Brazil (Officially the Federative Republic of Brazil) is, by far, the largest country in Latin America.
Brazil was colonized by Portugal, and so most Brazilians speak Portuguese, unlike the rest of Latin America, which mostly speaks Spanish — though there is a Spanish-speaking minority (way less than 1%) in the west and south, and Spanish is taught at schools (but then again, so is English).
Brazil was one of the only two countries in the Americas (the other being Mexico) that was a sovereign monarchy for a period of time. Today it is a republic.
Brazil's modern population is a mix of Portuguese colonists, African slaves and Native Americans plus immigrants from Europe, Middle East and Japan, making for a different gene pool from the rest of the continent - which results in "Hispanic" not being considered an ethnic group and more people having skin tones between white and black than of either extreme, even if, as of the 2009 Census, 51.7% of Brazilian citizens self-identified as "White". Although it isn't very well known, Brazil is home to the largest ethnic Japanese population outside Japan, and the 19th century saw the settlement of many immigrants from Germany and Italy in the southeastern/southern states, where to this day there's still a lot of German and Italian influence in the culture and architecture, with people occasionally speaking dialects on the streets, especially in the smaller towns.
What is the capital of Brazil?The capital of Brazil is not Buenos Aires. It is not Rio de Janeiro either (it was before 1960); it has been Brasília since 1960 — a planned city built specifically for that purpose. There are about ten major political parties in Brazil, with PSDB (nominally social democrats), PT (nominally labour) and PMDB (unabashed populists) being the largest and more important. All of them have been involved in political scandals of all sorts, and no wonder; the political system tends to lead very easily to corruption. This is because all sorts of high-ranking jobs in the government are directly or indirectly nominated by politicians, with the nominees tending to 'share' their gains with those who put them there. To make things worse, the people who nominate are usually power-brokers in either chamber of Congress, who themselves can only be tried by Brazil's highest court and/or their peers. Combine this with inefficient oversight from the judiciary branch directly responsible for monitoring government spendingnote the TCU, the members of which are directly nominated by the same politicians they monitor, all sorts of problems with the police, the absurdly long time (i.e., more than a decade) for the judiciary to finish trying a casenote in no small part due to the amazing number of appeals anyone can make, it being not rare at all for a mundane case to reach the Supreme Court, and other problems, and the results are plain to see.
But one tip though: despite most Brazilians acknowledging all this, they tend to be a little defensive towards outside criticism, in part due to the perception that such criticism may be masking "imperialistic intentions".note This perception does have some historical basis as the military coup in Brazil in 1964 and the horrid dictatorship that followed did receive tacit support from the US government, although the level of direct intervention never reached that in Central America countries. And, to be fair, not all politicians are bad and, after decades of severe problems, Brazil is finally enjoying a good period, thanks mainly to the successive PSDB and PT governments since 1994 not screwing up not too badly.
Like most other Latin American states, Brazil is officially a secular state, but Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion (many non-practitioners merely declare themselves Catholic), with a growing Protestant neo-Pentecostal (Evangelical) population. Particularly in the northeastern states, various syncretic religions which mix Roman Catholic saints and African deities are also practiced, including candomblé, macumba and umbanda. Spiritualism and Judaism are minority faiths, but not that uncommon. Atheists and agnostics are also minorities, but seem to be growing.
Brazilian television consists of five or six main open channels; cable TV is also available, for a fee, and lots of people pirate it. The most popular shows are daily soap operas, news, variety shows (run non-stop at weekends), football (soccer) matches (twice a week, at least), Jerry Springer clones, and the occasional reality show. Popular presenters will often get two, three or four-hour weekly shows. Weekly serials in the popular American format are rare. Cartoons are seen as kid stuff, but are frequently aired in the mornings (sometimes being dubbed anime).
Brazilian literature and cinema is practically devoid of the fantasy genre, and is mostly composed of dramas and comedies centered on one of Brazil's major cities (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Salvador). Magical Realism is common, and very popular in soap operas. Also popular in soap operas are stereotyped versions of foreign countries for some extra exoticism in the plot.
Brazil's climate is quite varied. Most of its territory is in the tropics, which means there are no clear Equinoxes and Solstices. The northern half of the country can be roughly considered to be warm year-round. The southern half sees Winter and Summer only as a difference in temperature (and rainfall), as deciduous trees are an underwhelming minority of the everyday vegetation (even though most trees do look like deciduous trees — in summer, that is). Yearly temperature variation is usually limited; in southern urban areas, temperatures usually vary by about 35°C (2°C~37°C). Sub-zero temperatures are extremely localized and brief, and snow flurries are even more so and very much newsworthy. Keep in mind this is a country with no mountains to speak of.
