Category Archives: Brasil

About Brazil

Brazil
Brazil

Brazil was first discovered in 1500 when a fleet commanded by Portuguese diplomat Pedro Álvares Cabral arrived at a site between present-day Salvador and Rio de Janeiro called Porto Seguro. Since the Portuguese Empire’s priority was trade with the Far East, it didn’t bother to colonize the country until after 1530, when other European powers were threatening to claim Brazil for themselves.

Brazil got its name from the red wood found in its forests (pau-brasil) –which spurred for a time the lucrative international trade in that item (since it was used for making dyes). The early waves of Portuguese settlers first used indigenous Indian labor to establish plantations and settlements, but later turned to African slaves to help build a colony with a land mass the size of Europe.

By the end of 1600s, gold, emeralds and diamonds were discovered in the Brazilian province known as Minas Gerais (“general mines” in Portuguese) – which spurred development in that part of Brazil (with the arrival of skilled laborers from Europe, as well as fortune hunters). That region became responsible for shipping 30,000 pounds of gold a year to the Portuguese Empire in Lisbon. By 1763, Rio de Janeiro became the capital of Portuguese-ruled Brazil, and the colony’s economic importance to the Portuguese Empire was reinforced by its expanding list of exports (cotton, tobacco, and sugar). Brazil’s agrarian economy was expanded by the introduction of cattle ranching in the country’s interior.

In 1808, French conqueror Napoleon invaded Portugal, forcing that country’s monarch (Dom João VI), the Royal Portuguese family and their entourage to take refuge in Rio de Janeiro. For the next 14 years Rio de Janeiro was the capital of the Portuguese empire. At last, in 1821, the king returned to his native Portugal and left his son, Dom Pedro, to rule Brazil. The next year Dom Pedro, following the advice of José Bonifácio de Andrada, his minister of the interior, declared Brazil independent of Portugal.

Brazil was an independent empire from 1822 until 1889. Dom Pedro reigned for nine years, then turned over the throne to his 5-year-old son, Dom Pedro II, who became emperor in 1840 at age 14. Dom Pedro II ruled Brazil for 49 years, during which the nation became larger and richer. Wars with Argentina (1851-52) and Paraguay (1865-70) were settled peacefully. Railroads were built. Rubber from the Amazon jungle doubled foreign trade.

The early part of the 20th century was marked two phenomena: the emergence of a coffee and rubber-driven economy, and the wave of European immigrants (including Italians and Germans) that arrived in the country (with the encouragement of the Brazilian government). Still, the fall of world coffee prices during the Great Depression of the 1930’s brought new difficulties. In 1930, Brazil’s president was overthrown, and Getúlio Vargas became dictator. He patterned his government after the fascist regimes in Italy and Portugal. Vargas encouraged a spirit of nationalism and worked to boost the economy. Under his rule, living conditions improved and trade grew. During World War II (1939-45), Brazil fought on the side of the Allies and sent troops to Italy.

For many years after World War II, Brazil went through a series of military and civilian presidents. One of them (Juscelino Kubitschek of Minas Gerais) was responsible for creating the Brazilian state & bureaucracy as they’re known today – centered around the new capital of Brasilia in the country’s interior (which he established in 1960). Surrounded by tanks and technocrats, the Brazilian military brought about the “economic miracle” of the 1970s. However, it did not last. Their pharaonic projects — from hydroelectric and nuclear power plants to the conquest of the Amazon — never completely succeeded, and inflation soared. Power was to go peacefully back to civil hands in 1985.

During much of the 1980s, civilian rule was hampered by periods of hyperinflation (fueled by a debt crisis the government had with international creditors). Civilian politician Fernando Collor de Mello was elected president in 1990, promising to solve Brazil’s economic woes. However, rampant corruption under his rule resulted in Collor losing power two years later (1992). His then-Vice President Itamar Franco became the Brazilian head of state that year. Franco’s “Plano Real” finally brought the country’s runaway inflation under control.

Brazilian democracy entered a new phase when famed union leader Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva was elected President in 2002 (making him the country’s first working-class president). Despite his leftist background (which concerned the country’s business class), Lula’s presidency was marked by unprecedented economic growth. High prices for Brazilian commodities brought in sufficient revenues to finance social programs – with millions being lifted out of poverty. His protégé Dilma Rousseff became the first woman to be elected into the

Maracanã Stadium

Maracanã Stadium
Maracanã Stadium

Maracanã Stadium (Rio de Janeiro) – Maracanã is Brazil’s temple to the country’s national sport, Footbal (soccer). Opened in 1950, this arena hosted the World Cup games of that year and some matches of the World championship in 2014. It also hosted the Confederations Cup on 2013, the opening and closing ceremonies of the Pan American Games (2007), and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Along with the Football events, Maracanã has hosts rock & pop concerts, like Madonna, Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and Tina Turner, among others. There are actually tours of this arena for foreign visitors. Check its website for updated rates & schedules: www.tourmaracana.com.br

Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach
Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach (Rio de Janeiro) – for those who hang out with Brazil’s most beautiful people, the upscale Ipanema Beach is the place to be. This trendy stretch of white sand, located near Leblon Beach, has good views of Morro Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers Mountain). Also on display are some of the world’s smallest bikinis. Rent a beach chair and umbrella, kick back with an ice-cold beer , and enjoy the vibe at one of the world’s most famous beaches.

