Brazil by Nick Bullard

Everyone knows about Brazil's beautiful beaches, the Amazon rainforest, and the wonderful Carnival of Rio de Janeiro. But there is a lot more to Brazil than this: here you can find interesting old towns, modern cities, and thousands of different kinds of animals and plants. It is home to worldfamous artists and writers, and international sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympics, too. What other interesting things can you see here? Why is there music and dancing on its streets? And who are the people of this amazing country?

Nick Bullard


Brazil has it all. Sun, sea, beautiful beaches - and exciting cities, too. It is the home of Carnival, of samba music and dance, and of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. At 8.5 million square kilometres, Brazil is the biggest country in South America and the fifth biggest country in the world. 
Most of the north of the country is rainforest, but in the north-east, there is desert: very little rain falls here, and there are only very small trees and plants. Brazil has the biggest wetland in the world; and nearly 7,500 kilometres of coast, with many beautiful islands. So across Brazil, you can see many different kinds of place.
Brazil is a country of different people, too. About 200 million people live there today, and their ancestors came from many places - from other countries in South America, and from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Because of this, Brazil has music, food, and festivals from around the world. There are different languages, too, but everyone speaks Portuguese.
Brazil is a beautiful and interesting country, and it is not like any other place. This, then, is why more than five million people visit every year - and why more and more people want to learn about this amazing country!


Before Europeans came to Brazil 500 years ago, more than five million people lived there. These people were called the indigenous people - they were born in Brazil, and their ancestors lived there. But everything changed when Pedro Alvares Cabral arrived from Portugal with his men in April 1500.
Brazil became a Portuguese colony - its ruler was now the king of Portugal. Soon, people from Portugal began to come to the new colony, and in 1600, there were about 30,000 Europeans in Brazil. They came because they wanted to find gold and take it back to Europe.
They did not find any gold at first, but they did find brazilwood - a tree with red wood. People in Europe wanted brazilwood because they could dye their clothes - colour them red - with it. So the Portuguese took the trees to Europe and got a lot of money for them. Because of this, they called their new colony 'Brazil'.
Some of Brazil's indigenous people found Portuguese husbands and wives, and had children. But many of the indigenous people died in fights with the Europeans, and many more died because the Portuguese brought new diseases to Brazil. 
From the 1550s, the Europeans began to grow sugar on big farms in the north-east of Brazil. Sugar grew well there, so the Europeans needed workers, and they brought slaves from Africa to Brazil in ships. The slaves worked on sugar farms at first, but in about 1695, people found gold in Minas Gerais in south-eastern Brazil, so many slaves went to work there. In the 1800s, people began to need slaves on coffee farms, too. Between 1500 and 1850, more than three million African slaves came to Brazil – so more than half of all Brazilians today have some African ancestors.
In the 1780s, some Brazilians began to want independence from Portugal - they wanted Brazilian rulers for their country, not Portuguese ones. The most important of these people was a man called Tiradentes. He wanted Brazilians to come out into the streets and fight for their independence. When the Portuguese heard about this, they found Tiradentes and then killed him on 21 April 1792. But people did not forget him, and 21 April is an important day in Brazil.
In 1808, the Portuguese royal family came and lived in Rio de Janeiro. Rio was the capital city of Brazil at that time, and because their royal family was now living in the city, more than 10,000 Portuguese people moved there. Most of the royal family left Rio in 1821, but one prince stayed, and in 1822, he gave Brazil independence.
After 1888, no one in Brazil could have slaves, so Brazil's coffee farmers needed new workers. Between 1820 and 1930, about 4.5 million people moved to Brazil from Europe and found work on farms there. Germans worked on farms in the south of Brazil, and in the late 1800s, many more people came from Portugal, Spain, and Italy.
In 1889, Brazil became a republic - a country without a royal ruler. There were now many Europeans in Brazil, but at about this time, people began to arrive there from other places in the world. From 1908, many Japanese farmers moved to Brazil, because they could not find work at home. Some never went back to Japan, and today there are more than one milli on Japanese Brazilians. In the 1950s, many Korean people arrived, and in the 1970s and 1980s, a lot of people came from Lebanon, because there was fighting there. So today's Brazilians have ancestors from all around the world.


