Language: Portuguese

Currency: Real (BRL)

Calling call: +55


Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (in Portuguese: Federative Republic of Brazil), is a sovereign country of South America that includes the eastern half of the subcontinent and some groups of small islands in the Atlantic Ocean. With an area estimated at more than 8.5 million km², it is the fifth largest country in the world in total area (equivalent to 47% of the South American territory). Delimited by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 km to the north, bordered by the French overseas department of French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana and Venezuela; to the northwest with Colombia; to the west with Peru and Bolivia; to the southeast with Paraguay and Argentina, and to the south with Uruguay. In this way it has a border with all the countries of South America, except Ecuador and Chile. The majority of the country is included among the terrestrial tropics, so the climatic seasons do not feel in a radical way in much of the same. The Amazon rainforest covers 3.6 million km² of the territory. Thanks to its vegetation and climate, it is one of the countries with the most animal species in the world.



The country consists of 26 states, a federal district and is divided into five regions.

Amazon, rainforest and noticeable Indian influence.
Acre (State) Amapá Amazonas Pará Rondônia Roraima Tocantins

The north-east is often associated with the most beautiful stretches of coast in the country. It has the sunniest and hottest climate, but is also the driest and poorest region.
Alagoas Bahia Ceará Maranhão Paraíba Pernambuco Piauí Rio Grande do Norte Sergipe

Central west
Wetlands, large farms and young towns characterize this region.
Distrito Federal · Goiás · Mato Grosso · Mato Grosso do Sul

São Paulo and Rio are the country's largest cities and commercial and economic centers. There are also several centuries-old towns.
Espírito Santo Minas Gerais Rio de Janeiro Sao Paulo

The region of valleys and pampas. It is the country's most prosperous region, with only two large cities (Curitiba and Porto Alegre) and several medium-sized cities with very low crime rates. German, Italian and Portuguese immigrants colonized the area in the mid-19th century. The south is also the only region where it snows every year, mostly in the mountains of Santa Catarina State.
Paraná (state) Rio Grande do Sul Santa Catarina



The most famous and most visited city in Brazil is certainly the former capital Rio de Janeiro with its approximately 6 million inhabitants, which scores with an incomparably beautiful location between mountains and sea and also offers architectural sights, it also has a lively cultural scene and of course the famous Blessed Carnival in February. Today's capital, Brasília, is probably most interesting for friends of modern architecture. It was planned on the drawing board by the architect Oscar Niemeyer in the 1950s and has many avant-garde buildings from that time. Even bigger and more turbulent than Rio is the 12-million-inhabitant juggernaut of São Paulo, with a world-class cultural scene but few architectural sights. This is the center of the Brazilian economy. Another important industrial city is Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais (2.5 million inhabitants).

In the northeast and north are old colonial cities like Salvador (3 million), the city of Capoeira and the many churches. It is said that there are as many churches here as there are days in a year. Many of these are showpieces from the colonial era. The twin cities of Recife/Olinda and Belém, capital of the state of Pará at the mouth of the Amazon, can also score with architectural charms. Also unique is the Amazon metropolis of Manaus, built by gold diggers and rubber plantation owners, a strange mixture of original Indian cultures with European high culture and the starting point for ecological cruises and tours in the largest rainforest on earth.

The south offers bustling Curitiba, the modern city of Porto Alegre, well known to all globalization critics, and the island city of Florianópolis with its very attractive beaches, one of the main destinations for South American travelers.

Smaller places of tourist importance are the best-preserved colonial city on the entire continent, Ouro Preto, the posh seaside resort of Buzios north of Rio de Janeiro, the folkloric city of Parintins in the Amazon with its festival "Boi Bumbá", also in the Amazon Novo Airão (starting point to the Jaú National Park) and Presidente Figueiredo (known for its mysterious grottos), the listed colonial city of Diamantina, and Petrópolis, the residence of the Brazilian emperors with a palace.


Travel Destinations in Brazil

Abrolhos Marine National Park is a protected area that cover 5 islands situated in Abrolhos Archipelago of Brazil.

Aparados da Serra National Park is a protected area in Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina states in Brazil. It covers an area of 103 sq km.

Araguaia National Park is a protected area in Tocantins state in Brazil.

Brasília National Park is a protected area situated 10 km from the center of Brasília. It covers an area of 30,000 ha.

Caparaó National Park is protected area situated in Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais states in Brazil.

Chapada Diamantina National Park is a protected biosphere in Bahia State in Brazil. It covers an area of 1,520 sq km.

Chapada dos Guimarães National Park is a protected biosphere situated in Mato Grosso state in Brazil.

Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park is a protected area situated on Chapada dos Veadeiros plateau in Brazil. It covers an area of 655 sq km.

Nature reserve of Emas National Park lies in the states of Goiás & Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil.

Fernado de Noronha Marine National Park is a cluster of islands off the shores of Brazil.

Iguaçu Falls or Iguazu Falls are located 12 mi (19 km) Northeast of Puerto Iguaçu on the border between Brazil and Argentina.

Ilha Grande National Park is a protected area situate on the border of Mato Grosso do Sul and Paraná states in Brazil.

Itatiaia National Park is a protected biosphere located on the border of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states in Brazil.

World's largest wetland Pantanal Conservation Area is located in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Parque Estadual do Caracol is famous for Cascata do Caracol or Caracol waterfall that reaches a height of 130 meters.

Serra do Itajaí National Park covers an area of 57374 ha that is mostly covered by rain forest in the basin of Itajaí river.

Serra da Bodoquena National Park is a nature reserve situated in Mato Grosso do Sul region of Brazil. It covers an area of 76,400 ha.


Getting here

Entry requirements

Citizens of the European Union do not need a visa to enter Brazil if they are in the country for tourism or business purposes and do not plan to stay longer than 90 days. You have to fill out an immigration card, which is usually handed out on the plane. The bottom section of this card should be kept carefully as it will need to be presented again upon departure. The passport must be valid for six months upon entry. Since the agreement between the EU and Brazil came into force on October 1, 2012, citizens of the Schengen area may enter or transit through Brazil for tourism or business purposes and stay there for a maximum of three months in a six-month period. All in all, as a tourist you can only stay in Brazil for 180 days per calendar year - you should consider this if you are planning longer tours. It has also happened that Brazil has allowed less than 90 days of entry - these are often politically motivated paybacks for the restrictive entry policies, particularly of Portugal, Spain and the UK for Brazilians, which change over time.



Just as passport control is carried out by agents of the Federal Police Departamento de Polícia Federal (DPF) when entering and leaving the country, customs is subject to specially trained agents of the Federal Tax Office Secretaria da Receita Federal (SRF).

Cash may be brought in amounts of up to 10,000 reais or the equivalent in exchangeable currencies. Any sums in excess of this must be declared in any case, failure to do so will be severely penalized. It is usually not worth having too much cash with you when you enter the country.

With the crackdown on money laundering and drug trafficking getting tougher, owning Swiss francs makes any customs official suspicious, and even Swiss citizens don't necessarily see the francs as a logical explanation. Swiss francs on you can lead to lengthy searches of the person.

You can bring all normal items for personal use duty-free. One mobile phone, one camera, one film camera, one tablet, one notebook and one iPod may be brought along as electronic devices per person. But this is hardly ever checked. However, the SRF agents at customs are very suspicious if the personal use of electronic devices cannot be clearly identified; in such cases it is advisable to explain the items in question yourself. The completed document will be presented together with the declared items when you leave the country, thus saving you any trouble.

You can also bring duty-free:
Gifts valued at US$500
Purchases at the Brazilian duty-free shop upon immigration
two liters of distilled alcoholic beverages
three liters of wine
400 cigarettes
50 cigars
280ml perfume

Live animals, meat, dairy products, eggs, honey, plants, fruits and seeds may only be imported with a permit.

By plane
International airports with direct connections from Europe are Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Salvador, Forteleza, Natal and Recife. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo offer connections with all major airlines from many European cities. The Portuguese TAP via Lisbon has the densest network. In the case of transfer connections in São Paulo between the international and domestic airports (journey time 60 minutes), Tam and GOL airline buses run free of charge if one of the connecting flights is with the respective airline.

The banderoles should be left on the piece of luggage until you leave the security zone, as there are always follow-up checks.

In the street
For land border crossings with Bolivia and Peru, see the relevant country articles.

Further north from Boa Vista is access to both Venezuela and Leithim in Guyana.

The border bridge in Oiapoque to French Guiana can be reached from Macapá.

There is no road to Suriname.

By bus
From the major cities of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay there are direct buses to the metropolises of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and the cities on the way there. From Santa Elena de Uairén and Puerto La Cruz, both in Venezuela, there are buses to Boa Vista, RR.

In Santa Elena you can also take a shared taxi to Boa Vista, which is about 250 km.

By boat
Brazil has numerous port cities that are served by freighters and cruise ships.

For more exotic ways to enter via the border rivers at the border triangles of Peru-Colombia-Brazil and Bolivia-Brazil-Peru, see the relevant section in the Peru country article.


Getting around

By bus
Practically every place in Brazil can be reached by bus or minibus, it can be difficult especially in the rainy season in the Pantanal and in the Amazon region. The buses to remote areas do not always run regularly and are very busy. Bus rides are cheap, but often take time. In all towns there are "rodoviárias" (bus stations) from which buses depart regularly to the surrounding towns and to more important cities. Between major cities there are different bus companies for each route, but they generally charge the same prices for the same level of comfort.

For long-distance journeys, there are not only “normal” coaches (“ônibus convencional”) but also buses with more comfortable (“executivo”) seats or seats that can be folded down into a bed (“leito”). Leito-class buses are a lot more comfortable than German coaches (legroom, folding seats, toilets, etc.). On journeys longer than four hours, statutory stops of 15 minutes - one hour at mealtimes - are made at intervals of two to four hours at rest stops where food can be eaten.

There is also long-distance international bus service.

The bus connections can now be easily found using a large number of online search engines. These usually show connections from different bus companies. An example is the BuscaOnibus site (Portuguese/English), which also offers information about accessibility, toilets, showers, luggage storage, ... of many bus stations.

By plane
The larger cities are linked, but not necessarily directly. As a result, it can happen that you are on the road for quite a long time due to multiple changes, even for domestic flights. For travel between regions, however, the plane is still the first choice.

Brazil has four major national airlines: LATAM (also international network, e.g. Frankfurt am Main, London, Paris, Milan, Madrid and New York), GOL (cheap flight, some connections to South American metropolises, very reliable), Avianca Brasil (including international flights) and Azul.

Other smaller airlines are e.g. e.g.:
Passaredo (small network but important routes; cannot be booked online from abroad either)
Abaeté (small network with important routes)
Rico (nationwide air taxi company)

There are also many small regional airlines, mostly with a website and internet booking option.

In Brazil, too, flying is a comparatively very safe form of transportation. However, the planes are on average a bit older than in Europe and the security checks are not always quite as rigorous.

By boat
One experience is a trip on a passenger steamer from Belém to Manaus on the Amazon. Either you hang up your hammock with 200 others on one of the decks or you afford a cabin, which is also not that expensive. You spend the day on the upper deck, looking at the passing landscape or chatting with your fellow passengers. It is best to inquire at the hotel before booking which ships are recommended. From Manaus you can travel even further into the jungle on the rivers or even to neighboring Peru.



The Brazilian real (plural reais, international currency abbreviation BRL, national abbreviation R$) was linked to the dollar for a long time. Until the beginning of the Corona crisis, you received a little more than 4 R$ for one euro. The exchange rate has fallen rapidly since then and was around R$ 6 for one euro in early August 2020. Payment in foreign currency is almost never accepted anywhere, so you should always have Brazilian cash or cards with you if you want to buy something.



Coins from 5 centavos to 1 real and bills from 2 reais to 100 reais are common. With the same value, there are sometimes several different coins (size, thickness and even material) in circulation, so that you should sometimes take a close look at which coin you are holding.

US dollars and euros can be easily exchanged, as can British pounds. However, you should avoid bringing Swiss francs with you if possible. And many money exchange offices, both those of the banking companies at the international airports as well as those of travel agencies and private exchange offices in the city centers and shopping centers change Swiss francs at worse rates, if at all. The exchange offices of reputable banks in particular refuse to exchange Swiss francs.

Cash payments are accepted almost everywhere and are still the norm for in-store purchases. For cash payments at the checkout, the amount is rounded to 5 centavos, but for card payments, the exact amount is debited.

Getting cash is sometimes not as easy as one might think. There are plenty of ATMs, especially in shopping centers, and bank branches, but unfortunately these are very often out of order. If not, long queues form at the functioning machines, since Brazilian bank customers make transfers there, etc., which can take quite a long time.

Also, not all foreign bank or credit cards always work at all machines. ATMs of the state bank Caixa Economica Federal (CAIXA) are only available to their own customers and do not accept any third-party cards. ATMs of the second large semi-state bank, Banco do Brasil, accept major credit cards, but usually have the longest waiting times, since almost every Brazilian citizen has an account there and online banking is not really widespread. As a tourist, it is best to use private banks such as Bradesco, Itaú or Santander, as long as you can find a branch or an ATM from these providers.



Major international credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. Even some street vendors and many taxis have readers with them. American Express and Diners Club also work at banks' electronic tills, but are rarely accepted in restaurants or shops. Some even accept European debit cards with Maestro or Visa Electron symbols. On the other hand, you can never rely on any particular card to work everywhere. Specific European bank and credit cards such as Postcard work at Banco do Brasil's machines, but not for cashless payment transactions. It is therefore worth having several cards to choose from (e.g. Visa and Mastercard).



Portuguese is spoken in Brazil. However, Brazilian Portuguese is very different from the version spoken in Portugal, so when visiting Brazil, it is advisable to use a Brazilian Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese dictionary rather than a Portuguese dictionary. Brazilians often use a simplified grammar in the spoken language and it is also spoken softer than in Portugal. Even within Brazil, the language differs regionally due to dialects.

Without a certain basic Portuguese vocabulary, you will have a hard time in Brazil. English is not taught in all general schools and is therefore only spoken by a very small part of the population. These include mainly young people from the middle and upper classes. Especially for individual travelers it is recommended to be able to speak Brazilian Portuguese. This is especially true if you only have a limited budget. If you can speak Spanish, you should point it out. If you then speak slowly, understanding is often possible because the languages are very similar. Anyone who speaks the Portuguese spoken in Portugal should be very careful with their use of language, as expressions that are completely irrelevant in Portugal can often have derogatory and even offensive meanings in Brazil. In the Portuguese phrasebook there is a table of scrupulously translated examples that require special attention as Brazilians generally do not know their meanings in Portugal.



You can get everyday products in one of the many supermarkets in the cities. Large supermarkets (Hipermercado) can usually be found in the outskirts. In addition, there are cash & carry markets everywhere in the big cities, which mainly sell to private individuals and are worthwhile for large purchases thanks to volume discounts.

Brazilians love shopping in malls, so there are plenty of them; small, big, huge, simple and elegant. From the inside, however, they usually look quite similar. There are the big chains (C&A, Insinuante, Schalk, Lojas Americanas etc), banks, a few cafes, a food court and often a children's playground.



Brazil is generally a very expensive travel destination for shopping and the prices still increase if you stay in the rural areas of the interior of the country, for example. This mainly affects the tourist infrastructure (hotels and restaurants). The prices here are now often on a Central European level. Along with Canada, Brazil is the most expensive travel destination on the American continent. Nevertheless, z. For example, prices for groceries, rent and transport services are generally lower than in Western Europe.

When it comes to souvenirs, it is essential to pay attention to species protection. Plant or animal souvenirs are often forbidden. Soil is a better choice, as Brazil offers a variety of beautiful gems and minerals. Gold is mined in the Amazon, whereby the environmentally conscious souvenir hunter has to weigh up whether he wants to support the environmental destruction with the purchase, which unfortunately is still associated with gold mining today.



