NOTE: Country Information & Maps at the bottom of the page
"Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world in area. It covers nearly half of South America. It spreads across almost half (47.3%) of South America, and occupies a total area of 8,547,403.5 km2. The Equator crosses through the Northern region, near Macapa, and the Tropic of Capricorn cuts through the South of the country, near São Paulo.
Low mountains and broad plateaus occupy two-thirds of Brazil. Forested lowlands cover most of the rest. Brazil has over 1,000 rivers. The largest include the Amazon, Parana, and Sao Francisco. All but the southernmost part of Brazil lies in the tropics, and most of the country has a warm to hot climate the year around. The mountains and plateaus are cooler than the lowlands. Sea breezes cool some coastal areas. Rain falls heavily in much of Brazil, and the country's warm, wet climate has helped make it one of the leading crop growing nations in the world. Brazil has three main land regions:
(1) the Amazon Region
(2) the Northeast Region, and
(3) the Central and Southern Plateaus.
The country borders French Guiana, Suriname, Guiana, Venezuela and Colombia, to the north; Uruguay and Argentina, to the south; and Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru, to the west. Ecuador and Chile are the only two countries on the South American continent that do not border Brazil. The Atlantic Ocean extends along the country's entire eastern coast, providing 7,367 km of coastline.
Brazil's rain forests have more than 40,000 varieties of plants. More species of trees grow in these forests than in any other area in the world. The Amazon Region also has a great variety of animals.
The Indian population was quite diverse and there were an estimated two to six million living in the territory that is now Brazil when the Portuguese first arrived. Today there are fewer than 200,000, most of them in the hidden jungles of the Brazilian interior.
Brazil has been a Republic since 1889. Throughout this entire period, the country actually experienced little more than thirty years of democracy (1946-1964 and from 1985 to the present). Nevertheless, it is one of the most democratic nations on Earth. Brazilian democracy, which was won back after 21 years of a military dictatorship, proved to be vigorous and became an important part of the life of its people.
Brazil is today South America's largest economy, the world's ninth largest economy, and fifth most populous nation.
Population & Culture
"Brazil ranks as the world's fifth largest nation in population. Only China, India, the United States, and Indonesia have more people. About half the people of South America live in Brazil. Since 1940, the country's population has quadrupled. Brazil has three main ethnic groups- whites, blacks, and people of mixed ancestry. Most of the whites are of European descent. The nation's two largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, have more people than any other cities in South America. Sao Paulo, with about 11 million people, ranks as one of the largest cities in the world in population. Rio de Janeiro has about 6 million people. Brazil has about 10 metropolitan areas with populations of more than a million.
Clothing in Brazil is similar to that worn in the United States and Canada on warm days. Some regional styles are distinctive. For example, black women of the state of Bahia, in northeastern Brazil, are known for their colorful long skirts, bright blouses, and many bracelets and necklaces. The gauchos (cowboys) of southern Brazil wear ponchos and baggy trousers called bombachas. Wide-brimmed felt hats protect the gauchos from the sun.
Brazilians who live in cities enjoy a much wider choice of food than people in the rural areas. Cola beverages, hamburgers, and wheat bread have become increasingly popular in Brazil's larger cities. The diet of wealthy city dwellers includes a variety of meats. In the rural areas and in poor sections of the cities, the chief foods are beans, a starchy root called cassava (or manioc), and rice. Feijoada, Brazil's national dish, combines black beans, dried beef, and pork. Brazilian food shows a strong African influence in Bahia, where many people prepare dishes with bananas, coconuts, fish, palm oil, and hot peppers. Southern Brazil is known for churrasco, a selection of charcoal broiled meats. Coffee is Brazil's chief drink. Brazilians also like batidas (sweet fruit beverages made with rum) and a tealike drink called mate.
Sports and Leisure
Brazil has 6,019 miles (9,687 kilometers) of coast line, and thousands of people flock to broad, white beaches on weekends. Many Brazilians enjoy fishing, skin diving, swimming, and boating. Soccer is Brazil's favorite sport. Some games attract 200,000 spectators to Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium, the world's largest stadium. Many Brazilian soccer stars have become national heroes such as Pele, during the 1960's. Other popular sports include automobile racing, basketball, and horse racing. A number of
colorful festivals also brighten life in Brazil. The best known is Carnival, celebrated each year during the four days before the Christian observance of Lent. In the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, thousands of richly costumed Brazilians ride magnificent floats that compete for prizes in dazzling parades. Energetic dancers, their bodies swaying to the rhythms of the samba, crowd the streets. Joyful singers and lively musicians add to the fun."
The Brazilian currency is the real, pronounced "ree al". It is no longer pegged to the US dollar. To exchange your dollars for reais (the plural of real, pronounced "hey ice") you will need to go to the head
office of one of the major banks (Banco do Brasil, Banco Itau, or Banespa) and ask for "cambio" (the exchange department). Be sure to go early as the cambio in most banks close in the early afternoon and it can take some time to fill out all the required paperwork. In Rio and Sao Paulo you can also find a "casa de cambio". These offices often offer a slightly better exchange rate than the banks. There are exchange offices at most airports including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Travelers' checks in US funds are easily
exchanged at banks and casas de cambio. Your hotel may accept traveler's checks for incidentals.
