Brazil is the largest country in South America. It has a population of around 215 million inhabitants which makes it the fifth most populous country in the world.
Many people think Rio de Janeiro is the Capital but it’s actually Brasilia.
Brazil covers nearly half the continent and shares a frontier with every South American country apart from Chile and Ecuador.
Almost two-thirds of Brazil’s population live on or near the coast and over half live in cities. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are Brazil’s biggest metropolises. Rio is home to 10 million inhabitants and São Paulo 22 million.
Language: Portuguese is the first language in Brazil and spoken by 98 % of Brazilians. Spanish is widely thought in schools and is understood by some but not widely spoken. Brazilians do not speak English very well and that includes big cities such as Rio so if you get a chance to learn a few expressions in Portuguese you’d find them very useful in some situations.
Visa: Brazil tourist visa is not required for citizens of the United Kingdom and the EU for a stay up to 90 days.
Transport: Buses are the most common form of transport in Brazil followed by the subway (Metro) in big cities. I used Uber the whole the time I was in Rio and found it very cheap and reliable.
Currency : The Real is Brazil’s official currency (R$ ). It’s much better to exchange currency in hotels around the city as you get a much better rate than you would at the airport’s bureau de change.
Climate: Tropical in places like Rio de Janeiro but in the southern tip of the country, the temperatures plummet below freezing during winter and it even snows occasionally. Over the course of the year, temperatures typically vary between 18°C to 35°C. Summers (December to March)are short, hot and rainy. winters (June to September) are much cooler and drier. Spring (October to November) is very dry with enough sun to sightsee and Autumn (April to May) has moderate heat, plenty of sun and very little rain.
Wildlife and nature: Brazil is the most biodiverse country on the planet. The country is home to 70% of the world’s catalogued animal and plant species.
Food : Brazilian cuisine is a reflection of the country’s size and cultural diversity. Eating if a celebration of life for Brazilians so you will find a variety of specialities and diets with seafood and fish dominating in the coastlines and meat in the south. There is an abundance of fruits and vegetables, some of which would be familiar and some you wouldn’t have heard of. Rice and beans feature heavily in the diet.
There are two main types of restaurants in Brazil. Churrascarias where you can have every meat under the sun as waiters go around the place with different cuts of meat for you to choose from. The other option is the por quilo self-service restaurants, where you have access to a huge buffet and the price you pay is determined by the weight of the food on your plate.
Football: Brazil is a football-mad nation. The country is often referred to as ‘o País do Futebol’ or ‘the country of football ‘ and has produced some of the biggest names in the game. Football is engrained in Brazil’s culture and everywhere you go you will encounter children playing the game in the streets and locals chatting about matches in bars and restaurants.
Voltage: 110 and 120 Volts. Plugs come with two round pins, like in Europe.
Best time to visit: Summer is the high season in popular places like Rio de Janeiro. It’s when Carnaval takes place and Cariocas let their hair down but it’s also when the city is the most crowded. I visited in April and loved the weather. Find out why Autumn is the best time to visit Rio de Janeiro here.
Check that you don’t need a visa – Depending on where you currently reside, you may need to have a short term visa before you enter Brazil.
Always have cash on you for tipping – Most bills include ten percent tax but in Brazil and most of South America, waiters and hotel staff depend on tips so you are generally expected to tip . You don’t have to tip taxi drivers (though they won’t say no), but you are expected to tip barbers, hairdressers, shoeshine kids, self-appointed guides and porters. It’s useful to keep change handy for them – and for beggars.
Exercise caution – Brazil gets a lot of bad press due to its history of gang crimes in poor areas. These violent crimes tend to happen away from the touristy areas but tourists also can be victims of petty crimes which mostly involve pickpocketing and muggings especially in big cities such as Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. Although this shouldn’t deter you from enjoying this wonderful country, you should always be aware of your surroundings when out and about. Avoid walking in empty small streets and use public transport in the evening such as Uber. Don’t wear jewellery or carry valuables such as cameras and expensive looking phones when walking or going to the beach.
Everything you neeed to know about traveling.