Meat is an important part of Brazilian food, while fish and shellfish play a major role on rivers and the sea. Popular side dishes include black beans, rice, farofa (roasted cassava flour), pasta, and potatoes. Feijoada is a black bean stew.

An inexpensive dining option is the buffet restaurant (sometimes self-serve). At a buffet you can fill a plate with vegetables and side dishes, and you can usually choose one or two pieces of meat. Sometimes you help yourself to the meat, then you put the plate on a scale at the checkout and pay according to the weight of the food. The price varies between 10 and 40 R$ per portion in the different restaurants.

À la carte restaurants are usually significantly more expensive, but in many restaurants the portions are large enough for two people to be fed.

Brazilian specialties are
Feijoada, a hearty stew with black beans, beef and pork and lots of bacon,
Picanha, beef tail
Moqueca, fish stew, often with tomatoes, peppers, coconut milk and palm oil,
Caururú, shrimp in a hot sauce made from red pepper, okra, onions, tomatoes, garlic, chili, palm oil and nuts,
Bacalhau, cod, particularly popular are bolinho de bacalhau, fried cod balls,
Farofa, roasted cassava flour, an accompaniment to many dishes
Pamonha, coconut, sugar and corn porridge cooked in corn husks
Quindim, a type of pudding made from sugar, egg yolk, and coconut

A dream is the unbelievable selection of fruits that you have often never heard of in Europe. A good way to try them is to test them as sucos (fruit juices). The fruits end up in the blender and, depending on taste, are supplemented with water, ice and sugar, sometimes with ginger. A wonderful refreshment in the heat of Brazil. Sometimes you get strains that taste gross, but most are incredibly good. Of course, the cautious traveler can also use the types of fruit he is familiar with, such as lime.



A local lemonade is "Guaraná" after the plant of the same name. The Brazilian versions contain caffeine but no taurine. The caffeine addict will also love Brazilian coffee, especially the little after-meal coffee called cafezinho.

Those who cannot do without alcohol reach for Brazilian rum or cachaça and the well-known caipirinha with lime, sugar cane liquor, cane sugar and ice.

Brazil's true national drink, however, is undeniably beer, so much so that the number of non-beer drinkers is second only to that of lottery winners. There is no shortage of breweries in Brazil, and Brazilian beer is chilled to cryogenic temperatures before opening for human consumption. Brazilian beer is great refreshment on hot summer evenings, but beer is generally drunk in all weathers. It is not for nothing that Brazilian law regulates the consumption of alcoholic beverages during working hours - including lunch breaks - and the slightest drink-driving with such extreme strictness.

However, at the drinking temperatures considered correct in Central Europe, Brazilian beer easily becomes undrinkable. Therefore, Brazilians generally believe that beer is drunk warm in Germany; by Brazilian standards it is already warm. What is the right drinking temperature for Brazilian beer - ice cold - becomes clear when Brazilians hear from the innkeeper "uma geladinha" (a small ice-cold one, which in no way means "small beer"), "aquela gelada" (the ice-cold one), or "aquela qu' cê guardou pra você” (the bottle you saved for yourself).

In the restaurant, a 600 ml bottle is often ordered for a small group, which is then served with an insulating sleeve. It is drunk from small 150 ml glasses.

Canned beer from most breweries comes in 350ml ("Lata"), 400ml, 445ml and 500ml ("Latão" for all three of the latter) cans. Better restaurants often have draft beer (“chope” or “chopp”), but this is usually more expensive and not necessarily better.



Brazil is rightly considered one of the most party-loving countries in the world. The festivals, especially those around the winter solstice (São João at the end of June) and the famous carnival, which is celebrated colorfully and exuberantly throughout Brazil and by no means only in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, mobilize the population.

The centers of nightlife are São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro as well as the south coast around Florianópolis in summer. In these areas, in addition to the traditional Brazilian rhythms, you can also find a "European" nightlife, for example in the form of techno and house discos and all kinds of rock music.

On the other hand, the Musica Popular Brasileira (MPB), a mixture of pop music and traditional dances, is particularly popular with the locals. It is characterized by simple melodic structures and a guitar-heavy sound. Representatives include Gilberto Gil (who made it to the Minister of Culture), Milton Nascimento, Caetano Veloso and Chico César and Sérgio Mendes, who are influenced by reggae and Afro sounds.

Baile Funk, which has also made it into the large discotheques of South America, is considered more of the music of the favela dwellers. It is an offshoot of the US Electro. Events of this type of music, which are particularly widespread in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, are not recommended for tourists - fights with injured and even dead people very often occur.

The samba shows, which are particularly common in Rio de Janeiro, are considered very touristy and commercial. Don't expect a glimpse of true Brazilian folklore.



There are enough hotels and pousadas in all price ranges from simple to noble. As a rule, you pay extra per room, from the third person for an extra bed. Breakfast is usually included in hotels. Cleanliness is standard. Tourism in Brazil is only in the process of networking. Information is usually only available on site.

The flow heater in the shower head in simple to medium-sized accommodation takes some getting used to. This must be switched on before use ("Verão" = half power; "Inverno" = full power). Caution! You should stand dry, otherwise you could get an unpleasant electric shock.

A word of warning: a "motel" room in Brazil is booked by the hour and serves as a quiet spot for sex escapades. So don't try to stay there overnight. These motels have a pretty straightforward look and feel, called "Venus" or "Club 69" and decorated with bright neon signs. A normal tourist does not easily get lost in such a motel. However, even if it is not the actual purpose: you can also stay overnight there. Many motels not only have hourly rates, but also nightly rates. The furnishings are rather functional, i.e. no wardrobe, desk and no bright lighting, but depending on the price range there may be a larger bathtub, which is otherwise rare in Brazilian hotels. Breakfast is usually not included in the room price.



The state universities are considered to be of good quality, but there is fierce competition for places. Therefore, many young Brazilians are enrolled in private universities, but they are not considered full-fledged. Studying or at least an exchange program can also be attractive for foreigners. Further information is available, for example, from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).



Emergency calls: Police 190

In Brazil, it is no more dangerous for tourists than in Europe, if you take some precautions. The main thing to remember is that you are often seen as a "rich tourist". That's why one should never flaunt one's wealth, i.e. not leave the gold jewelry hanging out so that the poor population could become jealous.

In some areas of the big cities, especially in the poorer districts (favelas) of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and the cities of the Northeast, one must exercise increased caution as a tourist in Brazil. If you stay in Brazil for several weeks, you may come across tourists who will tell you how they themselves were robbed at gunpoint. In order to prevent the inevitable robbery or at least to limit its harmful effect, just follow a few simple rules:

If you go out, then only with as much money as you will probably need (never more than 20€, i.e. an amount of money that seems manageable).
Always keep some coins (small change or small bills) in your pocket and willingly hand them over in the event of a robbery. Show or claim that that's all you have. Place the bulk of the money in a purse or money belt tied around your waist.
Never go out alone at night, except in well-lit and busy parts of the city.
In poorer areas, especially at night, it is better not to carry valuables such as a watch or digital camera. There are inexpensive disposable cameras that also take good pictures, the loss of which is not nearly as serious as that of the beloved digital camera.
Do not follow anyone into dark or deserted alleys. Distrust everyone, especially those who try to inspire trust from the start. An almost classic variant of the robbery in broad daylight is that three to four boys come towards you smiling, stretch out their hand, which the good European of course immediately reflexively grabs, only to then realize that one of the boys is unfortunately hiding under his T-shirt marks the tip of a not too small knife pointing in the direction of your own liver. So: Don't even shake hands.

Don't be surprised if you come across gangs armed to the teeth in the shopping streets of some seaside resorts that are well developed for tourism. The escorts of money transports are no less armed. It is not uncommon for five security guards to secure the area before the money messengers leave. There are also youth hostels with security guards outside day and night.

Especially in the poorer areas of the big cities, the security officers, allegedly because of the high crime rate, very quickly take up arms to protect themselves. In some places, the population is more afraid of the military police than of criminals.

Also be prepared that in some regions you will be begged for very obtrusively. Salvador stands out particularly negatively. Here especially in the districts of Barra (around the Farol de Barra) and Pelourinho (historical old town).

Be reserved, friendly and find out beforehand which parts of the city you are in. Because with the necessary caution, Brazil is a great travel destination.

If you bring your own electrical devices with a safety plug, you should definitely use a three-pin adapter (three pins and a round opening) for the Brazilian sockets (see picture). Two-pronged adapters, which you can get on every street corner, can be plugged in and also provide power, but no grounding. There is therefore a risk of an electric shock, which can endanger people and the device. Depending on the region, the voltage can be 127 V or 230 V and the mains frequency is 60 Hz. Devices with a wide-range power supply (labeled e.g. 100 - 240 V and 50 / 60 Hz) and a Euro plug (two-pin) can be used without any problems .



Large parts of Brazil are dengue and yellow fever areas. Yellow fever vaccination is highly recommended. In addition, there is malaria in parts of Brazil, including the particularly dangerous Malaria Tropica. It should be noted that for this reason all-day protection against insects is recommended, since the yellow fever mosquito (dengue) is active during the day and the anopheles mosquito (malaria) is active at night. A mosquito net should definitely not be missing. Prevention against hepatitis A and B is also advisable.

Brazil is often wrongly suspected of having a high AIDS rate. This is not so, the HIV rate is about as high as in the USA and in neighboring Argentina. The Brazilian condoms are not reliable though! They often tear. Here too, as everywhere in the world, avoid unprotected intercourse and blood contact and bring the rubber bands from home.

However, medical care from private clinics in the cities is sometimes considerably more expensive on a European level, which is why travel health insurance is highly recommended. With a little luck, however, you will also be treated in the state health centers, which is basically free of charge. However, you have to put up with long waiting times and, if necessary, overcome language barriers.

On the dengue epidemics in Rio de Janeiro (2002, 2008) see also: News:2008-03-27: Dengue fever in Rio



Even within South America, Brazilians have a reputation for being a very open people. The "open" not only refers to dealing with each other, but also to tolerance towards others, for example homosexuals. Here the country is significantly further than its neighbors to the south and west.

Nevertheless, there are of course extremely conservative areas in Brazil, especially in the interior. Also towards the south one is naturally a bit quieter than towards the north. Unfortunately, racism is still a long way from being eradicated, despite or perhaps because of the colorful ethnic mix of Afro- and Euro-Brazilians as well as natives, with many mestizos or pardos.

There are many active evangelical Christians. What these, like all Puritans, have in common is their humorless hostility to pleasure. Almost all of these groups ban tobacco and alcohol from their followers, and the more fanatical ones also ban coffee -- all of which are often insistently promoted to "lost" souls. On the positive side, these gentlemen commit significantly fewer robberies. Higher education is found among the pseudo-Christian sect of the "Espíritas do Brasil" who believe in reincarnation.


Post and telecommunications

Brazil is divided into several time zones. These have changed several times since 2013. Summer time, which existed in some southern parts of the country, was once again abolished in 2020.


Postal services

Stamps are almost exclusively available from the post offices of the national post office of Correios. Unfortunately, these are not particularly densely distributed and also have very short opening times. Therefore, as soon as you find an open post office, it is worth stocking up on stamps for your entire stay.

An annoying bad habit: postal workers remove the stamps from the postcards for resale. It is therefore best to hand in your holiday greetings directly at the counter and insist that the stamps are stamped immediately: Carimbar por favor!

Transit times for shipments to and from Europe vary between 10 working days and three months. Important shipments should therefore always be insured and preferably sent by express.



There are four mobile network operators in Brazil, Claro, Oi, TIM and Vivo, each operating a modern 3G or 4G network. Modern mobile phones and smartphones should therefore be able to be used without any technical problems. However, owners of older European devices should find out which network operator operates a GSM network (GSM900 or GSM1800) that is compatible with their device.

Roaming with a European mobile phone contract is very expensive (sometimes more than EUR 2.50 per minute) and should only be used in emergencies. It is usually cheaper to get a local prepaid SIM card. The SIM card is often even free of charge.

A tax number (CPF) is actually required to purchase a Brazilian SIM card, but almost all network operators now also offer the option of buying a SIM as a foreigner by presenting their passport. For this, however, a special "Visitors SIM" is required, at least at Claro, which is not available in every shop or the employees do not know exactly how the activation process for foreigners works (either they activate it via their own CPF, which may, however, lead to problems, because you also need the CPF to log in to the customer center or to change tariffs, or you have to go to another shop).


Practical hints

127V/60Hz (devices) and 110V/60Hz (sockets), or 220V/60Hz (usually in older networks);
Sockets according to North American (old) or IEC 60906-1 standard (new)



Death in Brazil by Peter Robb. English. Finely spun narrative about the country and people mixed with the comprehensive historical and political background of Brazil. Great introductory literature for new discoverers of Brazil.

Brazil - A Country of the Future by Stefan Zweig. About someone who left Hell (Germany before and during World War II) and discovered his paradise.



The name Brazil derives from the Portuguese name pau-brasil of the brazilwood tree (Caesalpinia echinata), which was an important export product at the time of early colonization from the forests of the Atlantic coast. Brasa means "embers" and "hot coals" in Portuguese; the adjective brasil ("ember") refers to the color of the wood, which glows red when cut (Brasilin) and was used to dye fabrics in Europe.

A phantom island west of Ireland called Brasil has been on maps since 1325. According to a letter from an English agent to Christopher Columbus in 1498, it was discovered by sailors from Bristol around 1480. The author of the letter identifies it with the land discovered by the Venetian navigator Giovanni Caboto in 1497, i.e. with Newfoundland.



Indigenous cultures

The oldest traces of human life were found in the Caverna da Pedra Pintada in the state of Piauí. The oldest dated finds date from around 11,700 BP. Pottery was used there around 7580 BP (Paituna phase). The Itaparica phase is also one of the oldest cultures; similarly old traces from the period between 11,500 and 6000 BP (Dourado tradition) were found at Abrigo do Sol in Mato Grosso do Sul. Skeleton finds show that the coastal areas of present-day Brazil were inhabited around 8000 BC. were inhabited. The use of nut trees can be traced back to 8500 BC. in Amazonia, real agriculture began between 6000 and 2700 BC. - a lot is still unclear here. Fire often promoted the growth of certain plants, such as palm trees, which provided food, a process that can be traced back to the 4th or 3rd millennium BC at the latest; Added to this was gardening and many groups becoming increasingly sedentary. In the 2nd century AD, land use must have been extremely intensive, as indicated by the so-called Amazonian Dark Earth.

The early inhabitants fundamentally changed the ecosystem of the Amazon basin by planting certain types of plants and improving the soil. Their settlements - for example on the huge river island of Marajó - were far larger than long assumed. In addition, many groups built so-called mounds, often burial mounds, which on the coast of Brazil, when made of shells, are called sambaquis. Others represented ceremonial centers or residences. The Ibibate mound complex in the Bolivian Amazonia covers 11 hectares, with 40 mounds found on Marajo alone.

In the province of Mato Grosso there were numerous planned places where fish farming and agriculture were practiced up to the 1500s. The cities, which were up to 60 hectares in size, were connected by a network of roads - although in most areas the canoe was the means of transport - there were dams and artificial ponds. As in many parts of America, the people of the Xingu may have fallen victim to epidemics, especially smallpox.


