Region: South America & Central America
Nearly all of Brazil's population profess the Roman Catholic religion. As a result, Brazil has the largest Roman Catholic population in the world. Although the Indian and Africans have not abandoned their traditional beliefs, they follow a religion that blends the two together.
Portuguese is the official language.
Area (sq. km):
8,511,965 square meters
Although the average annual temperature of Brazil increases from south to north, even on the equator (in the Amazon Basin), the average is not more than 32°C. The rainy season in the south is from December to March, which is the holiday season when Brazilians flock to the coastal resorts.
Brazil is a massive country with quite distinct climatic regions. The hottest time of the year is from December to February, this is also when most Brazilians are on holidays too! Most rain falls in Brazil during the summer, however the Amazon receives rain all year round. The Brazilian winter runs from June to August, temperatures can be quite cool in the south - down to 15°C.
Rio de Janeiro-Galeão Aeroporto is located 20km (13 miles) north of Rio de Janeiro. Bus and taxi are the best hassle-free ways to travel into Rio. Taxis are available, although you are advised to ignore the RDE taxi desk and go to the Rio de Janeiro State Tourism Authority desk instead and buy prepaid taxi vouchers. Otherwise, passengers should ensure that their taxi’s meter is cleared of the last fare. A taxi fare is approx US$20. There is an airport shuttle bus every hour, which stops at major hotels and beaches. Empresa Real have air-conditioned frescao buses that drive into the city as well as along the seafront stopping off at the hotels (journey time: 45 minutes). Public buses run to the city centre. The airport has a range of currency change facilities and banks.
The international dialling code for Brazil is +55. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider; however, charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly. You should also check with your service provider to see if your mobile phone is compatible with the networks used in Latin America. Most countries in the region operate on the 1900 Mhz system. Phone calls made from public telephone offices are generally your cheapest option.
The electricity supply in Brazil is rated at 110/220 volts, and appliances requiring 240 volts will work normally. If you bring electrical appliances you should also bring an international adaptor. Round two-pin plugs are the most common types in the region. Adaptors can be purchased prior to departure or in Latin America.
The staples of the Brazilian diet are feijão (black beans), arroz (white rice), and farinha (manioc or cassava flour), usually combined with steak, chicken or fish. Brazilian specialties include feijoada, a bean and meat stew (traditionally eaten for Saturday lunch), moqueca, a seafood stew flavored with dendê oil and coconut milk; caruru, okra and other vegetables mixed with shrimp, onions and pepper and dendê oil.. On many street corners in Bahia, women wearing flowing white dresses sell acarajé, beans mashed in salt and onions, fried in dendê oil and then filled with seafood, manioc paste, dried shrimp, pepper and tomato sauce.
Distances in Brazil are immense and for tourists, the most practical and time saving way to travel is by air. An extensive air network operates throughout Brazil although airfares are not cheap. Brazil also operates an extensive bus network. Roads are generally good and buses are modern, reliable and comfortable.
Look out for local indigenous crafts, musical instruments such as anything from the woodwind, percussion and string familes and local music CDs. Rio and Bahia specialise in antiques and jewellery. Other special purchases include gems (particularly emeralds), jewellery (particularly silver), In Rio and São Paulo, major shops and markets stay open quite late in the evening.
Australians, Americans and Canadians currently require a visa for Brazil. Please note - processing can take around 2-5 weeks at the discretion of the embassy or consulate. Please ensure you allow enough time for processing, before you leave home.
British, EU and New Zealand passport holders, currently do not require a visa for Brazil. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
If you intend to leave Brazil and return during your trip, you should obtain a multiple entry visa before leaving home. You should also ensure that an exit stamp is placed in your passport by Brazilian immigration authorities when you depart Brazil. On arrival you must complete an arrival card, which has a carbon copy. The carbon copy must be presented to immigration authorities on departure. Failure to do so may result in delays and possibly a fine when departing Brazil.
Insight Guide Brazil-Edwin Taylor Brazil; Cultures of the World-Christopher Richard