Brazil is famous for:
Its excellent football players. Brazil has won the FIFA World Cup five times, more often than any other country. Pelé, who is known worldwide as perhaps the greatest football player ever, and who was elected the "Athlete of the Century" by the International Olympic Committee in 1999, is Brazilian.
Its beautiful seashores. As the country only has an eastern coast, it doesn't have as much shoreline as, say, the US - but almost all of its shoreline is beach, tectonic plates in the area being more or less dead, so erosion has been working its magic for millions of years.
Its beautiful women, known for their bundas (a generalization popularized by the media; the women in real life run the gamut as much as anywhere else).
Its beautiful men, who wear tight speedos on said beaches (ditto).
Crime has, however, been going down in almost all large cities; São Paulo, the largest city in the continent, no longer sends its inhabitants into fits of paranoid panic, and even Rio de Janeiro seems to be escaping this sad state at last, with a harsher security policy and expanding, more efficient police deployment in violent areas.
The police may be doing their job, but curbing crime in Brazil is still an uphill struggle due to the leniency of the law in some matters — people charged with minor criminal offences, if not caught in the act, are placed in provisional detention, i.e. if the guy can't be found, he'll stay free to do possibly worse stuff; arrested criminals released on probation have an annoying tendency not to go back (and some take advantage and commit even more crimes); and then there's the question of well-off people charged with wrongful death (like DUI'ing and then running over one, two, or even ten people), who can simply buy their way out of jail. (Which may be nothing new anywhere, frankly, but the point is, few charges do not permit bail.note For example, racial hate crimes aren't subject to bail — but manslaughter is.) But the main point of contention is the question of youth misdemeanor; the penal age in Brazil is 18, and the rights of Brazilian youths are guarded by the Statute of the Child and the Adolescent, which while ensuring their good treatment by family and society, also protects them from assuming responsibility for their actions. This means that, even if a kid is a psycho serial killer and arsonist, if they're 17 or younger, they just won't be arrested. They will only receive court summons and be let off. And as if that wasn't enough, when they turn 18, their records are wiped clean. Yes, that's right: no matter if you racked up a Joker-worthy body count before adulthood, once you reach it, none of those deaths will be pinned on you. Is it any wonder teenage crime has been running rampant in Brazil?
Its beautiful membership of the Mercosur (Mercado Común del Surnote English language uses the Spanish acronym; in Brazil it's Mercosul, or Southern Common Market), the most powerful Latin American economic bloc, centered around Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Within the country, this organization is regarded more or less favorably depending on whether the Argentinians and Uruguayans are behaving themselves.
Its beautiful advanced research in biology and medicine (you know, high biodiversity). Ironically, though, public health services aren't beautiful. The doctors working for them are underpaid, and people who don't have insurance and can't directly pay a doctor spend a lot of time waiting, but this seems to be changing, if very slowly.
Its beautiful, though only technical, self-sufficiency regarding oil — not really, because the only kind of oil so far exploited is the crude variety, which can only make up about 3/4 of actual petrol. This makes it necessary to import higher-grade oil. New deposits have been found recently.
This is helped both by having almost no thermoelectric power (see below), and by a good portion of cars running on ethanol since eighties. Almost all newer cars are flex-fuel, able to run on either gasoline, ethanol, or any mix of both.
Flex-fuel cars were a big help in encouraging ethanol consumption instead of gasoline; the original ethanol-fueled cars took longer to "warm the engine" and be fully usable, something fuel-flex cars fixed by adding a second, smaller gasoline tank to start it.
Brazilian ethanol is also mostly derived from inedible by-products of the sugar refining process, unlike US ethanol which mostly comes from the same part of corn that people actually eat.
Being a beautifully diplomatic country in international relations. Brazil thinks of itself as the cornerstone of stability in South America, and sometimes it might even be right. It has generally seen getting a permanent seat in the UN security council as a long-term foreign policy goal.
Around 95% of all electric power in Brazil is hydroelectric; thermoelectric plants are either used to make up the deficit during droughts, as back-up systems, or as experiments using biomass instead of natural gas. Brazil has no coal power plants, but its third nuclear reactor plant has now gone online; those plants are more experimental than practical, but they do produce some (very expensive) energy. Unfortunately, the heavy abuse of the rain forests and the practice of slash-and-burn agriculture — which are illegal, but government agencies are underfunded — somewhat makes up for this, slinging Brazil higher in pollution ratings. Regardless, the country makes money by selling carbon credits, and has signed the Kyoto Protocol.
