lesser social status. In part, this is because Brazil is a country in which laws and regulations are passed, yet a significant proportion of them are ignored. Still, today there is growing intolerance of political corruption and a host of official inquiries are evidence that Brazilians are starting to reject impunity and demand accountability of their public officials.

One concept is key to understanding Brazilian political culture: jeitos, ways of cutting through obstacles—such as rules and red tape—to achieve a desired end. Jeitos are partly a response to Brazil's notorious bureaucratic thicket which makes getting a government document—be it a driver's license, passport, or marriage license—a cumbersome process. Those who can afford to hire despachantes (dispatchers), professional facilitators who know how to "do jeitos", to get things done. Others do jeitos on their own; perhaps a small "gratuity" to a low-paid government clerk will produce the desired document.

A personalistic system of patron-client relationships is another key to the nation's political culture. One becomes a government bureaucrat or politician and rises through the ranks by developing influential connections and getting help from personal networks. Ambitious individuals cultivate powerful patrons who promote and protect them, and their own career trajectories typically rise and fall with those of their patrons.


The Relative Status of Women and Men. The mostly male Portuguese colonizers of Brazil brought with them the concept of machismo, which identifies men with authority and strength and women with weakness and subservience. Still, machismo is tempered in Brazil. It lacks the sharp-edged stress on heterosexuality and obsessive dread of homosexuality that characterizes it in other Latin societies. Nevertheless, this world view, combined with the patriarchy of the Catholic Church, laid the foundation for male dominance. As in most of Latin America, Brazil has a double standard in sexual matters. Traditionally, at least, men were expected to demonstrate their virility through premarital and extramarital sexual escapades, while women were supposed to "save themselves" for their husbands and remain faithful after marriage. So-called "crimes of passion" are linked to this dual sexual standard. In the past—and occasionally even in modern times—men who killed their wives believing them to be unfaithful often went unpunished.

Women have been slow to receive legal equality in Brazil. They were not given the vote until 1932 and, until the 1960s, women were the equivalent of children under Brazilian law. They needed permission from their fathers or husbands to leave the country and could not open bank accounts on their own.

A women's rights movement emerged fairly late compared to that in the United States and has just started influencing legislation and the political process at the onset of the twenty-first century. While it has had some success, for example, in setting up special police stations for abused women, abortion is still illegal, although widespread. Moreover, the emphasis on youth and beauty as a measure of female worth remains unchanged and it is no coincidence that Brazilian plastic surgeons enjoy international renown.


Religious Beliefs. Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world even though the percentage of Brazilians who belong to the Catholic Church has declined in recent years, down from 95 percent in the 1950s. Today about 73 percent of Brazilians identify themselves as Catholic but an unknown number are Catholics by tradition, not by faith.

Although church and state are separate in Brazil and, by law, there is freedom of religious belief and expression, a close relationship exists between the Catholic Church and the state. Major Catholic holidays are public holidays and a priest (or bishop) always presides at the inauguration of public buildings. Also, church-based welfare and educational institutions, such as religious seminaries, receive financial support from the federal government. At various times in Brazilian history the Catholic Church has either strongly endorsed the state or vigorously challenged the status quo, as in the case of liberation theology, a late-twentieth century movement that provided religious justification for questioning the yawning gap between haves and have-nots in Brazil.

Catholicism varies somewhat in rural and urban settings. What has been called "folk Catholicism," which includes beliefs and practices long abandoned in cities, is observed by people in the interior of the country. Such popular Catholicism survives in pilgrimage centers in the backlands which attract thousands of Brazilians, often from great distances. The faithful take vows to make a pilgrimage to honor the saint who fulfills their request—recovery from illness or getting a job are examples. Sometimes the grateful supplicant offers the saint a carved likeness of the body part that has been cured.

Brazilian Catholicism has always coexisted— generally in relative harmony—with other religions including those of the nation's indigenous people, African religions brought to Brazil by slaves, European spiritism, and various Protestant denominations.

Moreover, many Brazilian Catholics participate in the rituals of other religions but nevertheless consider themselves "good" Catholics.

