Brazilians often say they live in a continent rather than a country. It’s an excusable exaggeration. The landmass is bigger than the United States if you exclude Alaska; the journey from Recife in the east to the western border with Peru is longer than that from London to Moscow. ~ Rough Guides
Brazil is a beautiful and prosperous country, full of people educated, hard-working and peaceful... Brazilians have to recover the patriotic feeling and be firm. ~ Talo Dejade
If I ran Brazil, I would ban the use of metal. Plastic for everyone. ~ Paul Mak
Violence in Brazil, now there's a surprise. Said no one ever. ~ Paul Puma
It is a subject for congratulation that the great Empire of Brazil has taken the initiatory step toward the abolition of slavery. Our relations with that Empire, always cordial, will naturally be made more so by this act. ~ Ulysses S. Grant
Brazil is always a party. You can tan and mingle with the locals on the country's seemingly endless beaches, from Rio's glamorous Copacabana to the unspoiled treasures along the northeastern shores. In the vast interior, outdoor adventures thrill: take a spray-soaked boat ride into Iguaçu's raging waterfalls or spot exotic wildlife in the Pantanal. On rugged treks through the Amazon rain forest or on shopping expeditions in São Paulo's chic boutiques, you will plunge into a vibrant mix of colors, rhythms, and cultures.
Brazilians often say they live in a continent rather than a country. It’s an excusable exaggeration. The landmass is bigger than the United States if you exclude Alaska; the journey from Recife in the east to the western border with Peru is longer than that from London to Moscow, and the distance between the northern and southern borders is about the same as that between New York and Los Angeles. Brazil has no mountains to compare with its Andean neighbors, but in every other respect it has all the scenic – and cultural – variety you would expect from so vast a country.
Two-thirds of Brazil’s population live on or near the coast and well over half live in cities – even in the Amazon. In Rio and São Paulo, Brazil has two of the world’s great metropolises, and ten other cities have over a million inhabitants. Yet Brazil still thinks of itself as a frontier country, and certainly the deeper into the interior you go, the thinner the population becomes. Other South Americans regard Brazilians as a race apart, and language has a lot to do with it – Brazilians understand Spanish, just about, but Spanish-speakers won’t understand Portuguese. Brazilians also look different. In the extreme south German and eastern European immigration has left distinctive traces; São Paulo has the world’s largest Japanese community outside Japan; slavery lies behind a large Afro-Brazilian population concentrated in Rio, Salvador and São Luís; while the Indian influence is still very visible in the Amazon. Italian and Portuguese immigration has been so great that its influence is felt across the entire country.
Brazil is a land of profound economic contradictions. Rapid post-war industrialization made it one of the world’s ten largest economies by the 1990s and it is misleading to think of Brazil as a developing country; it is quickly becoming the world’s leading agricultural exporter and has several home-grown multinationals competing successfully in world markets. The last decade has seen millions of Brazilians haul their way into the country’s expanding middle class, and across-the-board improvements in social indicators like life expectancy and basic education. But yawning social divides are still a fact of life in Brazil. The cities are dotted with favelas, shantytowns that crowd around the skyscrapers, and there are wide regional differences, too: Brazilians talk of a “Switzerland” in the South, centred on the Rio–São Paulo axis, and an “India” above it, and although this is a simplification the level of economic development does fall the further north or east you go. Brazil has enormous natural resources but their exploitation has benefited fewer than it should. Institutionalized corruption, a bloated and inefficient public sector and the reluctance of the country’s middle class to do anything that might jeopardize its comfortable lifestyle are a big part of the problem. Levels of violence that would be considered a public emergency in most countries are fatalistically accepted in Brazil – an average of seventeen murders per day in the city of Rio de Janeiro, for example.
Difficulties, however, don’t overshadow everyday life in Brazil, and violence rarely affects tourists. It’s fair to say that nowhere in the world do people enjoy themselves more – most famously in the annual orgiastic celebrations of Carnaval, but reflected, too, in the lively year-round nightlife that you’ll find in any decent-sized town. This national hedonism also manifests itself in Brazil’s highly developed beach culture, superb music and dancing, rich regional cuisines and the most relaxed and tolerant attitude to sexuality – gay and straight – that you’ll find anywhere in South America.
Inflation is bad for growth—this has become one of the most widely accepted economic nostrums of our age. But see how you feel about it after digesting the following piece of information.