Portuguese colonial era

As early as 1494, Portugal and Spain decided to partition South America in the Treaty of Tordesillas. In this was mediated by Pope Alexander VI. an imaginary line 370 léguas (approx. 2282 kilometers) west of the westernmost Cape Verde Islands. According to today's geographic coordinate system, this corresponds to a meridian of 46° 37' west longitude. Along this line the world was divided between the two sea powers. Spain was given all the land yet to be discovered in America, while Portugal was given Africa and Asia. Because the line had been agreed upon in ignorance of the coastline of the New World, the eastern tip of South America (which was still generally unknown at the time) also belonged to Portugal's dominion. The prerequisite for legitimate appropriation was the consistent Catholicization of the locals. On April 22, 1500, the Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral landed near what is now Porto Seguro (in the south of the state of Bahia) and took possession of the land for the Portuguese crown. The period from 1500 to 1530 was characterized by bartering with the locals. However, to stop the French, who did not consider the Treaty of Tordesillas binding, and who bartered with the Tupinambá for redwood, the Portuguese crown decided to send European settlers to Brazil.

In 1549, today's Salvador da Bahia (São Salvador da Bahía de Todos os Santos) became the capital. From the 1530s, Indians were brought to the coast from the interior to do the work on the sugar cane plantations in the northeast. Because of the hard work, persecution and vulnerability of the Indians to European diseases, many of them died. The colonial masters then tried to replace the lost labor force with slaves from Africa. The Africans were forcibly baptized after their abduction, but in fact kept their traditional religions. This was the cause of the emergence of the typically Brazilian syncretic cults Candomblé and Umbanda. By 1580, the Portuguese effectively took control of the entire country.

In 1629, the Dutch settled near today's Recife and in 1637, under the leadership of Johann Moritz von Nassau-Siegen, conquered these cultivation areas, which then briefly flourished again. By 1654 the area around Pernambuco fell under Dutch control. In the same year, the Dutch troops were decisively defeated and driven out again at the Battle of Guararapes.

Rich baroque cities developed in the 17th century as Bandeirantes expeditions explored the hinterland and discovered gold and diamonds among other mineral resources. In the same century, escaped slaves built simple settlements called quilombos. When uprisings against the oppression of the blacks broke out in the Quilombos, all settlements were destroyed again by 1699. In 1763, Rio de Janeiro was made the capital because the country's economic center was shifting to the south. 25 years later, the officer and dentist Tiradentes led an uprising that failed. In 1792, today's national hero of Brazil was executed. At the same time, a conflict with Spain began because the Bandeirantes expeditions, contrary to the agreements, moved the western border of Brazil.


Kingdom and Empire of Brazil

In 1807 Napoleon Bonaparte's French troops invaded Portugal, whereupon the Portuguese King João VI. fled to Brazil (first Bahia, later Rio de Janeiro) under British protection and there for the first time allowed foreign trade, which had been strictly forbidden until then. With the relocation of the king and the entire court, Brazil received the status of an equal member of the mother country, and the capital Rio de Janeiro was in fact the center of the then Portuguese empire, with the exception of the French-occupied Portugal. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Brazil was given equal status as a kingdom with Portugal. Rio de Janeiro remained the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves until 1821.

After the French troops left Portugal, King João VI. Returned to Portugal against his will in 1821 to secure his claim to the throne. He left the rule of Brazil to his son Pedro I. Pedro I declared Brazil's independence from Portugal on September 7, 1822 in São Paulo and proclaimed himself the first Brazilian emperor on September 22, 1822.

Two years later, targeted German immigration to Brazil began with the founding of the first colony of São Leopoldo in Rio Grande do Sul. In 1828, after three years of war between Brazil and Argentina, the province of Uruguay, which had been annexed by Argentina as the Cisplatin Province in 1821, broke away and declared its independence from Brazil. Three years later there was a military uprising, which is why Emperor Pedro I abdicated and transferred the rule to his five-year-old son Pedro II. The former Emperor Pedro I went back to Portugal and succeeded his father as Portuguese King Pedro IV.

An additional point in the constitution created in 1822 made some reforms possible on the day of Pedro I's abdication. Thus it was decided to appoint a single regent. In the Farrapen Revolution of 1835, Rio Grande do Sul split off again from a province that from then on formed the Republic of Piratini until it was reintegrated into the empire after a ten-year war with the government troops. During the Regent period there were a number of other uprisings in the north and north-east, which were put down relatively quickly and cost the lives of many poor people in particular.


Second Empire of Brazil

On July 23, 1840, at the age of 14, Pedro II was prematurely declared of legal age. The following year he was crowned Emperor of Brazil. In 1864, Paraguay declared war on Brazil. After five years, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina defeated Paraguay's troops in the bloodiest war in Latin American history. Although the war years hit the country, Brazil experienced good economic development due to the rubber boom. Brazil had a monopoly on rubber and was therefore able to generate large revenues by exporting it.

Slavery was officially abolished in 1888 by Crown Princess Isabella, a daughter of Pedro II, with the "Golden Law" (Lei Áurea). Although slavery had been outlawed since 1853, the ban led to uprisings by landlords and the army. As a result, the military seized power, prompting the Kaiser to go into exile in Paris on November 15, 1889, paving the way for the first republic.


Republic and oligarchy

Marshal Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca proclaimed the republic on November 15, 1889 in the Praça Quinze de Novembro in Rio de Janeiro and headed the provisional government that adopted the first republican constitution on February 24, 1891 as the United States of Brazil (República dos Estados Unidos do Brasil). In the years that followed, an oligarchic system was established. Prosperity seemed to be secured by the proceeds from the rubber boom and the great demand for coffee, and the economy was concentrated in these branches, through which the large urban modernization projects of the Belle Époque Brasileira were financed. However, it soon fell into crisis due to the fall in the price of rubber (since 1910) and coffee (since the late 1920s). In World War I, Brazil officially sided with the Allies against Germany, but did not take an active part. During the war years, the demand for coffee fell sharply. In the 1920s, large parts of the population demanded an end to the oligarchy. This first or old republic lasted from the proclamation of the republic in 1889 to 1930 and went down in history as the República Velha, succeeded by the Getúlio Vargas era.


Era Getúlio Vargas and after

When coffee prices plummeted again in 1930, Getúlio Vargas, the "father of the poor," led a rebellion and became president. In the first months of his reign, Brazil's economy grew noticeably. Women's suffrage, secrecy and proportional representation were first introduced in Brazil with the electoral law of 1932, repealed when the Estado Novo was declared in 1937 and renewed in 1945. In 1937, Vargas ruled as a “benevolent dictator” and in 1942, under pressure from the United States, he declared war on the Axis powers. He sent a 25,000-strong contingent (Força Expedicionária Brasileira) to Italy, which was used, among other things, in the Battle of Monte Cassino. After the end of World War II, Vargas was deposed from the army.

Just five years later, the people re-elected him President. Because the United States opposed Brazil's socialist policies and then demanded rights and the army Vargas' resignation, he committed suicide in 1954. Vargas' successor Juscelino Kubitschek, through the Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro (PTB), attracted new foreign investors, which boosted the Brazilian economy in the late 1950s. In 1960 Jânio da Silva Quadros was elected president. After taking office in 1961, he tried to break the dependency on the USA and to consolidate the deficit state budget. He resigned after only a few months in office and was succeeded by Vice-President João Goulart shortly after the new capital, Brasília, was inaugurated after three years of construction. Goulart was also not without controversy among the population, which is why his powers were limited in the first three presidential elections.


Time of the military dictatorship

In 1964, the military staged a coup and ousted João Goulart, after which Brazil was ruled by the military until 1985. During this time, the Indians in particular suffered from human rights violations, the economy was supported, but at the same time large prestigious projects (Transamazônica, the Itaipú hydroelectric power plant, the Angra dos Reis nuclear power plant, motorways) were initiated. This policy resulted in high public debt and unprofitable state-owned companies.

The new regime under Marshal Humberto Castelo Branco suppressed the left-wing opposition and deprived about 300 people of their political rights. A law passed in 1965 curtailed civil liberties, gave more powers to the national government, and mandated the election of the president and vice president by Congress.

Former Minister of War Marshal Artur da Costa e Silva, candidate of the governing party ARENA (Aliança Renovadora Nacional; German: Alliance for National Renewal), was elected president in 1966. The Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB, Movimento Democrático Brasileiro), the only legal opposition party, refused to nominate a candidate for the election in protest because the government had rejected all serious opponents. In 1966 the ARENA also won the national and parliamentary elections. The year 1968 was marked by student unrest and strikes. The military regime responded with political purges and censorship. In August 1969, Costa was ousted. The military appointed General Emílio Garrastazu Médici as his successor, and Congress elected him President. Under the Médici, repression was intensified and revolutionary activity increased as a result. The Roman Catholic clergy increasingly raised their critical voice and denounced the conditions of the poor population.

In 1974 General Ernesto Geisel, after his military career president of Petrobras, the state oil monopoly company, was elected President of Brazil. Due to the relative political stability and targeted promotion of industry, the time of the military rulers was also a time of economic boom; many investors – also from Germany – invested in Brazil in the 1970s. This is how São Paulo advanced to become the "largest German industrial city outside of Germany" at the time.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the military government eased the repression significantly until finally, in 1985, due to a lack of options from the military cadre and already in the midst of an economic crisis with galloping inflation, free elections were allowed.


Democracy since 1985

From 1985 the Nova República (Sixth Republic) followed. The victor, Tancredo Neves, was hospitalized shortly before his inauguration in Brasília. He underwent seven surgeries for a stomach ulcer. He died on April 21, 1985 from infections contracted during surgery. José Sarney, who was elected Vice-President, then became President. Sarney had to contend with enormous foreign debts, hyperinflation and corruption, which he initially tried quite successfully with the "Plano Cruzado". In addition, he had to stabilize the new democracy.

Fernando Collor de Mello was elected Sarney's successor in democratic elections in 1990. He spent the first months of his tenure fighting inflation, which at times reached 25% a month. On April 26, 1991, Mercosur (Portuguese Mercosul) was founded. This common market of the south, which the states of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay founded together with Brazil, is a single market with more than 230 million inhabitants, which should strengthen the economies of the member countries and thereby Latin America's position in the world.

In 1992, Collor was accused of corruption by his brother Pedro, leading to investigations by Congress and the press. Increasing evidence of bribery and the misappropriation of state funds gave rise to mass demonstrations and unrest in the major cities of Brazil. In October of that year, Congress voted to remove Collor, who subsequently resigned. According to the constitution, Vice President Itamar Franco succeeded him.

In 1993, the people of Brazil were able to decide on both the form of government and the form of government in a referendum. The choice fell clearly on a republic (instead of a monarchy) with a presidential (instead of a parliamentary) system of government. A comprehensive currency reform was passed in 1994, which ended the hyperinflation. Fernando Henrique Cardoso was primarily responsible for the introduction of the new currency and a number of other measures (collectively referred to as "Plano Real"), who was able to use this success in his presidential candidacy and was elected president in October 1994 and again in October 1998. In order to balance the budget, parliament decided to privatize state monopolies, but under Cardoso's presidency the state debt rose from 28.1% to 55.5% of gross domestic product. From 2003 to 2011, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was President of Brazil from the Workers' Party PT. He emphasized reducing the national debt, but also implemented social programs such as Fome Zero ("Zero Hunger") and Bolsa Família ("Purse for Families"). In 2004, Brazil led UN peacekeeping forces for the first time in its history, and the military sent 1,470 soldiers to Haiti.

In 2011, Dilma Rousseff became the first woman to be elected head of state in Brazil. Despite her controversial, hardline style of government, which differs greatly from that of her mentor Lula, her approval ratings were 72 percent in March 2012 and had risen to 79 percent in March 2013. In mid-June, however, a group of young people opposed to increases in public transport fares in São Paulo began protesting. The violent repression with which the police reacted to the demonstrators triggered a chain of nationwide protests: In the weeks that followed, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets. In addition, there was a fight against the hosting of the 2014 World Cup, corruption and little social policy, which includes the increasing disregard for the rights of indigenous people, women and homosexuals. President Rousseff responded by promising a "grand pact" for a better Brazil. From June to July, President Rousseff's approval ratings fell to 31 percent.

However, in the 2014 presidential election, Dilma Rousseff was re-elected.

Increased living costs and declining economic output in Brazil as a result of falling commodity prices also led to large-scale demonstrations across the country in 2015 and 2016.

The deep crisis of confidence in the political system was not resolved with Rousseff's impeachment in 2016, but intensified, since the impeachment itself was a coup to sabotage investigations into the Lava Jato corruption scandal for its own benefit by changing power. Roussef's successor, Michel Temer, lost six of his ministers within six months to allegations of corruption, while the country was in recession for the second year in a row. In May 2017, the Supreme Court also began investigating President Temer over the Lava Jato corruption scandal. Not only the state oil company Petrobras, but also the construction company Odebrecht and the world's largest meat dealer JBS were involved in the corruption.


Presidency of Jair Bolsonaro (since 2018)

Two candidates
In the October 2018 presidential election, the two most promising candidates were far-right ex-military Jair Bolsonaro and left-liberal ex-president Lula da Silva. However, Lula da Silva was ultimately unable to run because Chief Justice Sergio Moro sentenced him to a total of 12 years in prison on charges of alleged corruption. His party PT then appointed Fernando Haddad as the replacement candidate; he lost the election to Bolsonaro. Under his leadership, the human rights situation in Brazil has continued to deteriorate.

Justice Scandal (2019)
In 2019, the investigative journalist network The Intercept published private chat transcripts and transcripts of judge Sergio Moro with the chief prosecutors. These publications show that the verdict against Lula da Silva was passed without sufficient evidence and that the trial was a political show trial. The verdict against da Silva prevented his candidacy in the October 2018 presidential election, paving the way for Bolsonaro's election victory. After winning the presidential election, Bolsonaro appointed Sergio Moro as his Minister of Justice. According to the publications, da Silva was released from prison in November 2019 after Lula's lawyers filed a Supreme Court appeal alleging bias against then-Judge Sergio Moro.



Brazil's landscape is characterized by extensive tropical rainforests of the Amazon lowlands in the north and plateaus, hills and mountains in the south. While the country's agricultural base is in the south and in the savannas of the Midwest (Cerrado), most of the population lives near the Atlantic coast, where almost all major cities are also located. The coastline is 7491 km long, most of which are sandy beaches.

Brazil has ten neighboring countries. It borders - with the exception of Chile and Ecuador - on all South American countries (seen counterclockwise from the northeast with the border lengths): French Guiana with 730 km, Suriname with 593 km, Guyana with 1298 km, Venezuela with 1819 km, Colombia with 1645 km, Peru with 2995 km, Bolivia with 3400 km, Paraguay with 1290 km, Argentina with 1132 km and Uruguay with 985 km. The total border length is 15,887 km. Brazil has the third longest land border in the world after China and Russia.

The continental part of Brazil lies in two time zones, some offshore islands belong to a third. See also: time zones in Brazil.


Highest mountains

The highest peak is the 2994 m high Pico da Neblina, which is located in the national park of the same name near the border with Venezuela and Guyana. The second highest mountain is the Pico 31 de Março (2973 m). The third highest mountain - and the highest in the Brazilian mountains - is the Pico da Bandeira (2891 m). More famous, however, are the 710 m high Corcovado with the 30 m high statue of the Redeemer because of its view over Rio de Janeiro and the 395 m high Sugar Loaf, famous for its conical shape.


Bodies of water

With a water flow of 209,000 m³/s, the Amazon is the most water-rich river on earth, larger than the world's seven next smaller rivers put together. The entire flow path of the Amazon measures 6448 km; in this respect it is only surpassed by the Nile in Africa, which has much less water. The most important tributaries, the Rio Madeira and the Rio Negro, are already comparable to the largest rivers on other continents. Other rivers of similar size are the Rio Icá and the Rio Tapajós.

