Brazil is one of the biggest countries in the world and the largest country in Latin America. In fact, it’s bigger than the continental US. In this post, I’ll talk about many things associated with Brazil.
You may know some of them, while others may come as a surprise. For example, close your eyes and try to think about things that represent Brazil or what Brazil is known for. Now read on and let’s see if you missed any of these.
If you’re considering a trip to my home country, find out some of the best places to visit in Brazil.
Also, English is not widely spoken in the country. So if you try to learn at least a few words in Portuguese, lots of doors (and smiles) will open for you. Find out different ways to say thank you in Portuguese and how to say you’re welcome in Portuguese. These basic expressions will definitely help you when in the country.
1- Samba, One of The Main Things Brazil Is Known For
Years ago, when I was traveling overseas and said that I was from Brazil, I’d often hear someone say “samba”!
Samba is a musical style that uses different types of drums and is one of the main things associated with Brazil. People tend to think that all Brazilians can dance the samba, but that’s far from the truth. See below a good samba dancer preparing for Carnival.
Dancing samba is very difficult and requires a lot of fast-paced steps. Coming to think of it, it’s a great cardio exercise and you need to be really fit to dance the samba for more than a couple of minutes non-stop.
Samba is also the music style that is played during the Carnival parade.
2- What’s Brazil Famous For? Carnival!
In Brazil, we say that the year doesn’t start until after Carnival. It takes place between February and mid-March. The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is a public holiday in Brazil. So people take the weekend, Monday and Tuesday off and travel somewhere to enjoy Carnival.
The most famous celebration is the Carnival Parade in Rio de Janeiro, where many “samba schools” (associations usually affiliated with a specific neighborhood) parade and compete to be crowned the best samba school of the year.
The customs are very flamboyant and there’s a lot of flesh on display. In the old days, it was not rare to have a top celebrity dancing in a skimpy bikini and completely topless, but nowadays that no longer happens.
Carnival is a place to be and be seen and have fun. Parading in the samba schools is usually a privilege only people local to that specific association can do. As an outsider (that also goes for Brazilians from different areas) you can pay to be on the sambodrome (the place where the parade takes place). It’s not something cheap, but definitely worthwhile.
Sao Paulo also has its own Carnival Parade, similar to the one in Rio, although not as popular. Other major cities, like Salvador and Recife, have their own Carnival parties. They are very different from the Rio one and play a different type of music. But the fun is always there!
See Also: Top Brazilian Christmas Traditions
3- Bossa Nova
Bossa Nova is another famous Brazilian music style. It came to prominence in the 1950s and soon took the world by storm. Despite its smooth jazzy sound, it actually came from the samba beats.
The most famous Bossa Nova song is Garota de Ipanema (The Girl From Ipanema), which gave singer Tom Jobim the Record of the Year Grammy Award in 1965. To this day, the song is still played and all over the world and is like an unofficial Brazilian anthem.
It’s also very common to hear Bossa Nova songs being played at bars and restaurants as background lounge music. You’re probably familiar with Bossa Nova, you just don’t know it’s called like that. You can listen to the famous Girl From Ipanema song in its original Brazilian version below.
4- Rio de Janeiro, The Most Famous City in Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is the most famous city in Brazil and the country’s second-largest city. It was the capital between 1763 and 1960, when Brasilia, a planned city was inaugurated.
When someone thinks about Brazil, the first (or perhaps the only) image that comes to mind is that of Rio de Janeiro with its beaches, mountains, and the statue of Christ The Redeemer, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Today, the city is the capital of Rio de Janeiro state and has a population of approximately 9 million people. Rio is famous for its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, beach volleyball, its Carnival, Botanical Garden, and the non-stop party.
Some favelas (slums) are also becoming popular tourist destinations, although you should never visit one on your own. If you’d like to visit a favela, you must go on an organized tour. You can take this half-day favela tour, going to the largest slum in South America. This other tour takes you to the largest favela and also includes a hike to the “Two Brothers” mountains.
