Some of you may be surprised at the number of languages and destinations that we offer, this is why we try to offer you varied destinations each month, and this month is no different as we go further afield to Brazil. Portuguese is often in the shadow of French and Spanish as a second language, however with around 215 million native speakers (making it the 6th most spoken language globally and third most spoken European language) we feel it deserves more recognition as a language.
Brazil is the largest country in South and Latin America. As well as being the fifth largest country, it is also the largest lusophone country in the world. Brazil occupies 47% of the South American continent, bordering all South American countries with the exception of Ecuador and Chile. Brazil's varied landscape, which includes cities, beaches, mountain ranges and rainforests, attracts many tourists every year. While Brazil's natural assets remain the most popular among tourists, more and more come to experience the culture of Brazil's cities, in particular Rio and its famous carnival.
A Brief History
Brazil was claimed for the Portuguese empire in 1500 and colonisation effectively begun in 1534. However, the country suffered through much unrest with the indigenous tribes fighting amongst themselves and against the Portuguese. While exports remained unstable, the gold rush in the 1690's saw a huge number of new settlers arriving from Portugal and Portuguese colonies. The early 19th Century saw the Portuguese Royal court move to Brazil and the establishment of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Subsequently Brazil won their war of Independence and Portugal declared Brazil independent in 1822 and the military coup of 1889 saw the monarchy finally overthrown and the establishment of the early Republic.
However, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Brazil was marked by many coup d'etat as the country was subject to many dictatorial powers and military regimes. The late twentieth century saw democracy making a come back with Brasilia instated as the official capital and Cardoso's successful Plano Real (1980) improving Brazil's economic situation. The peaceful transition of Cardoso to da Silva as President saw the arrival of political stability in Brazil. The current President, Rousseff, was elected in 2011 and is Brazil's first female president.
What to see
Being such a big country it is hard to see everything that it has to offer, especially as each city and state has so many attractions and a slightly different atmosphere then the others. That being said, here are a few of the top cities.
- São Paulo: Home to 11,316,149 people, this is the largest city in Brazil and the capital of the state of São Paulo, located on the South East coast. It is known for its skyscrapers, lively cultural scene and its gastronomy.Top sites include: Ibirapuera park, mercado municipal, zoological park, Paulista avenue, Praça de sé, Pátio de colégio, Museu do Ipiranga and Catedral da Sé.
- Parati (Paraty): Located on the Costa Verde and home to 36,000 people, Parati is in the South Eastern state of Rio de Janeiro. It is a historic, colonial city that attracts many tourists with its varied landscape juxtaposing mountains and coastline. You may recognise this city as Isle Esme from the film Twilight.
- Recife: Known as the "Venice of Brazil", Recife is the capital of Pernambuco state in North Eastern Brazil. It is the fifth largest city in the country and a major port. Notable sites to see are: Mercado de São José, Forte Cinco Pontes, Pátio de São Pedro, Praça de República, Recife Antigo and Olinda.
- Manaus: The capital city of the state of Amazonas in Northern Brazil. Otherwise known as the gateway to the Amazon or the Heart of the Amazon. The opportunity to see the wildlife and take part in river cruises and stay in jungle lodges attracts huge numbers of tourists every year. You will also see the 'Meeting of Waters' here where the Rio Negro and Solimões river meet in a stark contrast of colour.
- Rio de Janeiro: The capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro and the second largest city in Brazil with 6.3 million inhabitants. It is one of the most visited cities in the Southern hemisphere. Its popular attractions include: Carnival, the natural settings, Christ the Redeemer, Bossa Nova, Copacobana, Sugarloaf mountain + cable car and the Biblioteca Nacional. Rio welcomes the most tourists per year of any South American city.
We cannot discuss Brazil without mentioning its sublime beaches, so here are some of the better and lesser known beaches that stretch across the Brazilian coastline.
|Fernando do Noronha, source:|
- Alter do Chao - Pará
- Fernando de Noronha
- Praia do Toque - Alagoas
- Arpoador - Rio de Janeiro
- Copacabana - Rio de Janerio
- Lagoinha do heste - Florianópolis
- Lopes Mendes - Ilha Grande, Rio State.