Also, it is very possible that Brazil was discovered before the USA not only officially (by Portugal; if this is the case, the Portuguese then decided to keep it secret, until Christopher Columbus ruined their plans), but "extra-officially" (i.e. according to legend); it may have been discovered time and again by the Vikings, Romans, Greeks, Phoenicians, Maliansnote That's the Mali Empire, not the current landlocked Republic of Mali and even the Irish! All thanks to an ocean current that runs from the exit of the Mediterranean straight to Brazil's coast.
Also noteworthy is that Brazil is the only American country which became an Empire for a lasting period of timenote Mexico was an empire 1821-23 and 1864-67, and Haiti 1804-06 and 1849-59, but as you can see, they didn't exactly stick. Its empire lasted more than half a century (1822-89) and is partially responsible for its large territory. (Portugal ensured most of it by aggressive colonization and quite a bit of treaty-breaking.) Brazil had two Emperors.
You see, all of the Sega consoles were published in Brazil by Tectoy. They also ported Game Gear games to the Master System, and made translations of some games, among them, the Phantasy Star series. They also made their own games, and made hacks of others. Because of this, Sega consoles and games were always very successful — so much so that, to this day, the Master System and Sega Genesis are still regularly sold (only they come in X-in-1 game paks with many of the consoles' past hits). One wonders, though, why someone decided to give the Master System a Genesis-like six-button controller...
In recent years, other game marketing reentered Brazil, thanks to benefits given to the industry and consumer pressure. As a result, lots of recent next-gen games have been localized, some even with Brazilian Portuguese voiceovers (like Call Of Duty Black Ops II and Injustice: Gods Among Us).
During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a number of Brazilians started to tweet "Cala Boca Galvao" ("Shut up Galvao") as a criticism of Brazilian commentator Galvão Bueno. Non-Portuguese speakers misinterpreted this as meaning "Save the Galvao" and assumed it was some sort of environmentalist campaign. Brazilians decided to perpetuate this misconception, up to Memetic Mutation status, and spread rumors that Lady Gaga was releasing a song titled "Cala Boca Galvao".
"Twitter is free. Seeing the foreigners asking 'Who is Cala Boca Galvao': Priceless."
Brazilians are fond of spreading any and every misconception about their own culture and language, if the Rule of Funny applies. Take everything a Brazilian says about the meaning of some obscure Portuguese word with a grain of salt. If the said Brazilian insists that some string of words is a very polite way to introduce yourself to strangers, take note; actually is a very offensive curse. Maybe this trope was born in an old routine in a famous TV show, A Praça é Nossa, where a poor German (played by Jô Soares), with a poor grasp of Portuguese, was made the butt of the joke. Kelly Key, a Brazilian pop singer, has admitted doing the same with her north American manager, on the talk show of the same Jô Soares.
Its beautiful names: One of the main things about Brazil is that many people have informal nicknames. For example, former president Luiz Inácio da Silva is generally just "Lula". Even the press will call him just "Presidente Lula" (he actually had it legally incorporated into his name), and his successor Dilma Rousseff is just "Dilma". Also, Brazilian names tend to go to three or more words, because as rule of thumb both parents pass their last names forward to the child, not only the father — and the mother can register a child in her name only too.
Calling people by surnames is almost never indicative of being formal or polite. Most often, this happens because there are more people who go by the same given name, and surnames are used as surrogate names to avoid ambiguity when a nickname can't be earned.
But some of these, like "da Silva" and "de Oliveira", or are composed surnames, directly correlating to German "von" and Dutch "van"/"van der" (as in "von Braun" or "van Helsing"). Unlike those counterparts, they're stripped down when out of context: "Mr. Silva" is valid, "Mr. Da Silva" is not.
Literally, in archaic and modern Portuguese respectively, "da Silva" and "de Oliveira" mean "of the forest" and "of the olive tree," and aren't related to land ownership or specific places. Often, they're "generic" Christian names given to slaves in place of their original African names. And going even deeper, the same surnames were given to converted Jews in Portugal back in the Middle Ages, so expect many people with these surnames to have Jewish features.
Brazilians don't know anything about the Wright brothers. To them, the inventor of the airplane is Alberto Santos Dumont! Specifically, note that the Wright brothers' flier was catapulted into flight. Santos Dumont's first flight was in a self-powered craft, and had many witnesses. It was also photographed. Since the flight took place in France, the French are also aware of this — Dumont spent many years in France constructing various types of balloons and airships, as well as the first commercially produced aircraft, the Demoiselle.