During the 1960s and the 1970s, Brazil's average inflation rate was 42% a year. Despite this, Brazil was one of the fastest growing economies in the world for those two decades—its per capita income grew at 4.5% a year during this period. In contrast, between 1996 and 2005, during which time Brazil embraced the neo-liberal orthodoxy, especially in relation to macroeconomic policy, its inflation rate averaged a much lower 7.1% a year. But during this period, per capita income in Brazil grew at only 1.3% a year.
If you are not entirely persuaded by the Brazilian case—understandable, given that hyperinflation went side by side with low growth in the 1980s and the early 1990s—how about this? During its 'miracle' years, when its economy was growing at 7% a year in per capita terms, Korea had inflation rates close to 20%-17.4% in the 1960s and 19.8% in the 1970s. These were rates higher than those found in several Latin American countries ... Are you still convinced that inflation is incompatible with economic success?
Ha-Joon Chang, Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism (2008), Ch. 7: 'Mission impossible?; Can financial prudence go too far?', There is inflation and there is inflation, p. 149.
It is a subject for congratulation that the great Empire of Brazil has taken the initiatory step toward the abolition of slavery. Our relations with that Empire, always cordial, will naturally be made more so by this act. It is not too much to hope that the Government of Brazil may hereafter find it for its interest, as well as intrinsically right, to advance toward entire emancipation more rapidly than the present act contemplates.
We are also seeing a diffusion of power and competition at the nation state level. This competition comes not just from Russia and China, but also from emerging countries like Brazil, India, Indonesia, and the other ASEAN states. These states are also beginning to organize themselves into structures outside of and somewhat in competition.
Max Payne: This place is great. Really comfortable. I'm just going to get settled in. Time to move on. Get on with my life. Yes , absolutely. Now , like I said, it was a long time ago. Let it go. Seriously. Definitely more my style than Panama or Hoboken, I guess. No. If I'm honest, I just got kind of bored of boozing.
One of the world's most captivating places, Brazil is a country of powdery white-sand beaches, verdant rainforests and wild, rhythm-filled metropolises. Brazil's attractions extend from frozen-in-time colonial towns to otherworldly landscapes of red-rock canyons, thundering waterfalls and coral-fringed tropical islands. Then there's Brazil's biodiversity: legendary in scope, its diverse ecosystems boast the greatest collection of plant and animal species found anywhere on earth. There are countless places where you can spot iconic species in Brazil, including toucans, scarlet macaws, howler monkeys, capybara, pink dolphins, sea turtles and thousands of other living species.
Brazil offers big adventures for travelers with budgets large and small. There's horseback riding and wildlife-watching in the Pantanal, kayaking flooded forests in the Amazon, ascending rocky cliff tops to panoramic views, whale-watching off the coast, surfing stellar breaks off palm-fringed beaches and snorkeling crystal-clear rivers or coastal reefs – all are part of the great Brazilian experience. No less entrancing is the prospect of doing nothing, aside from sinking toes into warm sands and soaking up a glorious stretch of beach, with a caipirinha – Brazil's national cocktail – in hand.
Brazil's most famous celebration, Carnaval, storms through the country's cities and towns with hip-shaking samba and frevo, dazzling costumes and parties that last until sun up, but Brazilians hardly limit their revelry to a few weeks of the year. Festas (festivals) happen throughout the year, and provide a window into Brazil's incredible diversity. The streets are carpeted with flowers during Ouro Preto's Semana Santa (Holy Week), while in the north, Bumba Meu Boi blends indigenous, African and Portuguese folklore. For a taste of the old world, hit Blumenau's beer- and schnitzel-loving Oktoberfest, the largest outside of Germany. Several cities, such as Recife, Fortaleza and Natal even host Carnaval at other times of year.
Wherever there's music, that carefree lust for life tends to appear – whether dancing with cariocas at Rio's atmospheric samba clubs or following powerful drumbeats through the streets of Salvador. There's the dancehall forró of the Northeast, twirling carimbó of the Amazon, scratch-skilled DJs of São Paulo and an endless variety of regional sounds that extends from the twangy country music of the sunbaked sertanejo to the hard-edged reggae of Maranhão.
Like many commodity dependent emerging markets, Brazil has imploded both economically and investment-wise over the past couple of years. I warned investors to bail out of the country back in September of 2012 as it was evident a huge bubble had formed. Things have become worse than I could have imagined and, given the state of things down south, it is hard to imagine things improving in 2016. The only question investors should be asking is, do the problems in Brazil and other emerging markets have the potential to cause problems here in 2016?