Brazilians love to sing and dance, and you can hear music all the time in Brazil - in clubs and restaurants and on the streets and beaches. There are many interesting kinds of Brazilian music, but a lot is dance music, like samba, the music of carnivals.
Samba began in Bahia, in the north-east of Brazil, in the early 1900s, and it grew out of the music of the African slaves. Now, people play samba all around Brazil, and all around the world, too. There are samba clothes, samba schools, and every year, on 2 December, there is a National Samba Day in Brazil.
In the 1950s, the famous musician Luiz Gonzaga took forrô music from Pernambuco State in north-eastern Brazil to the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Soon, people all around Brazil began to play it. There are different kinds of forrô music, but you always do forrô dances in twos. You can move slowly or quickly, near the other dancer or not very near. 
Bossa nova became an important kind of music in Brazil in the 1950s and 1960s. It grew out of samba and jazz (music from New Orleans in the 1910s) in places in Rio de Janeiro called Ipanema and Copacabana. When Joao Gilberto sang the song Desafinado in 1958, it became famous around the world, but the most famous bossa nova song today is The Girl from Ipanema.
North-eastern Brazil is home to mangue beat. Two musicians, Chico Science and Fred 04, began mangue beat in Recife in the 1990s. It comes from different kinds of modern music and Brazilian music, like samba. Today, there are lots of amazing mangue beat musicians.
At Carnival time, there is lots of music and dance in Brazil. Every city has a Carnival, and they are all different. Carnival first came from Europe, and in Brazil African people brought their traditions to it. Today, Carnival is the biggest celebration in the country. Carnival time is in February or March, and in most cities, the celebrations are in the streets. The biggest and most famous Carnival in the world is in Rio de Janeiro. Artists and samba schools all around the city make the costumes, and they make amazing moving sculptures called floats, too. There are about 40,000 dancers and musicians in the Rio Carnival, and more than five n1illion people watch it on the streets.
The Carnivals in Salvador and Olinda are very famous, too, and in 2013 more than 2.5 million people went to the Galo da Madrugada in Recife on Carnival Saturday.
There are many more wonderful celebrations in Brazil, too. in Rio de Janeiro on 31 December, millions of people go to Copacabana Beach in the evening. They dance, play music, and wear white clothes. It is one of the best New Year celebrations in the world.
On 2 February, some towns on the coast of Brazil have special Yemanja celebrations for the sea. The biggest of these is on the beach in Salvador. People eat, dance, play music, and put flowers and other things into the water. 
An important celebration in northern and northeastern Brazil is Bumba-meu-boi, or Boi Bumba. At Boi Bumba celebrations, people dance and tell stories. The best place for Boi Bumba celebrations is in the Amazon city of Parintins, because the costumes and the dancing are amazing. But you can find great music and dancing in Brazil in any town and at any time of year!


Brazilians love going to the cinema, and there are some amazing films by Brazilian film-makers like Walter Salles. Salles's first big film was Central Station (1998). In the film, a nine-year-old boy meets a woman called Dora at Central Station, Rio de Janeiro. She helps the boy when his mother dies and he goes looking for his father.
Fernando Meirelles is an important Brazilian film-maker, too. His famous film City of God (2002) tells the story of poor people in Rio.
City of God came from a book by the Brazilian writer Paulo Lins - and there are many good Brazilian writers. Three of the most important are Machado de Assis, Jorge Amada, and Paulo Coelho.
Machado de As sis was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1839. His family was poor, so he could not go to good schools, but he learned French, English, Gern1an, and later Greek, because he wanted to read the world's best books. He is one of the most famous Brazilian writers.
Jorge Amado (1912-2001) lived on a farm when he was a child, and he wrote his first book when he was only eighteen years old. His most famous book is called Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands.
Paulo Coelho (1947- ) started writing when he was young, too. Not many people were interested in his story The Alchemist when he wrote it in 1988, but later millions of people read the book, and it is now in sixty-seven different languages!
The first Brazilian stories were traditional stories, and many of them are thousands of years old. There are many stories about a boy called Saci Perere. He has one leg, wears a red hat, and often breaks things. The stories of Saci-Perere came from the indigenous people of Brazil. There are famous stories about Curupira, too - a boy with red hair and interesting feet - and about the mulasem- cabeça, a horse without a head.
Brazil is home to some amazing artists. Three of the most famous are Vik Muniz, Beatriz Milhazes, and Ernesto Neto. Vik Muniz makes really interesting pictures from things like sugar, leaves, and coffee, and then takes photos of them. Beatriz Milhazes is from Rio de Janeiro, and her pictures are in beautiful colours, like Carnival costumes. Ernesto Neto is from Rio, too, and he makes wonderful sculptures. You can walk through Ernesto Neto's sculptures and put your hands on them; they take you into a different world.
Every two years, some of the world's most famous and interesting artists visit Sao Paulo and many people go to see their pictures in an amazing building called the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion. The building is famous in Sao Paulo, and it was made by Brazil's most important architect: Oscar Niemeyer.
Niemeyer first became famous for some very modern architecture in Pampulha, Belo Horizonte. But most people r member him for his work in Brasilia, the new capital city of Brazil. When President Juscelino Kubitschek began to build Brasilia in 1956, Niemeyer was the architect for the most important buildings. After this, he made hundreds of buildings in Brazil and all around the world. He finished his last building eight months before he died in 2012 - when he was 104 years old!