The beautiful Dance Battler martial art Capoeira, developed in Brazil. In action films, if there's a Brazilian, expect him to be a capoeirista.
Placing some beautiful cultural value on lateral thinking and the harmless bending of rules. Brazilians are fond of a mix of ingenuity and trickery known as the "jeitinho brasileiro" - the "Brazilian fix", in a non-literal translation. This actually saved lives during the Brazilian participation in WWII — Brazilian soldiers learned to coat their boots with newspaper and straw, preventing hypothermia, while soldiers of other countries paid much more for (or went without) special equipment that delivered much less. The figure of the '40s "Malandro" (Scoundrel) is romanticized in several works (even by Disney; José Carioca was originally a representation of this specific subculture) and, in the few Brazilian works that have a law enforcement agent as the protagonist, pretty much none is a By-the-Book Cop.
Being a highlyAcceptable Target on the internet due to a reputation for Griefing incidents, especially amongst the communities of MOBAs. They already have a Hair-Trigger Temper as it is, but there is no more guaranteed way to start a flame war than to say you are Brazilian. Want to watch a bunch of MOBA players devolve into an Unstoppable Rage? Just say "BR"* To ask if any Brazilians are playing on the server. or "Huehuehuehue"* Infamous laughter that is used sarcastically by everyone nowadays.. It is not recommended that you take a drink whenever they start screaming racist comments, unless you are suicidal.
Speaking of internet laugh onomatopeias, Brazilians outside of gaming circles are more likely to use (or be annoyed by) something like "kkkk" or "rsrsrs". Or countless variations of bashing their heads on the keyboard to pretend whatever came out sounds like eldritch laughter.
For the record, lots of Brazilians don't like that kind of thing, and often mock such behaviour. Unfortunately, this is a Vocal Minority at best, and that sort of behaviour is still widespread.
Relatedly, in recent years, Brazil has had an increasing presence on the internet. Enough Brazilians have begun to play online games that some actually offer servers specifically for Brazil, when before they had to connect to the American servers or the Latin American servers and look for people who spoke Portuguese to play with.
If you live in Florida, then Brazilian tourists, of all things, are an increasingly common sight. Unlike most, they are drawn less by Florida's famous theme parks, beaches, NASA launch sites, and cruise ship ports (though they're there for that too) than for more humble destinations: its malls. This is due to Brazil's high tariffs on imported products, which have protected Brazilian industry but have also made certain exotic consumer items (particularly the latest electronic gadgets) frighteningly expensive, leaving the country with a large and growing middle class that doesn't have anything to spend its money on. Easier to just go to America and get what you want at their discounted prices. And since Florida is the closest part of the US to most parts of Brazil...
Oh, and it's really not the same as the Terry Gilliam movie Brazil. Terry Gilliam said in an interview that the name was taken from the bouncy big band number that plays several times in the movie. He also admitted that it didn't matter what country people thought it was about, bureaucracy is bureaucracy.
The "big band number" is, in fact, Aquarela do Brasil, which was composed by Brazilian samba composer Ary Barroso, and has had many re-interpretations of it recorded in the English-speaking world.
Brazilian law is alternately liberal and conservative: the death penalty is unconstitutional (except during warfare), but abortions are restricted; gun possession is regulated but more liberally than in European countries; gay marriage has just begun to be considered; and you get to go to special (much less screwed up) prisons if you've got a superior degree. Laws in Brazil change very slowly, as they have to move their way through Congress like molasses running uphill in July (Which, of course, is winter in Brazilnote Well, most of Brazil. But the parts where it's technically summer are equatorial and really don't count.). Also, while Brazil is a federal democracy much like the US, the states have much more limited legislative powers, with federal laws taking precedence over state, and state over municipal. Judges generally have considerably more power to generate potentially insane judicial orders, however. In spite of that, Brazil is a civil law country, unlike the US. Interpretation of the law or judicial custom is not binding; only the written, stamped, signed law is binding.
The green field represents the forests that make up majority of Brazil, while the golden trapezoid symbolizes its mineral resources. In the center is a blue circle littered with 27 stars — each representing a specific state — arranged to resemble the starry array as it would have appeared over the sky of Rio de Janeiro on the morning of November 15, 1889, the moment Brazil was declared a republic; finally, streaking across the sky is the motto "Ordem e Progresso", Portuguese for "Order and Progress".