With the exception of a narrow coastal strip, the south of Brazil belongs to the catchment area of the rivers Uruguay (1790 km) and Paraná (3998 km). The Paraná is dammed almost continuously; The second largest hydroelectric power station in the world is located in Itaipú. One of its tributaries gave its name to the state of Paraguay; another is known for the Iguazú Falls.

The Lagoa dos Patos near Porto Alegre is the largest lagoon in Brazil and the second largest in South America with over 10,000 km². Next comes Laguna Merín, less than half the size, just south of the city of Rio Grande.



Brazilian territory also includes some islands in the Atlantic, e.g. B. the approximately 800 km off the coast of St. Peter and St. Paul rocks, which are built only with a lighthouse, and the former convict colony Fernando de Noronha, which is not far from the rock group. Both lie on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The islands of Trindade and Martim Vaz, which belong to the state of Espírito Santo, are of volcanic origin. The oval-shaped Rocas Atoll stretches for several kilometers and has been listed as a World Heritage Site for its exceptional wildlife.

The largest island, however, is Marajó between the mouths of the Amazon and the Rio Pará, which belongs to the mouth of the Rio Tocantins. With an area of around 48,000 km², it is larger than Switzerland, for example. However, since large parts are flooded in the rainy season, the island is only populated in a few places. Since the north shore of Marajó is a sea coast, the slightly smaller Ilha do Bananal in the Rio Araguaia with its area of 20,000 km² is the largest river island in the world. It is located in a national park in the state of Tocantins and is larger than Jamaica, for example.



The climate of Brazil, which lies between latitude 5° north and latitude 34° south, is predominantly tropical with little seasonal variation in temperature. Only in the subtropical south is there a more moderate climate. The Amazon Basin in particular has ample rainfall, but there are also relatively dry areas with sometimes long periods of drought, especially in the north-east of the country. In the higher elevations in the south of the country, precipitation occasionally falls as snow in winter.


Flora and fauna

Brazil is the most biodiverse country on earth, ahead of Colombia, Mexico and Indonesia. So far, around 55,000 species of flowering plants, over 3,000 species of freshwater fish, 1,154 species of amphibians, 861 reptiles and 532 species of mammals have been discovered. Due to the enormous biodiversity (which is the fourth highest in the world in the Atlantic coastal rainforest at the level of the Tropic of Cancer), the large number of endemic species, genera and families and the diverse ecosystems, Brazil is one of the most megadiverse countries on earth.

Above all, because the forest areas are constantly being reduced, a high proportion of animal species are endangered. Nevertheless, the diversity of Amazonia is not yet endangered due to the large areas of largely untouched wilderness regions. The ecoregions Mata Atlântica (rain forest) and Cerrado (savannahs), on the other hand, are counted among the world's biodiversity hotspots due to the high level of risk (see Environment section).

The evergreen tropical rainforest of the Amazon is the largest contiguous forest area in Brazil. So far, more than 2500 tree species have been discovered there. Almost all of these trees, which are up to 60 m tall, are found in the flood-free Eté forest of Terra Firme, which covers 98% of the Amazon region. In this area grow i.a. the rubber tree (caucho), various colored and precious woods (e.g. rosewood), fruit trees (e.g. Brazil nut tree) and medicinal plants. The approximately 1000 different types of ferns and orchids are striking. In addition to the terra firme, there is the várzea, which is flooded at high tide. Jupati and Miriti palms grow there. The Igapó area, on the other hand, is constantly flooded. A typical plant in this area is the Açaí palm. On the Amazon, but especially on its tributaries, water lilies grow, the flowers of which can reach 30 to 40 cm in size. Along the coast of Amazonia (with the exception of the actual Amazon estuary) there are extensive mangrove forests, which, however, are relatively species-poor with six mangrove tree species.

Parrots and toucans are particularly well known throughout the Amazon region. Extremely many insect and butterfly species are known. Larger forest animals are the tapir, the peccary, the jaguar and the puma. In addition, smaller wild cats, monkeys, sloths, armadillos and anteaters populate the rainforest. Anacondas, caimans and capybaras ("water pigs" - the world's largest rodents) live on the shores and shallow waters, and other mammals such as giant otters, river dolphins and manatees in the deeper water. Numerous species of fish (about 1500) are also native to the Amazon. Including one of the largest known freshwater fish in the world: the pirarucú is 2 m long and weighs around 100 kg. An electric eel that delivers 800-volt electric shocks and the piranhas, some species a good 30 cm long, are also exceptional.

The extreme north-east of Brazil, which also used to be rainforest, is now used almost exclusively for sugar cane plantations and cotton cultivation. Mangroves and palm groves can still be found here and there.

The typical vegetation of the semi-arid mountains and highlands in the center (Cerrado) and in the north-east of the country (Sertão) is the savanna, from tree and grass savannas to the north-east, to shrub savannas interspersed with deciduous trees. Typical inhabitants of these dry zones are giant anteater, maned wolf, pampas deer, nandu and various armadillos. All of these species, as well as big cats such as jaguars and pumas, are protected in the Emas National Park, which is a World Heritage Site.

The Pantanal has an even greater variety of animals and plants. In addition to numerous bird species, flatland tapirs, swamp deer, capybaras and caiman are characteristic. The swamp region in the mid-west of the country is flooded seven months of the year. Higher areas of the region are predominantly savannah. As in those of the Cerrado and even in the Amazon, there are pastures for cattle.

The focal points of colonial development and the most densely populated areas are found in the coastal mountains of the south and south-east. Instead of the original Atlantic rainforest, habitat for monkeys and numerous other animal species, coffee plantations dominate. The original vegetation can only be found in a few national parks.

The south shows subtropical vegetation; the original forests of araucaria, which reach a height of up to 40 m, were largely destroyed for timber. Today, low-grass steppes are more common in this region.


Natural reserve

There are 62 national parks (Parques Nacionais) in Brazil. Protected areas of a similar character exist under the name Estação Ecológica. There are also protected areas at the state level (Parques Estaduais) and at the municipal level. These and other areas have been placed under protection because of their ecological, scientific, touristic and educational importance.

Some organizations dedicated to nature and wildlife conservation are:
Instituto Onca-Pintada (IOP): Brazilian NGO for the protection of the jaguar (Jaguar Concervation Fund – JCF)
Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC): international organization for the protection of dolphins and whales in the Amazon
Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA): Protected area program for the preservation of the rainforest



Destruction of the rainforest
While around 93% of the Atlantic coastal rainforest has already been destroyed and the remnants are highly fragmented, the tropical rainforest of the Amazon region is one of the largest remaining primeval forest areas in the world. Until the arrival of the Europeans, it was used extensively and sustainably by the indigenous people, so that the changes in ecosystems that were brought about benefited biodiversity rather than harmed it. Many of the modern changes in land use, on the other hand, cause immense damage to forests. These are primarily clearings for the creation of agricultural land, plantation-type agriculture and forestry (e.g. Jari project), but also infrastructure projects such as roads (e.g. the Transamazônica and the Perimetral Norte), mines (e.g. Serra dos Carajás) and large dams (even on direct tributaries of the Amazon such as Tucuruí or Belo Monte). It is not only the use of land by the construction projects that has an effect. The associated roads make the areas available for (today mostly illegal) logging.

The wood from these forests is only partly used by the local population (e.g. as firewood or for higher-value products such as plywood, pulp or building materials that are already manufactured in Brazil). A large part is traded internationally. In Brazil there are around 2500 companies that buy and sell tropical hardwood. Most of them are large foreign companies. Although some tropical woods such. B. Mahogany is now protected by law, but the trade continues illegally.

According to the FAO, in 2010 60.1% of the country was still covered with virgin forest, compared to 66.9% in 1990 (not including afforested areas). In the period 2000-2005, the loss of primeval forest was 32,000 km² per year. In relation to the total area of forests, around 0.5% has been lost annually in the last 20 years.

From 2004 (approx. 27,000 km² annually) to 2012 the rates were declining. In 2005 18,793 km² were announced, in 2006 it was 14,039 km². According to the German BMZ, the deforestation rate in 2012 was "only" around 4570 km² (that is slightly less than the area of the Balearic Islands or 0.09% of the total rainforest area of Brazil). From August 2012 to July 2013, however, deforestation increased again to 5800 km².

The Brazilian government attributed the decline in primary forest loss to the enforcement of its environmental standards, with environmentalists citing the strength of the real and falling soybean prices as the reasons. As a result, in January 2008, a government emergency cabinet discussed measures. The authorities responsible for protecting the rainforest are struggling with a lack of money and staff as well as corruption. The Amazon forest is only relatively protected within the framework of protected areas. In 2002, the world's largest protected area (Tumucumaque) of a tropical rainforest was founded in northern Brazil.

Brazil created a fund to protect the Amazon rainforest in mid-2008 and for the first time accepted a link between this protection and global warming. The government is planning investments of several million euros by 2021 to develop sustainable economic bases for the Amazon population instead of deforestation. However, the country is reluctant to foreign interference in its Amazon policy. Indigenous people, environmentalists and human rights activists fear that deforestation will continue under President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been in office since 2019.

Rainforest soils are nutrient-poor, so vegetation relies on recycling the nutrients and minerals from the dead biomass. In a hot, humid tropical climate, microorganisms decompose leaf litter in a very short time and feed it back to the plants, whereas hardly any soil-forming processes take place. However, if the forest is removed and the humus layer is unprotected from the sun and precipitation or new ones can no longer form on the barren subsoil, these dry out and erosion occurs. If the cleared areas are larger, the forest there cannot regenerate.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide, which creates a greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. Three-fourths of the greenhouse gases released in Brazil are due to slash-and-burn and one-fourth to the burning of fossil fuels.


More environmental issues

Another environmental problem is bauxite and open pit gold mining, which poisons rivers and endangers local people. The gold diggers (garimpeiros) use mercury to wash out the gold (amalgam process). The toxic fumes escape into the air and the heavy metal contaminates water, soil and groundwater, causing serious damage to human and animal health.

As everywhere, the extraction of oil causes problems: in 2000 there was an oil spill in the Iguaçu River. A year later, what was then the world's largest drilling platform sank off the Brazilian coast, threatening the local ecosystem. Cities struggle with air pollution and sanitation problems.

In Brazil, a certain amount of alcohol is added to the fuel. In addition to environmental reasons (reduction of pollutant emissions), the costs are mainly responsible for this: ethanol is significantly cheaper than car and aviation fuel. The proportion of ethanol in petrol is regulated by law and was reduced from 25% to 20% in 2006. In Brazil, you can drive cars with ethanol, petrol or flex fuel engines. The three millionth flex fuel car was sold in December 2005. The first planes are also flying with ethanol, which reduces air pollution overall. The world's first alcohol-fueled aircraft, the EMB-202 Ipanema, was built by Embraer in Brazil in 2002. Brazil is the world's fourth-largest car and, with 12,000 aircraft, the second-largest aircraft producer.




Brazil had 214.0 million inhabitants in 2021. Annual population growth was +0.7%. Brazil's population experienced rapid growth during the 20th century, reaching 79 million in 1960. However, only moderate growth is expected in the future. An excess of births (birth rate: 13.5 per 1000 inhabitants vs. death rate: 6.6 per 1000 inhabitants) contributed to population growth. Statistically, the number of births per woman in 2020 was 1.7, that of the Latin America and the Caribbean region was 2.0.

With urbanization and increasing prosperity, the birth rate has fallen significantly. In the 1950s, fertility per woman was still over 6 children. Brazil is thus one of the countries where fertility has fallen rapidly within just a few decades. Due to earlier high fertility rates, there are still relatively many young people, but it is in the fifth phase of the demographic transition. In this phase, the number of children per woman is below the level of 2.1 required to keep the population constant in the long term, and the population will decrease in the long term without immigration. It is assumed that from 2025 onwards there will be an aging of the population and thus a shortage of labor while the elderly population will increase at the same time. The Brazilian population is still very young. 23.27% are under 15 years old and only 7.8% over 64 (as of 2015). The median age of the population in 2020 was 33.5 years.

The life expectancy of residents of Brazil from birth was 76.1 years in 2020 (women: 79.7, men: 72.5).

The migration balance per 1000 inhabitants is 0. This means that roughly the same number of people immigrate to Brazil as emigrate. Although a large part of Brazil's population has historical roots abroad, today only 0.1% of the population was born outside of Brazil; this means that Brazil has one of the lowest proportions of foreigners in the world. In total there were around 713,000 migrants in the country in 2015, the largest group of which were Portuguese. In the same year, almost 20,000 people born in Germany lived in Brazil.

About 90% of the population is concentrated in the states of the east and south coast of Brazil with a population density of 20 to over 300 inhabitants/km². The rest of Brazil, with the Amazon and the mountain regions, has by far the largest area, but only a population density of less than five to 20 inhabitants/km². The capital district Distrito Federal do Brasil as a city state and the state of Rio de Janeiro have a population density of over 300 inhabitants/km².

In 2021, 87 percent of Brazil's residents lived in cities. Numerous cities are characterized by rapid, disorderly growth; Poor settlements called favelas have formed in previously undeveloped areas of the city.



Originally four population groups make up the Brazilian population. Today, however, they are so extensively mixed that a clear assignment is often no longer possible. These groups are:
the Portuguese, the original colonists
the Africans who were taken to Brazil as slaves (Afro-Brazilians)
various immigrant groups, mainly from Europe (Italians, Germans, Spaniards, Poles and Ukrainians) and Asia (Japanese, Koreans, Lebanese and Syrians), who have settled in Brazil since the mid-19th century. Since 1818, over 300,000 Germans have immigrated (see also German-Brazilian), mostly to the south of the country; in the states of Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, around 40% of the population is of German origin. A large Japanese population lives in Brazil (mainly in São Paulo), as well as many Poles and Ukrainians (mainly in Paraná).
native ethnic groups of the Tupi and Guarani language families (200 ethnic groups with a total of about 500,000 members). About twelve percent of the area of Brazil (largely in Amazonia) is reserved for Indians.

About half of the Brazilian population has a not inconsiderable proportion of African ancestors who were brought to the country as African slaves from the 16th to the 19th century. Over time, however, blacks have mixed extensively with the population of European descent. According to a genetic study from 2013, the population of Brazil is on average about 60% of European descent, about 25% of African descent and about 15% of Amerindian descent. European lineages are most prevalent in the south of the country at 74% and least in the north at 51%. African genes are most prevalent in the Northeast at 28% and weakest in the South at 15%. Indigenous ancestry is strongest in the country's sparsely populated north at 32% and weakest in the south at 11%. Borders between ethnic groups are often blurred in Brazil, as the vast majority of the population descends from more than one ethnic group. For example, Brazilians who self-identified as White were 75% of European descent, while Brazilians who self-identified as Black were 58% African.

According to a survey by the IBGE, which distinguishes five groups, in 2005 (2016), around 49.9% (45.5%) of Brazilians describe themselves as white, 43.2% (45%) as mixed race (pardo) and 6.3% (8.6%) as Black, 0.7% (0.9%) as Yellow or Indigenous. Most of the Afro-Brazilian population lives in the Northeast. The self-understanding and the relationship between the ethnic groups is not free of conflicts and unprocessed. 70 percent of those affected by poverty are Afro-Brazilian, and when it comes to crime and its victims, three quarters of those affected are black.


Indigenous population

The indigenous peoples in Brazil lived partly from hunting, fishing and gathering, as well as from land management adapted to the fragile ecosystem. A large part of the local population died in the course of European colonization, mostly from imported diseases, but also as a result of forced labor or enslavement. The majority of the Indians living outside the rainforest, especially in the cities, were assimilated to the extent that they survived violence and epidemics and mixed with the European immigrants. From an estimated five to six million Indians in the period around 1500, the population collapsed to 100,000 by 1950.

