Cities in BRAZIL

Rio de janeiro

Geography and Landscape


Brazil (officially: República Federativa do Brasil) is a federal republic in South America. The total area of the country is 8,511,965 km2. It is the fifth largest country in the world, exceeded in size only by Russia, Canada, China, and the United States

Brazil Satellite photoBrazil Satellite photoPhoto: Public domain

Brazil borders Argentina (1224 km), Bolivia (3400 km), Colombia (1643 km), French Guiana (673 km), Guyana (1119 km), Paraguay (1290 km), Peru (1560 km), Suriname (597 km), Uruguay (985 km) and Venezuela (2200 km). With the exception of Chile and Ecuador, Brazil therefore borders all countries of South America and, with a coast length of 7,920 km, is located to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.

Brazil Rio de Janeiro Brazil Rio de JaneiroPhoto: Artyominc CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Cape São Roque, on the northeast coast of Brazil, is 2977 kilometers from Africa. The country has no territories outside the continental area, apart from a few islands in the Atlantic Ocean and some coastal islands. The longest road distance is about 5600 kilometers, between Natal in the northeast and Rio Branco in the west.


There are roughly two types of landscape in Brazil: the low plains of the Amazon region and the high plains of southern Brazil. Although Brazil looks mountainous, almost 60% of the territory does not exceed 300 meters above sea level. In general, Brazil is at its highest in the east and decreasing towards the west. Furthermore, Brazil has just about everything: tropical rainforest, savannas, steppes and wetlands.

The plateau consists mainly of capped table mountains (chapadas) that are no higher than approx. 3000 meters. These mountains are made of sandstone and have steep walls between which rivers flow. These rivers flow into the Rio de Prata which flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The Rio Uruguay, the Rio Iguaçu, the Rio Paraguay and the Rio Paraná also merge in the Rio de Prata. The Rio Uruguay rises in Santa Catarina, the Rio Paraná in Goiás, the Rio Iguaçu in Paraná and the Rio Uruguay in the Mato Grosso.

Iguazu falls BrazilIguazu falls BrazilPhoto: Chensiyuan CC 4.0 International no changes made

Due to the rapid decline of the rivers, they are full of waterfalls and rapids. Spectacular is the Rio Iguaçu, which plunges 3 kilometers down the border with Argentina into the valley of the Paraña, one of Brazil's three major rivers. This waterfall is 91 meters high and every second 4.5 million liters of water falls over the edge. In the state of Bahia is the Cachoeira da Fumaça, a mighty waterfall of 422 meters high.

The Rio São Francisco (1,600 kilometers) is Brazil's second river, which rises at the city of Belo Horizonte and Minas Gerais and flows into the Atlantic Ocean 3,161 kilometers away. Along this river lie two mountain ranges, the Sierra Mantiqueira and the Sierra do Mar that stretch along the entire coast. The highest mountains here are the Itatiaya (2712 meters) and the Pico de Bandeira (2890 meters) which lie between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The valley between the two Sierras is called Valo do Paraíba. In this area there are also freestanding domed hills (pães) of quartz or rock crystal, for example the "sugar bread" (pães de açúcar) near Rio de Janeiro.

The coastal mountains often extend into large cities such as Rio de Janeiro, which means that entire neighborhoods are wedged between steep slopes and the Atlantic Ocean. The Sierra Mantiqueira is located in the states of Goiás and Minas Gerais and the highest mountains are in the Montes Pirenéus and are about 2400 meters high. The very wetland Pantanal area is located on the high plateau between the Sierra Mantiqueira and the Urucum massif of Bolivia. This area, 259,000 km2 in size, overflows every six months and forms a beautiful nature reserve.

The southern slopes of the Guyana Highlands belong to Brazil, including the Sa. Pacaraima and the Sa. Tapirapecó.

To the west of the country is the plateau landscape of the Mato Grosso and to the east of this is the Highlands of central Brazil. This mountain country is on average between 400 and 1000 meters high.

The Amazonian lowland is a river region that extends to the Andes mountains in Peru and it is a very old, flat and bowl-shaped curved area. In Peru the Solimoês flows in the Amazon and in Brazil the Amazon is fed by the Rio Negro. At Manaus, these two rivers merge to form the actual Amazon. The enormous Amazon is also fed by hundreds of rivers. The southern rivers originate on the plateau, the northern rivers on the Serras das Neblinas, a mountain range in the north of Brazil near Venezuela. Here is also the highest mountain in Brazil, the Pico Phelps (3045 meters).

The coasts are not very articulated; only the large Amazon Delta represents a significant interruption. In the extreme south, the coast is characterized by large coastal lagoons, including the Lagoa dos Patos and the Lagoa Mirim. Imposing sand dunes can be found near northeastern Natal, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. Brazil's total coastal length is approximately 7,700 km, making it the longest continuous coastline in the world.

The many elongated overgrown islands in the Rio Negro are remarkable. At Barcelos is the Mariuá archipelago, a group of 700 islands, the largest group of river islands in the world. The protected Anavilhanas archipelago (350,000 ha) consists of approximately 400 islands located in the lower reaches of the Rio Negro.

Amazon region

Amazon in BrazilAmazon in BrazilPhoto: Lubasi CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The Amazon region has the richest tropical rainforest in the world and nowhere are so many species of plants and animals to be found. The Amazon region is about 4 million km2 in area, which is about half of Brazil's total area. The area is mainly located in the states of Amazonas, Pará, Amapá, Roirama and Acre.

The tropical rainforest of the Amazon does not stop at the border of Brazil, of course, but continues in French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. It is estimated that there are still 800,000 Indians in the total Amazon region, of which 120,000 in Brazil. The rest of the population mainly consists of "mamelucos" or "cablocos", people with Native American and Portuguese ancestors.

The main economic activities in the Amazon region are cattle breeding, mining and, often illegal, timber production. A new threat threatening the Amazon is the discovery of oil in the heart of the rainforest. The opening up and exploitation of available stocks is generally done with the help of foreign investors. Due to all these economic activities there is a threat of a clear-cut in the Amazon region, which is unparalleled in world history. Probably between ten and fifteen percent of the "lungs" of the world have disappeared in a relatively short time. In the late 1980s, 21,500 km2 of rainforest per year disappeared.

Environmental organizations, scientists and Native Americans, the main victims of uncontrolled exploitation and colonization of the Amazon, have warned for many years of the catastrophic consequences if deforestation and environmental pollution continue at this rate. They are occasionally successful and the government of Brazil also seems to become increasingly aware of the precarious situation. In the new constitution, a separate chapter is devoted to ecology and the Color government has created a new department, The Institute for the Environment and Protection of Natural Resources, IBAMA. In the early 1990s, "only" 11,000 km2 of rainforest was felled. However, many more international pressures and money seem necessary to interrupt the negative spiral.

One person who fiercely opposed the tropical rainforest's demise was the chairman of the rubber tappers union, Chico Mendes. Unfortunately, he became too troublesome and was found murdered outside his home on December 22, 1988. The assassins were hired by a large landowner.

Amazon River

Under the name Marañon, the Amazon originates in Peru, at the foot of the Andes. In Brazil it is first called Solimões and only when the Rio Negro flows into it is the river Amazon called.

The Amazon (Rio Amazonas) in Brazil is 3150 kilometers long; the entire length of the river is 7025 kilometers. Only the Nile in Africa is longer. Major tributaries are the Rio Negro, the Xingu, the Madeira, the Tocantins and the Tapajós. The Amazon is further fed by about 1000 tributaries that spring in the mountains of Colombia, Ecuador and especially Peru and Bolivia. At its widest, the Amazon is 12 kilometers. The Amazon River (Rio Amazonas) is the largest river system in the world and has the largest freshwater supply in the world. The estuary of the river is 300 kilometers wide near the city of Belém and consists of hundreds of islands and rivers.

The largest island in the Amazon estuary is Ilha de Marajó. The surface of this island is almost 50,000 km2, making it the largest river island in the world and larger than many European countries!

It is remarkable that there is not a single bridge over the Amazon.

Climate and Weather

Brazil SunsetBrazil SunsetPhoto: Anne Valadaris in the public domain

Important for the climate of Brazil are the subtropical high pressure area above the Pacific Ocean and the high pressure area above the Atlantic Ocean. Between these two maxima lies an equatorial minimum that remains above Brazil for much of the year.

Except for the extreme south, Brazil is entirely within the tropics, so that the climate generally has a clear tropical character. However, due to the vastness of the country, there are large differences and five climates can be distinguished.

The north of the country has few major differences in temperature. In most of the north of the country, a tropical rainforest climate has fairly high average temperatures of over 26 °C. In a large part of the Amazon, especially in the west and near the mouth of the river, more than 2000 mm of precipitation falls annually. Near the mouth of the river, precipitation falls mainly during the summer, in the west there are two rainy times, a large one in February-June, and a small one in October-January. Between the rainy times there is also regular rainfall in the form of showers. The city of Belém is one of the world's cities with the most rainfall.

Like everywhere in countries around the equator, most rain falls in the afternoon. Along the Brazilian coast, precipitation is often increased by driving the upwind winds against the mountains, and this precipitation also usually falls during thunderstorms. Except in the area of Recife, it is mostly summer rains. This also applies to the entire interior.

In the highlands of Brazil and in the northernmost state of Roraima there is a savanna climate where it is around 26 °C during the day all year round.

Mato Grosso BrazilMato Grosso BrazilPhoto: Filipefrazao CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

In the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, it can reach 40 °C during the day.

The northeast is a dry and hot area, the sertão, and there is a steppe climate. There is only occasional rain, sometimes not for years on end. Remarkably, a serious drought occurs about every ten years, which can turn into a disaster several times a century.

The tropical maritime climate prevails in Brazil. Nice temperatures all year round and only occasional rain.

In the south there is a subtropical climate and here four seasons can be distinguished, just like in the UK. In this part of Brazil we also find the largest temperature differences. Along the coast a mild climate with temperatures in winter that can drop to 5 and 10 °C, and in the inland and higher areas even lower temperatures. Snowfall is even possible in the far south. The rainfall is distributed throughout the year.