See Also: Hotel Unique, One of the Best Hotels in Sao Paulo
5- Brazil Is Known For Its Beaches
With 4,800 miles of coastline, you shouldn’t be surprised that Brazil is known for its beaches, as well. In fact, the combination of hot weather, friendly people and beautiful coastlines make a visit to a beach in Brazil a very special experience.
Let’s face it, you can go to some incredible beaches in Thailand, Indonesia and in Sri Lanka. But the difference between those beaches and the ones in Brazil is the people. While in some countries locals are there just to serve tourists (sad, but true!), in Brazil locals are part of the beach experience.
In Brazil, the beaches are alive! Apart from the beautiful natural landscape, in Brazil, you’ll see locals sunbathing, swimming, working, and playing on the beach. No wonder beach volleyball and beach football are so popular in the country.
The most famous beaches in Brazil are the ones in Rio, namely Copacabana and Ipanema. But there are some amazing beaches all around Santa Catarina state (in the south), and Bahia state, especially in Ilheus, Porto Seguro, and the capital Salvador. The states of Ceara, Pernambuco, Paraiba, and Alagoas also have several beautiful and unspoiled beaches.
6- Havaianas Flip-Flops
The Havaianas flip-flops became one of the major things associated with Brazil. These rubber flip flops used to be worn only by poor people or were just one item in your beachwear. They used to be white with a blue or black sole and band.
Thanks to a new colorful design first launched in the late 1990s and a huge marketing campaign, Havaianas became a must-have item in Brazil. The new design also had a small Brazilian flag, which became its trademark internationally.
Today, Havaianas are sold worldwide and have different lines with varied and creative designs. It’s definitely one of the things Brazil is famous for nowadays. Do you own or have you owned a pair of Havaianas flip-flops?
7- Things Associated With Brazil: Soccer/Football
Soccer is among the main things associated with Brazil. Oftentimes, when traveling around the world, I hear people dropping names of famous Brazilian footballers. Pele, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Romario, and Neymar are only some of the famous Brazilian soccer players that brought pride to their teams in Brazil and internationally.
These players also made Brazil the only country in to win the FIFA World Cup 5 times. In the old days, it was common to see kids playing soccer/football in fields or on the street everywhere in the country.
It’s still the most popular sport in the country and, without a doubt, one of the things Brazil is known for. If you’re in Rio, you can visit Maracana Stadium (you can get the entry ticket here) or go on a full behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium.
8- Formula 1 Is Also Associated With Brazil
Did you know that Formula 1 is also among the things associated with Brazil? The Brazilian Grand Prix was first held in 1972. Over the years, it took place in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
The Brazilian Grand Prix is usually one of the last races of the year and it was often where the best driver was crowned “Formula 1 Champion”.
For decades, Brazilian drivers were among the best and most successful ones in the championship. The most famous one was Ayrton Senna, the three-times world champion who died on May 1st, 1994 in the San Marino Grand Prix.
To this day, Senna is still regarded as one of the biggest Brazilian sportsmen and a national hero. Among other important Brazilian Formula 1 drivers, we can mention Nelson Piquet (three-time champion, 1981, 1983, 1987), Emerson Fittipaldi (two-time champion, 1972, 1974) as well as Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa, who won 11 races each.
Did you know that Formula 1 was one of the things Brazil is famous for?
9- Soap Operas Are Associated With Brazil
If you’re a fan of soap operas (or telenovelas) – and depending on where you’re from – you’ll know that soaps are among the things Brazil is famous for.
Globo TV, the largest TV station in Brazil and the world, has produced some iconic and very popular soap operas over the past decades. Some of these telenovelas, such as The Clone (2001) got their own remake in different countries.
Before social media, not only Brazil, but some countries that played Brazilian soap operas would get to a standstill when a soap’s last episode was aired. That happened in Cuba when they aired the last episode of the Roque Santeiro, a popular Brazilian telenovela from mid-1980s.
Even the former USSR and China fell for some exciting Brazilian storylines, such as Isaura, The Slave Girl and Secrets of Sand (Mulheres de Areia). Check out this short video with random scenes of the historic soap Isaura, The Slave Girl.
