INFO on Brazil
Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil or República Federativa do Brasil, listen (help·info)), is the largest and most populous country in South America, and fifth largest in the world in both area and population. Spanning a vast area between central South America and the Atlantic Ocean, it is the easternmost country of the Americas and it borders Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the French department of French Guiana. In fact, it borders every South American nation except for Ecuador and Chile. The country's name is generally believed to be derived from pau-brasil (brazilwood), a tree highly valued by early colonists, though some credit the name to a mythical land mentioned in Europe during Middle Ages. Brazil is home to both extensive agricultural lands and rain forests. Exploring vast natural resources and a large labor pool, it is South America's leading economic power and a regional leader. Because it was a colony of Portugal, Portuguese is Brazil's official language. Brazil has the world's second largest Christian population (151 million, behind that of the United States), and also is the world's largest Roman Catholic-majority nation in terms of both number of adherents and land mass --- a strong cultural legacy left behind by the Roman Catholic Portuguese colonists.
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Brazil splits into four distinct climatic regions. The coldest part - in fact the only part of Brazil which ever gets really cold - is the South and Southeast , the region roughly from central Minas Gerais to Rio Grande do Sul, which includes Belo Horizonte, São Paulo and Porto Alegre. Here, there's a distinct winter between June and September, with occasional cold, wind and rain. However, although Brazilians complain, it's all fairly mild. Temperatures rarely hit freezing overnight, and when they do it's featured on the TV news. The coldest part is the interior of Rio Grande do Sul, in the extreme south of the country, but even here there are many warm, bright days in winter and the summer (Dec-March) is hot. Only in Santa Catarina's central highlands does it occasionally snow.
The coastal climate is exceptionally good. Brazil has been called a "crab civilization" because most of its population lives on or near the coast - with good reason. Seven thousand kilometres of coastline, from Paraná to near the equator, bask under a warm tropical climate. There is a "winter", when there are cloudy days and sometimes the temperature dips below 25°C (77°F), and a rainy season, when it can really pour. In Rio and points south the summer rains last from October through to January, but they come much earlier in the Northeast, lasting about three months from April in Fortaleza and Salvador, and from May in Recife. Even in winter or the rainy season, the weather will be excellent much of the time.
The Northeast is too hot to have a winter. Nowhere is the average monthly temperature below 25°C (77°F) and the interior, semi-arid at the best of times, often soars beyond that - regularly to as much as 40°C (104°F). Rain is sparse and irregular, although violent. Amazônia is stereotyped as being steamy jungle with constant rainfall, but much of the region has a distinct dry season - apparently getting longer every year in the most deforested areas of east and west Amazônia. And in the large expanses of savanna in the northern and central Amazon basin, rainfall is far from constant. Belém is closest to the image of a steamy tropical city: it rains there an awful lot from January to May, and merely quite a lot for the rest of the year. Manaus and central Amazônia, in contrast, have a marked dry season from July to October.
Top 10 Things To Do In Brazil
1. Amazonia National Park
Covering an impressive 7 of Brazil's 27 states, "The Green Inferno" covers almost 40 per cent of Brazil's total landmass. Although parts of the Amazon cover countries bordering Brazil (notably Bolivia, Colombia, Guiana and Peru), it is to Brazil that most tourist come if they want to take in the splendors of this most magnificent natural wonder. Things to do in the Amazon include bird watching, trekking/hiking, climbing and taking boat journeys along the river. Without doubt, a tour to Brazil is incomplete without a trip to the Amazon.
2.Iguassu Falls or Iguacu Falls
Sometimes described as being one of the 7 natural Wonders of the World; in fact, Iguassu Falls are neither the widest waterfall in the world, nor are they the tallest. However, what it lacks in width and height it makes up for elsewhere. On the Parana River, the falls act as a natural border to the countries of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay and compose of 275 cataracts in total. Best time of year to see the Iguacu Falls is between October and December and as this is such a magnificent sight, it is highly recommended that you make arrangements to stay at least one night here before moving on to your next destination!
3.Rio de Janeiro
The word exotic sums up Rio! But, Rio is also chaotic, sophisticated, open, friendly, busy and relaxed. It's literally is everything rolled up into one! Most people see Rio as sun, sea, and surf. Whilst Rio is all of these, it is also much more. As Brazil second most populous city (after Sao Paulo), Rio is also highly regarded as being the educational and cultural center of Brazil - with both some of Brazil's leading universities and some of the most delightful museums and art galleries.