By 1997 the indigenous population had grown again to about 300,000. According to the Brazilian embassy, around 410,000 Indians live in the country today, which corresponds to around 0.2% of the population. In 2005 there were reports of a renewed increase in the number of Indios living in Brazil to about half a million. The largest indigenous people in Brazil are the Guaraní with around 46,000 members in seven states.

100,000 to 200,000 Indians live in cities today, which means that the Indian culture is gradually being lost. While there are numerous reserves, known in Brazil as Terras Indígenas, mostly in the Amazon, few live according to their traditional culture. The deforestation of the jungle is rapidly destroying their habitat. The proceeds generated are transferred out of the Amazon region, so there is a lack of local investments, and even less of compensation. Miners and prospectors not only pollute rivers and soil with heavy equipment and toxic chemicals, they also bring disease and violence. The government is accused of complicity, since murderers are rarely prosecuted. In addition, it issues permits for the economic use of areas (e.g. for oil production) inhabited by Indios. Because of these extremely bad experiences, around a hundred tribes avoid any contact as much as possible.

In contrast, there is the official legal position of the indigenous people in Brazil. As early as 1988, as a result of the international debate about ILO Convention 169, they were guaranteed extensive rights in the constitution (Art. 231), which include traditional life, self-determination as well as property and usage rights to their land. In August 2017, a court protected the Indians' rights against a "time limit" after which they would have lost claim to uninhabited lands since 1988.


Traditional Peoples and Communities

In international comparison, Brazil has a very developed debate on so-called “traditional peoples and communities” (Povos e Comunidades Tradicionais). This originally Brazilian name summarizes all local communities that lead a way of life based on traditions and subsistence farming. Crucially, attribution is independent of ethnicity, and so includes not only indigenous groups but also non-indigenous groups such as the quilombolas, who descended from black slaves, or the rubber tappers, who have European and Amerindian ancestry.

Traditional peoples and communities are cultures that, over the course of their history, have evidently positioned themselves more often in favor of preserving the existing structures. Since this is always an active process, they are neither more primitive nor less dynamic than "modern cultures". In addition, one must note that the assignment is relative, since the distinction between "traditional" and "modern" is a subjective evaluation that depends on the zeitgeist and is made one-sidedly from the point of view of the moderns.

On the contrary, science now considers them to be the groups that have contributed the least to the ecological and climatic vulnerability of the planet. They have developed a large number of traditionally sustainable ways of life and economy that are adapted to the respective ecosystems. At the same time, it is precisely these groups that suffer particularly from economic development projects as well as from ecological and climatic changes. The multiple and massive conflicts give reason to fear that many local communities will lose their territories and thus their specific cultural forms of expression, despite political improvements.

While indigenous land rights have played a role in politics since the founding of Brazil, debate over rights for non-indigenous local communities only began in the 1980s. It started with the rubber tappers in the state of Acre: they demanded secure territories and the right to sustainable regional economic activity and developed the idea of collecting areas. By 2007, these efforts had led to the designation of 65 such reserves (Reservas Extrativistas, RESEX) in Amazonia with a total area of 117,720 km². Encouraged by this, other traditional communities such as the Amazon river people and the Babaçu gatherers soon made similar demands, which were also successful. In 2004, the "National Commission for Traditional Peoples and Communities" was established for the first time, which was not only intended to benefit indigenous peoples. Finally, in 2007, the legally binding “Decree for Traditional Peoples and Communities” (Decreto 6040) was signed by the President of the Republic. In addition to the codification of traditional rights, it explicitly refers to sustainable development and economy, without which the long-term existence of these groups is hardly imaginable. In contrast to the constitutionally guaranteed land rights of the indigenous peoples and quilombolas, the decree does not contain any obligation to designate specific areas. There is no doubt that the legal position of local communities has improved significantly since the 1980s. However, since Brazil's development policy is currently still based on the exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of ecosystems and destructive cultural change continue to progress dramatically, securing the territories is the decisive point for the long-term survival of local cultures.


Non-Native American Minority Languages

Due to immigration, there are numerous minority languages in Brazil.

Up to 1.5 million Brazilians speak German as their mother tongue. This makes German the second most common mother tongue in the country. Descendants of the emigrants from Pomerania sometimes have a much better command of East Pomeranian (Low German), while their High German does not reach the level of their mother tongue. A particularly strong Pomeranian minority lives in the state of Espírito Santo.

Furthermore, about 500,000 people speak Italian, 380,000 Japanese and 37,000 Korean.

It must be taken into account that the number of speakers in the language minorities is calculated very optimistically. Some of these ethnic groups were among the first settlers, and their descendants almost only understand Portuguese. In the towns that were considered centers for immigrants, Brazilian dialects of the immigrant language often emerged. Examples are Talian, Brazilian Italian, and Riograndenser Hunsrückisch, Brazilian German. Up until the 20th century there were entire communities (particularly in the south) in which only German or Italian was spoken, since the German emigrants and their descendants in particular had a good infrastructure of schools, clubs and the like. and mostly lived in relatively closed colonies. When a nationalization campaign was carried out during the authoritarian regime of the Estado Novo (1937-1945), the German community came under increasing pressure as the state forced the assimilation process. Brazil's entry into the Second World War provided the appropriate opportunity to ban the languages of the enemy states and to close German and Italian schools, whereupon Portuguese also found its way into these towns.


Foreign languages

English is not as established as a foreign language as it is in European countries. Although English is usually taught in schools, the language is slow to take hold in Brazil. Even in the big cities, it is not a matter of course that people speak or understand English. However, Brazilians usually have at least a rudimentary understanding of Spanish, even if they don't speak the language themselves. As a result of the increased economic cooperation between the Latin American countries in Mercosul, the importance of Spanish over English will increase. In the border areas to other South American countries, the so-called Portunhol developed, a mixed language of Portuguese and Spanish, which facilitates understanding. This mixed language is particularly common in the border area with Paraguay, mainly because the border town of Ciudad del Este is an important trading center for Brazilian street vendors (“sacoleiros”).



According to the 2010 census, 64.6% of the population belong to the Roman Catholic Church. This share has been shrinking for years: while it was 91% in 1960, it fell to 83% by 1985, was only 73.6% in 2000 and around 50% in 2020. Parts of Brazilian Catholicism are heavily influenced by Afro-Brazilian traditions.

22.2% of the population are Protestants. This denomination came to the country with German immigrants in the 19th century. In the 20th century, however, it was mainly North American mission churches that were successful. Since about 1960 there has been an increase in Protestant sects and free churches. Today there are 35,000 Free Churches in Brazil. In 2020, 32% of the population identified themselves as evangelical. Notable is the high proportion of followers or sympathizers of Pentecostalism (15 percent), according to a 2006 survey, which is the third-highest percentage in the world in any state. However, the considerable imprecision of the assignment must be taken into account; much of the Pentecostal attribution may overlap with the more general Protestant attribution.

There are also almost 1,400,000 Jehovah's Witnesses, about 225,000 Mormons, 245,000 Buddhists, mostly descendants of Japanese immigrants, 107,000 Jews (see also: History of the Jews in Brazil), over 35,000 Muslims, mostly descendants of Syrian-Lebanese immigrants, and more than 5500 Hindus. 8.0% stated that they did not belong to any religion.

2.0% are followers of spiritism. 0.3% professed Afro-Brazilian religions such as Candomblé and Umbanda.

In 2000, there were around 17,100 followers of indigenous South American religions; that is 0.01% of Brazilians and around 4.1% of the indigenous population; Trend: strongly declining. Aggressive missionary activities - despite the ban on forced missionary work - not only lead to the Christian faith, but also to a considerable cultural change, which goes hand in hand with the destruction of people's traditional world views (e.g. moral concepts, relationship to the environment, traditional knowledge, social structures). In addition, many missionaries ignore the applicable quarantine regulations, so that many indigenous people die from imported diseases. In many cases, however, there was a syncretic mixture of ethnic and Christian religion(s) and it can be assumed that a large number of indigenous people only profess Christianity externally.



Land and wealth distribution

Brazil has a highly unequal distribution of wealth. The Gini coefficient was 0.78 in 2000 (0 means completely equal distribution, 1 means all wealth belongs to one household). This is related to the unequal distribution of land. Up to 1998, 2.8% of the farmers were large landowners with a total of 57% of the agricultural area, whereas 90% of the farmers had to share 22% of the area. About five million families are considered landless. According to one study, the average wealth per adult is $17,485. However, the median is only US$4,591 (world average: US$3,582), indicating high wealth inequality. More than 70% of the Brazilian population has less than $10,000 in wealth. The population, which earns only half the minimum wage, is entitled to social benefits such as the Bolsa Família. The minimum wage was set at R$ 1,100 as of January 1, 2021.

Afro-Brazilians, who make up seven percent of the population, are disproportionately represented in the poor population. The Indians don't fare much better. An equality and anti-hunger program has been in place since 2003.


Education and science

The country's literacy rate was 92.2% in 2015, and the school-leaving age was 16. In Brazil, the mean enrollment in school for those aged 25 and over increased from 3.8 years in 1990 to 7.8 years in 2015. In 2021, the expectation of education was 15.6 years. Attending school is compulsory. A similarly large part of the gross national product flows into education as in Europe; in absolute numbers, the education budget is about as big as Germany's (2004). In Brazil, however, this sum is divided between a population that is more than twice as large and much younger on average. Public schools have a bad reputation. That is why financially better off parents send their children to private schools. These differ considerably in terms of the amount of school fees and the quality of the teaching. In the last PISA studies, Brazil was in the bottom quarter of the participating countries. In the 2015 PISA ranking, Brazilian students ranked 66th out of 72 countries in mathematics, 64th in science and 60th in reading.

Almost 2.8 million students are taught in 150 universities. Just over half of the universities are state-run. They are freely accessible and free of charge for all people with a qualifying school certificate after an entrance examination. The private universities are financed by different tuition fees. Their facilities and the quality of teaching fluctuate accordingly. Uniform and official entrance examinations, so-called vestibulares, are held twice a year at state universities. The number of applicants usually far exceeds the number of available study places. Applicants therefore often prepare for the vestibular after leaving school with so-called cursinhos, which are offered by private educational institutions and are therefore subject to a fee. Anyone who does not get a place in the vestibular has the option of waiting until the next semester and completing the vestibular again or studying at one of the private universities.

The research into the use of regenerative energies, which was used, for example, in the construction of the Itaipú hydroelectric power station (model of the Three Gorges Dam), is well known. Engine construction also deserves attention: the first car with an alcohol engine rolled off the assembly line in Brazil in 1979, and engineer Vincente Camargo developed the first alcohol (methanol) engine for airplanes in 2005, which was the first to be tested by the aircraft construction company (Neiva-Embraer). Research on aeronautics receives particular attention in Brazil. Alberto Santos Dumont - after whom the national airport in Rio de Janeiro is named - was an inventor and aviation pioneer in the 1900s.


Internal security


The crime rate is well above the world average and the homicide rate is among the highest in the world. According to statistics from 2012, at least 56,337 people died as a result of murder or manslaughter. This equates to over 154 homicides per day. The police have to contend with murders, kidnappings, robberies and organized drug and crime syndicates (such as the Comando Vermelho in Rio de Janeiro and the Primeiro Comando da Capital in São Paulo), especially in the cities. The police salary is low, which is why the police are considered to be particularly susceptible to corruption. There are also numerous cases in which police officers are accused of abuse of power, including extortion and murder. Corruption is also widespread within the judiciary. The lives of small farmers and Indians in the countryside are endangered by conflicts with large landowners and companies looking for raw materials.

In order to reduce the high number of victims of violence, a law was proposed in January 2004 that would ban private gun ownership. This proposed law was rejected in a popular referendum in 2005 and was therefore suspended. A lack of trust in the police was cited as one of the reasons for this.

According to a UNODC report of October 7, 2011, the homicide rate was 22.7 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. São Paulo is cited in the report as a model in combating violence. Prevention, projects and measures of repression against criminal organizations were therefore the main causes.

Despite progressive legislation on equal rights for homosexuals, the number of violent attacks on lesbians and gays is very high in international comparison. This is the theme of the annual Parada do Orgulho GLBT de São Paulo, the world's largest gay pride parade.


Police forces

All states have two agencies that do most of the policing: the Military Police (Polícia Militar) and the Civil Police (Polícia Civil). While the former is responsible for public order, the latter is mainly active for law enforcement purposes. In addition, some large cities have a municipal police force (Guarda Municipal). The Força Nacional de Segurança is made up of members of the various state police forces and can be called upon by the governors of the states in the event of a crisis. In addition, the Força Nacional provides fire brigades and rescue services in some regions.

At the federal level, the Federal Police (Polícia Federal) takes on border protection tasks in addition to general criminal prosecution. In addition, the federal government has its own police force for federal roads and railways.


Prison system

As of February 2017, 1,424 prisons held 650,000 people, including around 40,000 women.[60] The proportion was 316 prisoners per 100,000 people. In 2000 there were 232,000 prisoners. One reason for the increase is the high number (approx. 30%) of pre-trial detainees who have not yet been sentenced by a court. The creation of detention places could no longer keep up with the demand in recent years. At least 250,000 places were missing in 2017. Some prisons are run by private, for-profit corporations.

Many prisons are run by criminal gangs. Above all, the Primeiro Comando da Capital is present in almost all prisons in Brazil. Organized uprisings, prison mutinies, and massacres of rival gang members are regular occurrences.




Brazil is a presidential federal republic. It is made up of federal, state and local governments. Federal legislative power is exercised by the National Congress (Chamber of Deputies and Senate). The 513 deputies are elected for 4 years, the 81 senators for 8 years. The current constitution was adopted on October 5, 1988 and has been amended several times since then.

The federal government consists of the head of state (also head of government), the vice president and the current 26 federal ministers. The President is directly elected by the people with an absolute majority of votes for a four-year term. The person can then be re-elected once (or again after an interruption). She has far-reaching executive powers, is the head of state and government and assembles the cabinet.

Brazil is divided into 26 states and the federal district with the capital Brasília. The states have their own constitutions and laws that must conform to the principles of the federal constitution. The heads of government of the states, the governors, are directly elected for 4 years.[

The last presidential, gubernatorial and parliamentary elections were held in October 2022, the last municipal elections (Eleições municipais) in November 2020 (first round on November 15, run-off on November 29).

Brazilian Democracy – Corruption

Only party members can be elected. Establishing a party requires, among other things, the provision of at least 500,000 signatures from at least one third of all states.

A political problem in Brazil is weak parties without ideologically based programs. These form coalitions that have only lasted for a short time, so laws usually have to be passed by agreement. Many small parties and corruption (in 1992 the then President Fernando Collor de Mello was removed from office for this reason) lead to a very unstable political situation and to a public administration that is almost doomed to inactivity.


Houses of Parliament

The Brazilian parliament, the National Congress or Congresso Nacional, consists of two chambers:

The Federal Senate, Portuguese Senado Federal do Brasil, consists of 81 senators. In each of the 26 states and the federal district, three senators are elected for eight-year terms by a first-past-the-post system. In the list of senators in Brazil there are currently (July 2019) 16 parties and two non-party representatives. The MDB has the most senators with 12 senators.
The Chamber of Deputies, Portuguese Câmara dos Deputados do Brasil, has 513 seats. Members of Parliament are elected for four-year terms using a modification of proportional representation. A voter from the smallest state has about as much influence as eight to nine voters from the largest. After the 2018 elections, 25 parties and one independent made it into the Chamber of Deputies, of which 14 parties with 350 deputies are assigned to the pro-government bloc and 8 parties with 141 deputies to the opposition, 22 deputies are considered independent. The largest groups are the Partido Social Liberal (PSL) and the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), each with 55 MPs.