In the south it can suddenly cool down (friagem) quite quickly to temperatures just above freezing point. This happens when Antarctic air flows north. The friagem phenomenon is accompanied by a lot of precipitation, because the moist warm tropical or equatorial air is lifted by the north-flowing cold polar air, causing condensation to take place. The friagem rains usually last three to five days and then it rains continuously.

Inland winds are generally weak and changeable. On the coast, winds from the east dominate and supply relatively moist and warm air. Between 10 ° S.Br. and the equator the winds are predominant east-southeast.

In general one can say that the Brazilian winter lasts from June to August. The temperatures then remain quite high, except in the south. The summer season lasts from December to February.

Plants and Animals


The Amazon region is the Mecca for plant and animal lovers. About half of the 5 million species of plants and animals that exist in the world are found in this area. In addition, there are thousands of animal and plant species that have not even been discovered.

Selva de BrazilSelva de BrazilPhoto: Isabelle Allet-Coche CC 4.0 International no changes

The Amazon region consists almost entirely of tropical rainforest, also called "selva", and is characterized by an enormous diversity of species. The trees are covered with many vines, mosses, orchids, ferns and epiphytes or host plants. Epiphytes are non-parasitic tree-living plants. These trees keep their green canopy all year round. Some well-known tree species include the Bertholletia, which produces tasty Brazil nuts and the rubber tree. Other varieties are myrtles, a type of shrub, laurel, palm, rubber tree, kapok tree, rose tree and fig tree.

Papaya BrazilPapaya BrazilPhoto: Marco Schmidt CC 2.5 Generic no changes made

Fruit trees include papaya, guava and banana tree. Popular Philodendrons grow here in the wild. Very special is the giant water lily, the "Vitória regia". Due to lack of light, there is relatively only under green. During high water periods, large parts of the jungle flood and then acquire the character of a swamp forest or igapó. The higher parts that do not flood (terra firme) develop other forms of vegetation (caaetê). Taller trees (including mahogany) up to 60 meters are also found here. The open grass areas as a result of the tree harvesting by the Indians are called "campesinas".

Acacia BrazilAcacia BrazilPhoto: J Brew CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The white-gray drought forest (caatinga) of the northern mountain country consists of deciduous trees, palms, acacias, succulents, cactuses and thorn bushes. Special is a shrub with red loads, the flowers of which are only open at night.

South of this is a savanna landscape (campos) with gallery forests along the rivers. Grass prevails on the campos. Around the capital Brasília and the states of Goías and Mato Grosso do Sul, the "cerrado" is a savanna landscape with an impenetrable jumble of shrubs and trees. The Pantanal is comparable to the Amazon in terms of diversity of flora and fauna. In the always humid areas, many types of aquatic plants occur with beautiful water hyacinths on the banks and dikes.

The highlands of Southeast Brazil are partly covered with light forests (araucaria). The "matas dos pinhais" are pine forests that occur in the south of the country.

The Rio Grande do Sul state is predominantly subtropical forest.

Almost the entire coast, up to Santos, has a mangrove vegetation.

The area in use as a cultural land is largely confined to the coastal zone and inland to the states of São Paulo and Santa Catarina. The original vegetation has practically disappeared over time.

Over the past thirty years, according to estimates by the Brazilian government, more than 530,000 square meters have been lost through deforestation of the tropical rainforest in the Amazon that stretches across northern South America. As a contribution to global efforts to curb global warming, the country pledged last year at the Copenhagen climate summit to cut forest clearing by 80 percent by 2020.

Deforestation in the Amazon has fallen by 14 percent. Brazil expects to achieve the target of 80 percent well before the 2020 deadline.


Ocelot BrazilOcelot BrazilPhoto: Tom Smylie in the public domain

The animal world, especially that of the rainforest, is of a tropical variety of forms, although the really large herbivores as known from the Old World are missing. More trees, birds and insects live in the tops of the tropical rainforest than on the ground. Brazil ranks first in terms of the number of primate, amphibian and plant species; third in birds and fourth in butterflies and reptiles.

Broad-nosed monkeys, prehensile-tailed monkeys (howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys, woolly monkeys live there, as well as claw monkeys (owl monkeys, spring monkeys, brush monkeys and squirrel monkeys), all real tree dwellers.

Feline predators include the jaguar, the cougar and the ocelot; the raccoons are represented by, among others, the crab eater, the roller-tailed bear and the nose bear. Of the dog-like predators, the bush dog and the mane wolf deserve mention. In the Amazon region you will also find the giant otter that can grow up to two meters long.

Capibara Brazil Capibara BrazilPhoto: Fidel León Darder CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Large ungulates include the tapir and the swamp deer; the navel pigs also live here. The number of rodent species is large, including the agouti, the pekari swine, the capybara (largest rodent in the world; up to 45 kg) or water boar, the mock rats and the prehensile porcupines, in the south also the coypu.

Typical South American species are the armadillos, sloths and anteaters. Sea cows or manatees live along the coast, up to the Amazon, and freshwater dolphins live in the rivers, of which the pink variety is very special. On the Brazilian beaches, five more species of sea turtles lay their eggs every year: the sea turtle, the green turtle, the loggerhead turtle, the leatherback turtle and the common hybrid turtle. The coral Abrolhos archipelago is special, among other things, because of the humpback whales, which have their main breeding area here in the southwestern Atlantic.

The number of bat species is large. The possums have an important distribution here; this is also home to the water possum, the only aquatic marsupial.

The bird world is very rich in species and individuals; among them are many endemic genera. Noteworthy are the hummingbirds, the oven birds, the flycatchers, the ant birds, the parrots and the toucans. Special is the parrot island "Ilha dos Papagaios" which lies in the mouth of the Rio Guamá, directly opposite Belém, and where about 1300 parrots live. The largest eagle in the world, the harpy eagle, lives in the Amazon region.

The number of reptiles and amphibians is also large, including anacondas (up to 12 meters long), boa constrictors, coral snakes, lance-headed snakes, pit vipers and poisonous frogs.

The rivers are rich in catfish, carp salmon and cichlids and probably have the richest freshwater fish fauna in the world.

Arapaima Brazilie Arapaima BraziliePhoto: George Chernilevsky in the public domain

This includes the arapaima, the largest freshwater fish in the world with a length of 3 meters. Piranhas, electric eels and stingrays are dangerous. Special is the "tambaqui", which can crack nuts.

The shapes and colors of the insects, especially that of the hundreds of species of butterflies, are unimaginably great. About one third of the one million insect species we know are found in the Amazon, including parasol ants. Very large snails are also known from Brazil. The drier savanna areas have their own fauna.

The Pantanal, an area half the size of France in western Brazil, has a very diverse animal life, comparable to the Amazon region. For example, there are about 600 bird species. Impressive is the jabiru stork or tuiuiu and other striking birds are the magoari, a heron species, the blacka bigua, the brown bigua-tinga, the colhereiro, and the cardeal. Furthermore, many species of macaws, parakeets, hummingbirds, ibises, parrots, finches, herons, woodpeckers, and the hawk, falcon, kurlan, cardinal, water rail, kingfisher, cuckoo, thorn bird, shrike, wren, jay and blackbird.

Countless caimans (jacaré's) live along the banks of rivers and large snakes are also common, even more so than in the Amazon. The black caiman becomes very rare due to the many poachers who chase the animal's skin.

Wool spider monkey BrazilWool spider monkey BrazilPhoto: Sinara Conessa CC 2.0 Unported no changes made

The Mata Atlântica features the unique "mariqui", a wool spider monkey, the largest monkey in both North and South America. Furthermore, the brown howler monkey, the marmoset and the golden lion monkey.

The greatest threat to the animal world is the destruction of the primeval forest, otherwise uncontrolled hunting and animal trade. Nature conservation is slowly gaining ground, which in many cases may be too late. The Itatíaia national park in the east includes a mountain massif. Experiments are currently being carried out with the release of protected claws or lion tamarins in protected places.

In June 2004, it was announced that Dutch scientist Marc van Roosmalen had discovered a new type of mammal, a navel boar. Until now, there have been three types of belly pigs; the animal described by the Dutchman differs in size and in drawing on its fur from those three other species.

In the Amazon rainforests, American scientists discovered a new monkey species in 2007. The Brazilian monkey is related to the saddleback tamarin, which are known for their variegated ridges. The little monkey weighs just over 200 grams and is named Mura's gable roof tamarin.


Indians oldest inhabitants of Brazil

Brazil Marajoara CultureBrazil Marajoara CulturePhoto: Daderot CC 1.0 no changes made

The oldest traces of human habitation date from around 11,000 years ago. At the time, people lived both inland and on the coast. This Indian population lived in small groups and lived on some agriculture, but mainly on hunting, fishing and collecting edible things. It is estimated that between 2 and 5 million Indians have lived in Brazil. At the time of the arrival of Europeans, there were four tribal families that belong together in terms of customs, rules, culture and language. In Minas Gerais the Nambikwara tribe, along the coast the Sambaquis, on the island in the Amazon estuary the Marajoara culture and upstream in the Amazon near Santarém a culture similar to the burial mound builders on the island of Marajó. Little is known about the history before the arrival of Europeans, due to the complete absence of written sources.

Portuguese rule

Brazil Pedro Alvares Cabral Brazil Pedro Alvares CabralPhoto: Public domain

Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered Brazil on April 22, 1500, and under the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas with Spain, the area fell to the Portuguese Crown. The country got its name from the "pau brasil" or brazilwood, which would become an important colonial product. The colonization of Brazil was difficult, because few precious raw materials were found besides the wood.

Nevertheless, Portuguese noblemen (donatários) were ordered by the king to make the country profitable. To this end, the coastal strip was divided into fifteen areas, "capitanias", for which they were responsible. The country was then called Terra da Santa Cruz (Land of the Holy Cross). In order to accelerate colonization, King Joâo III opted for a strong central government and in 1549 declared the strategically located settlement Salvador as its capital. An additional advantage was that Salvador was also strategically located in relation to shipping routes to Africa and India.