Candomblé, the best known and most traditional of Brazil's African-derived religions, is centered in the city of Salvador and traces its origin to the Yoruba and Dahomey religions of West Africa. In Candomblé—a syncretic religion (one that combines elements of more than one religion) with both African and European elements—deities are called forth through the spirit possession of cult initiates. Despite police raids and other forms of social discrimination in years past, Candomblé has persisted and flourished as a vibrant symbol of Afro-Brazilian cultural identity.

Umbanda is another highly syncretic religion with spiritist elements that began in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1920s and spread to urban areas throughout the country. With some thirty million followers today, Umbanda has been called the one true national religion of Brazil because it embraces elements of all three of the nation's cultural traditions: African, European, and Indian.

Spiritism, based on the teachings of French philosopher Alain Kardec and introduced to Brazil in the nineteenth century, is yet another spiritual movement with a growing following. Spiritism is more an intellectual endeavor than an emotional cry for salvation. Spiritists, most of whom are from the upper-middle-class and elite sectors of society, believe that humans are spirits trapped in bodies and that moral perfection is life's goal.

The live and let live stance of Brazilian Catholicism towards other forms of religious belief and expression is absent in Brazilian Protestantism, especially in its fundamentalist variant. The so-called "new Pentecostals" view Afro-Brazilian religions and Umbanda as the work of the Devil and dramatically exorcize new converts to rid them of such evil.

Pentecostal churches have enjoyed great success in recent years. In often highly emotional services, converts claim inspiration from the Holy Spirit, speak in tongues, and perform cures. Using radio and television, the sects target the poor and preach here-and-now self-improvement through individual initiative. One relatively new sect, the Igreja Universal (Universal Church), founded in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1970s, now has churches all over Brazil and throughout the world.

A development in the Brazilian religious panoply at the end of the twentieth century was the growth of the Charismatic movement within the Catholic Church. With its strong emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit to heal physical, emotional, and material distress; its rituals involving speaking in tongues; and its lively, emotive religious services, Charismatic Catholicism has much in common with Pentecostalism.


The turquoise blue sea beaches and the pulsating beat of the Samba dance offer you breathtaking views of natural sights and a glimpse into the vibrant art and culture of Brazil. A trip to the majestic land of Brazil remains incomplete without acknowledging the different vicissitudes of the various aspects of Brazilian art and culture.

A Brief Historical Background of Art and Culture of Brazil:

The Brazilian culture owes its origin to the Portuguese who invaded the country long back and established their supremacy over the land. With them they imbibed the Roman Catholic faith among the common general masses of Brazil, which still continues to exert dominant influence over the Brazilian populace. Also with the passage of time, other tribes and religious groups asserted their control over the natives of the land as the Amerindian's significantly molded Brazil's language, music, cuisine and religion. The Yoruba's from Southwestern part of Nigeria made its strong inroads into the traditional Brazilian religion. European countries as Italy and Germany also left behind strokes of western effect on the Brazilian art and culture. But towards the last half of 20th century, the cultural scenario of Brazil underwent a sea change with the intermingling of various foreign cultures especially in the field of cinema and modern art. The inter caste marriages of Portuguese with Indians, the invasions by the Dutch and French, the Spanish rule and later the immigration of Italians, Germans and Japanese to this land widely contributed to the growth of ethnicity of Brazil's culture.

Aspects of Brazilian Literature and Entertainment Activities in Brazil:

Since the colonial period, the literature of Brazil was constantly under the Portuguese influence followed by a literary age characterized by romanticism and neo classicism. While the modern age saw the effect of realism in majority of the literary works. Some of the most popular Brazilian writers who rose to international prominence are--- Machado de Assis, Euclides da Cunha, Monteiro Lobato, Lima Barreto and Simões Lopes Neto. The vibrating cities of Brazil offer you numerous entertainment activities to delve on.

Thus, an overview of the art and culture of Brazil presents us interesting facets into the typical Brazilian lifestyle.