Brazil has many beautiful places, from islands and beaches to the Amazon Rainforest and the wonderful Iguaçu waterfall.
More than three million square kilometres of the Amazon Rainforest are in Brazil - and about half of Brazil is Amazon Rainforest! It is hot and wet here, so trees and plants grow very quickly, and the tallest trees are forty metres high.
There are not many roads in the rainforest, so people often go from place to place by river. The Amazon River goes across Brazil from east to west, and at 6,400 kilometres long, is one of the two longest rivers in the world. It comes into Brazil at Tabatinga, and you can go from Tabatinga to the 1nouth of the Amazon at the Atlantic coast in nearly two weeks. The Amazon Rainforest is home to many plants and animals, and there is important wildlife in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, too. The Atlantic Forest goes for 4,000 kilometres along the coast. It has more than 200 species of birds, and about 8 % of all the plant species in the world. Chapada Diamanina National Park in Bahia is also very interesting. There are very big hills there, and many birds and flowers.
Brazil has a long coast, and lots of amazing beaches. Some of Brazil's most famous beaches are in Rio de Janeiro, but there are beautiful beaches from Litoral Gaucho in the south to Recife and Fortaleza in the north-east. There are some interesting islands along the coast, too. The islands of Fernando de Noronha are about 400 kilometres from Brazil. Only about 2,500 people live on the islands, and there are some amazing animals and plants in the water around them.
There are wonderful islands nearer to the coast, too, like the island of Ilha Grande. It is only 150 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro, but it is very different from the city. There are no cars on Ilha Grande, so it is very quiet. People there can walk through the island's Atlantic Forest, or visit its beautiful beaches.
Brazil has the biggest wetland in the world-the Pantanal. The Pantanal is about 200,000 square kilometres, and a lot of it is under water for some of the year. Hundreds of different animals live there.
There are many wonderful waterfalls on the rivers of Brazil. The highest waterfall in the country is the 353-metre Araca waterfall, but the Iguaçu Falls, between Argentina and Brazil, are some of the biggest in the world. There are 275 different waterfalls at Iguaçu, and some of them are more than eighty metres high. When you stand next to them, the noise is amazing!


You can see interesting animals and plants all around Brazil. Brazil has more species than nearly any country in the world. Many beautiful birds live here, like hummingbirds, the world's smallest birds - they are only a few centimetres long. Brazil is home to one of the world's biggest birds, too - the rhea. Rheas are more than 1.5 metres tall and they cannot fly. They are endangered - there are not many alive today – because Carnival costumes were often made from their feathers. But now, people want to protect the birds
Over 30% of all animal species in the world live in the Amazon Rainforest, and different animals live in different places in the forest. Birds and monkeys live up in the tallest trees, and animals like snakes and sloths live in smaller ones. Sloths are like monkeys, but they have very small ears, and they are only about half a metre tall. Sloths move very, very slowly, so small animals and plants can live and grow on them!
A lot of visitors to Brazil want to see jaguars. These beautiful big cats live in the rainforests and wetlands, and the indigenous people tell many stories about them. Jaguars are endangered, so you cannot often see them, but some of the biggest jaguars in the world live in the Pantanal. 
The Brazilian tapir is endangered, too. This interesting animal lives in the rainforest, and it is one metre tall. It has a long nose, and it can take fruit and leaves with its nose and put them in its mouth.


