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What Is Brazil Known & Famous For

You probably know Brazil as the home of some of the world’s best soccer players. Indeed, with the number of athletes hailing from the country, it would be surprising if you didn’t associate Brazil with soccer. But there’s so much more to learn about and experience in Brazil.

Aside from being home to some of the world’s best soccer players, Brazil also has rich wildlife, being the cradle of the Amazon Rainforest and the Amazon River. The country also boasts of its vibrant, lively, and fun-loving culture and its beautiful people.

Let’s take a quick review of some of Brazil’s most noteworthy features, places, and experiences.

Rio de Janeiro

Many people think that Rio de Janeiro is the capital of Brazil. Although that’s not correct, it’s not entirely wrong either, because Rio de Janeiro used to be the country’s capital. The country has had three capitals over the years, the first one being Salvador, the next one being Rio de Janeiro, and the current one being Brasilia.

One interesting fact about it is that it was erroneously named by a Portuguese explorer who meant for it to mean “The mouth of the river” and called it Rio de Janeiro instead, which actually means “January River.” 

São Paulo

If you love being around people, São Paulo is the destination for you. It is one of the biggest cities in the world, with over 20 million residents. But be warned that the traffic may be a bit heavy here since the city is as packed with cars as it is with people. In fact, it has been reported to have more cars than the total number of people in Rio de Janeiro.

The city is also frequented by tourists because of its museums, parks, and monuments. If you happen to be in the city, do not miss these cultural and historical hotspots. 

The Amazon Rainforest

It is widely known that the Amazon Rainforest is the largest in the world measuring 6.9 million square kilometers (2.72 million square miles). 

While most people think that the entirety of the Amazon Basin falls within Brazilian borders, the fact is that only ⅔ of the rainforest is situated in Brazil. Portions of the famous rainforest lie in other countries, such as Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and several other South American nations.

This vast and rich rainforest is also home to hundreds of thousands of species of trees, insects, and other wildlife. Unfortunately, however, the Amazon has also suffered man-made environmental damage and wildfires that killed hundreds of its animals and burned its trees.

The Amazon River

Found in the Amazon Basin, the Amazon River is the world’s largest river by volume and used to be believed as the next longest river, second to the Nile. Scientists have disputed, however, that the Amazon River is the longest in the world, because it is, in fact, longer than the Nile by 284 kilometers (176 miles).

The length difference between the Nile and the Amazon River is trivial, many scientists say, and should not overshadow the more pressing fact that both rivers need enthusiastic conservation efforts to protect not only the vitality of these rivers but also the wildlife that depend on them.

Portuguese

Due to years of colonization by Portugal, the main language that is spoken in the country today is Portuguese. However, there is a difference in the way Brazilian Portuguese is pronounced. Brazilians tend to linger on and enunciate their vowels more than the Portuguese do. 

Accents differ between Portuguese and Brazilians as well, with Brazilians having a more melodic accent, because of the rhythms with which they generally speak. On the other hand, Portuguese has less cadence and is more monotonous.

Despite the differences, Brazilian Portuguese is still Portuguese and is understood by native Portuguese people very well. 

Copacabana

Situated in Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana, nicknamed Copa, is one of the liveliest spots in the country. Situated in Rio de Janeiro, it boasts of its beautiful crescent-shaped beach lined with countless hotels, restaurants, cafés, and clubs where both locals and tourists gather to have a great time.

With its lively environment and always-on social life, Copacabana beach is considered one of the most famous beaches in the world. No wonder thousands of people gather here all year round.

Football (Soccer)

Football is a big deal in Brazil. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a Brazilian who doesn’t love the sport. Over the years, football has become a major part of Brazilian culture and social life. 

When the national team plays, it’s common for locals to take a leave off work and hold watching parties with families and friends. Young ones are usually found kicking soccer balls in their neighborhoods.

Brazilians also take great pride in their national football team. And why not? The country’s national team has won more FIFA World Cup titles than any national team and has scored the most number of goals to date.