For the highly profitable sugar plantations in the Pernambuco region, black slaves had been brought in from Africa since 1532, especially from Angola and Guinea. In total, up to 1855, approximately 3.5 million African slaves were shipped to Brazil. In the sixteenth century, the Portuguese were attacked by the French on the site of what is now Rio de Janeiro. After the French troops surrendered, the Portuguese founded the settlement of São Sebastão do Rio de Janeiro.

Dutch rule lasts only a short time

Brazil Piet Hein Brazil Piet HeinPhoto: Public domain

After Portugal came into Spanish hands in 1580, the Netherlands considered Brazil as a hostile territory. Brazilian coastal towns were repeatedly looted by the Dutch and the English.

The Dutch managed to gain a foothold in Brazil. In 1624 they took Salvador under the leadership of Piet Hein. Due to poor organization, this occupation would only last one year. Five years later he conquered the coastal area of Pernambuco and this occupation would last a quarter of a century under the rule of Johan Maurits van Nassau. The village of Recife was expanded further and in 1641 New Holland extended over the entire northeast corner of Brazil.

In that year, a peace treaty was also signed between the Republic of the United Netherlands (Holland and Zeeland) and that was a signal to the board of the West India Company (WIC), Heren Nineteen, to reduce the expenditure that Johan Maurits made. Johan Maurits was summoned a short time later to return to Holland and in 1654 the Portuguese took over the city of Recife without firing a shot and in 1661 the Dutch rights were sold to Portugal for NLG 8 million.

Gold finds change everything

Monument fot Bandeiros Sao PaoloMonument fot Bandeiros Sao PaoloPhoto: CivArmy CC 4.0 International no changes made

The explorations into the interior of Brazil started in the 17th century. These expeditions, called "bandeiras", were primarily looking for precious metals and slaves. At the end of the 17th century, gold was finally found in the mountainous Minas Gerais. Thousands of gold prospectors then moved inland. In the 18th century, more than 300,000 Portuguese immigrated to Brazil, and large numbers of slaves were also brought in from Africa to do the work in the mines.

Gold mining made the southeast of Brazil increasingly important and in 1763 Rio de Janeiro became the new capital of Brazil. The Indians were also hunted by the slave drivers at that time to serve as plantation workers. Portuguese clergy, especially the Jesuits, tried to protect the indigenous people and therefore regularly clashed with the Portuguese administrators. Around 1750 another conflict arose, but now the Jesuits were banished and the Indians lost their protectors.

In 1789, a revolt erupted against Portuguese rule in the Ouro Prêto area. The reason for this was renewed tax increases and the autocratic method of administration by the Portuguese. The rebellion was brutally repressed and insurgent leader José Joaquim da Silva Xavier was killed and many other prisoners exiled.

Portuguese court moves to Brazil

In 1808, the Portuguese prince regent and later King João VI with government and all fled from Napoleon and eventually settled in Brazil. Brazil now became semi-independent and Rio de Janeiro became the royal capital. The city developed enormously and eventually had 100,000 inhabitants. Among other things, João VI had palaces, a royal library, a legal and medical faculty built.

It was not until 1821 that João VI returned to Portugal and appointed his son Pedro regent of Brazil.

Pedro I declares independence

Brazil Pedro II Brazil Pedro IIPhoto: Public domain

The Portuguese parliament immediately tried to get Rio de Janeiro back into line, but this failed because Pedro sided with the Brazilians and expelled the Portuguese armies with the support of English troops. He was ordered by his father to return to Portugal, but refused and declared independence from Brazil on September 7, 1822. Shortly afterwards he was crowned emperor of Brazil.

Administrative incapacity and a lost war against Argentina in 1828 made it difficult for Pedro I. The population was annoyed with the appointment of many Portuguese instead of Brazilians on the government of the country. Pedro I stepped down in 1831 and was succeeded by his son Pedro II, who was only five years old.

Until he came of age, Brazil was governed by a regency. At that time it was very restless in the country and there were even separatist movements here and there. In response to the problems, Parliament decided in 1840 to crown Pedro II, just 15 years old, as emperor. This worked out wonderfully well and Pedro II remained in power for 49 years and caused structural changes in social relations and in the economy. Under his rule, the country flourished economically. It took a long time before the state finances were restructured and a war with Paraguay (1865-1870) took place. The abolition of slavery without compensation to the slave owners (1888), as well as conflicts with the church and the army discredited the imperial government. In these years, the rubber industry developed at a very fast pace and was at its peak around 1850.

In 1910, however, the boom of the rubber industry had already ended because of the fierce competition from Asia. Coffee culture was also booming around 1850 and this too proved to be a popular export product. Both rubber and coffee plantations heavily relied on slavery that was banned in 1855, but was not officially over until 1888.

Brazil becomes a republic

Brazil Deodoro da Fonseca Brazil Deodoro da FonsecaPhoto: Public domain

After this, the call for a republic grew louder and industrialists, traders and military wanted to end the monarchy. In 1889 a rebellion broke out under Marshal Da Fonseca, which forced Pedro II to leave the countryn.

Brazil subsequently became a republic under Da Fonseca, entirely after the example of the United States. The country was divided into twenty states with Rio de Janeiro in a federal district as its capital. The states were given a great deal of autonomy. The early decades of the republic were restless. The new republicans were lucky that Brazil was in control of the world coffee market at the time. A city like São Paulo and a port like Santos benefited enormously from this. For example, between 1890 and 1930, more than 2 million European immigrants settled in the state of São Paulo.

The interior of Brazil was deprived of all this wealth and fell into serious disrepair due to the abolition of slavery and the disappearance of sugar culture. One president succeeded another and economic boom alternated with crises, caused by the collapse of world coffee prices and the displacement of forest rubber by plantation rubber. During the First World War, the economy revived. In 1917 Brazil declared war on Germany, but it did not actively participate in this war. In the post-war years, the country remained politically and economically unstable.

But in the wealthy south and in the big cities, opposition to the power of the coffee farmers, from which all presidents hitherto had grown, increased. This led to a military uprising in 1922 that failed, however. In 1929, the coffee trade collapsed due to the stock market crisis in America, and the military took their chance.

End of the "Old Republic"

Brazil Getulio VargasBrazil Getulio VargasPhoto: Public domain

In October, a coup led by General Gétulio Dornelles Vargas was committed and the "Old Republic" came to an end. The popular Vargas played well with the masses and for 25 years Vargas remained the most powerful man in Brazil. He was able to play to the general public with dramatic speeches and with a policy that would improve the situation of the workers in particular. Inspired by Mussolini in Italy and Franco in Spain, he drew more and more power, and the federal government was now central to making important decisions, effectively sidelining the regional rulers. After a rebellion in São Paulo (1932), which was brutally repressed, Vargas strengthened his position by merging the armies of the states and bringing them under federal command and securing the support of this national army.

All this was enshrined in the new 1934 constitution and in 1937 all opposition was definitively eliminated. Political parties were banned, free speech was curtailed and unions were strictly controlled. Those who nevertheless objected (intellectuals, union leaders and political opponents disappeared into concentration camps and prisons. Through all these measures, he wanted to realize his big plan "o Estado Novo", the "New State": the state as the motor for modernizing society, among other things by switching from the agricultural economy to an industrial economy. Vargas' foreign policy was marked by opportunism. Initially, he supported Germany and Italy in World War II, but the Allies barely gained any military superiority, or he declared the As- powers the war and sent a Brazilian Expeditionary Force to Italy.

The urge for political and social reforms, which arose after the Second World War, has not survived the reign of Vargas. At the instigation of the United States, the army through General Enrico Gaspar Dutra requested that he resign. Vargas agreed, after which the constitution was again based on the presidential system. Dutra, leader of the Partido Social Democrático (PSD), was elected president in 1945n.

Vargas won elections again in 1950, but now had to operate within the democratic system. His greatest success during this period was the nationalization of raw materials and the creation in 1953 of Pétrobras, the state oil company. As a result, he was not popular with foreign companies and investors and big capital did not like this course domestically either. A political divide arose and the pressure on Vargas became so great that he shot himself on August 24, 1954.

Nevertheless, the Vargas period was not bad for Brazil because it changed its face economically, socially and administratively. In 1956 Juscelino Kubitschek won the election and vice president became the very popular among workers João Jango Goulart. Kubitschek's ambition was to make Brazil one of the most powerful nations in the world in five years. He started a number of infrastructural feats with the construction of the new capital Brasília in the center of the country as the highlight, but corruption increased and inflation reached 45% per year; because of this there was a series of disturbances. His inflationary policies brought the country to the brink of financial collapse. He had a decidedly pro-American policy; the communists were left out of the law.

In connection with the 1960 elections, the government was amended in May 1959. The Minister of War, Marshal Henrique Teixeira Lott, the strong man behind Kubitschek, had been nominated by the Social Democrats and the workers' party. He was succeeded by Marshal Odylio Denis. The opposition, the national-democratic and the Christian-democratic parties, nominated the governor of São Paulo, Jânio da Silva Quadros. He was elected President in the elections held on October 3, 1960.

Brazil is becoming a military dictatorship

Brazil Joaoa GoulartBrazil Joaoa GoulartPhoto: Public domain

In 1961 Quadros turned against the United States, but at the same time also against its own supporters by more or less opting for the Soviet Union in the Cuba crisis. He had also harassed the ruling classes with his progressive approach to domestic difficulties, social contradictions and agricultural problems. To everyone's surprise, he resigned on August 25, 1961 and was replaced by Vice President Goulart, who was sworn in as president despite much opposition from the conservatives, military and middle class. Goulart launched a sweeping package of social reforms in 1963 after which military personnel and the business community prepared a coup with the help of the United States. Goulart's rather weak performance led to a series of disturbances. Large-scale starvation, looting and arson kept the military on alert almost constantly. A referendum held in January 1963 revealed that a large majority of the population wanted the presidential system restored; the parliamentary system had clearly failed.

On March 13, 1964, Goulart organized a popular demonstration for support, but shortly afterwards, the military rebelled against the government, with American warships in the Bay of Rio de Janeiro in the background. On April 2, 1964, Goulart fled to Uruguay and the generals came to power. During this black period in Brazil's history, the generals remained in power for more than 20 years.

