There are three words we hear a lot when we mention: "I am Brazilian" – Samba, Rio and Soccer. It's understandable that those are the main reasons why we’re known abroad but there’s much more to Brazil than half-naked girls and soccer. And a couple of other things while we’re at it – no, we don’t speak Spanish and we definitely don’t live in the jungle. So here are some nice and interesting facts about Brazil you might like to know.
- Yes, samba is a Brazilian music but we don’t listen to it all the time. There are also some great Brazilian singers and bands playing other rhythms, such as pop rock and MPB (popular Brazilian music).There are numerous great MPB singers. One of them is Caetano Veloso, an amazing songwriter and singer who took part in the musical movement Tropicalismo at the beginning of the Brazilian military dictatorship, Roberto Carlos, Chico Buarque de Hollanda and others. Ana Carolina, Marisa Monte, Daniela Mercury, Ivete Sangalo, Maria Bethania, Gal Costa are some female representatives of our music. We also have Bossa nova, a style of music popularized worldwide by João Gilberto,Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes with The Girl from Ipanema.
- We Brazilians also love watching TV. Soap operas are made Hollywood-style and usually last for 8 months.
- We are nice, friendly and are very tactile. If you’re talking to a Brazilian they will probably touch you on the arm or pat you on the back, but it doesn't mean anything – we do it without even noticing. That’s something we missed a lot when we move abroad: human warmth and hugs. English isn't spoken widely but if you are a foreigner in Brazil people will try to talk to you even if they don’t speak English or your native language. They will try everything from sign language to speaking at you very loudly in Portuguese to try and communicate with you. Again, this is completely normal – Brazilians just love to talk and get to know people. But while the official language of Brazil is Portuguese, you will find that 82% of the people speak English. The Spanish tongue makes up another 10.7%, with Asian and Pacific Island languages also being spoken there.
- The current Portuguese-speaking world community comprises approximately 250 million people. It is the eighth most spoken language on the planet and third among western languages, after English and Castilian Spanish. The Brazil's currency is Real (R$).
- The large majority of the houses have internal water tanks, and the main reason is because the public water supply may not be reliable. For that reason tap water is not drinkable. The hot water for showering is produced by an electrical heater attached to the shower head, wired at 110 or 220 volts. The showers wires are earthed, so don’t worry and enjoy your shower.
- Toilet paper waste is usually not dispensed in the toilet bowl, the reason is mainly due to the water pressure and the way the buildings were constructed. So, if you do not want to have a flood in your bathroom, try to remember to dispose toilet papers and any other objects in a small basket or trash/rubbish bin provided in the bathroom instead.
- São Paulo is the largest, most populous, and financially important city in the southern hemisphere.
- Brazil currently has a strong and solid economy. The country is a major producer and exporter of various types of goods, mainly minerals, agricultural and manufactured commodities. The areas of agriculture, industry and services are well developed and are currently in good time for expansion. Considered an emerging country, Brazil occupies 7th place in the ranking of the largest economies in the world (2012 data). Brazil has an open economy and inserted in globalization. (search: suapesquisa)
Months ago the curious observation that a Frenchman living in Belo Horizonte made about Brazil became viral on the internet and later it was the turn of the largest news network in the world - CNN - did the same (their focuses on the social habits) .
He wrote somethings that he observed in Brazil. Most of the things they wrote (Frenchman and CNN) are true. Here, combined, that's what they wrote:
1 - In Brazil, the year begins "after Carnaval". Parties are important ("Brazilians produce two of the biggest bashes the world has known in Carnival and the New Year's Reveillon celebration.").
2 - In Brazil, you can't touch the food with your hands. In McDonald's, hamburger is eaten inside a napkin. Every table of bar, restaurant or snack bar have a distributor of napkin and toothpick. But those napkins are almost plastic, nothing smooth or nice. The goal isn't to clean your hands or mouth but is to pick the food with hands without leave paper food in hands.
