Brazilian People & Culture

The culture of Brazil is as unique and distinctive as the country itself. Though geographically residing in South America, its neighbors and those in Central America tend to share a common Latin American theme while Brazil prides itself with its own language, past, ethnicity and demeanor. Over the last 500 years the miscegenation of the three primary races, Portuguese, Native Indians and African slaves has created a culture intrinsically unparalleled to those around them. Today, bloodlines are difficult to trace but almost 90% of the population is either white or a mixture of black and white, 6% black and the balance a combination of European and Asian descents.

Brazilians tend to be a fun-loving, hospitable people who love their native dances, songs, and religious celebrations. While Carnival is prominent throughout Latin America, it is the Brazilians who have lionized it with their passion for the overwhelming. Exuberating a genuine openness and an inviting sort of magnetism, the travel enthusiast is likely to encounter a social reaction, upon meeting new people, dissimilar to ones norm. Hugs along with handshakes are not uncommon as well as kisses on the cheeks as departure waves. Dominating Brazilian life too is the extended family. Generations of children, grand children, siblings, and parents form tightly knit lifelong bonds with regular and recurrent gatherings both for the communal interface and as a means to provide help, advice, instruction and support.

Since the turning of the 20th century music and dance has become synonymous with Brazil. Descending from poor neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro the Samba became internationally famous. Besides the modern popular variety other forms have taken shape such as that played in nightclubs and reggaeish. In the 1930’s radio made early popular music the rave and launched the career of film star Carmen Miranda. By the 50’s Bossa Nova, a snazzy beat emanating from the beach crowds around Ipanema and the nightclubs of Copacabana became in vogue. As songwriters began injecting their political views into their lyrics a new genus of the Bossa Nova evolved, the Tropicalia. Tropicalia however ultimately transcended itself into a hipper form, the MPB or Musica Popular Brasileira (Brazilian Pop Music). In the city of Salvador, one of MPB’s capitals, where the drums are an integral part of the musical culture, a mixing of reggae, salsa and samba conspired to fabricate a rhythmical dance called Fricote. In the Eastern Amazon area the Carimbo held the preponderance of musical flavor until spreading to Bahia where synthesizers were added to create what is internationally known as the Lambada.

The democracy by which Brazil is defined promulgates a nutritional environment for opportunity and life enrichment. Most Brazilians are middle class people capitalizing on the available political climate. Poverty and extreme poverty however exist particularly in the larger cities in communities called Favelas. Avoiding these urban shantytowns is highly recommended, even by taxi, as your safety may be compromised. There are too many wonderful, exotic and exciting things to do and places to see throughout Rio, Sao Paulo and all of Brazil even for the morbidly curious travel junky. If you have to see it, take a reputable guided tour.

About three fourths of the population in Brazil is Roman Catholic. In earlier times the church was very instrumental in shaping the destiny of its future kingdom. Today, however, the grip of influence over Brazils political and cultural aspects has been diluted.

Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the two largest cities in Brazil are the cultural centerpieces. Museums, churches, operas, ballets, concerts, historical buildings abound in these metropolitan meccas. Combine these ingredients with beaches, bikinis, climate, nightlife, music, dance and cuisine to create your recipe for the perfect travel vacation.