Brazil (Officially the Federative Republic of Brazil) is, by far, the largest country in Latin America. It is also the fifth largest country in the world, both by area (surpassed by Russia, Canada, China, and the United States) and by population (surpassed by China, India, the United States, and Indonesia)
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 descends from 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 "Latino" 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 , 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 , 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 And, to be fair, not all politicians are bad and, after decades of severe problems, Brazil was finally enjoying a good period up to 2016, thanks mainly to the successive PSDB and PT governments since 1994 not screwing up too badly. Recently, the president suffered an Impeachment, which several people consider groundless and refer to it as a Coup, while some consider it fair based on fiscal responsibility crimes the former president supposedly commited. It finally culminated in the 2018 Presidential election which placed a controversial far-right politician in power. This debate is very long and very polarizing for the Brazilian populace, so let's leave it at that.
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. This has began to change as Globo TV made fantasy-themed soap operas that follow popular series such as Game of Thrones, while Evangelist network Rede Record has produced big-budget Biblical-themed shows to rival them.
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:
- Sporting achievements:
- 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.
- Brazil has had some famous Formula One drivers. These include Ayrton Senna, a three-time champion and one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time; Nelson Piquet Sr., who is a three-time champion ; Emerson Fittipaldi, a two-time champion and the first Brazilian to do so; Rubens Barrichello, the driver with most starts in Formula One; and Felipe Massa, the driver who was beaten by Lewis Hamilton for the championship in the very last corner of the 2008 season
- Brazil is the origin of the martial art Capoeira, used in a variety of martial arts films from the 1980s and 1990s for its photogenic spinning attacks.
- The nation is the origin and namesake of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). The Ultimate Fighting Championship was founded to promote BJJ, and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts has BJJ as one of its three core disciplines. Brazil is second only to the United States in providing notable mixed martial artists to the highest levels of the sport.
- 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 (large posteriors-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 on running the gamut. Speedos are ubiquitous though, to the point where using other forms of swimwear as men would be weirder. Yes, even the ugliest of men).
- Its beautiful Carnivals, where said beautiful women don't wear very much at all.
- And other popular festivals/holidays as well, such as Saint John's Day, where Brazilians, especially those from the Northeast, make bonfires and dance forró.
- Its equally beautiful but unfortunately threatened rain forest. Although according to estimates from the '90s, that should be completely depleted by now.
- The Atlantic rain forest, on the other hand, was almost completely destroyed during the colonial period, and now exists almost exclusively in parks and nature reserves.
- Its very varied and beautiful music, such as forró, samba, MPB, frevo, maracatu, choro, caipira, axé, bossa nova, mangue beat, etc.
- One of the most famous and prolific musicians is Sergio Mendes, along with his band Brasil 66. In other countries, anyway. In Brazil he's totally unknown.
- Not to mention the one and only Sepultura, one of metal music's biggest, longest-running, and most respected bands. Their most Brazilian album is without a doubt Roots, which incorporates sounds of traditional Brazilian music in their songs.
- Its not-so-beautiful poverty, inequality and violence. Rio de Janeiro's war between police and drug cartels is legendary.
- On their side, the police (specifically, the BOPE) use APCs equipped with speakers to warn people of their coming, full of elite soldiers called Caveirão ("Big Skull"), which make FBI and SWAT vans look like cardboard boxes.
- Crime has, however, been going down in almost all large cities. São Paulo, the largest city on 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.
- Its beautiful membership of the Mercosur (Mercado Común del Surnote , 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 engines took longer to warm up. By 2003, when the first flex-fuel cars were introduced, the electronics needed to make ethanol work perfectly had been developed, but perceived reliability of ethanol cars seemed beyond the possibility of recovery. Thus, even availability suffered, which didn't help. The possibility of using gasoline if worse came to worse fixed both problems and turned out to bring about the renaissance of ethanol. 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. That is not to say diplomatic incidents do not happen from time to time such as the case of Iran, Israel and Indonesia, but they never really escalate into actual enmity. If Brazil has any "enemies" to speak of, they are merely sport rivals.
- Being the place of origin for the World Social Forum
- For its beautiful mostly clean energy.
- 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.
- However, one of the most polluted cities in the world, Cubatão, is located in the state of São Paulo. Then again, most of the damage has now been reversed, and mostly the "smoke" you see from the factory chimneys is water. Nowadays Rio de Janeiro is first in Brazilian rankings regarding air pollution.
- 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 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 . 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.
- In recent years, Brazilians have become somewhat known for their fondness for Sega (sometimes to Germans Love David Hasselhoff levels).
- While Nintendo fans only had access to clones of the NES, all of the Sega consoles were published in Brazil by Tectoy with great marketing strategies. They also ported Game Gear games to the Master System and made translations of some games, such as 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 Sega 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".
- Actually, this went beyond just spreading rumors, to the point of creating this "official-sounding ad of the campaign".
- "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 it's a very offensive curse. Maybe this trope was born in an old routine of 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 same talk show.
- 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 a rule of thumb both parents pass their last names on 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" 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.
- A relatively new trend (mostly shared by poor families) is to give their children "exotic" names. Most consist of poorly spelled American names (with as many doubled consonants, w's and y's as can be thrown in), but there are also the Brazilian and American celebrity stage names.
- Brazilians mostly see Alberto Santos-Dumont as the inventor of the airplane, the rest of the world less so (except perhaps for the French, as his aircraft, the 14-Bis, was publicly demonstrated at the Bagatelle Field in Paris).
- 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 highly Acceptable Target on the internet due to a reputation for Griefing incidents, especially among 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"* or "huehuehue"* . It is not recommended that you take a drink whenever they start screaming racist comments, unless you are suicidal.
- 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...
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; same-sex marriage was legalized in 2013; and you get to go to special (much less screwed up) prisons if you've got a college 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 ). Also, while Brazil is a federal republic much like the US, the states have much more limited legislative powers. Brazil is mostly a civil law country, unlike the US. Interpretation of the law or judicial custom is not binding; only a few decisions made by the constitutional court are.
Brazilian works in this wiki:
- The Alchemist
- A Batalha Do Apocalipse
- Black Orpheus (a French production, but in Portuguese with an all-Brazilian cast)
- City of God, and its Spin-Off series, City of Men.
- Combo Rangers
- The Devil to Pay in the Backlands
- Dom Casmurro
- Duke of Caxias
- The Elite Squad
- Getulio Vargas
- Holy Avenger
- Jorel's Brother
- Luis Fernando Verissimo
- Monica's Gang
- Novas Aventuras de Mega Man
- Pato Fu
- Trail Of Lies
- Vídeo Brinquedo
The Brazilian flag