Brazil is an extraordinary country located in South America, it occupies half of the continent’s land mass. This place is amazing. It is the fifth largest country in the world. It faces the Atlantic ocean along 15,700 kilometers of coastline and shares more than 9,750 kilometers of its inland border with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador. Brazil is immense and complex, it stretches roughly 8,516,000 kilometers square forming a vast irregular triangle that encopasses a wide range of tropical and subtropical landscapes with interspersed rivers including wetlands, savannas, plateaus and low mountains.
This country is an explosion of nature. It contains most of the Amazon’s river basin, which has the world’s largest river system and the world’s most extensive virgin rainforest. The Amazon basin has the greatest variety of plant species on earth and an abundance of animal life.
This region includes vast areas of rainforest, widely dispersed grasslands, and mangrove swamps in the tidal flats of the delta, this breathtaking scenery creates a unique background that is found only here. Individual plants of most species tend to be widely dispersed, so that the blights and other natural threats cause them only limited damage. A typical acre contains as much as 250 or more tree species. The crowns of giant Amazonian trees form a virtually closed canopy above several lower canopy layers, all of which combine to allow no more than 10 percent of sunlight to reach the ground. As a result, more plant and animal life is found in canopy layers than on the ground. Imagine how small one would feel walking through this forest. The tallest trees may rise to 40-60 meters and are festooned with wide variety of epiphytes, bromeliads, and lianas, while their branches teem with animal life, including insects, snakes, tree frogs, numerous types of monkeys, and a bewildering variety of birds.
Here we have animals and plants that are not found anywhere else in the world. Hundreds of species nest in the immediate vicinity of the main Amazon channel, anacondas, alligators, boa constrictors, capybaras, and several smaller reptiles and mammals are found along the river banks. Living in the waters are manatees, freshwater dolphins, and about 1,500 unidentified fish species, including many types of piranhas, electric eels, and about 450 types of catfish. There may also be hundreds of unidentified species. The Amazon is home to the world’s largest freshwater turtle, the yellow-headed sideneck (Podocnemis), which weighs an average of 70 kg and is extinct everywhere else except in madagascar.
Brazil has always been a melting pot for different cultures. From colonial times Portuguese Brazilians have favoured assimilation and tolerance for other peoples, and intermarriege was more acceptable in Brazil than in most other European colonies. Although Brazil’s Indians constitute a statistically marginal part of the national population they form about 230 different cultural groups. Indians reside in each of the country’s five principal regions, but their numbers are greatest in the north, and roughly half now live in the urban areas. All but the most isolated Amazonian groups have some regular contact with other Brazilians, such as personnel from the government’s National Indian Foundation. More than 350 scattered Indian reservations have been demarcated since the promulgation of 1988 constitution, which entitles Indian communities to territory that they historically occupied. Some of the reservations cover thousands of square miles, which is more than one-tenth of Brazil’s land area.
There are more people of mainly African descent in Brazil than in any other country other than Africa. African music, dance, food, and religious practices have become an integral part of Brazilian culture.
People of European ancestry constitute the largest segment of Brazilian population, owing to a steady influx of Portuguese immigrants as well as some four million other Europeans (mainly Italians) who migrated there in the late 19th and 20th century; their arrivals in that relatively short period were equal to the total population of African slaves brought to Brazil in the previous three centuries.
Portuguese language is universal except among Brazil’s native indians, especially those in the more remote reaches of the Amazon basin. Portuguese is the first language of the vast majority of Brazilians, but numerous foreign words have expanded the national lexicon. The Portuguese language here has undergone many transformations since it was first introduced in the 16th century. The two countries have largely standardized their spelling, but pronunciation, vocabularies and the meaning of words have diverged so widely that now they sometimes seem two different languages.
Brazil’s indigenous speak dozens of discrete languages, and some authorities suggest that the greatest divergence of the Brazilian language from the Portuguese can be traced to initial contact with the Indians. The Tupian, or Tupi Guarani, language group has especially influenced Brazilian place-names, and added perhaps thousands of words and expressions to Brazilian Portuguese. Tupian was the principal language of Brazil’s native peoples before European contact, and it became the lingua franca between Indians and Portuguese traders, missionaries, adventurers, and administrators; it was widely used in the Amazon region and western Brazil until the 19th century. The Tupian influence also caused Brazilians to enunciate more clearly and to use more nasal speech patterns than their Iberian counterparts.
Traveling through this amazing country is a life changing experience. The nature, the people, the culture, the colors, and even the air that we breathe here leaves a mark in our memory that will be forever in our hearts.