The generals continued industrialization and major projects were started up again such as opening up the Amazon. However, the people of Brazil had to do without a free press, and human rights were not respected. In April 1964, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco, was appointed president by a conference cleared of corruption and communist police, or so the military explained. From now on, an electoral college from Congress would elect the President. On December 11, 1965, a new opposition party was formed, the MDB, most of whose supporters belonged to the dissolved workers' party. In 1966 the two-party system was introduced: only the MDB and the ARENA, the governing party, were allowed. The media was subjected to even stricter censorship and the president reigned by decree, in short all the characteristics of a dictatorship.

The oppression of the population in the Branco period took very serious proportions. Opponents were persecuted and eliminated by death squads. Countless people just disappeared. Radical students and police, however, took up the battle ax, among other things, by a number of kidnappings of Western ambassadors. The results of the elections of 12 of the 22 governors, which took place on 3 September 1966, was therefore established in advance, because Castelo Branco had ensured that only ARENA candidates could be selected. In protest, the MDB did not participate in the elections. The presidential elections were held a month later. The Minister of War, Arturo da Costa e Silva, who, to the displeasure of the President, had run for ARENA, was elected President by both houses of Congress. The MDB did not participate in these elections.

On March 15, 1967, da Costa e Silva took office and a new constitution entered into force. Among other things, it provided for an indirectly elected President and Vice-President and for further narrowing down the powers of Congress by allowing the President to take legal decisions through emergency decrees and so-called "institutional acts". In dec. 1968 Congress was dissolved indefinitely and the government took power to govern by decree. Da Costa e Silva suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on August 31, 1969, and its functions were taken over by a military junta.

On October 7, the junta designated 63-year-old General Emílio Garrastazú Médici as a presidential candidate; officially elected President on October 25. On October 30, Médici was sworn in as president and a new constitution came into force, significantly restricting the powers of the legislature and greatly extending those of the executive. The systematic fight against the left-wing opposition was expressed in numerous arrests. Only the Church could afford to make a word of protest now and then, although certain measures were not forthcoming against her, including against the Archbishop of Recife, Dom Helder Câmara. The regime has been accused of torturing prisoners, upholding an unjust social structure, and exterminating Indians in the economic opening up of the Amazon. Discontent in the country grew sharply, in particular that the benefits of the "economic miracle", ie the strong economic expansion in the years 1967 to 1973, did not benefit the mass of the population. Guerrillero's - sometimes successfully - resorted to kidnapping diplomats to enforce their demands. Ernesto Geisel was elected president in January 1974. The political liberalization he promised failed to materialize. Under his rule, press censorship on newspapers and magazines was lifted, but censorship on the mass media of radio and television continued. The MDB achieved major victories in parliamentary elections in 1974 and 1978.

Return to democracy

Brazil Jose Sarney Brazil Jose SarneyPhoto: José Cruz/ABr CC 3.0 Brazil no changes made

In November 1978, General João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo was elected President by an electoral college. Before his resignation, Geisel allowed the return of political exiles and abolished the most repressive institutional act.

Under pressure from the growing opposition, which was reflected, among other things, in demonstrations and strikes in the major cities, Figueiredo pursued a policy of "abertura", gradual political liberalization, after taking office on March 15, 1979.

At the end of 1979, an amnesty was declared for all political prisoners and those who had lost their political rights, and the two-party system was lifted. Under the new name PMDB, the MDB became a broad opposition party, including the still forbidden communist party. The ARENA government party was renamed PDS and relied mainly on traditional rural politicians. In the general elections of March 15, 1982, the opposition parties obtained a majority in the House of Representatives and ten government posts in the main States. The PDS was given twelve governors in the more sparsely populated states of the north and northeast, and it retained the majority in the electoral college that would appoint Figueiredo's successor.

The opposition lacked the two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives necessary to allow direct presidential elections. The PDS nominated banker Paulo Salim Maluf for president. However, part of the PDS was unable to agree with its candidacy and set up its own party, the Liberal Front Party (PFL), which supported PMDB candidate Tancredo de Almeida Neves. With this, Neves obtained a majority in the electoral college, who elected him President on January 15, 1985, and nominated José Sarney of the PFL as Vice President. Neves was due to be inaugurated on March 15, but had to be hospitalized the night before. After his death on April 21, Sarney was sworn in as President on April 22, 1985, ending 21 years of military rule.

The New Republic

Brazil Cardozo Brazil CardozoPhoto: Aécio Neves (CC BY 2.0) no changes made

Initially, Sarney received broad popular support for his economic policy, the Cruzado Plan, which introduced a new currency (cruzado) and freezes wages and prices. However, the economic crisis, caused by a huge debt burden, did not lessen. The November 15, 1986 general election was a major victory for the PMDB, which won a majority in both houses of Congress. As of February 1987, Congress was renamed a Constituent Assembly to draft a new democratic constitution chaired by PMDB leader Ulysses Guimaraes.

On October 5, 1988, the new constitution was passed, maintaining the presidential system with some restrictions. The disappointment with Sarney's policies led to defeat for the PMDB and the PFL in the municipal elections of November 15, 1988. Major winners included the Labor Party PT of union leader Luis Inacio da Silva and the Democratic Workers' Party PDT led by Leonel Brizola. The presidential elections of November 15, 1989, where the population could directly elect a president for the first time since 1960, were ultimately won by right-wing populist Fernando Collar de Melo. In March 1990, he accepted the post of President but received little support from Parliament and sought support from Parliament by subject. Due to corruption of Collar and his immediate environment, Collar resigned in December 1992, just hours before the Senate was due to impose impeachment proceedings. Itamar Franco succeeded him as president.

In April 1993, a majority of voters voted in a referendum for the preservation of the republican form of government and for a presidential system over a parliamentary variant. A major corruption scandal involving dozens of politicians came to light in October. Based on its findings in January 1994, the Political Commission of Inquiry into Corruption nominated 18 Members for dismissal. Another study revealed close contacts between the underworld and politics. The federal budget goes for 40% on corruption practices.

The winner of the October 1994 presidential election was Fernando Henrique Cardozo. In the concurrent parliamentary elections, former President Sarney's PMBD remained the largest. To replace the cruzeiro real, a new currency was introduced, the real, which was pegged to the dollar. As a result, inflation fell sharply. In August 1994, the Mercosur customs union was established between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, eliminating much of the import tariffs and building a common external wall.

President Cardoso announced major reforms in February 1995, but he had to withdraw his plans in the social field after fierce union and political opposition and his tax reforms were shelved. Also in 1996, reforms were delayed or severely curtailed by the opposition. At the end of March 1995, the President announced an acceleration of land reforms, but here too, the practice was different. The privatization plan was also slow, as political parties, unions and other organizations feared a sell-out of national resources.

Economically, Brazil did not go badly after 1992. Inflation remained low in 1995 and 1996 and the period of hyperinflation appears to be over. Worryingly, urban unemployment continued to rise despite economic growth. In 2002, the Brazil International Monetary Fund granted a $ 30 billion loan, the largest loan in the institution's history. The loan aims to protect the country from an economic crisis and restore investor confidence in Latin America.

Brazil Lula Brazil LulaPhoto: Ricardo Stuckert/Presidência da República CC 3.0no changes made

In October 2002, 57-year-old Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula for short) was elected 36th President of Brazil with 61% of the vote. On January 1, 2003, the successor to ex-President Cardoso was inaugurated as Brazil's first elected left-wing Socialist (Workers' Party) president. Leaders and representatives from 119 countries attended the inauguration, including Cuban President Fidel Castro. In the summer of 2005, a major corruption scandal hit the media. The government party, PT, has been accused of bribing MPs for gaining political support. Prime Minister Dirceu resigned in June, but President Lula himself was harmed by this affair.

The presidential elections in early October 2006 did not initially produce a winner. A second round had to decide who would become the next president: the incumbent head of state, Lula or his challenger Geraldo Alckmin, the social democratic ex-governor of São Paulo. Lula was severely affected by the corruption scandal in his party, obtaining only 48.6% of the 51% votes needed.

On January 1, 2007, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office for his second term as President of Brazil. He obtained 60.8% of the votes. However, his Workers' Party (PT) only had 83 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 11 seats in the Senate. For comparison, the PMDB (Partido do Movimento Democrático) achieved 89 and 17 respectively. The President is dealing with a Congress in which he always has to find a coalition for his government plans. This is not easy in a country where there is hardly any party discipline and politicians frequently switch sides.

In December 2007, Renan Calheiros, a key ally of President Lula, is forced to leave the field in connection with a corruption scandal. In October 2008, Brazil rejected an application by Iran to become a member of OPEC. In March 2010, Lula wants to play a more diplomatic role for Brazil and visits the Middle East and Iran.

Brazil Dilma Rousseff Brazil Dilma RousseffPhoto: Dilma Rousseff CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Workers' Party (PT) Dilma Rousseff became Brazil's first female head of state after winning the second round of the presidential election. 62-year-old Rousseff won approx. 55 percent of the votes. Her rival, Social Democratic José Serra, received about 45 percent of the vote. Roussef will be sworn in on 1 January 2011. Then she succeeds the current head of state Lula da Silva. There are many demonstrations in Brazil in 2013, the causes of which are the rising cost of living and anger at the costs incurred to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Things remain restless in 2014, where the World Cup was held in June and July and Rousseff was reelected. In December 2015, Congress started impeachment proceedings against Rousseff. She was impeached in May 2016 and succeeded by Michel Temer as Acting President. The Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016. Michel Temer remains president through 2018.

Bolsenaro BrazilBolsenaro BrazilPhoto: Isac Nóbrega/PR CC 2.0 Unported no changes made

Retired army officer Jair Bolsonaro won a decisive victory over the centre-left Workers' Party in the October 2018 presidential election, and took office in January 2019. As a member of the Social Liberal Party, an anti-establishment group that combines social conservatism and pro-market policies, Mr Bolsonaro is a deeply polarising figure whose earlier defence of the military dictatorship has alarmed many Brazilians. After his win he has tried to assure voters that he will defend democracy and uphold the constitution. Mr Bolsonaro's promise to cleanse Brazil of corruption proved particularly popular in a country that has seen dozens of politicians from the mainstream parties jailed. Among his key policies are a relaxation of gun laws to allow everyone to own a firearm, a cut in state intervention in the economy, and the withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate change agreements In 2020 president Bolsonaro causes controversy by refusing to support measures to halt the spread of the Covid-19 virus.


