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Overview of Brazil

Brazil Travel Guide

One of the most desirable travel destination in the World. We adore the vivid colours and the intense life in Brazil. Perhaps the World’s happiest country? Certainly the World’s biggest football team!


Brazil is South America’s largest country, former colony of Portugal, home to the biggest Roman-Catholic population.


Let’s take a look at it together under this detailed travel guide!



Brazil Travel Factsheet

State, geography 

Official name:

República Federativa do Brasil (Federative Republic of Brazil)

Government type:

Presidential federal republic


Eastern part of South America.


8.514.877 km² or 3,287,597 sq mi

Geography overview:

Flat and hilly terrains, but also has high mountains exceeding 3.000 m. Rainforest-covered  especially in the northwest, north and southwest, the eastern parts are mostly agricultural lands and smaller remains of rainforests.

Demographics, population

Official language(s):


Locally used languages:

Indigenous languages, Spanish, Italian etc.

Other widely spoken languages:


Nationalities, ethnic groups, races:

49,4 % White; 42,3 % Pardo (brown); 7,4 % Black; 0,5 % Asian; 0,4 % Amerindian


191,241 million

Population density:

22/km² or 57/sq mi

Capital city & population:

Brasília (central area: 2.606.885)

Largest city & population:

São Paulo (central area: 11,037,593, metropolitan area: 19.889.559)

Other large cities & population:

Rio de Janeiro (central area: 6.100.00, metropolitan area: 14.600.000)

Belo Horizonte (central area: 2.452.600, metropolitan area: 5.400.000)

Porto Alegre (central area: 1.400.000, metropolitan area: 4.000.000)

Recife (central area: 1.561.000, metropolitan area: 3.770.000)

Fortaleza (central area: 5.505.000, metropolitan area: 3.400.000)

Curitiba (central area: 1.851.000, metropolitan area: 3.261.000)

Salvador (metropolitan area: 3.000.000)

Manaus (metropolitan area: 1.740.000)


74-75 % Roman Catholic; 15,4 % Protestant; 10-11% other (spiritist, Afro-Brazilian religions, agnostic, atheist)



1 Brazilian real (RS) = 100 centavo

Symbol/sign: R$

Foreign currencies widely used:


GDP (nominal):

1.994 billion USD

GDP per capita (nominal):

12.105 USD

Other data

Time zone(s):

UTC/GMT -4 h - Amapá State

UTC/GMT -3 h - Amazonas State, Manaus, Rondônia State, Roraima

UTC/GMT -2 h - Brasília, Fernando de Noronha, Fortaleza, Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Porto Algre, Porto Velho, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, São Paulo

Country telephone calling code:


Internet TLD(s):


Electric system:

Voltage & frequency: 220-240 V/50 Hz and 110-127 V/60 Hz

(the 110-127 V/60 Hz system is the most used one; the states of Bahia, Paraná, the cities of Rio de Janeiro, So Paulo, Minas Gerais have 100-127 V system, Fortaleza and the central eastern tip is mostly using the 220-240 V system; many hotels use multiple plugs)


Plugs/sockets/outlets: A, B, C

(most outlets are a combination of types A and C)

Driving system:

Right-hand drive


Brazil Interactive Map


View Larger Map




Places to Visit & Things to Do in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

Brazil’s most famous city with the most intense life and perhaps the most beautiful views…

It’s the second most populous city after São Paulo, but the most frequented one by foreign tourists.

Rio is mistakenly believed to be the country’s capital, but it’s actually the 2nd biggest city.

If you are looking for beach activities, then go for Rio! The Copacabana, Ipanema, Botafogo are World-famous beaches.

There is the famous Christ The Redeemer Jesus statue (Cristo Redentor) on top of the Corcovado Mountain – it is a “must visit” place when in Rio. You can reach up there by cable car. The panorama is fantastic, one can admire a large portion of the central districts, the bay, nearby mountains and cliffs…

The Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) is a hump-like hill just at the foot of the Corcovado Cliff, another attraction of Rio. The modern center is also a good place to visit. Suspicious-looking bad neighbourhoods are located usually on the hills on the edges of the city. In Latin America these are called the "favelas" and are mostly spread around cities, across hills, mountains. Avoid them for your safety.

São Paulo

The city has a large number of skyscrapers and has few parks.

More than 22 million people live in this mega city.

Night life and entertainment is intense in São Paulo, but there is no beach near it. You can reach the Atlantic if you travel 70 km on road, though. But that will not be like the Copacabana in Rio.

Attractions include many art museums (especially the modern art museums are interesting), the Banespa Building (similar to the Empire State Building), the Praça da Sé (the square where you will find a park and the São Paulo Cathedral), the Ibirapuera Park, the old train station of Estação da Luz (in the Luz neighbourhood).

Particularly interesting would be if you’d go up to an observatory to see the skyline. 3 buildings have such observatories: Restaurant Skye (Hotel Unique), Banespa Tower, Jockey Club de São Paulo.


The capital of Brazil. Lies deeper inland, is less visited than the prominent Rio and the boasting concrete jungle São Paulo, but it too is a big city with over 3,6 million people in the metropolitan area. This makes it the 4th most populous city in the country.