Football Players

Over the years, Brazil has produced some of the best and most celebrated football players of all time. The younger generations (or those who are new to football) may know Cristiano Ronaldo most of all. But did you know that Brazil is also home to football legends Pelé, Cafu, Ronaldinho, and Romario?

All these football heroes have displayed extraordinary skill but also a passion for the sport, making them the figures that aspiring athletes today look up to. All five have been crucial to the Brazil national football team gaining its World Cup titles.

Pelé

Pelé is arguably the best football player in history. Though many have debated over this claim, comparing him (and sometimes pitting him against) other football greats, Pelè remains an immovable figure in football. To this day, no one has beaten him to his world record of 77 goals in 92 caps. No wonder FIFA calls him “The Greatest”!

Upon retiring, Pelé, whose full name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, also went on to become Brazil’s Minister of Sport and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. He also founded the Pelé Foundation, which seeks to empower and give an opportunity to children, especially those coming from impoverished homes.   

Brazilian Carnival

The Carnival in Rio is a four-day annual celebration of all things excess–from drinks to parties to meats and sugary treats–before the Lenten season begins. It is celebrated before Ash Wednesday as a last hurrah for Catholics who are to go on a fast during Lent.

The word “carnival” actually comes from the Portuguese phrase “carna vale,” which means “farewell to meat.” During the festivities, you should expect street dancing and parades, seeing costumes everywhere, food galore, music, and lots of partying.

Don’t worry if you are not in Rio as Carnival happens all across the country. The celebration is in a league of its own when it comes to having a great time.

Tropical

If you are yearning to go somewhere warm, you would be right to visit Brazil. Because of its tropical climate, the country enjoys warm weather all year round, with rains driven by the Amazon pouring down every now and then. 

However, during rainy seasons it can be quite humid in the country, particularly in the areas near or surrounding the Amazon Rainforest. So be prepared to have a cold drink and air-conditioned accommodations ready.

Multicultural

Brazil is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse countries in the world. Owing to its history of Portuguese colonization, the African diaspora, and the indigenous peoples who have considered Brazil home for hundreds of decades (not to mention the numerous tourists that join in the country’s cultural mix).

This rich mix of varying cultures and races makes Brazil the colorful nation that it is today. However, as can be expected, despite the increasing momentum against racial discrimination, there is unfortunately still prejudice against Brazilians who are not white within the country.

Beaches

The most famous beach in Brazil is undoubtedly Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro. But did you know that Brazil is home to hundreds of other white sand beaches? With the country having roughly 7,000 miles (11,265 km) of coastline, this is not surprising. 

With its white sand, pristine waters, lively social events and festivities, and invigorating music, tourists flock to Brazil year after year. 

If you are planning to get sand on your toes, make sure to visit Copacabana beach, Ipanema beach, Salvador de Bahia, Buzios, and many more!

Natural Beauty

Brazilians are known to be naturally gorgeous people. Their women have golden skin and curves in all the right places. Their men are muscular and toned. Not to mention their facial features are to die for.

However, more and more people (especially women) are going under the knife to improve their looks. In fact, there is so much demand for plastic surgery in Brazil that there are more plastic surgeons in the country than in the U.S.

Of the procedures being done, liposuction and breast augmentation are the most common.

Christ the Redeemer

The 635-ton (635,000-kg) statue of Jesus Christ with outstretched arms is the largest Art Deco statue in the world. It stands on top of Mount Corcovado in Brazil and is made of concrete on the inside and soapstone tiles on the outside.

The statue is so large that it took nine years to complete. And because it stands so high at 38 meters (125 feet), it is often a target of lightning strikes. It has, in fact, been hit by lightning a number of times and suffered a few damages because of it.