Brazil Sao Paulo Brazil Sao PauloPhoto: Roger W (CC BY-SA 2.0) no changes made

Brazil had 207,353,391 inhabitants in 2017. This means that the average population density is approximately 20 inhabitants per km2. In 1950 Brazil had only 50 million inhabitants. About three million Brazilians are added every year, not to mention the number of immigrants. This population explosion is one of the major problems Brazil is struggling with.

The distribution of the population is characterized by a large degree of inequality: in the coastal areas of the north and southeast and the south, about 90% of the total population lives on just over one third of the surface. The Amazon and the west, on the other hand, have a population density of 1 and 2.9 inhabitants per km2, respectively. There is a continuous urbanization: 86% of the population lives in the cities (2017), within which especially the slums or favelas have expanded at lightning speed. Brazil has changed from a predominantly agricultural to an urban society in a period of about fifty years. The largest urban areas are São Paulo (21 million inhabitants) and Rio de Janeiro (13 million), two of the largest cities in the world. In the northeast and north lie the metropolitan cities of Salvador da Bahia, Recife and Fortaleza, in the Amazon Belém and in the south Porto Alegre. Major inland cities are Manaus, Brasília and Belo Horizonte.

The population of Brazil is very heterogeneous in composition and of Indian-African-European origin. The number of Indians who still have the original way of life is less than 0.4% of the total population. This number is still decreasing, partly due to the reclamation of the Amazon. Occasionally, massacres of Indians have been reported. Indians also live in Central West Brazil, which are partly located in approximately 128 reserves. The Fundação Nacional dos Indios is the body whose task is to ensure that the Indians are integrated into society in a gradual and peaceful manner. The fact that not much of it ends up is due, among other things, to the enormous expanse of the interior, the lack of the necessary money and the disinterest and corruption in the civil service.

The very first settlers, the Portuguese, remained largely unmixed in the port cities, but in the interior they mingled with the native people. Especially between 1880 and 1914, many immigrants came to Brazil: Italians, Spaniards, Syrians, Lebanese, Poles and Germans. In 1908, 799 Japanese were added, followed by hundreds of thousands of compatriots.

The white part of the population is the majority with 47%. This is followed by mulattoes of European-African-Native American descent by 43%. The black population consists of 7.6% of the population. There are also cafuzos of Indian-African origin. All people of mixed origin are called mestiços (mestizos).

São Paulo is the migrant city par excellence with large Italian, Arab and Japanese neighborhoods. About 1 million Japanese live in the states of Paranána and São Paulo. The state of São Paulo and the southern states of Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná are home to Dutch, German, Swiss and French colonies.

Although all population groups live together in reasonable harmony, it is still very difficult for the colored population to rise higher, both economically and in social class.

The annual population increase is 0.7% (2017). The age structure in Brazil is unbalanced: Nearly 40% of the population was under the age of twenty-four in 2017. The average life expectancy at birth is 70.5 years for men and 77.7 years for women (2017). The birth and death rates are 14.1 and 6.7 per 1000 inhabitants, respectively. Infant mortality is approximately 17 per 1,000 live births (2017).

Historical population growth in Brazil (in millions):
1776 1,9
1876 10,9
1900 17,3
1940 41,2
1950 51,9
1960 70,1
1970 93,2
1980 121,3
1991 146,2
1995 161,3
2001 175


Brazil IndiansBrazil IndiansPhoto: Tetraktys CC 3.0 Brazilië no changes made

Originally, about three million Indians lived in Brazil. It is believed that since the arrival of Europeans, about 700 Indian tribes have disappeared due to diseases, massacres or mixed with other populations. At the moment, only about 300,000 remain. According to the latest counts, there are still about 140 Indian peoples who all have their own languages and dialects. A total of 174 different languages and dialects have been counted. The level of civilization also varies widely. Many other Indian tribes have been mixed with the conquerors and settlers over time. "Cablocos" are descendants of whites and Indians, "mamelucos" of Indians and blacks.

The upper reaches of the Rio Negro in the state of Roraima are home to the largest group of traditionally living Indians, the Yanomani, hunters and gatherers. The Yanomani were only discovered in 1973 and were still living in the Stone Age. The 18,000 Yanomani are spread over approximately 320 villages on both sides of the Brazilian-Venezuelan border. They speak four related languages: Yanomam, Yanam, Yanomamo and Sanumá.

Other large groups are the Tikúna, the Guarani, the Tupi and the Ge. Some tribes of which only a few dozen are left are the Asurini and Parakanan. Kakinawa, Kaiapos, Xavante, Txucarramãe, Xingú and Bororos are other tribes.

In 1973, the Indians were granted the right to their territory and the fruits of it. Due to some small print in the "Indian statute", the Indians were often allocated no more than a limited territory as a reserve. Later in the 1970s, several Native American tribes rebelled against all negative developments and founded the Union of Native American Nations (UNI) in 1981. The position of the Indians has been strengthened somewhat by all national and especially international actions to preserve the rainforest. An important success for the Native Americans was the acquisition of civil rights in 1988, which allowed the Native Americans to vote and hold public functions. In 1989 the Indians achieved great success. The construction of the Altamira-Xingú dams, which would cause the Indians to lose a large part of their territory, was canceled because the World Bank withdrew as a financier under pressure. It could be said that the Indians won these battles, but the "war" is far from over.


Brazil was a real plantation society from the sixteenth century, for which a total of about five million Africans were brought to Brazil as slaves in the period 1532 and 1850 (abolition of slavery). The plantations were mainly located in the northeast in the coastal region. Most descendants of the slaves can be found there and most blacks live in the state of Bahia.

Of course, there was soon mixing between the slaves and the white rulers. Its descendants, mulattos, form a large part of Brazilian society and live mainly in the coastal regions of the north and southeast and inland of the state of Minas Gerais.

In religion, football, music and dance, Africans make an important mark on Brazilian culture. There is still a great deal of social disadvantage and discrimination is still the order of the day.

In 2007, an Indian tribe was discovered in the Amazon region that has so far had no contact with the Western world. The 87 members of the Metyktire tribe live in a barely accessible area about 2000 kilometers northwest of Rio de Janeiro.


Portuguese language MapPortuguese language MapPhoto: Public domain

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, which is more archaic in pronunciation and vocabulary than the language spoken in Portugal. In terms of sentence structure, on the other hand, it is more modern again. Due to the many influences of other languages, Brazilian Portuguese has about 10,000 words more than Portuguese in Portugal. Everyday Brazilian is also called "brasileiro falado".

Brazilian Portuguese has many loanwords of the language spoken by the Tupinambá peoples. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Tupi was a lingua franca in large areas to the north and along the coast, a commercial language spoken by all. These words occur especially in names of animals, plants and geographical terms. In remote areas, native languages are often still spoken, such as Tupi in the northeast and Guarani in the southeast. Words from African dialects (Nigeria and Angola) are still used in Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies. Recently, 174 different Indian languages and dialects have been counted. However, many languages and dialects are about to disappear and many have already disappeared. In 1980, researchers found two more Indians who spoke the Xipaya language and two more Indians who still spoke the Puruborá language, but had not done so for several decades.

In 1995, 17% of the population over the age of 15 was illiterate.

Portuguese glossary:


Brazil Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of AparecidaBrazil Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of AparecidaPhoto: Valter Campanato/ABr CC 3.0 Brazilië no changes

Catholicism in the Portuguese colony of Brazil was different from that in the Spanish territories. The Spaniards were very strict in their teaching and the Indians, slaves and other immigrants actually had no choice: they had to become Catholic. The Portuguese were a little less firm in their doctrine and there was also ample room for elements from African religions.

Brazil now enjoys full religious freedom after the separation of church and state in 1946. This previously happened in 1890, but in 1934 the unit was restored.

The population was over 64% Roman Catholic in 2010 and Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world. The population is also approximately 22% Protestant. The latter group experienced strong growth in the eighties and nineties of the twentieth century, such as the German Evangelical Church in the southern states. Furthermore, all kinds of Protestant societies and sects (together about 5% and non-believers about 8%), often from the United States, are gaining ground, such as Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Evangelists, Presbyterians and Methodists. There are also Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Shintoists, Baha'is and Mormons.

The number of Spiritualists is also very large and for many the boundaries between Catholicism and all kinds of popular religions are extremely vague.

In addition, "scientific spiritism", which goes back to the Frenchman Allan Kardec (= H.L. Denisard Rivail, 1803-1869), is very widespread, especially in the cities. Some Eastern religious influences are recognizable in this movement.

This mixture of Catholic and African influences (sincretismo) is fascinating and dates back to the time of slavery. Under the cover of Catholicism, the slaves continued to worship their own gods (orixás) and perform their own religious rituals. For example, the orixás were simply renamed Catholic saints, and the Portuguese had long believed that. There are about 500 orixas in total, but only six are found in all Afro-Brazilian religions. Some orixás are Oxalá, the central deity, Ogum (violence, power), Xangô (natural forces, fire and lightning), Oxossi (life, plants and animals) Oxum (lakes and rivers) and Iemanjá (sea and fertility).

Brazil Candomble Brazil CandomblePhoto: Toluaye in the public domain

The most famous Afro-Brazilian religions are candomblé and umbanda. It is believed that the spirits of the dead and gods can positively and negatively affect people's lives. One comes into contact with a ghost or a dead person during a ceremony in which the believer becomes possessed. All this is usually done under the guidance of a priestess who is in contact with the gods, the "orixás". The ceremony is accompanied by the sound of gourd-shaped atabaque drums and the faithful walk and dance and sing African lyrics.