For up to date exchange rates on the internet, visit: www.xe.com.
The electrical current used can vary a great deal throughout Brazil. Sometimes you will find 110 volts, other times it is 220V 60Hz. There are even some areas that use 127 volts. For further converter/adapter
information, please visit the website at: www.kropla.com
Most bars and restaurants include a service charge of 10% in the Bill. It is usual to leave a little extra if the service has been satisfactory. When no service charge has been included then a tip of 10% to 15% is the general rule.
Although 90 percent of the country is within the tropical zone, the climate of Brazil varies considerably from the mostly tropical North (the equator traverses the mouth of the Amazon) to temperate zones below the Tropic of Capricorn (23°27' S latitude), which crosses the country at the latitude of the city of São Paulo. Brazil has five climatic regions - equatorial, tropical, semiarid, highland tropical, and subtropical.
Average Temperatures: Rio de Janeiro (in degrees Farenheit) month avg max avg min humidity
Mar 83 72 81
Oct 77 66 78
Brazil is so large that it covers two time zones. The coastal and central regions of the country are at GMT-3 hours (two hours ahead of New York City, 5 hours ahead of Los Angeles), while the western portion of
the country is at GMT -4 hours (one hour ahead of New York City, 4 hours ahead of Los Angeles).
We strongly recommend that all travelers purchase travel insurance prior to departure. We recommend that you purchase insurance that includes health insurance (medical & emergency evacuation) and cancellation insurance.
Documents, Money and Passports
You must have a passport valid for at least six months beyond the conclusion of your trip in order to enter Brazil. Please make sure that you have blank pages in your passport for your visa, entry and exit stamps
(one for each).
Naturally, your passport is the most important travel document, and as such, please keep it as safe as possible. When staying in one place for a couple of days or longer, we recommend that you keep your passport in the hotel safe, although you will require it as identification when cashing travelers' checks. When venturing out to the most remote areas, your tour leader will discuss where to keep your passport. It is a good idea to take along a photocopy of your passport (remember to keep this copy and all other copies of important documents separate from their originals); this can be helpful if your passport is lost or stolen.
People traveling on either US or Canadian Passports require a visa to enter Brazil. The requirements for such travel documents frequently change, please refer to the current visa information in your booking package. For further information on Visas and necessary documentation, access: www.mre.gov.br or www.braziltour.com.
The tourist may opt to take an ordinary taxi easily found in the streets or through radio taxi services. It is recommended that accredited taxi services at the airports and at points nearby the main hotels be given priority. It is not usual in Brazil to tip a taxi driver although it is common to round off the amount and let the driver keep the change as a gratuity.
To make an international call, dial: 00 + operator code* + country code + area code (if there is one) + telephone number For reverse charge international calls dial 0800 7032111.
Brasil Telecom 14
"The early Portuguese colonists brought the Roman Catholic religion to Brazil. Today, Brazil has about 110 million Catholics, though many of them do not actively practice their religion. Catholics form about 85 per cent of the population. Brazil has more Catholics than any other country. About 10 per cent of Brazil's people, mostly blacks and people of mixed ancestry, practice such local religions as macumba and
candomble. These religions combine African spiritual beliefs and Catholicism. Protestants make up about 5 per cent of Brazil's population. Lutherans form the largest Protestant group. Brazil has about 400,000 Buddhists and 150,000 Jews.
Almost all of Brazil's people speak Portuguese, the nation's official language. Indian groups in the Amazon area still use traditional languages."
Dietary Restrictions or Allergies
If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, please inform us well in advance of your departure. This information is forwarded to your tour leader, but you should also discuss any special dietary needs with him/her early in the trip.
What to Wear
For travel in Brazil, you will need clothing that ranges from casual tropical to medium weight clothes. When temperatures are cooler, we recommend layering. The first layer, the one next to your skin, should be something light such as a cotton shirt. The middle layer is your insulation layer and a long sleeve shirt is recommended here. The outer layer should be wind and waterproof with Gore-Tex the material of choice here (it's light, waterproof and it allows perspiration to escape while keeping you warm and dry). This combination is preferable because it allows you to respond quickly to weather conditions: if it's hot you can 'peel off' quickly; if it's rainy and windy, you can quickly 'dress up'. Laundry facilities will be available during the trip.
A money belt or pouch capable of holding your passport, money and air tickets is recommended. It is a good idea to bring along a photocopy of your passport, a list of serial numbers for your traveler's checks, camera gear and other valuables, in case anything is lost or stolen and you have to make an insurance claim. You should keep this list separate from your valuables.
Some purchases in local markets will require bargaining. A few of our tips on bargaining:
- Relax and enjoy it - it can be a lot of fun
- Never start to bargain if you're not really interested
- Unless you know the price of the item involved, always try to have the seller make the first offer
- The counter-offer really depends upon what's for sale and who is selling it. Your tour leader will give you ideas on costs at the beginning of the trip.
- When your offer is accepted, etiquette dictates that you should buy it