I agree in parts. It isn't very cool to touch the food in Brazil, but there are some foods that some Brazilians eat with hands. It isn't strange to eat launch or pizza with hands, for example. I think the napkin's part is right.
3 - The juice bars are amazing("they're surrounded by so many varieties of exotic fruits the rest of us have never heard of -- caju, camu-camu, pitanga -- Brazilians are experts in the creation of especially tasty fruit drinks, or sucos" CNN journalist comments).
4 - Brazil is an outdoor world ("From the sidewalk cafes, to backyard barbecues, to beaches up and down the long coast, to the wild interior, Brazil is a place to be outside. Beaches, jungles, waterfalls -- it's here, often on an epic scale.").
5 - There's an enormous gap between rich and poor.
6- Here in Brazil, most the men do not know how to do day to day tasks: cleaning or use a washing machine. Do not know how to cook, only at the level of survival: cooking rice or pasta. Don't know how to fix a shirt button. Also do not know things that are considered off as extremely masculine like changing a car wheel.
6 - Brazilians are the only people that eat rice and beans everyday. I really don't understand why other people don't eat it everyday, because it is so healthy.
|Photo flickr Julio Preuss|
A Brazilian comment: The country is continental in its dimension and diversity. So, Brazil is a very large country and because this some things vary from region to region. As for the body language, it plays an important role in the Brazilian culture, yes, yet most Brazilians are unaware of the fact that it might be "scary" for some cultures, like the American, for instance. The custom of kissing both cheeks when introduced to a person or to greet a friend varies from state to state: in São Paulo for instance, it's kissed only one cheek, only once. The 2-kiss thing is from Rio. In some states, they kiss in the cheeks three times. Stereotypes apart, I would say that most of it is accurate. And there are plenty of other local rhythms that even Brazilians don't know quite well, which obviously were not mentioned here.
Finishing with some other few things:
- In Brazil it's very common to go to the restaurant and serve up your food by the pound. It's called "the restaurant per kilogram" (or pound, as some purists), providing the agility of fast foods but with a much more varied menu and price per weight, allowing the consumer to choose not only what to eat, but also how much will spend. It serves a variety of prepared foods that the client chooses, as a buffet, but you are charged according to the weight rather than consumed per person or per dish. Per kilo restaurants are common where there is a concentration of commerce and offices, such as shopping malls, and are a common option for quick lunch for employees. Many of these restaurants only work per pound during lunch, and close or move to a la carte service outside this period .
Most people usually eat outside the home - 30% of Brazilians, for example, eats out at least once a week and of this group, 60% are overweight. This is because in the restaurants per pound, the food choices and varieties are always much larger than those available at home, which can lead to exaggeration. The first tip to avoid overeating is to look at all options from the buffet before serving.
- Brazil has 60% of the Amazon in its territory. And no, we aren't destroying everything the way the international media shows - and exaggerates. There are many great and preservation projects.
- Do not spend the whole time making caipirinha (Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaça -sugar cane hard liquor-, sugar and lime), or on the beach, or playing soccer or partying and carnival every day, all year. And not everyone loves Carnival! Sorry, but in Brazil people work and work very hard! (even for little gain).
- We are not all Indians or blacks, Brazil is a mix of offspring. In the South, for example, there are lot of German descendants.
- We do not have monkeys and exotic animals in all homes (perhaps in some... LOL)
- No heat all year throughout the country, including in the South we have negative temperatures.
- Despite being a relatively young, with "only" 500 years, Brazil welcomed with great hospitality the various cultural events brought from Europe, Africa and Asia. This miscegenation provided a multifaceted aspect of our culture, including religious practices, popular demonstrations and food habits. In the northeast, for example, we find strong African influence and in the south, the influence is notoriously European.
- And despite being "young" we have HISTORY! From good to bad, since colonization, monarchy, republic, slavery, revolution, dictatorship and so on.
|Caipirinha: Photo wikipedia.org|