Welcome to Brazil! If you’re about to jump on your plane to Rio de Janeiro, or on your bus to cross the border, you’re still in time to learn a thing or two about the country. Which language do they speak? Well done. What’s the capital city? Are you sure? Well, all that’s down here to help you prep your arrival. You’ll discover also a couple of things about the landscapes in Brazil, the weather, altitude and the country flag. And the coolest part: at the bottom, you’ll find all Green Mochila posts to plan your travel in Brazil.
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Why visit Brazil
There’s a plethora of reasons why you should visit Brazil.
If you’re a nature enthusiast, you’ll love the wild Amazon rainforest, the majestic Iguaçu Falls, the roughness of the Atlantic forest and of the Chapada (high plateaus), the sand dunes of Lençois Maranhenses and the wetland of the Pantanal.
If you’re more into city vibes, the colours and night life of Rio and Salvador will charm you. Curitiba for its culture, Brasília for its unique architecture, Fortaleza and Recife for the food, Porto Alegre for its peculiar identity. This gigantic country is a salad bowl of rhythms and origins, a treasure-trove of history and culture.
Why should you visit Brazil? Simply because it’s such an amazingly beautiful country with amazingly beautiful people!
Weather & Climate in Brazil
Brazil is a huge country with different climate zones. In general, it’s warm all year round with temperatures above 20 degrees, making it a perfect destination any time.
The different climates:
- The Amazon rainforest is humid and hot, good to visit any time of the year.
- In the Southeastern areas (Rio de Janeiro for example) there’s winter and summer season. Winter is occasionally rainy and cooler, around 20-25 degrees during the day (nights are chillier, a pullover is needed). Summer can be quite unbearable when temperatures reach 35+ degrees, although on the coast there’s a constant cooling breeze. So unless you plan to spend all your time on the beach, better avoid the hardcore summer months (January-February).
- In the Southern regions the climate is more extreme compared to the North. Winter time is June-September with temperatures 10-15 degrees; while summer is hot, around 30 degrees in January-March.
Discover the landscapes in Brazil
Brazil is the biggest country in South America with a lot of diversity in landscapes, culture, race and religion. Here’s a little taster of what awaits you on your trip to Brazil:
In the North:
- Immerse in the mystical and majestic Amazon rainforest, one of the most impressive landscapes in Brazil. Ride a boat on the Amazon river, spot amazing wildlife and visit numerous indigenous groups that live in the jungle;
- Hike in the lush forest –the secret gem of Brazil!– Chapada Diamantina National Park;
In the East:
- Go wildlife watching in Pantanal, in the Southeast of Brazil;
- join Brazilian holidaymakers on the coast, soaking in the sun on the famous islands, such as Santa Catarina, near Florianopolis;
In the South:
- Marvel at the biggest waterfalls in the world, the Iguaçu Falls;
- Stay at a Gaucho (South American cowboys) ranch in Rio Grande do Sul, near Porto Alegre.
The best landmarks of Brazil are quite spread out geographically, which is good news for travellers seeking off-the-beaten-track places; they just need to travel a bit away from the touristy areas.
Altitude in Brazil
It will be hard to find much elevation higher than the sugarloaf in Brazil; that’s at 396 m (1,300 ft) above sea level by the way.
Jokes aside, there are a few real mountains, but they average no higher than 2,000 m (6,560 ft). Check out the Imeri, Serra do Espinhaco, Pedra da Mina, and the Tumucumaque mountain ranges for example. Even the “chapada“, the Brazilian closest equivalent to the Andean Altiplano, culminates at less than 1,000 m (3,280 ft).
Most of Brazilian life gathers on the coast, so there’s no elevation to be found in the cities. To give you an idea, the highest town in Brazil is Campos do Jordão, at 1,628 m (5,341 ft). Brasília is at 1,172 m (3,845 ft) and São Paulo at 760 m (2,493 ft).
Name & Capital of Brazil
Among its many natural riches, one of the major exports from Brazil in colonial times was brazilwood. That wood produces an intense red dye, hence its name from the Latin “brasa” (ember).
It would be wrong to think that brazilwood takes its name from the land where it comes from. On the contrary, the wood, which also grows in Asia, was already known to Europeans. It came to play such a part in the trade from South America that brazilwood gave its name to Brazil.
Fun fact: the Tupi-Guaraní people, native of Brazil, call the country “Pindorama“, the ‘land of the palm trees’.
The country’s capital Brasília is a strange model. It’s a city planned from scratch to move the executive power from Rio de Janeiro to a more central location. It was built in 1956 and officially opened, like a new sports hall in a provincial town, in 1960.
Flag of Brazil
The flag of Brazil is known quite plainly as “a verde e amarela” (the green and yellow). In fact, that’s exactly what it is, with the blue sphere of the Earth in the middle, showing southern constellations. The 27 stars represent the 27 states and the central band stands for the equator line. The national motto “Ordem e progresso” that’s inscribed on it means ‘Order and progress’.
After it gained its independence, Brazil became an empire under Pedro I, from 1822 to 1889. The green and yellow were the official colours of the monarchic houses of Pedro and his wife.
Languages in Brazil
Brazil is the only country in South America that speaks Portuguese. Brazilian Portuguese is quite different from the one in Portugal; it’s utterly charming with its singing tone and relaxed manner!
It’s not difficult to pick up some essential words and sentences, but with Spanish it’s possible to get by too.
We count no less than 180 Native languages in the country, where new tribes are still being discovered. Finally, the migrants from all over Europe in the 1800’s built villages where European dialects are still very much alive. There are whole villages or neighbourhoods that speak a weird version of German, Polish, Italian or even Ukrainian. Nowadays, more and more of them are gaining co-official status.
Discover all our travel guides and stories about Brazil!