10- Coffee, One of the Things Brazil Is Known For
Whether you drink it filtered or espresso, cappuccino, macchiato or caffe latte, let’s agree that we all love coffee!
For the past 150 years, Brazil remains the world’s largest coffee producer. Producing more than 3,500,000 tons per year, Brazil produces more than a third of all coffee in the world.
In fact, coffee was responsible for the country’s economic growth in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Most coffee plantations are located in the states of Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo and Parana.
When ordering black coffee in Brazil, you can just say “um cafezinho, por favor”.
11- Brazil Is Also Famous For The Amazon
The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world. It occupies a huge landmass in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and other countries. But the largest part is located in northern Brazil, in the states of Amazonas, Para, Roraima and Acre.
The forest is crisscrossed by several rivers, being the Amazon River the largest and most important one. In fact, the Amazon River is the largest river in the world in volume of flowing water.
The Amazon forest has one of the world’s richest biodiversities, with thousands of fauna and flora. In fact, much of the flora hasn’t yet been studied. Today, there are still many Amerindian tribes living within the rainforest, some of which strive to keep their historic traditional way of life.
There are, however, some metropolis within the Amazon region, being Manaus and Belem the largest ones, with 2 million and 1.3 million inhabitants, respectively.
12- Tropical Fruits
With such a huge territory and warm climate, Brazil is home to a lot of exotic fruits. The different reliefs, types of soil and climates mean that there’s also an enormous variety of fruits around the country. So yes, tropical fruits are among the things associated with Brazil.
Many local fruits were taken by Portuguese colonizers to other colonies in Africa and Asia, where the warm climate helped them adapt and grow in the new territories.
Some of the most popular Brazilian fruits include mango, guava, cashew (the one with the famous nuts), acai berry, jaboticaba (a type of berry), and pineapples. Technically, mangoes are not originally from Brazil. But Brazilian mangoes are the juiciest and sweetest I’ve ever tasted anywhere in the world. Besides, in many states the cities are covered in mango trees, making it part of the landscapes.
There are several other fruits native to specific Brazilian regions, so when visiting the country, try to have the local fruit. Your tastebuds will thank you!
13- Capoeira, The African-Brazilian Martial Art
Capoeira is another thing associated with Brazil. It’s a mix of martial art and dance created by African slaves in the country.
Music is an important part of capoeira. In the past, when different groups of slaves confronted each other, they had to find a way to disguise their fights. That’s when the musical element came in so that their owners would just think they were dancing and not fighting.
In fact, many people to this day still think capoeira is just a type of dance and acrobatics. The main instrument used in capoeira is the berimbau, made of bamboo.
14- Iguazu Falls
The Iguazu Falls are located on the border of Brazil and Argentina. If Niagara Falls amazes you, you must make a point of visiting Iguazu Falls.
Iguazu Falls are almost twice as tall and nearly three times wider than Niagara Falls. No visitor to the Iguazu Falls will leave disappointed. Rumors say that even Eleonor Roosevelt was surprised and she visited the falls and said “poor Niagara”.
When visiting the Iguazu Falls, you can spend some time in Foz do Iguazu, on the Brazilian side and enjoy a panoramic flight over the Iguazu Falls. It’s also worth it to visit the nearby Birds Park, a bird sanctuary with species native to Brazil and from other parts of the world.
15- Caipirinha, The National Cocktail
Last but not least, another thing associated with Brazil is the caipirinha, the national cocktail. Made with cachaça – a sugarcane liquor with very high alcohol volume -, sugar, lime and crushed ice, it’s the refreshing drink you’ll need when sunbathing on the beach.
The drink is made by mixing the sugar and the lime together, adding cachaça, and finally covering with crushed ice.
You can have a caipirinha at any bar or club in Brazil. Nowadays, you can also spot it on the drinks menus in many countries. A drink that’s often compared to caipirinha is the mojito.
The name caipirinha is a diminutive of the word caipira, used to refer to someone from the Brazilian countryside who’s humble and naive.
I could go on and on, as there are many other things associated with Brazil. If you’re familiar with other things that Brazil is famous for, let us know in the comments!