Conventional Name: Federative Republic of Brazil
Short name: Brazil
Surface: Approximately 8,5 million km sq
Population: Brazil is the biggest country in Latin America in terms of both land mass and population which currently numbers 190 million inhabitants.
Brazilians: One of the biggest treasures of Brazil is certainly its friendly, smiling and hospitable people. The exotic Brazilians are a product of a unique mixture of races and ethnicities from the native Amerindian people, the Portuguese settlers and African slaves who both landed in Brazil in the 16th Century as well as other immigrants who arrived later. The first German settlers came in the 18th century. In the 19th century, they were joined by immigrants from Spain, Italy, Lebanon and Syria who came to settle the vast unpopulated country. The Japanese, Polish and Ukrainians arrived in the 20th century. Today the descendants of all of these people proudly call themselves Brazilian.
Capital City: Brasilia
Local Hour: Brazil spans several time zones, however the Brazilian Standard Time is 3 hours earlier than GMT and 2 hours earlier in summertime (October to February)
Electricity: Electric current in Brazil is 220 V, except in the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Pernambuco where it is 110V. Intercontinental Rio de Janeiro Hotel exceptionally has 220V.
Language: Brazil is the only Latin American country that speaks Portuguese.
Religion: Brazilian Constitution guarantees absolute freedom of religion. Over seventy percent (73.8%) of the population declared themselves Roman Catholic in the last census (2000). However, there are many other religious denominations in Brazil and numerous followers of Candomble and Umbanda (Afro-Brazilian religions).
Currency: The Brazilian currency is the REAL. 100 cents = 1 real. Bank bills are in denominations of 100, 50, 10, 5, 2, 1; coins are 1 real, 50 cents, 25 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents and 1 cent.
Economy: Brazil possesses one of the world’s ten largest economic markets. BRIC is a term which unites Brazil, Russia, India and China, the fastest growing nations of the developing world. It is believed that by 2050, the economies of these four nations could eclipse those of the combined economies of today’s richest countries. Brazil exports manufactured goods, services and a large number of agricultural products. It is rich in natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals, metals and timber. The country possesses high technological knowhow and has the world’s biggest hydroelectric dam. Brazil manufactures and exports autos, airplanes, machinery, electronics, computers, steel, cement, petrochemicals and textiles. It is one of the world’s biggest producers of rice, wheat, cocoa, sugar cane, coffee, soy beans, corn, orange juice, beef, chicken and cellulose. The service, tourism and hospitality industries are highly developed.
Banking and Shopping Hours: In most major cities shoppings and malls stay open till late (10.00pm) while the street shops close at 6.00pm. Banks operate from 10.00am to 4.00pm.
Jan 1st, New Year's Day
Apr 21st, Tiradentes
May 1st, Labor Day
Sep 7th, Independence of Brazil
Oct 12th, Our Lady Aparecida
Nov 2nd, Dead's honour day
Nov 15th, Republic Day
Dec 25th, Christmas Day
Carnival (Tuesday) fourty seven days before Easter
Easter Holidays (from Wednesday to Sunday)
Corpus Christi (Thursday) The nineth week after Easter
Geographic Regions: Brazil is divided into five geographic regions: the North, Northeast, Central West, Southeast and South. Each of these regions has a different ethnic population and a rich variety of regional cuisines and distinct musical traditions such as samba, axe, forro, frevo, sertaneja and choro.
Food and Beverage: Brazil’s cuisine is differentiated by regional products and tastes which have been influenced by the various ethnic groups who settled in the country. The native inhabitants used manioc flour (mandioca) which has become a national staple. The Northeastern state of Bahia is heavily influenced by slaves who brought the spices and flavors of Africa with them. This can be tasted in delectable Bahian dishes such as acaraje, vatapa and moqueca.
Brazil’s national dish is undoubtedly the feijoada, a meat and bean stew that was made by slaves who worked on the sugar plantations and is now enjoyed as a special meal across the country. The art of the churrasco (meat barbeque) originally came from the cowboy traditions of the South and is now a beloved staple everywhere.
The North of Brazil uses the tropical fruit found in the Amazon region such as acai, cupuacu, caju, acerola, maracuja as well as the many varieties of river fish found in abundance in the region.
An important ingredient in many dishes and desserts is the coconut, which was originally brought by the Portuguese from their colonies in India. There are many varieties of bananas in Brazil with everyone having a favorite. Bananas were brought to Brazil by the Portuguese from Western Africa.
The traditional alcoholic drink is called caipirinha. It is made from cachaca (a sugar cane liquor) lime and sugar and poured over ice. Batidas are refreshing tropical drinks made with alcohol, tropical fruit (such as mango or passion fruit) and condensed milk which is blended with ice for a sweet and smooth combination.
Communications: Brazil has an excellent telecommunications system. Direct dial and collect calls can be placed from any telephone. Pay phones are located throughout the city and operate with telephone cards. Portable cellular telephones are available to visitors for a small rental charge. The International Direct Dial (IDD) code for Brazil is 55.
Vaccinations: An international vaccination certificate against polio for children between the ages of three months to six years must be presented; An international vaccination certificate against Yellow Fever must be presented by tourists who, in the three months prior to the trip to Brazil, have visited, have been in transit or are coming from the following countries: Angola, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guiné Bissau, French Guyana Liberia, Nigeria, Peru, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Venezuela and Zaire; It is recommended that vaccination against Yellow Fever be obtained by all persons, domestic or foreign, who are going to the following Brazilian states: Acre, Amazonas, Amapá, Federal District, Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins. Don't forget: vaccination against Yellow Fever should be taken a minimum of 10 days before trip departure.
In the event of doubt, and for information about other vaccinations, please contact the Brazilian consulate or embassy nearest to you in your country of origin.