Domestic policy

The 2002 election, which ended in a clear victory for the left-wing Workers' Party PT, was of great importance for the development of the still young democracy, because a major change of power was carried out for the first time. Economic stabilization was achieved in the first year of government, and the recurring inflation and other problems were consistently counteracted. A pension reform was also passed against protests from within the ranks. The fight against poverty has been tackled with various programs and with mixed success.

The Lula government experienced the worst crisis of the legislative period in the summer of 2005. The PTB, the coalition party in the government, was accused of corruption, which its chairman Roberto Jefferson massively denied and directed similar allegations against two other government parties. They would receive a monthly allowance and then collectively approve the proposed legislation. This is said to be financed by donations from large companies that have received government contracts for it. As a result, the police and congressional investigative committees began investigations that were able to uncover more and more financial side deals of the politicians. Dozens of politicians – including advisors to the president and ministers of the governing parties, in particular the PT, which had presented itself as “clean” up to that point – resigned from Congress. Even if personal involvement has not yet been proven, the President's reputation has suffered greatly from the allegations. Reforms to the electoral and party financing system have been tackled but not yet decided.

Anti-Americanism is present in some sections of the population. Some Brazilians see US policy as “neo-imperialist” or at least “hegemonic” and fear US influence in Latin America is too strong. For his part, Lula advocated a strong Latin America and maintained a cautious distance from American politics. In foreign policy to date, however, an open dispute with the USA has been avoided. At the same time, however, Lula distanced himself from the socialist/Marxist course of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, although economic relations intensified in the following years. On the other hand, Dilma Rousseff slightly weakened relations with Venezuela under Maduro, partly because of the continuing tense economic, political and human rights situation in Venezuela. After the American presidential election in 2016, Michel Temer reaffirmed American-Brazilian relations and is committed to intensifying economic cooperation.

Even under the post-Lula Rousseff government, the domestic political situation in terms of the economy and security situation has not changed significantly. This and the perceived standstill in the country led, among other things, to social tensions and protests in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. After the Senate voted on August 31, 2016, after persistent scandals and strong oppositional criticism, to dismiss Rousseff, Michel Temer took over the position of head of state with a liberal-conservative government until the next election in 2018. After taking office, Temer announced cuts , redundancies, privatizations, a pension reform and the liberalization of the labor market in order to counteract the recession and difficult economic situation and to relieve the state budget. A rapidly growing part of the state budget of more than 10 percent is spent on pensions alone.

During a police strike for higher wages in February 2017, more than a hundred murders occurred in the small state of Espirito Santo in southeastern Brazil.


Domestic policy

The 2002 election, which ended in a clear victory for the left-wing Workers' Party PT, was of great importance for the development of the still young democracy, because a major change of power was carried out for the first time. Economic stabilization was achieved in the first year of government, and the recurring inflation and other problems were consistently counteracted. A pension reform was also passed against protests from within the ranks. The fight against poverty has been tackled with various programs and with mixed success.

The Lula government experienced the worst crisis of the legislative period in the summer of 2005. The PTB, the coalition party in the government, was accused of corruption, which its chairman Roberto Jefferson massively denied and directed similar allegations against two other government parties. They would receive a monthly allowance and then collectively approve the proposed legislation. This is said to be financed by donations from large companies that have received government contracts for it. As a result, the police and congressional investigative committees began investigations that were able to uncover more and more financial side deals of the politicians. Dozens of politicians – including advisors to the president and ministers of the governing parties, in particular the PT, which had presented itself as “clean” up to that point – resigned from Congress. Even if personal involvement has not yet been proven, the President's reputation has suffered greatly from the allegations. Reforms to the electoral and party financing system have been tackled but not yet decided.

Anti-Americanism is present in some segments of the population. Some Brazilians see US policy as “neo-imperialist” or at least “hegemonic” and fear US influence in Latin America is too strong. For his part, Lula advocated a strong Latin America and maintained a cautious distance from American politics. In foreign policy to date, however, an open dispute with the USA has been avoided. At the same time, however, Lula distanced himself from the socialist/Marxist course of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, although economic relations intensified in the following years. On the other hand, Dilma Rousseff slightly weakened relations with Venezuela under Maduro, partly because of the continuing tense economic, political and human rights situation in Venezuela. After the American presidential election in 2016, Michel Temer reaffirmed American-Brazilian relations and is committed to intensifying economic cooperation.

Even under the post-Lula Rousseff government, the domestic political situation in terms of the economy and security situation has not changed significantly. This and the perceived standstill in the country led, among other things, to social tensions and protests in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. After the Senate voted on August 31, 2016, after persistent scandals and strong oppositional criticism, to dismiss Rousseff, Michel Temer took over the position of head of state with a liberal-conservative government until the next election in 2018. After taking office, Temer announced cuts , redundancies, privatizations, a pension reform and the liberalization of the labor market in order to counteract the recession and difficult economic situation and to relieve the state budget. A rapidly growing part of the state budget of more than 10 percent is spent on pensions alone.

During a police strike for higher wages in February 2017, more than a hundred murders occurred in the small state of Espirito Santo in southeastern Brazil.


Human rights

In 2014, the National Truth Commission published its final report on a large number of human rights violations that had been committed during the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. Due to the amnesty law of 1979, there is no legal reappraisal.

The most serious current human rights violations concern human trafficking, highlighting the sexual exploitation of children and young people, then the excessive use of force by police and prison staff, including torture and illegal executions, most of which go unpunished. The prison conditions are also described as unacceptable. Marginalized and favela residents are the most common victims of this violence. In several states, forced labor and child labor are identified in a report.

Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities are discriminated against. Conflicts over land resulted in scores of killings and thousands were evicted. The processing of human rights violations is slow or petered out.


Foreign policy

As the largest country in Latin America (area, population, economy), Brazil is a regional and global leader. The main goals and priorities of Brazilian foreign policy include:
Maintaining relationships with countries in the region, for example within the framework of the regional organizations UNASUR and MERCOSUL, as well as traditional partners in North America and Europe, including Germany. In addition, Brazil is pursuing goals of economic cooperation within the framework of the so-called BRICS countries (together with Russia, India, China and South Africa).
Structurally strengthening Brazil's influence as the voice of the South in shaping globalization, namely through reforming the UN (permanent seat for Brazil in a UN Security Council that is to be expanded) and through filling management positions in international organizations.
Participation in the content of politics on global issues, in addition to financial and economic policy, namely environmental, climate and development policy.

Brazil is a member a.o. following international organizations:
United Nations (since 1945)
Organization of American States (Organização dos Estados Americanos, OEA)
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)
G20 (group of the twenty most important industrialized and emerging countries)
G20 of developing countries
Movement of the Non-Aligned Countries
Iberoamerica Summit
Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries
Rio group
Union of South American Nations (evolved from the South America Summit)
BRICS countries
International Cocoa Organization



After decades of military dictatorship, politicians and the population are wary of the armed forces. Furthermore, the country does not face any real external threat. The Latin American states are militarily allied with each other, which strengthens security and stability in the region.

There is general conscription for men over the age of 18 who are capable of military service. The Department of Defense budget was just over $23 billion in 2016, after a peak of $25 billion in 2014. and since 2006 in the range of 1.3 to 1.5 percent of GDP. As recently as 1992, spending had fallen to $8 billion compared to $14 billion in 1988.

With around 190,000 men, the army is by far the largest branch of the armed forces in Brazil. With around 500 main battle tanks and 1,500 armored vehicles, the country would hardly be able to secure the vast and inaccessible hinterland in an emergency. In peacetime, the army is also used for civil protection and rescue services and for scientific services (at the Antarctic research station Comandante Ferraz). In addition, the federal roads are built by the military. Domestic threats such as crime or terrorism are the responsibility of the police forces in Brazil. The military can also be used for police activities at the request of the governor in the state concerned, provided that a state of emergency is declared, e.g. B. in the city of Rio de Janeiro in 2008 and 2017.

The Air Force employed 73,500 people in 2005, making it the largest in Latin America. Due to its great importance due to the huge land areas and wide sea areas, the Air Force is equipped with modern equipment. Planes and helicopters mostly came from the USA or Europe, but also from the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer in order to make the military independent of foreign imports. The navy is also modern and well equipped. Due to the large river system, which extends far inland, the Navy can also be deployed inland. It therefore has many patrol boats and light battleships that secure the inland waters. In this capacity, the Navy also supports the Brazilian army and owns amphibious vehicles and even main battle tanks. Several battleships are available for use on the high seas, as well as some modified German-made submarines. Brazil also maintains an aircraft carrier.

Brazil is the fifth largest arms exporter in the world. During the military dictatorship there was a long-standing, secret nuclear weapons project. Germany was Brazil's most important partner in the field of (peaceful) nuclear energy and supported the country, among other things, with the delivery of nuclear reactors and plants for uranium enrichment. However, it is difficult to say how much German knowledge and experience actually flowed into the nuclear weapons program and to what extent the German government knew about the Brazilian nuclear project. There was probably also cooperation with Argentina, which also had a secret nuclear program. In the 1980s, the nuclear weapons project was already well developed.

With the transition to democracy, Brazil finally gave up the plan to use nuclear energy for military purposes. The nuclear weapons program was officially ended with the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1998.

In 2004, for the first time in its history, the country assumed greater responsibility and role in a UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti. 1,470 soldiers were stationed in the Caribbean country, and in July 2004 Brazil took over the leadership of the international troops until their withdrawal in 2017.

On July 10, 2007, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced plans to expand Brazil's nuclear program, including uranium enrichment and the possible construction of a nuclear submarine. A total of 1040 billion real (around 395 million euros) is planned for this in the budget up to 2015.


Federal district

During the Brazilian Empire, Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil and had the status Município Neutro (neutral city), which is roughly equivalent to a capital district. With the creation of the federal state and the associated conversion of the provinces into federal states in 1889, the Município Neutro became a Distrito Federal (Federal District). In 1960 the capital was moved to Brasília, as was the Distrito Federal. The special district around Rio de Janeiro was temporarily transformed into the state of Guanabara until 1975 when Guanabara was incorporated into the state of Rio de Janeiro.

The Distrito Federal has a special meaning. It is enshrined in the constitution and reports directly to the Brazilian government.


Important cities and metropolitan areas

In 2021, 87 percent of Brazil's residents lived in cities.

The most populous metropolitan areas (each with their capital) are São Paulo with around 21.4 million inhabitants (2017), Rio de Janeiro with around 12.2 million (2017), Belo Horizonte with around 5.9 million (2017), the capital district Brasília with about 4.4 million (2017), Porto Alegre with about 4.2 million (2017), Salvador da Bahia with about 4.0 million (2017), Fortaleza and Recife with about 3.9 million each (2017) and Curitiba with about 3.5 million inhabitants.

São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, South America and at the same time the largest in the southern hemisphere and the economic engine of Brazil. São Paulo is the largest German investment center outside of the EU and the USA. As the industrial center of the country, the city continuously attracts immigrants, so that the population has doubled in 40 years. This rapid population growth gave the city a financial, cultural and scientific preeminence, but also traffic problems, pollution and crime.

Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil for almost 200 years until Brasília was made the capital in 1960. Nevertheless, Rio de Janeiro is the most famous city in the country. It is popular with tourists because of the carnival and the beaches, which are among the most beautiful in the world. Tourism is of great economic importance in Rio, but the city is also home to manufacturing industry. Away from the holiday centers, the city has to struggle with the typical problems of a big city, primarily with crime and poverty among large parts of the population.

The capital Brasília was built in three years in the 1960s. A classic planned capital, it was designed by Lúcio Costa on behalf of then-President Kubitschek, and Oscar Niemeyer designed the government buildings. Brasília was originally intended to serve as a brilliant urban model. However, the development did not progress as planned in important respects, and so Brasília is now also characterized by favelas in the outer districts. Today the city has almost 200,000 inhabitants, the metropolitan region has around 4.4 million people.



Economic Indicators

With a gross domestic product (GDP) of around USD 1800 billion (2016), Brazil is the ninth largest economy in the world. The per capita income at the same time was around USD 8700. The economic structure of Brazil is characterized by the core sectors of services with approx. 65%, industry with 17% and agriculture with approx. 6.7% of GDP (“agribusiness”/production and processing of agricultural commodities totaling 25% of GDP).

Up until a few years ago, high growth rates and solid employment growth significantly increased global economic policy interest in Brazil. Thanks to the explosion in global commodity prices, rising wages and improved access to consumer credit, GDP expanded strongly.

However, when the end of the economic boom was announced a few years ago in view of falling commodity prices, increasing indebtedness in the private sector and very low productivity, the government tried to keep economic growth artificially high through higher government spending and subsidies - with the result of a dramatic budget deficit (fiscal deficit is around 10%) and an increasingly eroding trust of entrepreneurs, investors and consumers. Brazil is now in a severe recession.

After GDP fell by 3.8% in 2015, it is likely to have contracted significantly again in 2016 (−3.4%). A slight recovery in economic output of around 0.5% is expected for 2017. The situation on the labor market has also deteriorated significantly in the last two years. A year ago unemployment was 8.6% and is now over 12%. With more than 200 million inhabitants, the strong domestic market with a share of more than 80% in GDP remains the main economic engine. With a share of around 20% in GDP, foreign trade plays a comparatively minor role. A particularly great challenge for economic growth is the very low and falling investment rate of well under 20% of GDP – also in international comparison. Brazil is a founding member of the BRICS countries. The country's biggest problems are, on the one hand, the fall in commodity prices, the corruption scandal surrounding the state-owned company Petrobras, the generally high level of corruption in the country, low corporate productivity and the poor infrastructure. In 2017, Brazil could return to growth.

The unemployment rate was 11.8% in 2017 and has increased significantly in recent years. In the same year, 9.4% of all workers worked in agriculture, 58.5% in services and 32.1% in industry. The total number of employees in 2017 is estimated at 104.2 million.

The South American customs union Mercosul strengthens the market in Latin America, but other Latin American countries besides Brazil also have economic problems, such as e.g. Argentina, Venezuela and Ecuador. In addition to the Latin American countries, the People's Republic of China, the USA and the European Union are the most important trading partners. In foreign trade, the People's Republic of China overtook the USA in March 2009 as Brazil's most important trading partner.

A particular growth spurt was expected from the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, but both major events cost far more than revenue. That is why there were massive protests against the events in the run-up to the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

In the Global Competitiveness Index, which measures a country's competitiveness, Brazil ranks 80th out of 137 countries (as of 2017–18). In the 2017 Economic Freedom Index, Brazil ranked 140th out of 180 countries.


"Brazil Costs"

However, the main problem in exploiting this economic potential is the so-called "Brazil costs" (Portuguese Custo Brasil). Above all, this includes the costs of corruption, the poor logistical infrastructure and high taxes and financing costs associated with a shortage of skilled workers in the country. According to the industry association CNI, wage costs rose by 5.1 percent in 2012, twice as fast as company sales in Brazil. High logistics costs consume 20 percent of companies' sales. The Custo Brasil basically means high taxes. Concessions to promote investments are granted regionally, especially in the hinterland. Another problem is high financing costs. The central bank has lowered interest rates significantly since mid-2011, which also corrected the overvaluation of the national currency, the real. Long-term low-interest loans at a level of 5 percent p.a. a. only awarded by the national development bank BNDES. Financing costs for foreign companies in Brazil are higher than for national companies.


Economic development

Until the end of the 19th century, the population lived mainly from the export of agricultural products. Then, due to the country's beginning industrialization, there was an increasing labor shortage, which became even worse after the abolition of slavery in 1888. This attracted large numbers of immigrants, the largest groups among them, alongside Portuguese and Spaniards, being Germans, Italians, Poles and Japanese.

During the First World War, the country fell into an economic crisis because the most important export items (coffee, sugar, etc.) were hit by an enormous drop in prices. Help came from capital and immigrants from Britain. With the exception of the First World War, the economy and the transport network grew steadily in the first 30 years of the 20th century.

