The largest country in South America, Brazil is on the world stage right now thanks to their hosting of the World Cup Soccer match this summer. It’s also on my bucket list for places to visit.
Background and History of Brazil
Brazil has been occupied by hundreds of indigenous tribes for at last the least 10,000 years however archeologists still haven’t been able to date the earliest peoples of the region. In 1500 the Portuguese were the first Europeans to colonize the area. While there were as many as 2,000 tribes when they arrived disease quickly spread from the Europeans wiping out tribes before they had even come into direct contact. The country, and people were widely exploited during the colonial period and millions of African slaves were imported to work plantations.
Portugal remained in control of Brazil until the end of the 1800’s when Brazil declared independence but things were not peaceful. Multiple changes in power and policy occurred until the 1960’s when a 20 year period of military dictatorship was in place. In the last 30 years a civilian government has been put in place and changes have been put in place to democratize the country and improve its economic standing.
What are 3 things you probably didn’t know about this country?
There are more species of monkeys in Brazil than any other country in the world – 80!
In the city of Sao Paulo 800,000 pizzas are reportedly eaten every day!
Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer due in part because of the diversity in the region. Different soils, climates, varieties, and cultivation techniques make Brazilian coffee truly unique.
What are some must-visit sites?
First, keep in mind Brazil is huge – at 3.28 million square miles – nearly the same size as the United States and the fifth largest country in the world. It’s impossible to imagine seeing even the highlights in only a week or two visit.
Brazil’s most famous landmark is the gigantic Amazon Rainforest that is 2.3 million square acres in size. You won’t be able to cover it all, but even a small visit is worth it.
Manaus is a colonial city in the heart of the Amazon and makes a good base for exploring.
Rio de Janeiro is usually where most visitors stop, along with Ipanema and Copacabana the famous beach stops. Sao Paulo in the far south is the largest city (11 million people), is very popular to visit and incredibly diverse with over 111 ethnic groups represented. One would expect those of Portuguese descent to be well represented but the largest ethnic group is Italians.
The Pantanal is a tropical wetlands and the most ecologically diverse area in the world. Safaris and boat tours are available to take visitors into the wetlands to explore.
Where can you see some hidden highlights of this country?
Just getting into the Atlantic Ocean the Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago of 21 volcanic islands. Only 420 visitors are permitted on the main island at any one time. It was written about by Charles Darwin and aside from visiting the land areas, divers can enjoy the aquatic diversity as well.
The state of Minas Gerais was once home to the gold rush of Brazil and is known also as the capital of coffee and milk. The reason tourists go is to see the colonial art and architecture that dominates the region.
Why should this country should be on YOUR bucket list?
While prices have gone up in recent years Brazil remains an affordable and easily accessible destination from North America. Take a week on the beach or a week in the rainforest. In Brazil you can see a hodge podge of all the countries and ethnic groups of the world.
How familiar are you with Brazil? Would you consider adding it to your travel bucket list?