More than 80% of Brazilians live in cities, and some of these cities are very big. From the beaches of Recife to the parks of Curitiba and the beautiful buildings of Salvador, each Brazilian city is different.
When you fly over the capital city, Brasilia, it looks like a picture of a plane - and planes were very important when Brasilia was built. President Kubitschek wanted to build the new capital thousands of kilometres from the nearest city, and 500 kilometres from the nearest good road. So the city's builders and architects brought everything in by plane. The new capital city was built by 30,000 workers in only three years. lt was built for 500,000 people, but nearly three million live there now.
Before Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro was the capital city. Today, it is the most famous city in Brazil, and many people visit it every year. Rio is a city by the sea, and it has beautiful beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema. There are big mountains in Rio, too, and the most famous are Corcovado and Sugarloaf. You can take a train up Corcovado, and look down on the amazing city.
There are interesting museums in Rio, like the National Museum of Brazil. And the city has a national park, too: thirty-two square kilometres of Atlantic Forest, called Tijuca Forest. In Rio, you can swim in Sepetiba Bay, play volleyball on Ipanema Beach, or dance samba in the clubs of Lapa. It is one of the most exciting cities in the world.
There are 6.3 milli on people in Rio de Janeiro, but 11.3 million people live in Sao Paulo. It is the biggest city in Brazil, and one of the biggest cities in the world. There are six million cars on the streets of Sao Paulo, and a thousand more ever y day. Sao Paulo began to grow 200 years ago because there were a lot of coffee farms, and today many of Brazil's most important businesses have their offices there. 
There are lots of wonderful museums and interesting places in Sao Paulo, and the Modern Art Museum is the most important in South America. Here you can see work by Brazilian artists like Manabu Mabe, and by European artists from Botticelli to Picasso. Weekends are amazing in Sao Paulo. You can listen to samba music all around the city on Saturdays, shop and eat in the street, or visit Ibirapuera Park - one of the biggest city parks in South America.
Salvador, in the north-east, is Brazil's third biggest city, and one of the oldest cities in the country. it has beautiful old buildings, and it is near to some of the best beaches in Brazil. Many of the slave ships from Africa came to Salvador, and so a lot of the people here have African ancestors. The music and dance feel African, and a lot of the food is African-Brazilian, too.
Mana us is a city in the Amazon Rainforest. Nearly two million Brazilians live in Manaus, and there are no roads from the south of Brazil, so people get there by plane or by river. One hundred years ago, Manaus was one of the richest cities in the world, but then many of its businesses closed, and for a long time, Manaus was poor. Today, it is growing again, and things like CDs, phones, and ships are made there. Thousands of people visit every year, too.


You can eat good food all around Brazil. At any time of day, when you are hungry, you can always find pao de queijo - balls of bread and cheese. Indigenous people made balls of bread thousands of years ago, and when Europeans came to Brazil they began to put cheese into the bread. Today, many Brazilians eat pao de queijo for breakfast.
African and European traditions meet in feijoada. The Portuguese brought feijoada to Brazil, but African people there changed it and it became Brazilian. Feijoada is made from meat and beans, and many people eat it every week.
A lot of people in Brazil like moqueca, too. Moqueca is made with fish- so there are always moqueca restaurants near the sea. Moqueca baiana comes from the north-east of Brazil, but a different kind of moqueca, moqueca capixaba, comes from the south-east.
In the south of Brazil, there are a lot of beef farms. The farm workers here are called gauchos, and they go around their farms by horse. Gauchos' traditional food is churrasco - a beef barbecue. You can find churrasco restaurants all around Brazil, but the best beef comes from the south. Churrasco restaurants are often very big, and when people go there they usually eat a lot of meat.
The gauchos also have a hot drink called mate. The indigenous people drank mate before Europeans came to Brazil, and it is made from the leaves of a South American plant. Usually, people drink it with friends or family, from a mate cup. There is only one cup, so one person drinks from it, and then the next person has their mate from the cup, too.
But for most Brazilians, the traditional drink is coffee. Today, about 30% of the world's coffee grows in Brazil, and Brazilians drink a lot of it. Most people like to drink a cafezinho. A cafezinho is a small coffee, without milk, but often with a lot of sugar. Many Brazilians drink four or five cafezinhos a day.
Lots of interesting fruits grow in Brazil, and you can get many good fruit juices there. In most towns, you can find juice shops, and they often have hundreds of different juices. Lots of people like graviola juice, the juice of a big green fruit, and cupuaçu juice from the cupuaçu trees of the rainforest.
Because Brazil has people from many different countries, you can find food from all around the world there. There are many Italian and Japanese restaurants, and hundreds of Lebanese fast food restaurants. You can eat in a 'kilo restaurant', too. Often these places have lots of different kinds of food, and you pay for every kilo. The more you eat, the more you pay!


