Official Name: Federative Republic of Brazil
Established: 7 September 1822
Population: 210,147,125 (2019 estimate)
Religion: 64.6% Catholic, 22.2% Protestant, 8.0% no religion.
Order of Visit: Thirty First
First Visit: 5 December 2009
Last Visit: 18 December 2009
Duration: 14 Days
– Rio De Janeiro: Christ the Redeemer statue, the beautiful people on Copacabana beach, watching Christmas Tree being light on Lagoa Rodrgo de Freitas (a lake).
– Ilha Grande: enjoying strong caipirinhas, drinking under the stars, watching football match at a local view party, Prison ruins, a long National Park hike, calm ocean swimming and floating, catching fish and drinking beers on a boat
– Paraty: Jeep tour, trying to learn (unsuccessfully) capoeira martial arts
– Iguassu Falls: The greatest and grandest waterfalls I have ever experienced!
– Bonito: Chilling by a river with friends, snake handling
– Rio da Prata: Snorkelling with colourful and beautiful topical fish.
– Pantanal: A night walking safari, finding caiman (small crocodiles) everywhere, day safari, horseback riding, stunning sunrise.
Places Visited: Bonito, Iguassu Falls, Ilha Grande, Pantanal, Paraty, Rio da Prata, Rio De Janeiro
Brazil Journal Entries
History and Geography
Brazil is located in the east-central part of South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean in the east and the north east. Brazil occupies an area of 8,514,877 square kilometres and shares a border with ten countries; French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, and Venezuela in the north, by Colombia in the north-west, by Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay in the west, by Argentina in the south-west, and by Uruguay in the south.
The earliest pottery ever found in the Western Hemisphere was excavated in the Amazon basin of Brazil and radiocarbon dated to 8,000 years ago (6000 BC). Brazil was inhabited by numerous tribal nations prior to the landing in 1500 of explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed the area for the Portuguese Empire. At that time it is estimated Brazil had an indigenous population of 7 million people.
Though the first settlement was founded in 1532, colonisation effectively began in 1534, when King John III of Portugal divided the territory into the fifteen private and autonomous Captaincy Colonies of Brazil. In 1549 the Portuguese king restructured the Colonies into the Governorate General of Brazil in the city of Salvador, which became the capital of a single and centralized Portuguese colony in South America.
By the mid-16th century, cane sugar had become Brazil’s most important export. Portuguese Brazil received more than 2.8 million slaves from Africa between the years of 1500 to 1800 to help with the sugarcane plantations.
By the end of the 17th century, sugarcane exports began to decline but the discovery of gold in the 1690s would become the new backbone of the colony’s economy, fostering a Brazilian Gold Rush which attracted thousands of new settlers to Brazil from Portugal and all Portuguese colonies around the world.
In late 1807, Spanish and Napoleonic forces threatened the security of continental Portugal, causing Prince Regent João, in the name of Queen Maria I, to move the royal court from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. There they established some of Brazil’s first financial institutions, such as its local stock exchanges, and its National Bank. In 1821 the Royal Court moved back to Lisbon, Portugal with Prince Pedro de Alcântara, instead declared Regent of the Kingdom of Brazil.
Prince Pedro declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal on 7 September 1822 and a month later was declared the first Emperor of Brazil, with the royal title of Dom Pedro I. Portugal officially recognized Brazil on 29 August 1825.
On 15 November 1889 the monarchy was overthrown by a military coup. As a result 15 November is now Republic Day, a national holiday. The early republican government was a military dictatorship, but 1894, following an economic crisis civilians took power, remaining in control until October 1930.
In the wake of the murder of his running mate, the defeated opposition presidential candidate Getúlio Vargas, supported by most of the military, successfully led the October 1930 Coup. Vargas and the military were supposed to assume power temporarily, but instead closed the Congress, extinguished the Constitution, ruled with emergency powers and replaced the states’ governors with their own supporters.
During World War II Brazil remained neutral until August 1942, when the country entered on the allied side. With the Allied victory in 1945 and the end of the Nazi-fascist regimes in Europe, Vargas’s position became unsustainable and he was swiftly overthrown in another military coup, with democracy “reinstated” by the same army that had ended it 15 years earlier.
After several years of democracy in April 1964 another coup resulted in a military regime. With the enactment of the Amnesty Law in 1979, Brazil began a slow return to democracy, which was completed during the 1980s.
What I experienced
Brazil is an incredibly beautiful country, during my time in the country I got to interact with a lot of locals outside of major cities and they were both friendly and passionate (about football). Partying as a time thing in many of the towns and islands, I definitely got a good taste for sweet caipirinhas (just be warned they can be very strong).
The tour I undertook was designed to showcase Brazil’s natural beauty and it is worth flying half way around the world to visit. I’ll never forget the magnificent Iguassu Falls, which I also experienced from the Argentina side. These Falls are awe inspiring. The long bus trips also allowed me to witness a bit of the green landscape plus the sometimes very dangerous roads.
The weather can change very quickly in Brazil, while it was never really cold we did get caught in a few downpours but that just added to the experience. I had a great deal of fun in Brazil, both with my tour group and the locals. Life just seemed like a lot of fun, I’m guessing in the poorer areas and the bigger cities life is a lot harder but away from these areas Brazil can feel like a paradise.