15 Brazilian Facts You Need To Know Before Visiting!
Brazil is the largest country in South America, both in terms of area and population. With the Summer Olympics 2016 taking place there, now is the time to find out some interesting facts about the incredible country.
1. It’s Huge!
As mentioned above, Brazil is the largest country in South America, taking up approximately half of the entire area of the continent. But did you know that it is also the fifth largest country in the world after Russia, China, Canada and USA. It is also the fifth largest in terms of population too with over 200million Brazilians.
Brazil actually has the largest number of followers of Catholicism found anywhere in the world. 64% of the population, around 123million people, are practising Catholics. In fact, Roman Catholicism has been the country’s dominant religion since the beginning of the 16th Century. Other types of Christianity make up for the most part the other forms of religion followed in the country, although nearly 10% of the country follows no religion.
3. Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s second largest city after Sao Paulo, and although it is no longer the capital city, it is arguably the most famous. The name of the city translates as ‘January River’ which it gained after an explorer mistook the famous bay for the mouth of a river. Interestingly, it was once the capital of Portugal, making it the only European capital to have ever been out-with of Europe. It is also going to be the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics, which is the first time that a South American city will have hosted them.
Around 50% of all visiting tourists to Brazil head straight to Rio, and one its main attractions is Carnival which takes place before Lent every year. Lasting from Friday until Ash Wednesday, it is considered the largest carnival in the world with around 2million people attending it daily. Dating back to 1723, it is world famous.
5. Amazon Rainforest
The massive Amazon Rainforest has a majority part in north-eastern Brazil, with 60% of the forest being found there. The largest rainforest in the world, it is also one of the most bio diverse places on Earth. In addition to this, the mighty Amazon River, the largest river in the world, flows through the rainforest, with an outlet on Brazil’s Atlantic Coast. Beneath the Amazon River in Brazil, there is an even wider underground river that has recently been discovered too.
Jokes are often made about poor voter turnouts in other countries, but in Brazil that simply isn’t a problem since voting is mandatory. Only 22 countries in the world have adopted these measures, 12 of which are Latin American. Failure to vote without providing a valid reason can result in a fine or even community service!
7. Snake Island
The unusual Snake Island (Ilha de Queimada Grande) is an island located some 30km off of Brazil’s south-east coast. Access is prohibited to humans as it is the home of an endangered and therefore heavily protected snake, the golden lancehead pit viper. With up to 5 snakes per square metre perhaps it is best that humans are not allowed to go there!
8. Portugal and Brazil
Brazil is the only South American country to speak Portuguese, with over 99% of the population now native speakers. It is also the biggest population of Portuguese speakers in the world. Portugal conquered Brazil in 1500, and ruled until 1822 which is when the country declared independence in one of the most peaceful overthrows in history with no blood shed!
Football is obviously the most popular sport in Brazil, and it’s understandable. The national side has won the World Cup an unrivalled 5 times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. It is also the only team to have successfully qualified for every single World Cup, and has hosted the tournament twice, once in 1950 and again in 2014.
10. UNESCO Sites
Brazil has an incredible 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites making it the highest concentration found in South America. This includes Iguacu National Park which contains one of the largest and most impressive waterfalls in the world at over 2.5km wide and with around 275 drops.
Nature in Brazil is abundant and this is not surprising when you consider that it is the most bio diverse country in the world. It contains the most known species of not only plant with over 55,000, but also freshwater fish at 3,000, as well mammals with over 680. It also has the 2nd largest number of different types of reptile (744) and the 3rd largest number of different bird species (1832).
12. The Coastline
Brazil is known worldwide for its fantastic beaches, with reputedly the world’s best beach, Baio de Sancho found on its archipelago. However the country also boasts the world’s longest most uninterrupted coastline. Lying alongside the mighty southern Atlantic Ocean, it measures an amazing 7,491km long.
13. The Flag
Brazil’s modern flag has a meaning behind it. The green represents the Amazon rainforest to the north, the yellow in the rhombus in the middle the mineral wealth of the country, and the blue circle and stars the sky above the then capital Rio de Janeiro on the morning of 15th November 1889 which is when the country declared complete independence.
Feijoada may be a mouthful to say but it is actually Brazil’s national dish. It is a delicious black bean stew containing smoked and dried meat (usually beef and pork), and is hearty meal that is both filling and delicious. A typical Portuguese dish it still remains popular not just in Brazil even nowadays.
And if you’re trying out feijoada, then why not wash it down with a glass of Brazil’s national cocktail (!), caipirinha. Made from cachaca, which is hard liquor distilled from sugarcane, sugar, lime and crushed ice, this refreshing but perhaps a little lethal drink, is the country’s most favourite cocktail tipple.