In 1917 there were the first large waves of strikes in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, to which the government reacted with repression. In the 1920s workers' parties and unions were formed, but this did not result in a stronger position in the state as they had no representation in the upper classes. Even the lieutenant movement Tenentismo from 1922 could do nothing about it, since attempts at a revolution failed.

A current problem of the Brazilian economy is the increasing urbanization and immigration of the rural population to the cities. In Brasilia alone, it is increasing by three percent a year, which has catastrophic effects in the slums.

With large, well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors on the one hand and a large labor force on the other, the Brazilian economy is now the strongest in South America and is gaining importance in the world market. The main export products are coffee, cocoa, tropical fruits, soybeans, sugar and iron ore. 40% of Brazilian agricultural exports go to the EU, 17% to the USA.

At the beginning of 2011, the soybean area was 24.08 million hectares (240,800 km²). An increase of 611,000 hectares compared to the 2009/2010 crop year. In 2020, Brazil exported almost all of its soybean harvest to China.

The sugar industry in Brazil is an important economic factor in the country. With a production of more than 500 million tons of sugar cane, which is processed in roughly equal parts into sugar and bioethanol and a small part into sugar cane liquor, Brazil's sugar industry is by far the largest in the world. Extremely poor conditions prevail on the sugar cane plantations, which are mostly ruled by “sugar barons”. Some people work in slave-like conditions in huge monocultures.

The biggest challenges for the Brazilian economy continue to be inflation and the gap between a wealthy, well-educated minority and the poorly educated majority, most of whom live on the subsistence level. There is a large movement of landless people, the Movimento dos sem terra (MST), fighting for land reform.



Brazilian agriculture is of great importance not only for the country itself but also for the rest of the world. Theoretically, Brazil could feed about a billion people, which is why it is considered the breadwinner of the world. On average, 40% of gross domestic product is generated from agriculture and related industries, and about 43% of all exports are agricultural goods. In total, there are 248 million hectares of agricultural land in Brazil, with around 2 million hectares of new land being added every year. Especially in central Brazil there are fazendas that cultivate areas of 100,000 hectares or more. They have made Brazil the cost leader in bulk commodities such as sugar, soybeans, corn, coffee, orange juice, beef, pork and poultry. Brazil's agriculture has not yet exhausted its potential, there are still large land reserves and yields could be further increased by intensifying agriculture. The development of agriculture is mainly limited by deficiencies in the country's infrastructure, by the distance of the cultivation areas to the export ports for agricultural products and by the high capital expenditure for the fertilization of the fields.

Brazilian agriculture has been criticized for using huge amounts of artificial fertilizers and pesticides, for products for export being cultivated in monocultures on very large areas, and for the poor working conditions for farm workers. Many fields are now used to grow export crops or crops for energy instead of growing food for the local population. Furthermore, ownership is highly concentrated: around 50 companies, some of them foreign, dominate Brazil's agriculture and its upstream and downstream industrial sectors, while 150,000 farm-worker families do not own land.


Important companies

Major Brazilian companies are Petrobras (petroleum), Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (mining), Gerdau (metalworking), Embraer (aircraft), Organização Odebrecht (construction) and BRF (food). Large foreign companies also chose Brazil as the focus of their South American activities, such as the Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen do Brasil), Nestlé, Parmalat, Anheuser-Busch InBev (Ambev) and the Fiat Group. Daimler AG (2016) and Bayerische Motorenwerke (2014) have set up car production facilities in Iracemápolis and Araquari, respectively.

The oil company Petrobras is a state company and one of the largest energy companies in the world. Since 2014, the group has repeatedly been shaken by the largest corruption scandal in Brazilian history. The group is badly affected by the slump in oil prices, so in 2015 a loss of €8.6 billion was accumulated. This makes Petrobras one of the few large energy companies to post losses.

The mining company Vale is the largest iron ore producer in the world. In addition to mines and loading ports, it also owns a large part of the Brazilian railway network. In 1997 the state enterprise was privatised. Indirectly, however, the public sector still has a great deal of influence via state pension funds and the investment bank BNDES. In 2007, Vale, led by Roger Agnelli (1959/60-2016), took over Canadian competitor Inco, the world's largest nickel producer. In the course of the fall in raw material prices, especially iron, Vale also came under severe pressure. The group reported a loss of $13.2 billion in 2015.

The aircraft manufacturer Embraer also has a state background, but is now mostly privately owned. Under Mauricio Botelho, the group escaped a serious crisis. Today, Embraer produces regional and business jets as well as military-converted regional jets and turboprop-powered military trainers. With Boeing and Airbus only selling aircraft above the size of Embraer machines, Embraer jets are now an integral part of scheduled global aviation. Lufthansa CityLine or Air Dolomiti fly with E-195. Air France Regional and Air France subsidiary CityJet fly ERJ135.


Natural resources

The following raw materials are mined on a large scale in Brazil: iron, manganese, coal, bauxite, nickel, petroleum, tin, silver, diamonds, gold, natural gas, uranium. 1.5 million barrels of oil are extracted daily, uranium ores are found inland, and open-pit bauxite mining produces harmful by-products in rivers, endangering the environment. Brazil is the world's largest supplier of iron raw materials. The deposits should be able to cover the earth's iron requirements for the next 500 years. Brazil is the second most important exporter of tantalum. About 60% of all processed gemstones (excluding diamonds) come from Brazil. Brazil also has significant steel production, although this has been reduced by US intervention. For example, Brazil was only allowed to produce steel of inferior quality, which US companies did not want to process. The country's national authority for geological exploration and raw materials policy is the Serviço Geológico do Brasil.




Tourism is not yet very important in Brazil and accounts for only about 0.5% of the gross national product. The global average is 10%. The annual number of visitors is around 4.8 million. The beaches and carnival of Rio de Janeiro, the capital Brasília, the Amazon Basin, the Northeast with its beaches and culture and the Iguazú Falls are particularly popular. The relatively small number of tourists (there are 37 locals for every visitor in Brazil, in Germany only about 4.6) is due to various factors. The infrastructure is not very conducive to tourism, domestic and international flights are expensive, as there are few charter flights across the country.


Financial market

The Brazilian financial market is increasingly integrated into the international financial system. The international and national banks and the stock market form the center of the Brazilian financial market. The latter is characterized by a high level of transparency (compared to other BRICS countries) and the participation of international actors. Brazilian companies are also traded using ADRs in America and Europe. Today's central bank of Brazil is the Banco Central do Brasil. The former central bank Banco do Brasil gave up this function in 1986 and is now the largest bank in Brazil. The largest regional bank is the Banco do Estado de São Paulo. The largest private banks in Brazil include Banco Bradesco, Itaú Unibanco, HSBC and Banco Real. Most of the largest banks now operate internationally. In addition, there are local banks (caixa) that are assigned to the federal states or districts or have been privatized.

In the meantime, many of the major German banks such as Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, WestLB and BHF-Bank are also represented in Brazil.

There are few barriers to international capital. The Brazilian real is free to float against other currencies, but the government can influence it through the central bank through so-called open market actions.

Local asset managers such as Maua Investimentos are playing an increasingly important role and are increasingly contributing to the independent development of Brazilian hedge funds and private equity companies. In this way, you reduce your dependency on international managers and expand the derivatives market. Many of these Brazilian venture capital companies also have projects in other Latin American countries.

In addition to the political framework, an important basis for further development lies in university education. Some universities, such as the PUC in Rio or the USP in São Paulo, are closely networked with local financial players and have a good reputation in Latin America.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) reached US$18.2 billion in 2004 and Brazil rose to seventh place in AT Kearney's list of the most attractive FDI countries.


State budget

In 2015, the national budget included expenditure equivalent to 641.2 billion US dollars. This was offset by revenues of the equivalent of 631 billion US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of 0.6% of GDP. Public debt was 67.3% of GDP in 2015.

In 2006, government spending (as a percentage of GDP) accounted for the following areas:
Health: 7.5%
Education: 4.0% (2004)
Military: 2.6%



Transport networks

road traffic
At around 1.5 million km, Brazil's road network is the fourth longest in the world, and almost 350,000 km are paved. The Brazilian name for highway is Rodovia. According to assumptions, more than 1.2 billion travelers use the trunk roads every year, only 80 million fly.

However, the roads are often in a disastrous condition, generally worse in the north than in the south. Borracharias (flat spots for tires) are therefore also located on the side of the road on all major interurban roads. Buses run between all major cities at regular intervals and are reasonably reliable between smaller towns as well. There are different price ranges from a simple coach to a fully air-conditioned bus with televisions and tour guides.

Traffic is on the right. The designation of highways includes the state in which they are located and the direction in which they run. A special case are trunk roads leading to Brasília:
Highway numbers 000-099 lead to Brasília
Interstates numbered 100–199 run north–south
Interstates numbered 200–299 run west to east
Interstates numbered 300–399 run diagonally (northwest-southeast or northeast-southwest)
Interstates numbered 400–499 are interstates of regional importance. They usually only connect a city with a larger trunk road nearby.

For example, the SP-280 highway is located in the state of São Paulo and runs from west to east. In addition to their official name, some road connections are also named after famous people.

Road traffic is considered unsafe. In 2013, there were a total of 23.4 traffic deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in Brazil. For comparison: In Germany there were 4.3 deaths in the same year. In total, more than 41,000 people lost their lives on the roads. After India and China, Brazil was the country with the highest number of road traffic fatalities. The road fatality rate is far higher when compared to the country's average motorization rate. In 2016 there were 249 motor vehicles per 1000 inhabitants in the country (in Germany there were 610 vehicles).

rail transport
Rail connections have been thinned out, but there is still a rail network of almost 30,000 km in length. At the beginning of the 20th century, the railway was particularly important for the economic boom. With the rapid expansion of the road network, it lost this outstanding position. In the meantime, this has little or no significance in Brazil. Goods traffic is handled by trucks or ships; buses are normally used for long-distance public transport. Nostalgic trains, which serve as tourist attractions, still operate on routes through the mountain landscape.

air traffic
Because of the very large distances, air travel within Brazil is often used. However, the cost is too high for many Brazilians, so they also make long journeys by bus. However, more and more airlines are establishing themselves that offer affordable flights within the country, following the example of European low-cost airlines. The country's largest airport is the Aeroporto Internacional de São Paulo/Guarulhos in Guarulhos near São Paulo with almost 40 million passengers a year. In order to relieve the two congested airports in São Paulo, the expansion of the Viracopos airport in Campinas, 80 km from São Paulo, is being planned to become the largest airport in Latin America with an annual capacity of up to 55 million passengers.

ship traffic
The inland waterways have a total length of around 50,000 km. The merchant and cargo fleet consists of about 475 ships. The largest Brazilian ports are in Belém, Fortaleza, Ilhéus, Imbituba, Manaus, Paranaguá, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande, Salvador, Santos and Vitória. List of seaports in Brazil.



There were 39.7 million telephones in Brazil in 2005, an increase of 20 million installations compared to 1997. There are also around 80 million mobile phones in circulation. Here, too, the increase compared to 1997 (4 million mobile phones) is clear. The phone system works well. Local calls are partly free. There are three coaxial deep-sea cables, the radio relay system is well developed nationally, and the satellite system also works well.



Electricity generation in Brazil is largely based on the use of renewable sources, in particular hydroelectric power, which in 2011 was responsible for around 80% of all electricity production. The other renewable energies had a share of 6.6%, fossil energies were around 10% and nuclear energy just under 3%. The originally planned construction of four new nuclear power plant blocks was reconsidered after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, instead wind energy is to be expanded significantly (see also energy transition).

In 2001, more than 90% of the electricity generated came from hydroelectric power plants, but their potential for expansion has meanwhile been largely exhausted. Recurring two- to three-year periods of drought, which led to power failures and social and political problems in 2001 and 2002, also proved to be problematic. In addition, economic growth leads to a sharp increase in the demand for electricity, which makes it necessary to expand the power plant requirement. For this reason, Brazil is relying heavily on the expansion of wind energy in order to diversify the generation structure, which is complementary to hydropower, especially in northern Brazil, and therefore complements it very well. In addition, Brazil has a very large wind energy potential with high wind speeds both onshore and offshore. In 2001, the PROEOLICA program was launched, which was supplemented in 2004 by the PROINFA program, which envisages the general expansion of renewable energies (small hydropower, biomass, solar), which were promoted with feed-in tariffs for this purpose. At the end of 2013, more than 3.3 GW of wind energy capacity was installed in more than 140 wind farms in Brazil. At the end of 2017, wind turbines with a total capacity of 12,763 MW were installed in Brazil, which put Brazil in 8th place worldwide.

Wind energy is one of the cheapest forms of electricity generation in the country due to favorable site conditions. Brazil is also one of the countries in the world where the use of wind energy is among the cheapest in an international comparison. The electricity production costs of wind turbines are now less than 60 US dollars/MWh, the equivalent of approx. 55.7 euros/MWh. In tenders for energy contracts, low prices of up to 50.2 US dollars/MWh are achieved for wind energy projects. By 2020, wind turbines should cover 10% of electricity production.

Brazil also has significant oil reserves and has been producing ethanol from sugar cane since the 1980s. As a result, Brazil has long been the world's top bioethanol producer.

Oil pipelines in Brazil have a length of almost 3000 km, oil products are transported in a pipeline network with a length of almost 5000 km and the natural gas pipelines have a total length of around 4250 km.




A major obstacle to media independence and press freedom is that almost all of the country's major media groups, such as Globo, SBT, RecordTV, Bandeirantes and RedeTV, are in the hands of a few people. In 2002, the constitution was amended so that foreign companies cannot hold more than 30% of the national media. Former President Jair Bolsonaro (2018-2022) relied on far-reaching privatizations in the media industry. In early 2021, he merged the major state television channels. He also planned to privatize the Brazilian state broadcaster EBC.

In Brazil there were over 500 daily newspapers in the mid-2000s, with an estimated total circulation of 6.5 million copies (as of 2006). The most famous of them are Folha de São Paulo, Estado de São Paulo, O Día and O Globo. The latter belongs to the Globo group, which dominates the Brazilian media landscape and is accused of protecting individual parties or candidates. Rede Globo is also one of the market leaders when it comes to the production of telenovelas. Around 80% of the productions are exported.

Radio plays an important role in media history in Brazil. In the heyday of radio in the 1940s, the first news reports and soccer games were broadcast and the radio novella was developed. In the 1960s and 1970s, the first television stations developed from the then most well-known radio stations Radio Bandeirantes, Record and Tupi. In addition to around 2,900 private radio stations, MEC AM is a state-wide cultural program. There are said to be around 70 million radios in the country. In addition, there are 19 state and around 250 private television channels. The reach of the television medium is relatively large in Brazil.

In 2020, 81.3 percent of Brazilian residents used the internet. There is no censorship of the online offer.



In Brazil, art has developed in close association with religion. During the colonial period, sacred art was dominant. Among other things, numerous churches were artistically designed. The collaboration between woodcarvers, stonemasons and painters was so close that the choice of color was coordinated with each other and today the churches are among the most beautiful in America. The churches were lavishly furnished as early as the 17th century, but the largest and most valuable works of art were not created until the 18th century.

Among the neoclassical painters, Alejandro Ciccarelli, born and educated in Naples, stands out. Giovanni Battista Castagneto, also from Italy, was one of the early Impressionists. The representatives of what was informally known as Grupo Grimm around the German landscape painter Johann Georg Grimm consolidated plein air painting in Brazil around 1880. However, it was only in the 20th century that Impressionism gained in importance compared to Europe.

Important artists of the interwar period were Anita Malfatti, Manuel Santiago (1897-1987) and José Pancetti (1902-1958), but Cândido Portinari was even more respected. He himself is regarded as Brazil's greatest artist of the last century. Because he painted with highly toxic paints, he contracted cancer and died young. His famous artworks hang in buildings like the UN headquarters in New York. According to art critics, the originality of Brazil is best emphasized in his works. Social realism developed in the 1940s and 1950s. Portinari's artworks with social themes are classified in this style.

A major group of Brazilian artists took their name Group of 19 (grupo dos dezenove) after an exhibition in 1947. You own among others the surrealistic-expressive painters and graphic artists Mario Gruber (* 1927) and Otavio Araujo. The graphic artist and draftsman Marcelo Grassman (1925–2013), also one of the 19, was influenced by Alfred Kubin. He created engravings in medieval technique. The fourth known member of the 19 is Lena Milliet, who is among the first Brazilian women to gain recognition in the arts. Luís Andreatini paints in a cubist style.

Nora Beltran has been caricaturing the political and social conditions in Brazil since the 1950s. The brothers Thomaz and Arcangelo Ianelli and the graphic artist Fayga Ostrower stand out from the abstract art of the 1960s to 1980s. Antonio Dias became known as a multimedia artist of this time, and Lygia Clark as a creator of interactive installations. One representative of Neopop is Romero Britto, while Beatriz Milhazes represents colorful folklore-ornamental pop. Gustavo Rosa (1946-2013) created cheerfully ironic flat pictures.

Today, the São Paulo Biennale is the largest art event in Brazil. This event focuses on paintings by internationally renowned artists. Rio de Janeiro is also an art center. However, smaller, less well-known places are also held in high esteem by experts, such as the central Brazilian town of Goiás. Recife is known for João Câmara and Gilvan Samico. Fortaleza is known for Raimundo Cela and Antonio Bandeira. Brazil's most famous and, in the eyes of many, the best wood carvers is Maurino Araujo, which is why his hometown of Minas Gerais is well known among art lovers.

Native American art is made from natural materials and is therefore very ephemeral. Complex body painting often takes several days, but the colors rarely last much longer. The colorful feather headgear is also rarely seen in museums. Numerous objects are exhibited in the Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia of the University of São Paulo.



Brazilian music has been influenced by Portuguese, African and indigenous musical traditions. Hardly anything is known about the indigenous music of the pre-colonial period, the first description dates from 1568. At that time, a French pastor described the dances and songs of the indigenous people in a book about his trip to the country. The music changed under the influence of European settlers and African slaves.

Art music is called música erudita, learned music, in Brazil. For a long time it was limited to sacred music, concentrating on Minas Gerais and, to a lesser extent, Rio de Janeiro during this period known as barocco mineiro. Between 1760 and 1800 there were almost 1000 musicians in Minas Gerais,[154] many of them free mulattos. Among these was José Maurício Nunes Garcia (1767–1830), whose work mainly includes sacred music, but also some secular works, and who was influenced by the Viennese classic period.

Brazilian music experienced a significant boost in development when the Portuguese court fled to Rio de Janeiro in 1808 due to the Napoleonic War. The royal house now employed numerous local musicians and the new residence also attracted European musicians. In this way, new, secular musical impulses came into the country. The return of the Portuguese court to Lisbon in 1822 resulted in a serious crisis for música erudita.

From the middle of the 19th century, musical life unfolded again due to the increased immigration of European immigrants to Brazil. After various music societies and a conservatory were founded in Rio in the 1830s, several theaters sprang up in the larger cities, four of which had their own orchestras. Especially in the capital Rio, European, especially Italian, operas were performed shortly after their premiere. With the opera A Noite de São João by Elias Álvares Lôbo, the first Brazilian opera was premiered in 1860. In 1870, the opera O Guarani by Antônio Carlos Gomes premiered at La Scala in Milan and was subsequently performed throughout Europe. Further premieres of his operas in Milan followed in the years to come.

Before the turn of the century, Brazilian musicians increasingly looked to German and French art music, although Italian opera continued to enjoy great success with audiences. Chamber music and symphonic music now came to the fore. Almost all composers received their training in Europe.

In 1922, the Semana de Arte Moderna (Modern Arts Week) sparked a musical revolution. Led by Heitor Villa-Lobos, a group of new composers emerged who incorporated elements of Brazilian folklore into their more modern songs. In the 1950s bossa nova emerged. This style of music is considered the "Brazilian variant of jazz": it is based on North American jazz, but remains influenced by South American and African rhythms. Antônio Carlos Jobim is considered the best-known representative and co-founder of bossa nova. Together with singer/guitarist João Gilberto and lyricist Vinícius de Moraes, he helped the style to great international success in the 1960s, not least because of the most famous song of Brazilian origin, "Garota de Ipanema", English "The Girl from Ipanema". Jobim became so important to Brazil that Rio de Janeiro International Airport was named after him.

Bandleader and pianist Sergio Mendes had one of the biggest bossa nova hits of the 1960s with his version of the Jorge Ben composition Mas que nada. This title has been copied many more times. Today bossa nova is mainly heard by older Brazilians. Tropicalismo (also Tropicália) emerged in the late 1960s during the military dictatorship. Musically, it's a mix of bossa nova, folk and rock; the essential element, however, is a shared political awareness among the artists. Their aversion to the dictatorship and the restriction of their rights found expression in Tropicalismo. The texts are therefore generally critical of the regime. Quite a few musicians had to go into exile. Important representatives are Gilberto Gil and Chico Buarque, who even managed to circumvent the censorship and publish their songs in Brazil by skilfully encrypting their lyrics. Gilberto Gil was Minister of Culture of Brazil from January 1, 2003 to July 30, 2008; its objective was to democratize access to culture. He travels to remote areas of the country to tell the people there that they are important bearers of Brazilian culture.

Contrary to its name, Música Popular Brasileira, often abbreviated to MPB, has little in common with what is understood as pop music in this country. The designation includes a variety of styles, which always pick up on typical elements from individual regions of the country. In Brazil, MPB is considered an expression of musical and national identity. In this sense, MPB represents a kind of evolution of Brazilian folklore.

The most well-known Brazilian music form is the samba. It originated from the music of the African-born population and is very rhythm-heavy. Samba became popular through the annual carnival in Rio de Janeiro. There, the largest and most renowned samba schools present themselves in huge parades in the competition for the title of the "best samba school in Brazil". In addition to the carnival parades, the bands sometimes play in the streets or support political demonstrations and strikes with their music.

There is an unmanageable number of regionally typical musical styles that have developed according to the different cultural characteristics of the respective areas. Música Nordestina is a collective term for music from the Northeast, which has a particularly large musical variety. Instruments such as the accordion and guitar are predominant here. Recife in particular is known for the Frevo, which also has influences from military music. Forró is played by trios with drum, triangle and accordion. A traditional Afro-Brazilian style is maracatu, played with large drums, bells and rattles.

Salvador da Bahia plays a special role as a musical source of inspiration. Since 1949, afoxé blocos have taken part in the carnival processions, which have their roots in the music of candomble and can also be seen in connection with the freedom movement of the Afro-Brazilian population. Samba reggae has been emerging in Salvador since the 1980s.

Instruments of African origin are used particularly in the regionally typical musical styles, such as the berimbau, a bow-shaped rhythm instrument with a hollow gourd at one end, or the xequerê, a shaking instrument equipped with shells.

In recent years, the Axé music genre has become popular, especially among young people, especially in the state of Bahia. Axé is a mix of samba, pagoda and pop, extremely rhythmic and easy to dance to. It is more and more preferred to the samba (except during the carnival period). Well-known singers of the Axé are Daniela Mercury, Ivete Sangalo and Claudia Leitte. In the open cafés in Brazil, where the audience is mostly around 30 or 40 years old, pagoda is primarily played.

In the Brazilian hinterland, Música Sertaneja (or "Música Caipira") is a popular and typically Brazilian style of music. It shows influences from Portuguese music and is played with the viola caipira, a twelve-string variant of the guitar. Well-known singers of "Música Sertaneja" are Sérgio Reis, Renato Teixeira and Almir Sater, as well as duos like Zezé di Camargo & Luciano, Chitãozinho & Xororó and César Menotti & Fabiano.

In the state of Rio Grande do Sul there is a special musical tradition of the gauchos with influences from Uruguay and Argentina.

At the end of the 1990s, "Brazilectro" developed, a mix of English drum and bass and Brazilian bossa nova.



The first surviving document that can be called Brazilian literature is a letter from Pero Vaz de Caminha to Manuel I of Portugal describing Brazil in 1500. Over the next two centuries, descriptions by travelers of "Portuguese America" and its people made up the mainstream of Brazilian literature, for example the accounts of the German soldier Hans Staden became famous. Religious literature from this period has also been found. Neoclassicism was widespread in the mid-18th century. In colonial times, the state of Minas Gerais, known for its gold mines, was a center of literature. From around 1836, Romanticism influenced Brazilian literature. During this time, the first standard works of state literature were created. Romanticism was followed by Realism, where Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis stood out as the best and most popular Brazilian writer. Between 1895 and 1922 no uniform style can be identified, but there were already some traces of modernity, so that this period is called "pre-modern". Since the Semana de Arte Moderna (Modern Arts Week) in 1922, modernism has become the dominant style.

The most famous authors of this period are Mário de Andrade and Oswald de Andrade; Jorge Amado has also achieved international fame. The Brazilian best-selling author Paulo Coelho is currently the world's most widely read author. In 2004, Lygia Bojunga Nunes received the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize for Children's Literature.

Brazil: with 108 licenses in 2004, Germany's second most important license buyer on the American continent (after the USA with 175 licenses). A lack of language skills and high translation costs are still barriers. The São Paulo Book Fair is perhaps the most important in South America.

In 2013, Brazil is the guest country of the Frankfurt Book Fair – as the second country for the second time.



Due to the size of the country, it is difficult to define Brazilian cuisine. It is certain that it was influenced by the Portuguese colonization. The national dish is feijoada, a black bean stew with all kinds of meat. Traditionally, feijoada is served with rice, farofa (a cassava flour) and orange slices. Because of the large distance between the places, the aid stations on highways are important. Here, a distinction is made between commercially operated snack bars with a wide range of sandwiches and other simple dishes and small, family stops that usually only offer one dish (rice, potatoes or beans with one type of meat).



In the Amazon Basin, primitive Indian huts predominate, while in other states, such as Minas Gerais, there are magnificent and historic cities built in the Baroque period, and also magnificently decorated churches (Ouro Preto, Mariana, Congonhas). Colonial architecture still defines the picture in some coastal towns in the north-east (Olinda). The country's greatest architects Oscar Niemeyer, who is regarded as a pioneer of Brazilian architecture, his former lecturer Lúcio Costa and Roberto Burle Marx jointly designed the most beautiful Brazilian residential park "Pampulha" in Belo Horizonte. The initiator at the time was the later President Juscelino Kubitschek, who, in one of his first official acts as the most powerful man in the state, called the three-person team together again to decide on the Brasília project. Because the capital Brasília is the highlight of Brazilian architecture, it was only built in the 1960s and is subject to a precise plan. After a tender, in which the winner, Lúcio Costa, had already been determined, Costa planned the development of the city, Niemeyer was responsible for most of the buildings, as in Pampulha, and Burle Marx designed squares and parks. Brasília is now famous for modernist buildings.

The masterpieces of Brazilian modernism also include the buildings by Paulo Mendes da Rocha, who received the Pritzker Prize in 2006, and in the decades from 1954 the image of the metropolis of São Paulo by the Club Athletico Paulistano (1958), the Chapel of Saint Peter in Campos de Jordão, Brazil (1987) and the Museu Brasileiro de Escultura – Brazilian Sculpture Museum in São Paulo (1988). This avant-garde style, characterized by strictly geometric concrete buildings, is incorrectly referred to as "Brazilian Brutalism".



The country's national and popular sport is soccer. The first football game took place in 1894, around 10 years later the first players who had no European ancestors may have played. The Brazilian national football team is a five-time world champion, making it the most successful national team in the world. In addition, Brazil won the Copa América, the South American championship, eight times. For many football fans, Pelé is also considered one of the best footballers of all time. Other players like Arthur Friedenreich, Garrincha and Zico were also among the best of their time. Romário, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaká also received the World Player of the Year award. Many internationally renowned stars also play in the current team. The women's national team is also one of the world's best, even if they haven't yet won a World Cup or Olympics, and with Marta Vieira da Silva they have what is probably the best player in the world in their ranks. However, a large part of the population plays football under simpler conditions, for example in the favelas on clay courts (campos). For many children and young people in the favelas, the prospect of becoming a professional soccer player is one of the few ways to escape poverty.

Futsal, a popular variant of indoor soccer that has now been recognized by FIFA as the official indoor variant of soccer, was largely developed in Brazil and enjoys great popularity there. As in football, the national team is one of the best in the world.

Within just over two years, Brazil was the scene of the two most important sporting events in the world: in 2014, the soccer World Cup was held in Brazil. The country was the only candidate for the venue of the World Cup. In 2016 the Summer Olympics took place in Rio de Janeiro. This was the first Olympic Games to be held on the South American continent.

Special Olympics Brazil was founded in 1990 and has participated in the Special Olympics World Games several times. The association has announced its participation in the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2023 in Berlin. Before the games, the delegation will be looked after as part of the host town program by the Rhein-Sieg district with the cities of Siegburg and Lohmar.

Volleyball is also very popular in Brazil. The men's national team became world champions in 2002, 2006 and 2010, and the women's team became Olympic champions in 2008 and 2012. The South American country is particularly well-known for beach volleyball, and has won more medals at world championships than any other country. In addition, foot volleyball, a mixture of soccer and volleyball, was invented in Brazil.

Another popular team sport is basketball. The men's national team became world champions twice, and the women's national team won the world title in 1994. Well-known NBA players include Leandro Barbosa, Nenê and Tiago Splitter.

Motorsport also has a great popularity and tradition: Brazil hosts the Brazilian Grand Prix, currently one of two Formula 1 races in Latin America and the only one in South America. With Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna, the country has produced three multiple world champions, other successful Formula 1 drivers are Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa. Ayrton Senna's funeral in 1994 was well attended by the population. Two racetracks were used for Formula 1 races: the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet near Rio de Janeiro and the Autódromo José Carlos Pace near Interlagos. Alex Barros is a successful former motorcycle racer and at times held the record for most World Championship starts with 276 starts.

The most successful tennis player in Brazil is Gustavo Kuerten, who won the French Open three times and was at the top of the world rankings in men's singles for 43 weeks. The country's most important track and field athlete was the triple jumper and two-time Olympic champion Adhemar da Silva. The Olympic champion and multiple world champion César Cielo is the most successful swimmer in the country. Brazil is also successful in sailing. With Rodrigo Pessoa, Olympic champion in 2004 and world champion in 1998, and his father Nelson, European champion in 1966, Brazil also has successful show jumpers.

Capoeira can be described as typically Brazilian, which is better categorized with the term martial arts than with martial arts. Capoeira was practiced by the black population. Since the slaves were not allowed to carry any kind of weapon, they developed capoeira as a form of self-defence: it combines martial elements with acrobatics, gimmicks and dance. In the past few decades, a certain fashion has developed around Capoeira. It is now widespread throughout the Brazilian population and is also popular abroad. In the course of the growing spread of martial arts and martial arts from mixed martial arts (MMA), especially grappling, Vale Tudo, Luta Livre and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) have gained great international recognition in recent years.

Rugby union has been played in Brazil since at least 1888, making it almost as old as football but never reaching the same popularity. In recent years, rugby has been one of the fastest growing sports in Brazil and is mainly played at universities. However, the Brazilian national team has yet to qualify for a Rugby World Cup. Brazil is considered the fourth strongest team in South America after Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.