For understanding the culture of any city it is necessary to have a look in its museums and art galleries the museums and art galleries of any country serve the best place to have a look in its culture and tradition. Museums serve the best place storing different elements of a particular country and its culture with changing phases. Brazil offers many museums and art galleries that describe the culture and tradition of the country. The National Museum of Brazil is considered as one of the best museums of Brazil. The national museum of Brazil is recognized as a centenarian museum and research institution, located in the Quinta da Boa Vista Park in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Best Museums

Museu do Oratorio (Ouro Preto; tel. 031/3551-5369; www.oratorio.com.br): Behind Ouro Preto's main square stands the town's loveliest museum, which houses a colorful collection of oratories, which are in fact little mini-altars, used by people so they could pray without having to go to church. The Afro-Brazilian oratories are decorated with flowers and shells from the Candomblé religion.

Museu de Arte Sacra (Mariana; tel. 031/3551-4736): One of the best collections of sacred art in Brazil can be found in the small town of Mariana, just outside of Ouro Preto. The vast collection of impressive gold and silver works is displayed in a gorgeous old colonial mansion.

Monument to Latin America (São Paulo; tel. 011/3823-4600; www.memorial.org.br): Designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the monument is, well, so Niemeyer -- shy of a visit to Brasilia, it's the best place to see Brazilian modernism in all its concrete austerity.

Pinacoteca do Estado (São Paulo; tel. 011/3324-1000): The Pinacoteca in São Paulo is the place to come for anyone who wants to see Brazilian art. The museum has an excellent collection of Brazilian art from the 19th and 20th centuries, including works by Alfredo Ceschiatti, the artist who designed many of the sculptures in Brasilia.

Museu de Arte Sacra (Salvador; tel. 071/3243-6310): One of the finest museums in Salvador, the Arte Sacra displays one of Brazil's best collections of Catholic art. The artifacts are shown in the monastery adjoining the Igreja de Santa Teresa, a simple, beautiful building that is itself a work of art. The collection includes oil paintings, oratorios (small cabinets containing a crucifix or saint image), and amazing silver work.


Because Brazil is exuberant by nature.

In Brazil, exuberance is everywhere. You find it in the vastness of the desert-like sands of the Lençois Maranhenses and in its seven thousand kilometres of coastline. In the rivers so wide they appear to be seas. In the Amazon Forest, the largest on the planet. In the 250 thousand square kilometres of the Mato Grosso swamplands, the impressive nature reserve, a Heritage of Humanity.

Beauty also runs wild in the 44 national parks created to preserve the ecosystem. In the long rows of coconut palms which line the coast of Alagoas. Throughout the Chapada Diamantina, in Bahia, and from the top of the Pico de Itatiaia, in Rio de Janeiro. In the archaeological sites of Piaui. In Brasilia’s beautiful sunsets and throughout the pampas of Rio Grande do Sul. Amidst the impressive mountains of Minas Gerais and the amazing pororoca, the strange and noisy meeting of waters in the States of Amapa and Para. Everywhere you look, there are plenty of reasons to become enchanted, to become emotional, and why not say, to fall in love with Brazil.

Because fun is included in every daily rate.

Brazil is known, internationally, for its Carnival, soccer and tourist attractions such as Christ the Redeemer and the Iguaçu Falls. However, as are its people and its culture, the options for fun and entertainment in Brazil are diverse and exuberant.

In the cosmopolitan Brazilian metropolises, such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador and Brasilia, a broad range of cultural options is available to the tourist, such as museums, international-quality cuisine, operas and symphonic orchestras.

For those who insist on getting to know more about our culture, they can enjoy popular festivities that reveal much of the history, the art and the riches of the Brazilian people. There are options for all tastes: Bumba-meu-boi in the north of the country, the typical gaucho dances and festivals with European influences in the south and, of course, the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro – the grandest party on the planet.

Nature in Brazil also deserves special attention, with several ecological parks and extremely varied ecosystems: the tropical forest in the Amazon region, the stunted vegetation in the Northeast, the Atlantic Forest in the Southeast, the vast swamplands in the Midwest and the pampas in the South. Besides these, in cities such as Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro, it is possible to visit botanical gardens, which are a blend of historical value and Brazilian biodiversity.

Because it is very easy to get here.

