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Country name: Brazil ( Brasil) or Federative Republic of Brazil ( Republica Federativa do Brasil )
Capital: Brasilia
Administrative divisions: 26 states (estados, singular - estado) and 1 federal district* (distrito federal); Acre, Alagoas, Amapa, Amazonas, Bahia, Ceara, Distrito Federal*, Espirito Santo, Goias, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Para, Paraiba, Parana, Pernambuco, Piaui, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul,
Rondonia, Roraima, Santa Catarina, Sao Paulo, Sergipe, Tocantins
Location: Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean
Border countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela
Coastline: 7,491 km
Nationality: Brazilian
Ethnic groups: white, mulatto (mixed white and black), black, other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian)
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Spiritualist, Bantu/voodoo, others.
Languages: Portuguese (official), Spanish, English, French
The Federative Republic of Brazil is the largest country in South America.

Overview of Brazil
Indigenous peoples have populated for a long, but undetermined, period. European influence began with Pedro Alvares
Cabral when he claimed Brazil as a Portuguese colony in 1500. In a little known development, Brazil actually became the location of the Portuguese government in 1808 when Napoleon chased the royal family out of Portugal. While in Brazil, the family ruled from Rio de Janeiro until 1821 when it returned to Europe. This move was motivated by a declaration of independence by Brazil, led by Dom Pedro.
As with many South American countries, Brazil has seen its ups and downs from a political perspective. In 1989, it finally completed a transition to a popularly elected government when Collor de Mello won the popular vote. Less than three years later, he was forced to resign under the cloud of corruption charges.
In 2002, Luiz Inacio da Silva rose to the position of president. Lula, as he is known, represents a major change in Brazilian politics. He is the first leader from the working class.
Brazil covers just under 3.3 million square miles of South America. The climate in Brazil is mostly tropical, particularly in
light of the Amazon River basin.
With a population exceeding 186 million, Brazil is the fifth most populous country in the world and largest in South America. Despite covering a vast area, most of the population lives in urban cities such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. If you think traffic is bad in your location, keep in mind over 18 million people live in greater Sao Paulo!
The people of Brazil are called “Brazilians.” The population is 186 million people and growing at a rate of .1 percent a year.
74 percent of Brazilians consider themselves Roman Catholics. The official language is Portuguese and the literacy rate is
86 percent. Average life expectancy is 71.3 years.
Brazil is one of the world's leading producers of hydroelectric power. Over 75 percent of its electrical power is generated via dam projects. If you are considering visiting Brazil, you should keep in mind that crime can be a problem in certain areas.
Use common sense and you will have no problem. Brazil is a blast, very cheap and gets a big thumbs up as a travel
destination.

     
Images: Left to right. Campinas, São Paulo, Rio De Janeiro

Attractions
Even though Brazil covers almost half of South America a majority of its residents live on the coast. The residents of Brazil
vary in ethnic orientation as well as economic status. Because of the people and the lush landscape, Brazil is a fabulous
place to visit. One of the most popular places to visit when in Brazil is Rio de Janeiro. This city is known as the marvelous
city and has one of the most beautiful settings in the world. It boasts beautiful beaches and breathtaking views. While in Rio you can view the Christ the Redeemer statue which sits on top of Corcovado. There are also a multitude of beaches that you can visit depending on your lifestyle. Rios main beaches include Arpoador, Barra da Tijuca, Botafogo, Flamengo, Leblon, Leme, Pepino and Vidigal. Rio is also home to some wonderful museums, including the Museu Historico Nacional.
However, the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio De Janeiro houses Brazil’s most important collection of modern art. If you are
interested in learning more about Brazillian history, be sure to visit the Museu da Republica.
Another great city is Sao Paulo. It is South America’s largest city with over 17 million residents and is Brazils financial, commercial and industrial heartland. As a tourist, you will not want to miss it’s famed nightlife or grand shopping oppor -
tunities.
Salvador da Bahia is the state capital and is split into upper and lower sections. This city is perfect for a long walking excursion because most of Salvador’s museum, palaces and churches are concentrated within Cidade Alta. This is also the place to find local craftsmanship finds. Head for the Mercado Modelo to find the best in Brazil, with a focus on rich African flavors. Salvador is known for being the center of Brazilian music and other great clubs and bars featuring live music of Brazil.
If you are interested in exploring underground lakes like Lago Azul and viewing spectacular waterfalls, be sure to visit the Diamantina National Park.
Travel to Northern Brazil and you can visit the Amazon River. You can also visit one of the world’s biggest and most spectacular falls located where Paraguay, Argentia and Brazil meet. If you are more interested in seeing some exotic wildlife be sure to visit the Pantanal Wetlands. The huge area extends into Bolivia and Paraguay. A heavenly village nestled on
the coast is Jericocoara. While there you can take in awesome views of a sparkling white sand-dune desert and a
gorgeous turquoise sea.
Brazil ’s capital, Brasilia, and does not have a lot to offer the tourist as the cities of Rio and Sao Paulo or the Northeast
section of the country. However, there is some interesting architecture to see. A guided tour is recommended if you want to venture into the capital. If you are lucky enough to visit Brazil anywhere from December to March you can participate in
Bahia’s Carnival which is a lavish festival with memorable parties, music and great Latin American food. Carnival in Rio
takes place in February/March. Local residents dress in lavish, colorful costumes and it is known as one of the biggest
parties in the world to celebrate Lent.Brazil has many other cultural things to offer than just beautiful beaches.

Carnival in Rio
Considered one of the most awe-inspiring and grandiose spectacles in all the world, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the
marvelous city, is a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. For five days, the 14 samba schools (escolas de samba)
parade through the famous sambadrome in quest to be the best samba school for that year. Besides being a spectacular display of costume, color, and dance, the percussion coming from the thousands of people playing in each school’s
battery literally lifts spectators out of the seats. It is during Carnival that the powerful and beautifully seductive rhythm
of Brazil truly manifests itself. Samba is the soul of Brazil.
Carnival in Rio dates back to about 1723, which is the earliest record to be found. Immigrants from the Azores and
Cabo Verde introduced the first festivities, which were mainly intended to get people wet. People reveled in the streets,
tossing buckets of water and limes at anyone they saw, even emperors. This activity was called an entrudo, intended to
purify the body. As time went on people began to dress up, parade, dance, and play music for all to hear. At the beginning
of the 19th century, the parades began to take on a more central role in the festivities, and with the sponsorship of a brewery called Hanseática, each parade group (called “ranchos” then) began to organize competitions from year to year. After a brief hiatus during World War II, the parades kept getting larger and more grandiose as the years went by. In the eighties, the sambodromo was built to fit 70,000 spectators and provide for a more organized procession of the schools.
Nowadays, a typical samba school will spend two-thirds of the calendar year preparing for Carnival, for which each
school performs one song. Besides having thousands of dancers, percussionists, musicians, and singers, each school
also has a team of songwriters who work and compete with each other to compose the best song possible: the one that
will bring the school victory. The competition is fierce within the team of composers. Whoever wins is sure to receive much acclaim and fame that year, as his song will be released on the year’s Sambas de Enredo CD, a recording with all the 14 schools’ songs that is released shortly before the arrival of Carnival and is always immensely popular. A typical school will easily spend 1 million dollars a year on Carnival.