When you think of Brazil you think of bright colours, tropical sunshine on beaches and a party atmosphere. We’ve done our research on the amazing country that hosted the 2016 Olympic Games and here’s what we’ve found.
IT’S A BIG, BIG COUNTRY
Brazil is HUGE. It’s over 8.5 million square kilometres in fact. That’s about 800,000 square kilometres bigger than Australia! There are only four countries larger than Brazil and Australia- these are Russia, Canada, China and the USA. Brazil occupies half of South America’s landmass and features a massive 4,600 miles (7,402km) of Atlantic Ocean coastline. That’s around the same distance as driving form Perth to Melbourne and then on to Cape York!
Brazil also sits in the top five for ‘most people in the world’ with 207 million people- that’s more than eight times the population of Australia (Australia is outside the top 50 in terms of population). Brazil has thirteen cities with a population of more than one million people.
The oldest human remains ever discovered in the Americas were in Brazil’s state of Mina Gerais and are estimated to be around 11,000 years old.
Brazil’s indigenous population occupied the nation right up until 1500 when the Portuguese claimed the land. The Portuguese rule lasted for around three centuries until Brazil attained independence from Portugal in 1822. Despite claiming their independence, most Brazilians still speak Portuguese as their first language.
Soccer is a religion in South America and Brazil is no different. Former Brazilian player Pele is treated like the second coming of Jesus.
Brazil has won soccer’s FIFA World Cup five times, though interestingly they have never beaten Norway (two draws, two losses).
FOOD AND DRINK
Brazilian food varies according to region but many consider Feijoada (a stew with beef and beans) as Brazil’s national dish. But the Brazilians love fried foods of just about any variety. Potato, cassava (a native shrub), banana, pineapple, meat and cheese out of the fryer are all popular for Brazilians.
Alcohol wise, their national drink is the Caipirinha, which is made from a sugarcane liquor mixed with ice, sugar and crushed lime slices.
Brazil gets over six million visitors every year and half of those people head to Rio. The country’s biggest tourist attraction is also held in its largest city. Carnevale di Rio happens before lent every year with its world-famous colourful parades.
Fact about Brazil #1
The world’s best beach- according to TripAdvisor – is Baia do Sancho in Brazil. It is found in the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, just over an hour by air from Natal. Here, 21 islands form a marine park that draws divers from far and wide to see green and hawksbill turtles, whales, lemon and reef sharks, clownfish, anemones and parrotfish.
Fact about Brazil #2
Brasilia, the country’s capital, took just 41 months to build, from 1956 to 1960 (Rio had been the capital for the previous 197 years). Brasilia looks like an aeroplane from above.
Fact about Brazil #3
Brazil has been the world’s largest exporter of coffee for more than 150 years. It supplied around 80 per cent of the world’s coffee in the 1920s; that figure has fallen to around a third.
Fact about Brazil #4
Tours of Brazil’s shanty towns, or ‘favelas’, have become popular tourist attractions in recent years. Among the most famous is colourful Santa Marta in Rio de Janeiro which has been visited by the likes of Michael Jackson, Madonna and Beyoncé.
Fact about Brazil #5
Sao Paulo has the largest economy by GDP of any city in the Southern Hemisphere (and 11th overall). For the best views of the skyscraper-studded metropolis, head to the highest floor of the Edificio Italia (www.edificioitalia.com.br), the tallest building in the city centre at 46 stories.
Fact about Brazil #6
Brazil’s Amazon River is the world’s largest by volume of water discharged. Around 209,000 cubic metres per second flow into the Atlantic Ocean – more than the next seven largest rivers combined and enough to fill Lake Baikal- the world’s deepest lake- in less than four years. During the wet season the river is up to 30 miles wide.
Fact about Brazil #7
The most popular surname in Brazil is Silva.
Fact about Brazil #8
The statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro weighs 635 tonnes, is 38 metres high (including its pedestal) and was named one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ in 2007. It was damaged by a lightning strike in 2014.
Fact about Brazil #9
Brazil has more than 4,000 airports – more than any other country other than the US (which has a remarkable 13,513).
Fact about Brazil #10
According to a 2007 report, there are at least 70 un-contacted tribes in the Brazilian Amazon.
Fact about Brazil #11
Brazil has 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Among the best known is the Iguacu National Park, home to one of the world’s largest and most impressive waterfalls at 1.7 miles wide and with a total of 275 drops. It is also occupied by several rare and endangered species, among them the giant otter and the giant anteater. The newest is the Pampulha Modern Ensemble, a garden city project by Oscar Niemeyer, added by UNESCO in 2016.
Fact about Brazil #12
Around 6.4 million tourists visit Brazil each year, one of the fewest of any country in the world as a percentage of its total population. Even Uzbekistan, Uganda and Algeria get more visitors relative to their population.
Fact about Brazil #13
Brazil is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, with a total of four million plant and animal species, according to estimates. It has more species of monkey than any other nation.
Fact about Brazil #14
With 82 per cent of its population tracing their ancestry back to the days of slavery, Salvador is described as ‘the biggest African city outside Africa’.
Fact about Brazil #15
Fishermen in Laguna, in the southeast of Brazil, use dolphins to help them catch dinner. The animals will herd fish towards waiting nets, even flicking their head to indicate that the trap has been set. The practice has been going on for generations, the fishermen say, but was only recently been reported by Western media.
Fact about Brazil #16
An island in Brazil called Snake Island has up to 5 snakes per square metre. Civilians are not allowed to visit the island.