In Brazil, the people are an attraction by themselves. Famous for their innate sense of rhythm, musicality and hospitality, the most Brazilians are very relaxed, informal and have a constant human warmth probably unsurpassed anywhere in the world.
They are a remarkably happy people, spontaneous, enthusiastic and high-spirited – which they willingly demonstrate whenever there are reasons to celebrate. Some foreign people may feel invaded sometimes. However, let you to be contaminated by the receptiveness, good humor and rhythm of the Brazilian people. Their contagious smile on the face will certainly make your trip even better.
Brazil has a population of 180 million people spread out over a continental-sized nation that reflects a wide ethnic and cultural mixture. From the Portuguese came the language and the Catholic religion. From the Indians came an inheritance of food, beverages, dance and music. The African cultural influence is seen throughout the country in music, religion and cuisine.
Officially, Brazil is a Roman Catholic country, about 80% of the population. However, many people follow the Umbanda and Candomblé, religions born during the slavery period where African rituals are put together with Christian values. In the last decade, the Evangelic churches became very popular and now represent about 15% of the population.
Today, around 55% of the population is European descendent (mostly Portuguese, Italian, German and Spanish); 38% are mulatos (mixed European and African); 6% are African and the final 1% is made up of Japanese, Arabs and Amerindians.
São Paulo, for example has over 5 million Italian descendents living in the city at the same time it is the largest colony of Japanese outside Japan. After a few days in São Paulo and Rio, you'll begin to notice de particularities of the Paulista (from SP) and the Carioca (from RJ) despite they are only 450 km (280 miles) far from each other. It is amazing to see how different are the Caboclo - the native man from the interior of Amazonia and Pantanal - and the Gaúcho - worldly famous inhabitant of the green fields of the South.
All these different people came and created a unique population, that speaks the same language, live in the same neighborhood, at the same time that have many particular characteristics.
Besides Brazilian cuisine, one essential element on Brazilian culture is the music. It has always been characterized by great diversity and shaped by musical influences from Africa and Portugal and is still developing new and original forms.
The Samba reached the height of popularity in the 1930s. Its most famous exponent was probably Carmen Miranda, internationally known for diffusing Brazilian music abroad and the first Brazilian artist to have her hands printed in the Walk of Fame. Bossa Nova was popular in the 1950s and characterized by songs such as 'The Girl from Ipanema', influenced by North American jazz. Tropicalismo is a mix of musical influences that started in Brazil in the 1960s and led to a more blended style of international and national rhythms. Popular regional music includes the Forró (“for all”), Frevo , both from the Northeast and the Chorinho (from Rio de Janeiro).
These are just some of the different rhythms created in the country and many dances styles have been originated from them. Some of the well-known performers are: Antônio Carlos Jobim who wrote more than 400 songs including such classics as 'Girl from Ipanema' and 'Desafinado', Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso who won the Grammy Awards and played in Pedro Almodovar’s movie 'Hable con Ella', Chico Buarque, Maria Betânia, Alcione, Roberto Carlos, Ney Matogrosso, Rita Lee, Milton Nascimento, Hermeto Paschoal, Fafá de Belém, Elba Ramalho, Alceu Valença, Djavan, Marisa Monte, Ivan Lins, João Bosco, Cazuza, Luiz Gonzaga, Elis Regina, Olodum, the Afro-Music group that played its drums for Michael Jackson and Paul Simon. Brazil also has a long tradition in classical music. Hector Villa-Lobos is the best-known classical composer, but there is also Carlos Gomes (operas) and the more modern Cesar Guerra-Peixe.
The Brazilian art is also well recognized. Names like Cândido Portinari, Anita Mafaltti, Tarsila do Amaral, Aleijadinho and so many others had played an important part in establishing an identifiable national artistic style. The architects Oscar Niemeyer along with Lucio Costa, the creator of the layout for the new capital of Brasília, have become an integral part of 20th-century Brazilian art history. Most recently, Romero Britto and Vik Muniz have been played and important role on international scene.
Television contributed to solid base of quality actors, directors and technicians and new financing mechanisms of Brazilian cinema productions were created and helping national production. Add to wonderful locations and captivating stories all accompanied by soundtracks made by Brazilian musicians, it have been no surprise to see Brazilian movies winning prizes at international film festivals in recent years, as the moving road movie and Golden Bear and Golden Globe winner “Central do Brasil” (Central Station, Walter Salles, 1998) or the fast moving slum tale with 4 Oscar nominations in 2004 “Cidade de Deus” (City of God, Fernando Meirelles, 2002).
Good weather every year, incredible beaches, big areas, warm sea… everything conspiring in favor of the practice of sports. And Brazilians love it. Of course, soccer is the national sport and wherever you go you're likely to spot a group of people kicking a soccer ball. Brazil gave the world players like Zico, Romário, Ronaldo, Rivelino, Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Roberto Carlos, Robinho and of course, Pelé, the King. No other country won the world cup so many times (5). No other country has a stadium larger than the Maracanã in Rio. Local sports include capoeira (elegant, rhythmic martial arts form set to music), futvolei (foot volleyball), motor racing and beach volley.