Brazil is served by most international airlines. There are dozens of daily flights, full of tourists coming from every corner of the world. Those who most frequently seek out our country for their holidays are the Argentinians, the Americans and the Germans. However, with the expansion in the number of international airlines also operating here, visitors from other countries are also getting interested in visiting us, according to recent surveys. These include Uruguay, Portugal, France, Italy, and most of our neighbouring countries in Latin America.

This increased international interest in Brazil can be observed through the numbers recorded for the first quarter of 2005, which point to the arrival of approximately 137 thousand foreign tourists, on charter flights. This represents a growth of 35.46% in comparison to the same period of the previous year. Data from Infraero (Brazilian Company for Airport Infrastructure) reveal that in March 2005, this percentage increase was even greater, totalling 43.03% - 37,410 tourists, compared to 25,966 in March of last year.

According to Infraero, this trend in the growth of the number of charter flights can also be noted in some regions of the country, especially Rio de Janeiro. This makes it even easier to travel from the larger Brazilian cities to any state in the country. And this air infrastructure does not stop growing. In 2004 alone, 8 expansion jobs were completed, not to mention the constant modernization of older airports throughout the entire country.


The origins of carnival date back to the ancient Greek spring festival in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine. The Romans adopted the celebration with Bacchanalia (feasts in honor of Bacchus, the Roman equivalent to Dionysus), and Saturnalia, where slaves and their masters would exchange clothes in a day of drunken revelry. Saturnalia was later modified by the Roman Catholic Church into a festival leading up Ash Wednesday. It quickly evolved into a massive celebration of indulgences - one last gasp of music, food, alcohol, and sex before Lent - before the 40 days of personal reflection, abstinence, and fasting until Easter (not exactly what the Church probably had in mind). 40 days of purging sins, preceded by a week filled with virtually every known sin. The word itself comes from Latin, "Carne Vale" or "Farewell to the Flesh".

Brazil’s top 10 carnivals

Brazilians know how to throw a party on a mammoth scale and make other festivals look like trainspotting conventions. So charge your caphirianas, don your most sequinned outfit and samba your way through the hottest carnivals in Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro
One of the world’s largest parties, Carnaval – in all its colourful, hedonistic bacchanalia – is virtually synonymous with Rio. Held over five days of revelry during Easter, from the Friday to the Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday, residents of Rio begin the partying months in advance. Parades featuring elaborate floats flanked by thousands of pounding drummers and twirling dancers, is the culmination of the festivities – though the real action, Cariocas profess, is at the wild parties about town.

Visitors are welcome to join the mayhem. There are free live concerts happening all over the city, while those seeking a bit of decadence can head to the various balls about town. Whatever you do, prepare yourself for sleepless nights, an ample dose of caipirinhas (the unofficial Brazilian national drink: cachaça with crushed lime, sugar and ice), samba and  joyful crowds.

Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro
The best way to see in the New Year is to join the Reveillion party on Rio’s mighty Copacabana beach, where the spiritual and the secular come together for one amazing night. Two million people pack the sands to welcome in the New Year. From about 8pm, top bands perform on stages strung out along the 4km-long beach, pumping out a variety of Brazilian and international music. At midnight, a spectacular fireworks display lights up the night sky while the hardiest of revellers keep things going til sunrise.

Carnaval in Salvador happens on the streets in late February to early March, where music and spontaneity rule and trios elétricos (electrically amplified bands playing atop speaker-laden trucks) work two million revellers into a frenzy. For an entire week they dance, drink and kiss until they drop, get up the next day and start again. Each year the city designates a theme for Carnaval, and decorates the city accordingly.

The largest festival on the River Amazon, Círio de Nazaré revolves around a small statue of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré (Our Lady of Nazareth) which is believed to have performed miracles. For centuries, Brazillians have come to honor the Virgin and carry the statue from Belem to Icoaraci and back in a river procession of hundreds of boats. Millions of people fill the streets during the second week of October, along with the sounds of hymns, bells and fireworks, to accompany the image from Catedral da Sé to the basilica.

São Luís, Maranhão
Bumba Meu Boi is a wild, folkloric festival is derived from African, Indian and Portuguese influences that mingled in colonial times. The event, held from late July until mid-August, revolves around


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