These religions originated in the northeast and from there spread across the rest of Brazil. Candomblé is the oldest Afro-Brazilian religion that still has strong African (Yoruba) influences and can be compared to some religions in Africa. The largest followers are located in the "black" state of Bahia, where more than a thousand temples are located. These temples are often ordinary houses. Candomblé has many names, depending on the state: in Amazon and Pará babassué, in Pernambuco and Alagos Xangô, in Rio Grande do Sul Pará or batuque en tambor in Maranhão.

The macumba, a bastardized form of the candomblé, developed in Rio de Janeiro. From the macumba arose again umbanda, a spiritistic variant of white magic that mainly takes place in the big cities. The number of followers is estimated to be over thirty million and they come from all walks of life. Quimbanda is considered by the Brazilians to be black magic, where witches sacrifice animals.

The Native American religions are based on assigning magical meanings to all kinds of objects and events. Ancestor worship is also important to the Indians. The shaman is the religious leader and medicine man. He performs rites that cure diseases or cast out devils. He often uses medicinal herbs from the jungle for this. Just like the Indian languages, the Indian religions are also under great pressure and are in danger of disappearing completely.


State structure

Brazil Congresso National Brazil Congresso NationalPhoto: Thiago Melo CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Brazil is a presidential federal republic. The president is elected for four years through direct elections, but his powers became more limited in 1988 when a new constitution came into force that replaced the 1969 authoritarian constitution of the military junta and returned many presidential powers to parliament. The president and vice president must be born in Brazil and be at least 35 years old.

Legislative power (Congresso Federal) consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives (Camara dos Deputados) with 513 members elected for four years and the Senate (Senado Federal) with 81 members (three representatives from each of the states and three from the Federal District of Brasilia) who are elected for eight years. After four years there are 1/3 elections, after another four years 2/3 of the members of the Senate. Voting rights exist for all citizens from the age of 16. There is a compulsory vote for everyone from 18 to 70 years old and, moreover, can read and write. Illiterate people, sixteen and seventeen-year-olds and older people over seventy may vote, but are not obliged to do so.

The army still has a fairly large influence and the army command is often consulted by the cabinet. The last military coup is from 1964 and the military dictatorship that followed lasted until 1985.

The Federative Republic of Brazil is divided into 26 states and a federal district surrounding the capital, Brasília. They all have their own legislative, executive and judicial powers. The states are divided into municipalities (municípios) with an elected mayor and city council elected every three years. Each state has its own constitution, parliament (Assembleia) and governor. The territories are directly under the central authority.

The governors and parliaments of the federal states are elected in direct elections. The federal states have great powers in areas such as education, legislation, traffic and transport and housing. In the economic and financial field (e.g. tax collection), the main powers lie with the federal government in Brasília. Foreign policy and defense are of course also regulated by the federal government. The Fernando archipelago is a national territory and, like the Brasília district, has no government of its own.

For the current political situation, see chapter history.

The macro regions North, Northeast, Southeast, South and Central West are distinguished for statistical purposes and for planning reasons.

Name of the state capital


Amazonas Manaus
Acre Rio Branco
Pará Belém
Rondônia Porto Velho
Roraima Boa Vista
Amapá Macapa


Maranhão São Luiz
Piaui Teresina
Ceará Fortaleza
Rio Grande do Norte Natal
Paraiba João Pessoa
Pernambuco Recife
Alagoas Maceió
Sergipe Aracaju
Bahia Salvador


Espírito Santo Vitória
Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro
São Paulo São Paulo
Minas Gerais Belo Horizonte

Central west

Mato Grosso Cuiabá
Mato Grosso do Sul Campo Grande
Goias Goiãna
Tocantins Palmas


Paraná Curitiba
Santa Catarina Florianópolis
Rio Grande do Sul Porto Alegre


School class BrazilSchool class BrazilPhoto: Escola Duarte Coelho CC2.0 Generic no changes made

Education is compulsory for children from seven to fourteen years old. Compliance with this obligation is in fact impossible and as a result many children do not go to school. The school year runs from March to December and the language of instruction is of course Portuguese. Primary school is divided into eight classes. In the first four groups, the children learn to read and calculate, among other things. In groups five to eight there will be Portuguese language, physics, mathematics and social subjects. Schools in poor urban neighborhoods and in the countryside provide far fewer subjects.

High school lasts three or four years. There are two directions: general and vocational education. General high school prepares students for higher education. The vocational schools train for certain professions. Approx. 20% of children between 15 and 19 years old attend secondary school. Students are required to take 2,200 teaching hours, but can do so at their own pace. The transition to secondary education is far too expensive for many rural children, as most secondary schools are located in the cities. The gap between free public state schools and private schools is also large. State schools also often work with outdated teaching materials, poor school buildings and underpaid teachers.

The first major university was founded in 1934, the Universidade de São Paulo. Other major universities include the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, the Universidade Federal Fluminense, also from Rio de Janeiro, and the Universidade Federal Minas Gerais. Higher education is provided at 73 universities and many hundreds of colleges and other higher education institutions. Entrance exams are compulsory and very demanding, and many students are therefore preparing for exams in private schools. Moreover, studying at a college or university is only reserved for young people from wealthy backgrounds.

Approx. 15% of the population over the age of fifteen is illiterate. This is the official figure of the government. Educational institutions suspect that the actual number of illiterates is much higher, especially in rural areas and in the slums of large cities. Five-month courses are offered through widely developed adult education programs, enabling millions of adults to read and write.

Street children and favelas

Brazil Favela Brazil FavelaPhoto: David Berkowitz (CC BY 2.0) no changes made

The estimated 200,000 to 300,000 street children prove that everyone is not doing well in Brazil. Nobody knows how many there are, probably much more. Often they have run away from home or have been abandoned (abandonados) by their parents. Brazil is one of the countries with the highest percentage of street children in the world. They are generally completely left to their own devices and many are addicted or working in prostitution. In recent decades, they have been hunted themselves by death squads, which even include police officers. The street children sometimes earn some money with trade or they just steal it. Criminal "street gangs" are also increasingly common.

The largest numbers of street children are found in large cities such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte in the southeast. But the large cities in the north-northeast are also increasingly confronted with this phenomenon.

Rio de Janeiro is "famous" for its "favelas", the poor areas or slums with all self-built, often illegal houses that are built against the rock slopes. It is believed that there are about 400 favelas, mainly in the north of Rio de Janeiro, in which a total of 1.5 million people can live. Some favelas are equipped with all basic facilities, in others poverty is trump and people live in miserable conditions. In some districts, stone houses are already being built.

The largest favela is Rocinha, with an estimated 150,000 inhabitants. This favela has fairly good facilities and many residents work in the wealthier southern neighborhoods. The district Caxias is a big contrast, especially the favela Lixeao. This favela is built on a landfill and most people live by separating the dirt. The houses, actually more huts, are made of cardboard, plastic and waste wood and the facilities are minimal. It will come as no surprise that criminals and drug mafia are in charge here. Favelas can also be found in other large cities and it is harrowing to see if the chic neighborhoods are located just along the slums.

It is remarkable that excursions to favelas are already offered and that poverty and misery are exploited as a tourist attraction.

Carnival and Copacabana

Brazil Carnaval Rio de Janeiro Brazil Carnaval Rio de JaneiroPhoto: Sergio Luiz CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Carnival is the big, five-day celebration that is practiced exuberantly by almost all Brazilians. Real carnival cities are Olinda, Salvador, Recife, but especially Rio de Janeiro where the carnival of the "carioca", the inhabitants of Rio, is the biggest tourist attraction of Brazil. The Rio de Janeiro grand parade is held twice, usually on Sunday and Monday. The carnival starts on the street on Friday before that.

The performances of the fourteen big samba schools in the big parade and in the stadium "sambódromo" are a fascinating sight. Thousands of dancers and drummers (samba do enredo) participate in the largest samba schools. The preparations last all year round. First you choose a theme and then the costumes are designed and the floats are built. Themes can include biblical stories, historical events, mythology or literature. The groups are judged by a jury, making it a real competition. It is a pity that commerce, prestige and power undermine the spontaneous character of the carnival. However, the average tourist will not notice this and will especially enjoy this folk festival. The first parade with a samba school was already held in 1929.

The smaller samba schools show their skills in the street carnival on Avenida Rio Branco. The carnival is also celebrated in the big clubs of Rio de Janeiro, where the elite celebrate their parties.

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, in particular, is also notorious for its crime and the deaths and injuries that occur every year.

What the samba schools are for Rio de Janeiro are the "afoxé's" for the city of Salvador. These groups are also preparing for the big parade for a year with their drums and large images of patron saints. The most famous afoxé is "Filhos de Ghandi". Characteristic of these parades are also the "trios eléctricos", music bands that travel through the streets on wagons. The carnival in cities like Salvador and Recife is much more characterized by the non-stop street carnival.

Brazil Copacabana Brazil CopacabanaPhoto: Chensiyuan CC 4.0 International no changes made

Copacabana is named after a shrine on Lake Titicaca and has now become an entire urban district instead of just a beach. Avenida Atlântica (approx. 5 km) runs along the beaches and can easily withstand comparison with resorts such as Nice and Monaco. It started in 1923 with the construction of the Copacabana Palace Hotel and since 1969 the gigantic hotel complexes have provided an impressive sight.

The walkways are jogged and cycled; after that follows a stretch of beach where there is a lot of sports, in particular beach football, beach volleyball; then the real beach life begins.

Other famous beaches are those of Ipanema and Leblon, which are near Copacabana, home to art galleries, theaters, clubs, discos and top restaurants. The longest beach is the 11 kilometer long Barra da Tijuca.


Brazil Pele Brazil PelePhoto: Marcello Casal Jr./ABr CC 3.0 Brazil no changes made

Brazil's national sport is football, and the sport also has an important social function. Football is popular in all walks of life and as such an important binding agent.

Brazil became world champion for the fourth time in 1994 after the final rounds of 1958, 1962 and 1970. The most famous footballer in the world is of course a Brazilian, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé. Other great Brazilian footballers are or were Garrincha, Zico, Sócrates, Romário and Ronaldo. Famous clubs are Flamengo, Fluminense, Santos, Gremio, Atletico Mineiro, Corinthians and Palmeiras. The Football World Cup is held in Brazil in 2014, the team reached the final but was bitterly defeated by the Germans.