Hang Gliding

Hang Gliding
Hang Gliding

Hang Gliding (Pedra Bonita, Rio de Janeiro) – Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most popular wind sports practiced in Rio. It is a recreational sport that uses a craft often consisting of a metal-framed fabric wing, with the pilot mounted on a harness hanging from the wing frame. He exercises control by shifting his body weight against a triangular bar, also attached to the frame. Hang gliding is very popular world-wide.

Hang Gliding in Rio de Janeiro happens in Pedra Bonita, a beautiful mountain situated in São Conrado district, just 20 minutes from Ipanema. You don`t need any experience since the pilot takes control of the whole flight. During the flight, all you do is to smile at the camera and enjoy the view. The landing area is on Pepino beach, with its clear waters and white sands. Local tour outfit Rio Adventures works with the best pilots in Rio, who have over 20 years of tandem flight experience and are certified by the Brazilian Hang Gliding Association. See its flights for updated rates & schedules: https://rioadventures.com

Escadaria Selaron

Escadaria Selaron
Escadaria Selaron

Escadaria Selaron (Rua Joaquim Silva, Lapa, Rio de Janeiro) – these eye-catching steps found in Rio’s Lapa district were made made Chilean artist Jorge Selaron. He spent 20 years transforming this unassuming staircase into a unique icon of this city. All 215 of its steps are a mosaic of tiles, ceramics and mirrors in red, green, blue, yellow, and other colors. Tourists on their way to nightspots in the Lapa district stop by here to marvel at this unique sight.

Santos

Santos
Santos

Santos (São Paulo area) – located just 70 km. outside of São Paulo, this is a popular beach for that metropolis’ residents. What makes this beach distinctive is that it is bordered by a garden which is 5.3 km (3.3 miles) long — making it the largest beach garden in the world.

For tourists, Santos offers more than just a beach. You can go back to the past, embarking on an electric cable car from the 19th century and visit the city’s historic center. The place is very well maintained and has an important cultural collection. When in Santos, you can take this chance to visit the Museu do Cafe Brasileiro (Brazilian Coffee Museum), the Casa do Trem Belico (War Train House), the Praca Maua (Maua Square), the Palacio Saturnino de Brito (Saturnino de Brito Palace), the Teatro Coliseu (Coliseum Theater) and the Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary Church).

Santa Teresa Tram

Santa Teresa Tram
Santa Teresa Tram

Santa Teresa Tram (Rio de Janeiro) — There’s no better way to get to Santa Teresa from Rio’s city center than on the tram. The historic, bright yellow tram takes passengers from the center of Rio de Janeiro up the Santa Teresa Hill and ends in the Santa Teresa neighborhood. Built in 1877, the Santa Teresa Tram is the oldest electric railway in Latin America. Visitors interested in the detailed history of the tram should visit the Museu do Bonde. Fare: R$20 per person.

Rodrigo de Freitas Lake

Rodrigo de Freitas Lake
Rodrigo de Freitas Lake

Rodrigo de Freitas Lake (Rio de Janeiro) – this lake, known locally as simply “Lagoa”, is a lake located in the upscale neighborhood Lagoa, just a few blocks away from the beaches in Ipanema and Leblon. It occupies an enormous space of 2.4 million square-meters, and attracts various wildlife such as different species of birds, plants and wild capybaras. It is also a key site for rowing clubs, and it’s common to see rowing athletes practicing out on the water.

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest (Blumenau, Santa Catarina) – the second largest Oktoberfest in the world is held here (within one of Brazil’s major German settlements). Oktoberfest Blumenau, a 19-day event, has six restaurants, a food court and several gastronomic spots in the city dedicated to this event. Over 500,000 people show up for this event. See the event website for details: http://oktoberfestblumenau.com.br

Traditional villages surround the city, with their original customs maintained. Those visiting Blumenau can try homemade treats, such as cucas (a cake typical of the German cuisine), liqueurs, various sausages and preserves and the traditional marreco recheado (Drake stuffed with bacon, sausage meat and garlic).

Mercadão

Mercadão
Mercadão

Mercadão (Rua Cantareira 306, Centro Histórico, São Paulo) — considered as one of the best gastronomic poles in the city of São Paulo, the Mercadão conquests every palate. Like any great metropolis, this central market is filled with fine restaurants, charming cafes and typical delicacies from all parts of Brazil to satisfy a population that seeks art, fun and of course, diverse cuisine. Here, you can experience tasty pieces of cheeses from all over the world (parmesan, provolone, bries etc.), the famed mortadela sandwich (or bologna sandwich – which has over 200 grams of mortadela well sliced and placed between hot bread and melted cheese), frozen yogurt tropical mix with toppings of pistachio, chocolate and dehydrated fruits. That, and other delicacies. Hours: 6:00 am – 6:00 pm.