BRAZIL - ABOUT
A Brazilian vacation is much more than Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro. This South American country holds the mysteries of the Amazon Rainforest, the spectacular Iguaçu Falls and a flavorful cuisine that reflects its varying cultures.
Almost twice the size of India, Brazil covers nearly half the South American continent and is nearly as large as the United States.
Its boundaries stretch from nearly 2,700 miles from the Andean foothills in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east. The climate is mild throughout, but can range from hot and humid to cool and breezy.
Most visitors prefer to visit the temperate northeast, known as the Nordeste region. Home to nearly 30 percent of Brazil’s population and covering nearly 20 percent of its land mass, the Nordeste lures travelers with its tempting beaches, national parks, historical cities and flavorful Afro-Brazilian culture.
This unique culture was most directly influenced by the Portuguese language and Catholic religion and its native Indian population. However, as with the United States, Brazil’s melting pot also was shaped by settlers from Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
All these lingual, cultural and religious influences have melded together to create a mélange of spiritual beliefs. Modern Brazil boasts believers from African cults, Indian animism, Afro-Catholic syncretism and the Eastern-mystic belief known as Kardecism.
In direct contrast to these closely held spiritual beliefs is the annual bacchanalia known as Mardi Gras, considered the world’s largest party. Visitors also may stumble upon any one of the many wild, and often spontaneous, festivals and pageants.
Despite its “party time” reputation, Brazil also offers a wealth of natural attractions. The cascading Iguaçu Falls are larger, and some say more breathtaking, than both the Niagara and Victoria falls.
But Brazil’s best-kept secret may be the Pantanal. These vast wetlands are home to South America’s largest population of animal life, including caiman, anteaters, capybara and the graceful jaguar.
The Minas Gerais region has become popular with both history and nature fans. This massive interior plateau houses some of Brazil’s highest mountain peaks and many serene colonial towns. The 18th century town of Ouro Preto is worth a visit for its baroque art and architecture.
Of course, no visit to Brazil is complete without a stop over in Rio de Janeiro. Here you’ll find perhaps the world’s most outstanding natural settings. From its famous beaches to the Tijuca rainforest, its many tropical islands and the granite heights of Corcovada and Sugar Loaf, Rio has something for everyone.
BRAZIL - FACTS
Full country name: Federative Republic of Brazil
Area: 8.5 million square kilometers (3.3 million square miles)
Population: 188 million (July 2001 census)
Time difference: Two hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time
Location: South America, bordering Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and the Atlantic Ocean.
Climate: Mostly tropical, but temperate in the south
Terrain: Mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north with some plains, hills, mountains, and narrow coastal belt
Reference map: http://worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/samerica/br.htm
Exchange rate: One Real = $0.46517 or $1 = 2.14975 Real (January 2007)
International calling code: 55
Ethnic groups: White 53.7%; mulatto (mixed white and black) 38.5%; black 6.2%; other (includes Japanese, Arab and Amerindian) 0.9% (2000 census)
Languages: Portuguese (official), Spanish, English and French
Religions: Roman Catholic (nominal) 73.6%; Protestant 15.4%; Spiritualist 1.3%; Bantu/voodoo 0.3%; other 1.8% (2000 census)
Government: Federative Republic
Capital city: Brasilia
GDP: $1.5 trillion (2005 est.)
GDP per capita: $8,300 (2005 est.)
Agricultural products: Coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus and beef
Major products/Industries: Textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, and other machinery and equipment
Recommended vaccinations: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/indianrg.htm
Environmental issues: Deforestation in Amazon Basin destroys the habitat and endangers a multitude of plant and animal species indigenous to the area. There is a lucrative, illegal, wildlife trade; air and water pollution in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and several other large cities; land degradation and water pollution caused by improper mining activities; wetland degradation; and severe oil spills
Additional information: https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/br.html
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