When people think about sport in Brazil, they often famous football players like Pele, Ronaldo, and Kaka. Millions of Brazilians play and watch football, and the Brazilian team is one of the most famous football teams in the world. They won the World Cup far the first time in 1958, and then again in 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002. Brazilians play futsal, too. This is football with a, team of only five people.
Football first came to Brazil in the 1890s, when British people arrived in Sao Paulo, but today you can see it all around the country - on TV and in stadiums, on the beach and in the streets. It is amazing when you watch one of the big Brazilian football teams, like Sao Paulo at the Morumbi Stadium, or Flamengo at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
But football is not the only sport in Brazil. Because most Brazilians live on, or near, the coast, many people play beach sports. At the weekends, in places like Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Beach, there is beach football, beach volleyball, and footvolley. Footvolley is Brazilian, and people played it for the first time on Copacabana Beach about fifty years ago. Footvolley is like volleyball, but you hit the ball with your feet, not your hands.
People play and watch a lot of tennis and basketball in Brazil, too. There are tennis clubs all around the country, and many people remember the famous Brazilian tennis players Maria Esther Bueno and Gustavo Kuerten. Two of the country's best basketball players were Oscar Schmidt and Hortencia Marcari. There are lots of very good young players in the sport today, and many Brazilians love basketball.
Brazil is a very good place for motor racing, and every year there is an important motor race called a Grand Prix at Interlagos in Sao Paulo. Three famous motor racing drivers came from Brazil: Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet, and Ayrton Senna. Ayrton Senna was one of the best drivers of all time. He came from Sao Paulo, and in 1991, he won the Brazilian Grand Prix. When he died in 1994, shops, schools, and businesses closed for three days because people wanted to remember him.
Perhaps the most interesting and traditional Brazilian sport is capoeira. Capoeira is a martial art - a fighting sport - but when you watch it, it looks like dancing. it is different from most martial arts because there is music. African slaves began capoeira hundreds of years ago because they wanted to learn to fight. Today, millions of people around the world learn it. And at weekends in parks all around South America, you can listen to the music and watch this interesting Brazilian sport.


Brazil is becoming more and more important in the world, and it is getting richer. Farming is big business, and Brazilian coffee, sugar, and beef go all around the world. There are many new businesses, too - and Brazil makes planes, computers, and more than three million cars every year.
Brazil is an important world player in sport. The World Cup first came to Brazil in 1950, and many Brazilians were very happy when it came again in 2014. There were thirty-two countries in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and more than three million tickets for the matches. There was a lot of hard work for Brazilians when they were getting ready for the World Cup. They had twelve stadiums, from Porto Alegre in the south to Manaus in the north. Some of the stadiums were new, and some, like the famous Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, were rebuilt for the World Cup. Many more buildings and roads were built in the twelve World Cup cities, too.
In June 2014, about one million people arrived in Brazil from countries all around the world - and about three million Brazilians came to the World Cup cities from their homes across Brazil.
The first match began at 5 p.m. on 12 June 2014 - Brazil played Croatia. Hundreds of millions of people watched when Brazil won that first match, and in the next month, one in every three people in the world watched the World Cup.
In the last match of the World Cup, in Rio de Janeiro, Germany played Argentina, and won. It was an exciting day, after an exciting month of football. Many people wanted Brazil to win the World Cup, and of course that did not happen in 2014. But people around the world saw some very good football in beautiful stadiums. They watched seventy-eight matches, and for many of them, 2014 was the year of the best World Cup.
In August 2016, the world watches Brazil again when the Olympic Games come to Rio de Janeiro. Brazilians are building new stadiums, and a big Olympic village with thousands of rooms for the sports-people. This is the first Olyn1pic Games in South America, and there are seven million tickets for games in forty-two different sports. So 2016 is going to be an exciting year for Brazil.
With all this, and its beautiful places, interesting traditions, and good music, food, and sport, Brazil is an amazing country - and we are going to hear more and more about it!

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