Brazil in brief: geography, culture, economy and curiosities to know before leaving

On the one hand, the Carnival most famous in the world on the other hand more than 17 million of people living in the favelas. And then the immense Amazoniarich in biodiversity and in which there are more than 70 tribe who have never had contact with globalized civilization. We investigate the culture, economy, geography and society of Brazil.

Origins of the language

Because in Brazil we speak Portuguese? Simple answer: because Spain and Portugal were in the past scores the world!
In 1494 and Colombo has recently reached America by giving awayage of exploration. A problem arises: the Kingdom of Portugal and the Kingdom of Castile and Aragon are in full swing to colonize the planet. To avoid stepping on their toes they decide to divide at the table new lands to be discovered starting approximately from the 46 west meridian, called raya.


Thus they sign the treaty of Tordesillas which assigns what is east of the raya to Portugal and to Spain in the west. Pope Julius II a few years later approves and that’s it.
When in the 1500 the Portuguese explorer Cabral touches Brazil, being east of raya, Portugal appropriates it. That’s why Portuguese is spoken in the country and in the rest of South America or almost Spanish.
Brazil in particular became independent only in 1822.

Geography and fauna of Brazil

What immediately impresses when observing the country from above is his dimension compared to South America: with 8.5 million square kilometers, Brazil corresponds to almost half of the continent. Much of his surfaceHowever, Not is inhabited permanently, because it is occupied by huge natural areas. Ben the 40% of the territoryfor example, it is covered by the Amazon rainforest.

Amazon rainforest

The Amazon is there largest rainforest on the planet and its surface almost completely coincides with the catchment area of Amazon River. This giant transports more than 200,000 square meters of water per second on average. Do you think that, by itself, it unloads the 20% – one fifth – of all fresh water that rivers all over the world pour into the seas and oceans at their mouths. Not surprisingly, when the river has a period of flood and overflows, the area of ​​land where the watercourse ends up widening, in certain points, can exceed 50 km: it is more than the distance as the crow flies. between Milan and Bergamo or between Naples and Salerno, so to speak.
The existence of the Rio catchment area of the Amazons, the Amazon and many other environments, such as the pampas – the plains – or the Pantanal, the largest wetland / marshy area in the world, makes Brazil one of the countries with the largest biodiversity on the planet. Some of the most iconic animal species are the jaguarthe largest American feline, thegreen anacondathe largest snake in the world with some specimens exceeding 5 meters in length, or the so-called pink or Amazonian dolphins, that is river dolphins.

Indigenous peoples and colonization

In the Amazon we not only find animals and plants of all kinds, but they also live at least 70 tribe indigenous never contacted. We are talking about peoples who do not know of the existence of societies outside their own, or only know it in passing, and who choose to remain isolatedmaintaining a lifestyle that could appear substantially primitive to our eyes.
Before the arrival of the Portuguese, Brazil was already inhabited by several indigenous peoples. Colonization wiped them out to a great extent, so much so that they are today less than 1% of the population present in the state. In total there are still about 300 ethnic groups including the seventy of whom we have already spoken and who live isolated.
Unfortunately i damage caused by colonizers they are not limited to extermination, partly voluntary and partly not, of the Amerindians. The slave trade. Plantation agriculture was introduced in Brazil and labor was needed to achieve it. The main solution to the problem, until 800, was the exploitation of slaves mainly of African origin.

Invention of Capoeira

It was right in the plantationsin the short breaks from the exhausting work, which was born the capoeira.


In fact, African slaves began to learn attack techniques And defense personal, possibly to be used against slaveholders. But since they could not do it openly, because they would be punished, they began to cover up the training. Thus they elaborated the capoeira, precisely, a ‘martial art real characterized by gestures and stunts associable with dance and accompanied by songs and music.

Multicultural Brazil and… Veneto!