Other important sports are volleyball and beach volley. Brazil became Olympic champion in Barcelona in 1992. Individual sports heroes are mainly found in motorsport with names such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna. Another sport and popular pastime is capoeira, a Brazilian martial art with West African influences, consisting of a combination of dance, music and kickboxing.



Brazil BRIC CountriesBrazil BRIC CountriesPhoto: Public domain

Brazil is currently among the top ten world economies. However, only a small number of people have benefited from this so far. Most Brazilians have to live on a small income that is scrambled together with great effort. In the richer industrial states, a middle group is gradually emerging that is comparable to that in Western Europe and North America. In the northeastern states in particular, poverty is still an asset for most people.

Brazil's post-World War II economic situation is characterized by periods of economic growth but also of decline. For example, the period from 1955 to 1964 was one of diminishing economic stability and growth. The unstable political situation was also responsible for this. After this period, wage moderation, a fall in the inflation rate and a small growth in gross national product followed.

The Brazilian "miracle" period lasted from 1968 to 1974, during which economic growth grew 10% per year. Both agriculture and industry, including foreign investments) contributed to this. After 1974 it went downhill again and in 1981 Brazil was in the middle of a very severe economic recession with inflation rates above 100% per year (1985: 228%) and a sharp increase in debt. In the 1980s, GDP continued to decline and stagnate.

Ultimately, GDP per capita rose 1.5% between 1981 and 1988. Inflation rose sky-high again in 1987 and 1988 by 366% and 900% respectively, and external debt rose to an astronomical $ 114.6 billion. One-third of the proceeds from the export were spent on paying the interest on the debts. In February 1987, the Brazilian government stopped paying debt and on 1 July 1994 the "Plano Real" came into effect, a monetary reform aimed at severely limiting inflation. This intervention proved to be successful, as inflation fell to about 35% in 1995. This trend has continued in recent years and unemployment has also fallen considerably.

Of course, this economic progress does not apply to all federal states. The southeastern states benefited most from this, in contrast to the traditionally weaker states of northern, north-eastern and central-western Brazil. The negative consequence is that there is a great migration to the cities in the southeast.

In the informal sector (o setor informal), the hundreds of thousands of street traders are the most striking. But also, for example, small self-employed workers, housekeepers, construction workers and waiters who are not registered anywhere belong to the black circuit, which may generate as much money as the official sectors. Children can only start working when they are 14 years old. However, many children work full-time in the informal sector. In 1990, 14% of children between the ages of 10 and 14 worked.

Since January 1, 1995, Brazil has benefited greatly from Mercosul (Spanish: Mercosur), a customs union and free trade agreement of the countries of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil with a common external tariff. Chile is an associate member and Bolivia also wants to join. One of the measures is that about 90% of mutual trade is free of import duties. The countries are slowly becoming the main trading partners of each other and there is considerable mutual investment.

The Mercosul was in response to the NAFTA treaty between the United States, Mexico and Canada, which also aimed at economic integration.

Major foreign investors come from the United States, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and Great Britain. Brazil is the B from BRIC, which are emerging economies with great potential. The other countries are Russia, China and India.

Brazilië is in de 21e eeuw een economische macht van betekenis geworden. Per hoofd van de bevolking bedraagt het BBP 15.600 Dollar (2017). Het groeipercentage ligt rond de 1% (2017).

Agriculture and animal husbandry

Brazil Coffee PlantationBrazil Coffee PlantationPhoto: Knase CC 3.0 Deutschland no changes made

Agricultural land is increasingly owned by large landowners. As a result, food production per capita fell sharply. Programs aimed at land reforms continue to encounter political opposition, which means that the distribution of agricultural land is still very uneven.

About 9% of Brazil's area is used for agricultural activities. Modernization has expanded the area where agriculture can be practiced in recent decades, including areas where traditionally less agriculture was possible, such as in the north and northeast. Of the total export earnings, 45% comes from the agricultural sector and 23% of the labor force is employed there. Agriculture almost covers the total food requirement and is also very important for exports. The soil of Brazil is generally fertile and the climate is varied. This makes it possible to grow many different crops, from tropical fruits to winter wheat.

Arable farming mainly takes place in the southern coastal states and in the northeast. Coffee, half of which is grown in the states of São Paulo and Paraná, is still Brazil's most important economic product. Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world, producing about a third of world production. The value of coffee as an export product did drop sharply as a result of the diversification policy of the Brazilian government.

Cocoa, sugar and especially soybeans have become important export products. In 1988, the export earnings of the soybeans for the first time exceeded those of the coffee. Sugar cane cultivation received strong impulses from 1976 onwards by encouraging the use of sugar cane ethanol as a fuel for cars.

Corn, tobacco, sugar cane and bananas are grown all over eastern Brazil. Rice and manioc are grown everywhere. Brazil has become the world's largest producer of sisal (leaf fibers of various agave species that are processed into hemp, among other things). Cotton cultivation has declined sharply since the 1970s. Special products are tung oil from the tung trees, castor oil from the "miracle tree", carnaúbawas from the carnaúbawas palm and tea substitute from the experience.

Wild rubber and Brazil nuts come from the Amazon. After soy and coffee, orange juice is the most important agricultural export product due to the increasing cultivation of citrus fruits.

Most of the agricultural land consists of meadows and livestock farming contributes about 25% to the value of agricultural production. Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo are centers of intensive animal husbandry and Mato Grosso and Goiás are centers of extensive animal husbandry. Beef exports are increasing, but most meat production is still destined for domestic use. Besides cattle, mainly pigs, sheep, goats and horses are kept.

In the Amazon region there are farmlands (fazendas) of more than 600 km2 with large herds of cattle. Negative consequences are the skewed distribution of the territory and the further deterioration of the vulnerable Amazon region.

Forestry and fishing

Deforestation in BrazilDeforestation in BrazilPhoto: Nasa in the public domain

Brazil is 60% forested, 45% of which is tropical rainforest. Economically more important than the stock of hardwood of the Amazon plain is the coniferous exploitation in the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná. Legal measures regarding forest management have been in force since the 1960s.

Fisheries are not all that great. In the north they mainly fish for mackerel and shellfish, in the south for cod, herring and tuna. Overfishing in the Amazon here and there leads to a decline in fish stocks. In 1970, following other Latin American countries, Brazil unilaterally expanded its fishing zone to 200 miles.

Mining and energy

Brazil Iron Mine Carajas Brazil Iron Mine CarajasPhoto: NASA in the public domain

The mineral resources in Brazil are very extensive and varied, but are still relatively little exploited. New sites are discovered regularly, especially in the Amazon region. The mineral resources registered after 1936 are state property, and exploration is reserved only to Brazilians. Foreign investments are not prohibited but are not yet widely deployed. The largest mining company is the state-owned Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, and petroleum production was also a monopoly by the state-owned Petrobras. Privatization has also hit Petrobas because the company alone is unable to make the necessary investments.

Iron ore is the major export product of Brazilian mining, and Brazil is the largest exporter of iron ore in the world. The main mining areas for iron ore are in the Minas Gerais, the northern Amazon region. In addition to the large amounts of iron ore, the iron content of the stocks is sometimes very high (up to 68.5%). For example, a stock of 18 billion tons of iron ore has been found in Carajos in the northern Amazon region, in addition to bauxite and manganese ore.

Also important is the extraction of gold (second export country in the world), industrial diamonds and other gemstones such as jasper, agate, sardis, sapphire, diamond and emerald. Approx. 90% of the total world production of aquamarine, topaz and tourmaline comes from Brazil. The extraction of gold does cause serious damage to the landscape and pollution, by the run-off of mercury, of the surface water. Brazil is one of the largest producers of tin, manganese, chrome ore, mica, zircon and the largest of beryllium. In 1975 the supposedly largest stock of titanium in the world was discovered in Mato Grosso.

Petroleum is tapped in the states of Bahia, Alagoas and Sergipe as well as off-shore. Current petroleum production accounts for half of the domestic demand. The import of the other crude oil and derivatives costs Brazil billions of dollars annually.

Coal is found in Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, and in the Amazonas state near the border with Peru and Colombia is one of the richest coal deposits in the world. In addition, phosphate, graphite, magnesite, tungsten, lead, asbestos, uranium, barite, apatite and silver are also exploited on a modest basis.

In the 1960s and 1970s, high priority was given to developing alternative energy sources such as hydropower, nuclear energy and methanol.

90% of the abundant hydropower is used for the required electricity. The largest dam in the world, the Itaipú Dam, and the Tucuruí Dam, operated two hydropower plants with a combined power of 16.6 million kW.

The development of nuclear energy has become a major fiasco due to mismanagement and construction errors.


Embraer Brazil Embraer BrazilPhoto: Antônio Milena/ABr CC 3.0 Brazil no changes made

Brazil is the main industrialized country in Latin America. Industry's share of GDP was 21% in 2017. 32.1% of the total labor force works in the industrial sector.

Most of the industrial centers are located in the southeast and over three quarters of total industrial production takes place in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, where about 70% of all employees are employed in industry.

Of particular importance in development policy is the expansion of heavy industry, the showpiece of which is the automotive industry and the steel industry. The car industry in particular has grown very strongly since the 1950s. Major brands such as Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen came and Brazil has since grown into one of the major markets and producers of the automotive industry.

Important other sectors are the petrochemical and electrical engineering industry, shipbuilding and the textile industry. An aircraft and weapon industry was also developed in the 1980s.

The share of industrial goods in exports is 60%. Brazil has a relatively modern industrial park thanks to foreign investments from, among others, the United States, Japan, the Netherlands and Germany.


Brazil Export Brazil ExportPhoto: R Haussman, Cesar Hidalgo, et. al. CC 3.0 no changes made

The trade balance was in constant surplus in the 1980s with a record high of $ 19 billion in 1988. In the 1990s, this difference narrowed.

In 2017, 153.2 billion dollars were imported and the main import partners were the United States, Argentina, Germany, Japan and Italy. The main import goods are machinery and machine parts, electronics, petroleum, chemicals, food products.

