|Population :||175 millions|
|People||55% European descent, 38% Mulatto, 6% African descent|
|Religion||70% roman catholic, also a significant proportion either belonging to various cults or practicing Indian animism.|
For hundreds of years, Brazil has symbolized the great escape into a primordial, tropical paradise, igniting the Western imagination like no other South American country. From the mad passion of Carnival to the immensity of the dark Amazon, Brazil is a country of mythic proportions. Brazilian people do permanently delight visitors with their energy, fantasy and joy.
Brazil is the world's fifth largest country, occupying almost half the South American continent and bordering every country on it, except Chile and Ecuador. Much of Brazil is scarcely populated, although some regions with previously low population densities, such as the Amazon, are being rapidly settled, logged and depleted.
Brazil can be divided into four major geographic regions. The long, narrow Atlantic seaboard has coastal ranges between the Rio Grande do Sul and Bahia, but is flatter north of Bahia. The large highlands, which extend over most of Brazil's interior south of the Amazon Basin are punctuated by several small mountain ranges and sliced by several large rivers. There are also two great depressions: the Parana-Paragui basin in the south, which is characterized by open forest, low woods and scrubland; and the huge, densely forested Amazon basin in the north. The Amazon, 6275km (3890mi) long, is the world's largest river, and the Amazon forest contains 30% of the world's remaining forest.
The richness and diversity of Brazil's fauna, much of which is endemic, is astounding, and the country ranks first in the world for numbers of species of mammals, freshwater fish and plants; second for amphibians, third for bird species; and fifth for species of reptiles.
Most of Brazil can be visited comfortably throughout the year, it's only the south - which can be unbearably sticky in summer (December-February) and non-stop rainy in winter (June-August) - submitted to large seasonal changes. The rest of the country experiences brief tropical rains throughout the year, which rarely affect traveling schedules.
Río de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is the perfect match of sea, land and people.
Few cities in the world manage to get together, in such a natural way, the ingredients to create a special place to live. Beaches, sun, samba, football, beatifull and friendly people and traditional bossa nova are in the neighborhoods.
Christ the Redeemer: a modern Swiss-made cogwheel rail climbs through Tijuca Rain Forest up to the top of Corcovado mountain (710 m). It takes about 17 min at a maximum speed of 15km/h on the way up, and 22 min at 12km/h, on the way down. The trip ensures breathtaking views of Rio, such as the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon. At the very top of the mountain, and yet after climbing a steep flight of steps, there stands the statue of Christ, the Redeemer, carved in soapstone mosaic in the finest art nouveau style. Its 38m high and the outstretched arms blessing the city have become Rio's most famous postcard.
Sugar Loaf: ride through Rio's beautiful architectonic monuments, visit the Metropolitan Cathedral and ascend the twin peaks by a series of venturing cable car rides. On the first hill, called "Urca", walk around the flowered passways and enjoy the magnificent views. The goes up to the Sugar Loaf itself. Visitors will admire the unique beauty of Guanabara Bay, Niterói, Copacabana and Santa Cruz Fortress, a landmark of Rio's history and will certainly be amazed by the awesome views.
São Paulo "the World Itself"
A few years ago, it was known as the fastest growing city on the continent. Today, it is already the largest city in South America, covered with skyscrapers that stretch beyond the horizon in all directions.
São Paulo has the world in itself, with its amazing varied popular sections, such as Bexiga (The Italian District), Liberdade (The Japanese District), and Vinte e Cinco de Março (The Arab Business District)...
The city has more than 600 hotels and nearly 1000 restaurants.
Foz de Iguazú
The gigantic power of its massive water falls constantly roaring in a huge moisting cloud and painting the horizon with mellow rainbows, is one of the most magnificent natural spectacle on earth, which makes us realize how tiny we are in front of its force.
For those seeking for adventure, a concrete platform allows breathtaking views from inside the falls. Among the various local tours, the Macuco Safari and a visit to the Bird's Park are strongly recommended.
The Brazilian side of the Falls: guests may get to the marvelous Brazilian falls by walking through the wooden footbridges elevated over the river.
Take photographs of the breathtaking panoramic views from the observation deck.
A 40 minutes walk to admire the series of astonishing cascades up to the foot of "Floriano Fall". At the end of the path, an elevator brings visitors up.
There are no compulsory health requirements for entry into Brazil. Precautions are advised for Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Polio and Malaria. We suggest you contact your local G.P. for current advice and recommendations. You are advised to have full medical insurance coverage. Please note that if you are entering Brazil via Peru, Ecuador or Colombia, you will be required to provide an up to date yellow fever vaccination certificate for immigration purposes. Avoid eating and drinking local products from street vendors and restaurants with suspect hygiene or refrigeration practices. It is advisable to drink only bottled water at all times.
The Brazilian currency is the REAL; 100 centavos = 1 real. Bank bills are in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2; coins are 1.00 real; 50 centavos, 25 centavos, 10 centavos, 5 centavos and 1 centavo. All banks and exchange offices accept travelers checks and foreign currency. It is advisable to take US Dollar travelers checks or currency as this is more readily exchanged than other currency. There is a currency exchange black market, but you are strongly advised to ignore anyone who approaches you asking if you want to change money. Credit Cards - Access, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Visa are accepted in the majority of hotels, shops and restaurants. Banking Hours - 10:00-16:00 Monday to Friday (may vary in some banks) ATM machines are also available in the main cities. There is a limited amount to be withdrawn daily. After 10:00PM it is only possible to withdraw up to 100,00 reais. Depending on the bank no withdrawals are allowed after 10:00 PM
Brazil spans several time zones, however the Brazilian Standard Time is 3 hours slower than G.M.T. and 2 hours earlier in the summer (Oct to Feb)
The electric current in most of Brazil is 110v. Many hotels have adaptors if necessary, although is recommended to bring your own travel adaptors
The official language is Portuguese. Some English is spoken, particularly in the main cities, but the nearest thing to a second language is Spanish with which you will generally be able to make yourself understood.
The climate varies from arid scrubland interior to impassable tropical rainforest in the northern Amazon jungle and tropical beaches along the eastern coast. In the south the seasons are more temperate. The most important thing to know about Brazilian seasons is that they are the inverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere (e.g. summer in the Northern Hemisphere is winter in Brazil). Summer and winter averages vary depending on city and region. Rainy periods occur from January to April in the north (22 is the average number of days with rain); April to July in the northeast (14 is the average number of days with rain); December to March in the Rio/Sao Paulo area (the average number of rainy days is 10).
Airport taxes are usually included on the ticket price. To promote tourism and conventions, most of the hotels charge a non mandatory fee that runs from U$ 1,00 to U$ 7,00 per room per night depending on the hotel category as a contribution to the Convention Bureau. If guests want to deny the payment they must inform to the reception clerk upon check out.
In most restaurants and bars a 10% service fee is added to the bill. More sophisticated places may add on 15%. If service is not included it will be stated at the bottom of the bill: "Serviço não incluído". Cab drivers do not expect a tip, but it is normal to round up the final price. You should be aware that the amount shown on the taximeter may not always correspond to the amount you are due to pay - look out for a separate sheet taped to the window which will tells you how much the amount on the meter equates to.
Brazil Food & Drink
The most common dishes feature various meats, rice and the ubiquitous Brazilian black beans (feijão), whilst restaurants often offer all-you-can-eat barbecues and buffets. Brazil also has many regional varieties of cookery. An example is the Bahian cookery, which includes dishes such as : Vatapa (shrimps, fish oil, coconut milk, bread and rice), Sarapatel (liver, heart, tomatoes, peppers, onions and gravy). From Rio Grande do Sul a typical dish is Churrasco (a kind of barbecue). From the Amazon comes Tacaca (thick soup with shrimps and garlic).
All alcoholic drinks are available, including excellent large style beers: Skol, Brahma, Antarctica and Cerpa. The most popular local alcoholic beverage is Cachaca, most commonly served as 'Caipirinha' with slices of lime. Soft drinks include Guarana (a carbonated cola-like drink) and many varieties of excellent fruit-juices (sucos) including several vitamin-rich fruits you will never have heard of. Coffee tends to be served as a very strong. If you want to avoid sugar in coffee and juices, you should specifically ask for this. In Rio, you may see it’s common to ask for cocconut water in restaurants or kiosks by the beach, and “mate”, a beverage that reminds an iced tea.
Brazil's climate ranges from tropical in the north to temperate in the south. Throughout the country, however, dress is informal. Generally, light cotton shirts, shorts, dresses and trousers are ideal for day wear, whilst in the evenings long-sleeved shirts and leather shoes are normal. You will not normally need a jacket and tie in Brazil. In their winter (June/September) it is worth bringing something warm, as the temperature can be quite cool in the south of the country.
As with the food, in a country the size of Brazil there are many local specialties for the shopper. In most major cities shopping centers stay open until late (up to 10.00 pm), while street shops close at 6pm. Good-quality arts and crafts are available at regular outdoor markets, which are colourful and entertaining places for tourists to visit.
Brazil, especially Rio, has had a bad reputation for personal security and many potential visitors have been put off travelling there. Much of this reputation can be put down to wild exaggeration, but it has had the beneficial effect of spurring the various city authorities into doing something about it. There are now far more tourist police, who are a great deal more helpful to visitors, and there is much better patrolling of problem areas. Although there is far more being done to improve security, an awareness of the following will lessen the risk to you and your belongings:
Valuables: Be aware that most crime is opportunistic and the best way to avoid theft is to blend in and stay in safe areas (if in any doubt please ask your tour guide or hotel receptionist / concierge whether where you want to go is safe). Take the absolute minimum when going out. A camera is a necessity for most travelers but if it is possible to keep it in a jacket pocket, then do so. It is not advisable to take valuable jewelry or a visible wristwatch. Money should be taken in travelers checks, with the receipt numbers retained separately in case they are lost or stolen. Cash kept on your person should be kept to a minimum. Where possible, leave any valuables, documents and passports in your hotel safety deposit box (most good hotel rooms in Brazil have safes, but you will normally have to pay a daily fee for this service). If you have to take a bag while you are out, hold it in front of you where you can see it.
Beaches: A great deal of Brazilian culture and Brazilians' spare time revolves around the beach. As a result the beaches can be great fun and very relaxing places. However, please bear the following in mind if going to the beach: beaches in and around the major cities tend to be quite crowded so the advice given above is especially applicable; never visit the beach after dark; always take a mat to lie on as sand flies are quite widely prevalent; please bear in mind that the sun in Brazil can be more direct and stronger than you will experience in Europe, so extra precautions are necessary; some areas, particularly in Rio, have dangerous undertows so you should stay near other bathers and observe the warning flags: red: dangerous / White - Water is safe.