Architecturally interesting structures are abundant in Brasília.

You might be surprised to hear that this city was built practically from zero and it was specially built to be the country's new capital. The Brazilian government had decided to create it as the “new capital” of the country. In 1960 it was inaugurated after careful planning, preparing and constructions according to strict urban planning.


Big city with splendid views, colourful houses (along the shores and banks and on the Marco Zero Square, for instance), islands with living and business quarters on them, a skyline cramped with skyscrapers, intense beach life, old baroque architecture (for instance the beautiful old Santo Antônio Church)… That’s Recife.

Over 5 million people live here in the whole metropolitan region.

Belo Horizonte

This city is surrounded by mountains and is a landlocked concrete jungle with 6,1 million living in the metropolitan area.

Several parks, art museums and the Pampulha neighbourhood (where you can see old architecture) are worth visiting when in Belo Horizonte.


3,4 million inhabitants live in the metropolitan area of Fortaleza.

The Mucuripe lighthouse, the skyline and several scattered attractions are worth seeing.

Ouro Preto

Or Vila Rica do Ouro Preto is a small city in Brazil with well preserved colonial architecture and an old, almost medieval European look.

Visiting Ouro Preto is a must. You will have the feeling that you are somewhere in Portugal.

Part of the city is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Yet, it is not known to most tourists.

The closest big city to Ouro Preto is Belo Horizonte, at about 100 km on road. It's easy to travel to Ouro Preto by bus from Belo Horizonte.

The city is at a height of over 1.100 m and some of its parts are well over 1.700 m. Altitude might make you feel slightly short of breath, if not trained, but it is worth taking many photos there.

Interestingly, Ouro Preto is a place where sometimes temperatures to go sub zero centigrade.

São João del-Rei

A beautiful small town with abundance in old buildings. We can say that it resembles Ouro Preto.

São João del-Rei was founded in the 1700s and has more than 70 churches from that period.

The Amazon River, Swamp & Rainforests and Manaus City

The city of Manaus is a major port on the Amazon, which is sort of a watery highway. You can travel to Manaus and from there head to jungle lodges, adventure treks, Amazon cruises, whatever you choose from a well selected travel agent.

Only travel to this part of Brazil after you have received all vaccines and have taken all other necessary healthcare-related issues. Obtain reliable information from Brazil’s embassy in your country.

Iguaçu/Iguazú Falls

Located on the border with Argentina are spectacular, especially from the Brazilian side.

The heights of the longest drop is 82 m and there are a total of 275 drops!

The Rio Carnival

One of the main attractions of the country. Held in Rio every year in February.


By Air

There is a good flight system in Brazil. Multiple airlines fly to the country, while the internal flights are also quite frequent between cities.

To reach faraway points, it is good to travel by air (for instance from Rio de Janeiro to Manaus).

On Land

Brazil can be reached on land easier from the southeastern bordering countries.

Inside the country there are good highways between the big cities.

On Water

The Amazon and its affluents are highly frequented by a variety of boats, ships. There are pirates though, sometimes they attack tourist boats. Make sure that if you travel, then you are on a big ship with many people on it, preferable Brazilian crew who know the area well.

The Atlantic Ocean coast has a length of close to 7.500 km. Many cruise ships take tourists to Rio de Janeiro especially.

Best Time for Visiting Brazil

The dry season is between July and October. But the Rio Carnival is held in February and you won’t have particular problems visiting the country during that time.

Risks & Precautions in Brazil

Important: We present you some of the most common risks and precautions for you to take in this country, however our list does not cover the whole typology and details of these problems that might occur.

Violent Theft

For instance: theft, assault is frequent in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, while malaria and various insect-spread diseases are very widespread in the Amazonian region.

Drink bottled water, avoid eating at small restaurants that don’t seem to have adequate hygiene standards.

Avoid the favelas (slums) and dangerous-looking neighbourhoods.


Very common in Latin America. According to statistics it is more of a problem in Mexico and Colombia, yet travelers are not completely safe in Brazil either.

Never travel alone except on highly frequented roads during daytime.

Rabies and other Animal-spread Diseases

Stray animals are abundant, especially in the slums and in medium to small cities, towns and rural areas. Avoid any contact with stray animals.

Exotic Diseases, Waterborne Diseases

If you are looking for adventure travel possibilities, such as hiking or jungle trips, then never travel alone, but in group and with a travel agency.

From exotic diseases, such as malaria and yellow fever to air and water born diseases, like cholera, hepatitis B, a long list of illnesses are present in this country. Obtain exact information about the possible angers and take necessary medical measures in your country, before leaving.

Whenever in Brazil, take extra precaution to protect yourself from insects. The country is full of them. Mosquito-like small creatures can spread unpleasant diseases, leave you painful bites or even cause deadly illness.

Interesting Things About Brazil

To some it might sound surprising, but Brazil is the 9th economic power of the World. It is a major industrialized country, but also with a powerful 3rd sector (tourism, transportation, financial services, entertainment services primarily), but also a strong agricultural sector.


The River Amazon is the river with the biggest debit in the World (the largest quantity of water flowing).


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