In 2017, exports amounted to $ 217.2 billion and the main export partners were the United States, Argentina, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan. The main export goods are iron and steel products, coffee, petroleum products, machines, cars and car parts, soy and fruit juice.

Economic planning

Due to the highly decentralized development planning of the government, considerable contradictions have arisen in the implementation of the plans at federal, regional and municipal level. That is why, for example, extensive support measures have been issued to reduce economic and social inequalities between the backward northeast and the rest of the country. The SUDENE, a regional government agency, was established in 1959. This institution drew up plans with regard in particular to infrastructure development, the improvement of health care and education, and the promotion of industry and, to a lesser extent, agriculture. A separate organization, the SUDAM, was set up to open up the Amazon basin. This organization colonizes the area along the Transamazônica and designs plans for the rational utilization of the forest resources.

Brazil signed a treaty in July 1978 with Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela, the so-called Amazon Pact. The emphasis is on joint projects in the field of hydropower and infrastructure works and the preservation of the raw materials present in the area.

The government played a major role in the industrialization process in the 1970s. The ten largest companies in Brazil are state-owned companies, but privatization in key sectors will soon start in Brazil. Large-scale development projects were also tackled by the state, for which loans were taken out from foreign banks and international financial institutions such as the World Bank. The forced limitation of government expenditure in the 1980s led to a decline in investment.

Traffic and tourism

Brazil HighwayBrazil HighwayPhoto: Waldeban in the public domain

Due to the enormous size of the country, domestic air traffic is of great importance and the domestic air network is therefore among the densest in the world with more than 1500 airports and strips. For intercontinental traffic, the airports of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo (Viracopos, near Campinas), Recife and Porto Alegre are particularly important.

The railways only have a total length of over 30,000 km, the exploitation of which was privatized in 1996. Most Brazilians travel by bus, which is well organized in the more densely populated areas of the country.

The road network covers approximately 1.5 million km, of which only 71,000 km is paved! The interior is opened up by, among other things, the Transamazônica, which stretches over 5000 km, which runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Peruvian border.

Inland shipping has approximately 50,000 km available to navigable rivers. The Amazon is navigable up to Manaus for seagoing vessels up to 5000 gross tons. Sea shipping focuses on the major ports of Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Rio Grande and Paranagua. Smaller ports are those of Belém, Recife, Salvador, Florianópolis and Porto Alegre.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Brazil AmazoneBrazil AmazonePhoto: Francisco Chaves CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

What can you expect if you decide to celebrate your holiday in Brazil? Beautiful beaches, vast rainforests, the world famous carnival and an amazing variety of natural and cultural wonders. The enormous size of Brazil, the welcoming atmosphere and the many sights make Brazil a great choice for an unforgettable holiday in this South American country. Despite the enormous possibilities that Brazil offers, the country still only attracts about five million tourists per year. An important cause of this relatively low number is the still fairly inadequate infrastructure and all stories about high crime rates do not contribute to a more positive image of Brazil.

Many cities in Brazil are characterized by (restored) buildings and houses that still date from the Portuguese colonial era, including many monasteries and churches at mission posts of the Jesuits from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Beautiful examples are the Sete Povos das Missões in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the Pelourinho district of Salavador de Bahia and in Olinda, where the late Baroque Benedictine monastery Mosteiro de São Bento has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. One of the most beautiful cities in the south of Brazil is Florianópolis with its blue and white painted houses that are also very reminiscent of Portugal.

Brazil Cataratas do IguaçuBrazil Cataratas do IguaçuPhoto: Maxi Villagra CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

In the south of Brazil is one of the most impressive natural spectacles in all of South America, the waterfalls of Cataratas del Iguaçu, which, with a depth of 70 meters and a width of approximately 3 kilometers, make an unforgettable impression, especially in the rainy season. Nature lovers can also visit the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, about 400 km northeast of mainland Brazil. Located in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, the Pantanal, with an area of over 150,000 km2, is the largest wetland area in the world and is also home to the largest number of aquatic plant species in the world and many endangered species.

Brazil Rio de Janeiro Christ statueBrazil Rio de Janeiro Christ statuePhoto: Sean Vivek Crasto in the public domain

Rio de Janeiro is known worldwide for its carnival and beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema. With a cable car to the top of the rock Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) and a must-see is also the mountain Corcovado (710 m) with the world famous Christ statue 'Christo Redentor', which is in the middle of the city. Other attractions include the Botanical Garden Jardim Botànico do Rio de Janeiro, the São Sebastião Cathedral and the Igreja da Candeláia and Santa Luzia Churches, the São Bento Monastery, the Santo Antônio Monastery Church, the Maracana Stadium, the Lagoa de Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, the Museu Histórico Nacional, the Museu Nacional, the Palácio Guanabara Royal Palace, the Museu do lndio (Native Americans), the historically important park Quinta da Boa Vista and Brazil's oldest zoo, Jardim Zoologico do Cidade do Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil Sao Paulo at night Brazil Sao Paulo at nightPhoto: Andre Deak CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, but certainly not the most touristically interesting city. Yet there is still plenty to see and admire in this multi-million city, including the neo-Gothic cathedral Catedral da Se de São Paulo, the parks Dom Pedro II, Ibarapuera and Estado, the museum for ecclesiastical art Museu de Arte Sacra, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP, the largest and most important art museum in all of Brazil, with a collection from the 14th century to the present), the snake research center Instituto Butantan, Ibirapuera Planetarium, the first planetarium in the southern hemisphere, and the São Paulo Zoo.

Brazil's capital, Brasilia, was built almost literally out of the blue in the 1950s. Brasilia is particularly interesting because of the urban plan and the monumental buildings of Lucio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier, among others. Places of interest include the Cathedral Santuario Dom Bosco, the Presidential Palace Palácio da Alvorada, the Eixo Monumental with the Esplanada dos Ministérios and the National Congress, the Palácio do Planalto, where the President of Brazil has his office, the Complexo Cultural da República, with the Biblioteca Nacional de Brasilia and the National Museum Museu Nacional da República. Praça dos Três Poderes square is adjacent to the buildings of the legislative, executive and judicial branches, Congresso Nacional, Palácio do Planalto and Supremo Tribunal Federal respectively.

Brazil Sao Paulo at nightBrazil Sao Paulo at nightPhoto: Ricardo André Frantz CC 3.0 Unported no changes

The 'green', modern carnival and trading city of Porto Alegre (nicknamed Poa) is one of the largest cities in southern Brazil with tourist attractions such as the crowded city park Parque Farroupilha with many monuments, a zoo and a botanical garden; the open-air theater Anfiteatro Por-do-Sol, wind farm Moinhos do Vento; the large central market Mercado Público Central; the historic power plant Usina do Gasómetro; the museums Museu de Arte Contemporanênea do Rio Grande do Sul (largest collection of art in the state of Rio Grande do Sul), Museu Histórico Júlio de Castilhos Museum (Rio Grande do Sul's oldest museum of local history), Museu Joaquim José Felizardo (with a large collection of archaeological artifacts and photos of old Porto Alegre), Memorial do Rio Grande do Sul (about the history of the state of Rio Grande Do Sul); the Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes church and the Cathedral Metropolitana cathedral.

Brazil Recife Brazil RecifePhoto: Delma Paz CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Recife, also known as the Venice of Brazil due to the many bridges spanning the Beberibe and Capibaribe rivers, is the capital of the northeastern state of Pernambuco. In the seventeenth century, Recife was called Mauritsstad, because during that period Dutch authorities exercised authority over a large part of Brazil. Remains of that time are Fort Orange on the island of Itamaracá and the fortresses Do Brum and Frederik Hendrik in Recife, as well as the first synagogue of North and South America, Sinagoga Kahal Zur Israel (16th century). The Fort Do Brum contains the Museu Militar Forte do Brum and the Dutch fort Cinco Pontas contains paintings and objects from the time of the Dutch. Other well-known museums are the Museu do Homem do Nordeste (culture and history of the state of Pernambuco), the Museu da Cidade (regional and local history), Museau de Valores (history of the Brazilian monetary system), Museu de Ciencias Naturais (regional flora and fauna). Most places of interest in Recife can be found around the Praça da Republica (including Palacio do Campo das Princesas, Teatro de Santa Isabel and the Sao Francisco Monastery) and the Patio de Sao Pedro (with Recife Zoo, Parque Dois Irmaos, the beautiful Concatedral de Sao Pedro dos Clérigos and the colonial buildings painted in bright colors). Many tourists, however, will be drawn to the beaches near Recife, with Boa Viagem being one of the most popular beaches in northeastern Brazil. The carnival is widely and intensely celebrated in Recife. The opening party alone attracts more than 1 million people, and parades are held all over the city, making music typical of Recife, including frevo, ciranda and mangue beat. In the immediate vicinity of Recife is the beautiful Olinda, not without reason declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.

Brazil Salvador de Bahia Brazil Salvador de BahiaPhoto: Laughlin Elkind CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

After Rio de Janeiro, Afro-Brazilian Salvador de Bahia is Brazil's most popular city for tourists, with the beautiful historic downtown Pelourinho (UNESCO World Heritage) with 17th and 18th century architecture, a world-famous carnival celebration, earning the nickname 'Capital da Alegria (Capital of Freedom) will not sound strange, and more than 50 km of beautiful beaches. Voted one of the best beaches in Brazil is Praia Porto da Barra. The baroque São Francisco Cathedral is widely regarded as the finest example of Brazilian religious architecture; Also the churches Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Praia, Nossa Senhor do Bomfim are more than worth a visit. The monumental Saldanha Palace is an icon of colonial architecture.

On the northeast coast, in the state of Ceara, is the paradise beach of Jericoacoara, considered one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world.

Click the menu button at the top left of the screen for more information


Bayer, M. / Brazilië

Bayer, M. / Brazilië : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen/Novib

Bender, E. / Brazil
Chelsea House Publishers

Apa Publications

Lonely Planet

The Reader's Digest

Dekker, J. / Reishandboek Brazilië

Heinrichs, A. / Brazil
Children's Press

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated December 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb