Country profile

About Brazil

Brazil is located in South America and is the largest Latin American country and the fifth largest country in the world. It is bordered by French Guiana, Surinam, Guyana, Venezuela and Colombia in the north, with Uruguay and Argentina in the south and Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru to the west. The Atlantic Ocean extends along the entire eastern side of the country, giving Brazil hundreds of miles of coastline.

Brazil is the powerhouse of South America, with a landmass that covers almost half of the continent and more than 200 million inhabitants. It has steadily risen to prominence in the world over recent years, growing to become one of the largest economies on the planet, although it is currently struggling with high inflation and rising interest rates threatening to spoil the party.

Not that much spoils the party in Brazil, where partying is a way of life. Few countries in the world know how to enjoy themselves quite like Brazil does, and its annual Carnival is legendary.  Starting on the Friday before Ash Wednesday (normally mid to late February) the Carnival goes on for days (and nights), with exuberant floats, crazy costumes and non stop music and dancing. The Rio Carnival is the most famous, but every town and city hosts Carnival celebrations, and all put their heart and soul into having the most fun possible.

Although Brasilia is the capital of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is the cultural capital, and is a sophisticated city with a very relaxed lifestyle. With an average temperature of around 26 degrees Celsius (which reaches the high 30s and low 40s in the height of summer) Rio is a popular year round destination but the city really springs into life in February for its exuberant four day Carnival and awe-inspiring samba parade which starts on a Saturday usually in late February, and ends on Mardi-Gras Tuesday.  During this time flights and accommodation are more expensive and in demand. 

Cariocas (the term used for Rio’s locals) come from all over the world, including Europe and Africa and live for beach life, football, dance, music, fun and sunshine, and Rio certainly has plenty of beautiful beaches.  Copacabana Beach is world famous and boasts two miles of white sands, some great surf and plenty of scantily clad bodies!  Ipanema and Pepe beaches also attract sociable crowds to bask in the sunshine and enjoy some sport.  Stunning panoramic views over the amazing city can be enjoyed on a trip up to Corcovado where the celebrated statue of Christ reigns majestically over the city.

There is plenty to see and do in this naturally beautiful country.  Diving enthusiasts will be in their element as Brazil hosts some of the best diving locations in the world, for example, the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, the coast of Pernambuco near Recife, and the marine park of Abrolhos near Bahia are all great dive spots. Visitors could also be inspired to learn a new skill in Brazil such as Capoeira (the national martial art/dance), or salsa dancing. While in Brazil why not dine in a typical Churrascaria (barbeque house) and sample some traditional Brazilian food; the national dish, Feijoada, is a bean dish prepared with various meat including beef, sausage, tongue, pig’s ears and tails, garlic, and chilli peppers and possibly not to everyone’s taste!  Or settle down in a bar/café to enjoy a Caipirinha (sugar cane spirit with fresh lime and sugar) or an energising Guaraná drink with the mellow sound of bossa nova in the background.

Brazil has no less than 12 cities with over a million people, with Rio de Janeiro home to a staggering six million souls in a very small space. Most cities are strikingly split, with an expanding middle class living alongside abject poverty in the shanty towns or Favelas, and the further north you go, the less developed the country becomes, so you need to be prepared to see some disturbing sights, despite the developments of recent years.

Brazil is famous for the Amazon rainforest, an area of one billion acres that is home to countless species of insects, birds and mammals. Although parts of it are under threat, there is a vast area of the rainforest that is untouched. Majestic, magnificent and breathtakingly beautiful, visiting the Amazon is a truly moving experience and if you get the opportunity to venture into the interior, you should not pass it up.

Staying in the cities, there is plenty to entertain you, with a visit to the colourful spectacle of a football match a must, whether you like sport or not. Brazilians are uniquely passionate about the game, and you may find yourself watching the crowd more than the match itself. Such is the passion for the game that Brazil was chosen as host for the 2014 World Cup. It was also the venue for the 2016 Summer Olympics, underlining the country’s rising status in the world.

From the cosmopolitan Copacabana Beach, to the heart of the lush rainforest, Brazil has so much waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. So join the party!


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Quick facts

Population: 201 Million
Currency: Real
Capital: Brasilia
Languages: Portuguese
Religions: Roman Catholic (65%), Protestant (22%)