Wildlife

All the lovers of nature will surely enjoy Brazil. The country has the richest wildlife in the world. Most of its animals thrive in its forests, particularly the Amazon Rainforest. According to National Geographic, Brazil is home to:

  • 600 mammal species
  • 1,500 fish species
  • 1,600 bird species
  • 10,000 insect species 

The Amazon Rainforest and the biodiversity that thrives in Brazil have captured the attention of the world, especially as several wildfires and destructive environmental exploitation have been happening in Brazil. 

Capoeira

The sport capoeira is a huge part of Brazilian culture and history. Back when Africans were brought to Brazil as slaves, they used the sport to defend themselves against their captors and those that abused them, without making it evident that they were fighting.

The martial art involves not only physical strength, but also self-control, mental discipline, and even rhythm. Slavery was officially banned in the country in 1888. But due to social unrest during this time, capoeira was also banned to prevent freed slaves from using it to reinforce uprisings against the government.

Bossa Nova

The Portuguese phrase “bossa nova” literally means “new trend.” And aptly, this music genre is a new mix between traditional samba of Brazil, American jazz, and Portuguese lyrics. It came about in the 1950s and is characterized by its quietly upbeat tempo and its almost intimate, lulling rhythm.

It’s said that Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto created bossa nova. And in the 1960s, the style became associated with social unrest and revolt.

Samba Dance

Samba dance is a big thing in Brazil. But it was actually the Africans who came to the country who brought the dance with them and enmeshed it with today’s vibrant, fun-loving Brazilian culture. The word “samba” is said to be derived from the Angolan word “semba,” which means “invitation to dance.”

True enough, when the samba beat comes on and the people are swaying to the rhythm, it’s hard not to follow suit, find a partner, and hit the dance floor. The samba dance is not only one to be danced in the ballroom, as it can also be danced on the street during festivities and carnivals.

Beautiful People

No one can deny that Brazilians are among the most beautiful people in the world. They are known for their natural shapeliness and gorgeously tanned skin–thanks to the country’s tropical climate. However, beauty standards in the country are ever-changing (just as in every society). And there are times when people want to ditch the curves to become skinny.

In Brazil, there is also the belief that the more attractive you are, the more opportunities will come your way and the more successful you will be, which is why more and more people are looking to enhance their beauty through plastic surgery.

Brazilian Wax

If you’re planning to step into the beach looking like a local, prepare to don a skimpy bikini just like local Brazilians do. Doing so usually calls for a Brazilian wax or depilar as locals call it, which entails waxing off the hair from the waist down.

Yes, that means removing even the hair on the genital area. Don’t worry, though, because spas will apply numbing cream to keep you from wincing in pain. This type of waxing is touted by many as a great way to exfoliate and reveal smooth, glowing skin.

Brazilian Thong

As mentioned earlier, it’s common to see Brazilian women wearing skimpy, thread-like thongs that show more than they hide. Brazilian women are not known to be shy about their bodies and flaunting their skin.

It may feel a little awkward at first if you’re not used to wearing a Brazilian thong to the beach. But because everyone will be wearing the same outfit, you will surely ease into it quickly enough. Don’t forget to put on a little confidence while you’re at it.

Food

Brazil is also known for its hearty traditional food, among which feijoada is the most popular. This heart dish made mainly of black beans and pork can be found in almost every part of Brazil. It’s such a staple in Brazilian households that every Brazilian wife must know how to prepare it!

Other must-try dishes are farofa, moqueca de camarão, vatapá, among many others. Brazilian cuisine is characterized by colorful dishes and varying flavors, reminiscent of its highly diverse cultural and ethnic origins.

Caipirinha

Together with Brazilian cuisine, a must-try is the caipirinha, a Brazilian cocktail that is touted as a “miracle recipe” by locals. It is not only consumed for its twangy, zesty punch but also because it is believed to have healing powers.

Decades ago, locals consumed caipirinha to cure conditions like scurvy and even to ward off viral diseases. However, it has not been proven to have medicinal properties, and accounts of those who were healed by the concoction are largely hearsay.

Iguaçu Falls

The massive Iguaçu Falls found on the Iguaçu River is as breathtaking because of its beauty as its massive size. In total, it comprises 275 waterfalls that together form the world’s biggest waterfall. The Iguaçu, which literally means “big water” straddles the boundaries of both Brazil and Argentina.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is taller at 82 meters (269 feet) and wider at 2,700 meters (8,858 feet) than Niagara Falls. It is definitely a sight to behold. 

Nightlife

You have not fully experienced Brazil until you step into its nightlife. Brazil by day is beautiful, but at night it turns electric. It has countless bars, clubs, beer halls, and even live music shows where people can hang out, make new friends, and have fun.

But if you want to experience Brazilian nightlife at its finest, make sure you go to Rio. That’s where most of the parties and events are at. Be prepared to meet lots of tourists when you do. Word about Brazil’s nightlife has spread well outside the country.

Culture

Brazil is definitely a culturally diverse country, owing to its rich history and different ethnicities that call the country home. This has made the country very colorful and vibrant, as well as passionate and fun-loving. Brazilians especially love to party, dance, and play soccer! If you like any of those, you’ll surely love Brazil.

Gangs

If you have ever visited Brazil, you may have received warnings about the gangs that are multiplying in the country. Foreigners are often advised not to go to slum areas or sightsee alone, as gang-related crimes have increased over the years.

Most gangs are related but not limited to drug trafficking. Petty crimes such as pickpocketing are also rampant in poorer regions of the country.

Favela

The term “favela” means “slum.” Crimes are more rampant in favelas, which are characterized by poor infrastructure and sanitation. These areas have multiplied as more migrants have trickled into the country.

It has been reported that about six percent of Brazil’s total population resides in favelas located on the outskirts of the country.

Wide Variety of Climates

The country’s location near the equator as well as the Atlantic Ocean makes for its changing climates. Brazil has subtropical and tropical climates that cause hot (and sometimes humid) weather in areas closest to the equator and milder weather in other areas. Some regions also have very dry seasons.

Guaraná

Guaraná is a Brazilian plant whose fruit is commonly used to add flavor to carbonated drinks. It has also long been consumed as a tea or as a health tonic that used to be believed to have healing properties. 

Today, there is a popular carbonated drink in Brazil named after and made of the plant. The soda is also available in several different countries.

Coffee

Love coffee? You should definitely check out Brazilian coffee. It’s known to be less acidic and mild-tasting but well-rounded. The coffee is so good Brazil produces of all coffee produced in the world. The Brazilian climate is also very suitable for coffee growing, enabling the country to produce a steady supply of coffee year after year.

Pão de Queijo

This delightful treat is a must at every Brazilian gathering. These are cheese balls with sweet potatoes and milk–crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. These are simply delectable. It’s not known how or when this treat was invented, but during the time when slaves were legal in Brazil, slaves made these bread balls without cheese.

Barbecued Meat

If you are expecting bite-sized slices of meat when coming to a Brazilian barbecue, you’re in for a surprise. Brazilian barbecue is unique because it’s made with large slices (not those even-sized square cuts) of meat roasted slowly in skewers. 

Feijoada

Feijoada, derived from the Portuguese word “feijão” which means “beans” is a popular dish made of black beans, port, and an assortment of vegetables. This savory dish is the most popular traditional Brazilian dish and is served on almost every important occasion.

Largest Country in South America

Measuring 8.5 million square kilometers (3 million sq mi), Brazil is the largest country in South America. It is also the fifth largest country in the world. Its population has ballooned to more than 215 million as more foreigners migrate to the country every year.

Conclusion

Brazil has so much to offer, from its beautiful beaches to its electric nightlife, colorful culture and cuisine, rich wildlife, and passion for sports. When you get the chance to come down, make sure you don’t just watch football but also dance the samba, frolic on its beaches, and sample its delightful feijoada.

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