And, of course, there's always Carnival and samba time in Rio!
Considered one of the world's great wildlife reserves, any tour to the Pantanal needs to be carefully planned as the area is not ideally suited to the tourist - with little infrastructure in place. However, don't let this stop you from making arrangements to visit the Pantanal as this is truly a splendid place. Fishermen will also be attracted to the Pantanal as it has some of the best fishing in South America. But, it is for the birds that most visitors come to the Pantanal and bird watching here is truly amazing!
Formerly Brazil's colonial capital city, the city of Salvador is located on the Bay of All Saints. Visitors to this wonderful city can revel in walking the narrow cobblestone streets that have changed little since the days when the city served as the slave center of Brazil.
Visitors to Salvador are also strongly encouraged to take a visit to the Igreja de Sao Francisco. The interior of this otherwise unremarkable church is covered in gold leaf. Not too far away from the church is the Farol de Barra, a 16th Century fortified lighthouse overlooking the second biggest bay in Brazil!
However, visitors to Brazil looking to see some of Brazil's colonial past are strongly advised to make the journey to Salvador, where they'll be enthralled with 17th century antiques on display at the Museu de Arte da Bahia and Museu de Arte Sacra.
6. Sao Paulo
There is one word that sums up Sao Paulo - "BIG"! The city is not only the most populous in all Brazil, but as the commercial center of Brazil it also contains some of the biggest skyscrapers in the country. However, visitors to Sao Paulo should not be mistaken into believing that Sao Paulo is all work and no play, once the sun has set Sao Paulo likes to party at some of the trendiest pubs and clubs in all of Brazil - some argue that Sao Paulo's clubs are more in-tune with western and modern styles than Rio!
Brasilia was constructed by the country's leading architects, Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, in the 1950s to replace Rio as Brazil's capital city - which it did in 1960. That, however, doesn't mean the city's design has been well thought-out - it hasn't! To be fair, Brasilia was intended as the administrative capital of Brazil, a function it serves well to this day. However, the city's planners had not taken into consideration any private enterprise existing in Brasilia. Consequently all of the architects' good intentions went out of the window and the city is little more than a sprawling mess of modern building design. As such a new city, the city also lacks from having any real claim to heritage. All in all then, Brasilia is certainly worth a visit if you have the time, but if your time is restricted, go to all the other places first!
Located right in heart of the Amazonian Basin, Manaus is a popular destination for tourists looking for excursions into the exotic heartland of the Amazon. However, what was once considered to be one of the greatest wilderness outposts in the world is, as a result of years of over construction, no longer able to claim this title.
Nonetheless, Manus does offer two great attractions to its tourist visitors. The first is obviously the chance to travel further into the Amazon Basin, the second is the chance to see some of the world's largest sea-going ships come to port some one thousand miles inland, where they load and unload their wares (which are then taken, or brought from, further inside the Amazon!).
Located on the Gold Coast of Brazil (northeastern Brazil), Recife is a famous tourist destination for the package tourist. Recife is also well known for the number of canals and bridges that criss-cross this city. The city also has a number of good museums and churches. However, no visit to Recife is complete without a visit to the town's old prison - to make your visit there more interesting, it's now a shopping
10. Sao Luis
Named after Louis XIII (of France), Sao Luis is considered one of Brazil's most beautiful cities. The city's architecture is very colonial - it was founded by a French pirate -with magnificent churches and palaces. Sao Luis is nothing short of charming and delightful fusion of all the cultures of Brazil - African, indigenous and Portuguese. This beautiful little town is well worth going out of your way to visit.
There are frequent flights to Rio from all major cities in South America and from a number of major airports in the USA and Europe. Other gateway airports in Brazil include São Paulo, Recife, Natal - popular with Northern European package tourists - Fortaleza, Belém and Manaus. Brazilian airlines Varig, TAM, and Gol fly to many major cities in the world. For international flights, the departure tax is USD36.00, but this is often included in the ticket cost.
Brazil has land borders with every other country in South America, with the exception of Ecuador and Chile, so while some travellers may bus in from Uruguay, Argentina or Venezuela, others arrive via the trem da morte (death train) - named after the fate that befalls many who hitch a ride on the train's roof - from Bolivia.
By river, many travellers take a slow boat along the Amazon from Iquitos in Peru or into the Pantanal via the Rio Paraguay from Asunción, Paraguay.
INFO on Brazil