When slavery was abolished, mostly people from work in the fields recent immigration and in particular many Italians. In fact, you should know that one of the women lives in Brazil today community of natives – “descendants” – greatest Italians in the world. According to various estimates, in fact, between 20 and 30 million of Brazilians would also have Italian origins and, in particular, Venetian And Calabrians. Even today, about half a million people speak a derivation of the Venetian dialect: is called “talian“.
In short, the population of Brazil is very diverse. Among the many foreign immigrant communities in the country, for example, there are also many Japanese or Germans. Regardless of the origin, however, over time customs, traditions and ethnicities have mixed and in fact Brazil today is one of the most multicultural of the world.
But how many Brazilians are there? I haven’t told you yet! Currently the population counts more than 200 million peoplemost of whom live on the coasts and, in particular, in the big ones metropolis of the country, for example St. Paul – which features the fourth most populated metropolitan area in the world – e Rio de Janeiro – former capital and very famous, among other things, for the beaches of Copacabana And Ipanemafor the gigantic statue of Christ the Redeemer and for the Carnival celebrations, the most famous on the planet.

Three distinctive elements

Here we stop for a moment on these three elements of Rio, because they allow us to touch three cultural elements important of Brazil.

The sport

The beaches remind many of the ball and it goes without saying: the soccer it is the most loved and practiced sport in the whole country.


The national team – said Selecao – has the record of five world championships and Pelewith Maradonais considered one of the strongest footballers ever.

The religion

The huge statue of the Christ Redeemer, on the other hand, it is 38 meters high from the base of the pedestal and towers above the city. Its presence is indicative, because Brazil holds another record: it is in fact the state that boasts more Catholic Christians in the worldeven if the evangelical and Pentecostal confessions are increasing in a decisive way.

The carnival

Finally we come to the Carnival, which attracts tourists from all over the world. The festivities involve more than 100 different groups of artists and last from January until the official end of the holiday.


The highlight, however, comes with the parades held at Sambodromoa kind of long narrow stadium where for four days parade and compete among them the most important schools of Samba of the country, who prepare themselves all year for the occasion and then compete, hoping to win.

The Favelas

The Rio Carnival is a riot of colors and pomp, but in Brazil there is also a lot of poverty and little security, especially in favelasthe Brazilian slums.

favelas_shanty towns_brazil

In these huge slums the sanitary conditions they are alarming and it is State and often absentso that the streets end up in the hands of criminal organizations linked to the trafficking of arms or drugs, the exploitation of prostitution and other illegal activities. Do you want to know how many people live there? More than 17 millionequal to 8% of the Brazilian population.
In Rio and São Paulo there are some of the best known and most extensive favelas.

Economy of Brazil

If we consider the gross domestic productBrazil is paired with Italy betweenoctave and the ninth position in the world, although, given that it has a much larger population than ours, it has a much lower GDP per capita. And indeed the poverty it is one of the great problems of the state. Income is very unevenly distributed: there are very few rich and many poor. To this are added other historical issues such as the corruption or the lack of infrastructurewhich is a shame because the country would have all it takes to become a world power.
For what concern agro-food sector, Brazil is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of soy, corn, sugar cane, coffee, citrus, cotton, cocoa and also beef and chicken. In mining fieldInstead, it has significant oil fields and is rich in many mineral resources, including metals and precious stones.
Unfortunately, it is often the people who pay the price indigenous groups and the Amazon. There forestin fact, in addition to being cut to obtain timber, rubber and palm oil, it is knocked down or set on fire at the rate of thousands of square kilometers a year to obtain the space needed to grow soybeans or raise cattle.
Unfortunately Brazil holds another sad record: that of activists killed because of their battles in defense of the environment and the territory. According to Global Witness Report the victims would have been 317 between 2012 and 2020.
Having so many resources on the one hand has allowed Brazil to develop aprocessing industry increasingly capable – and in fact the country is one of the 20 most industrialized states in the world – on the other hand, it has allowed it to trade more and more with the rest of the world. His first business partner it is China, followed by the USA.

Brazil in brief: geography, culture, economy and curiosities to know before leaving