Brazil is one of the world’s largest and most populous countries (pop. 200 million). It is the largest country in South America, occupying almost half of the continent and extending from north of the equator to south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Its largest city is São Paulo, and its capital is Brasília. Brazil’s large size and diverse population provide great variety in the natural environment, culture, and economy.
Brazil’s natural beauty is reflected in a wide variety of geographic locations, from the distinctive dome shape of Sugar Loaf Mountain in the city of Rio de Janeiro, to the magnificent Iguaçu Falls in the far south, to the strange limestone formations in the state of Minas Gerais in the Southeast region. A broad contrast exists between the nation’s two main physical features: the densely forested lowlands of the Amazon Basin in the north and the generally open uplands of the Brazilian Highlands to the south. The climate is generally tropical, but areas located at higher elevations or farther from the equator tend to be more temperate. Vegetation varies from rain forests to pine forests to savannas and semiarid scrub. The forests are a rich source of timber. Brazil sustains a diverse agriculture, producing tropical crops such as sugar, coffee, and newly developed tropical varieties of soybeans. In recent years environmentalists have become increasingly concerned over the future of the Amazon region, where human encroachment has threatened the world’s largest intact rain forest.
Brazil’s population is very diverse. This diversity is the result of intermingling between Native Americans, Portuguese settlers, and African slaves, which produced a society of racial and ethnic complexity. Brazil is the only Latin American country settled by the Portuguese. Before the Portuguese arrived in 1500, many Native American tribes sparsely populated the country. In the mid-16th century the Portuguese began to import African slaves to work on agricultural production. The ethnic mix between these three groups, along with other European people who immigrated to Brazil after 1850, has contributed to some distinctly Brazilian cultural forms, especially in music and architecture. Distinct cultures also continue to survive among Afro-Brazilians, non-Portuguese immigrants from Europe and Asia, and isolated pockets of Native Americans. However, Portuguese cultural influences remain strong, with Portuguese as the primary language and Roman Catholicism as the principal religion.
Although Brazil holds the potential to become an economic powerhouse, social conditions stemming from Brazil’s early years as a plantation society have continued to cause inequalities in the distribution of wealth and power.
Until the 1960s the majority of the people lived in rural areas rather than in cities or towns, but that situation is now reversed. Some 84 percent of the population is now classed as urban, and in 2005 Brazil had an urban population of 154 million.
Brazil was a Portuguese colony from 1500 to 1822, when it achieved independence. Unlike many Latin American countries, Brazil’s transition from colony to independent nation was a relatively peaceful process that spared the country bloodshed and economic devastation. After becoming independent, Brazil was ruled by an emperor. The abolition of slavery took place in 1888. The following year a bloodless revolution led by army officers overthrew the emperor and established a federal republic.
Wealthy landowners in the economically powerful states of Southeastern Brazil dominated the republic until 1930, when another revolution established a provisional government and led to a military-backed dictatorship; this dictatorship lasted from 1937 to 1945, when democracy was restored. Economic problems and political tension led to another military coup in 1964. The military regime remained in power until 1985, ruling with particularly repressive methods from 1968 to 1974. The regime began to relax its controls in the early 1980s and moved to restore democracy. Since then Brazil has worked to reestablish democratic institutions.
São Paulo, located in southeastern Brazil, is the most populous city in South America, and one of the largest cities in the world. The city is the capital of São Paulo state and the commercial and financial center of Brazil. It is situated among hills at an elevation of about 730m and it is crossed by the Tietê River. A steep mountain slope, extending along much of the coastal region of southeastern Brazil, separates São Paulo from its port city of Santos, located about 60km to the south on the Atlantic Ocean. São Paulo was founded on 25 January 1554, by Jesuit missionaries who came to the region seeking to convert Native Americans to Christianity, and the settlement was named after missionary Saint Paul, who was converted to Christianity on that date.
São Paulo has great significance in Brazil. The population of the urban agglomeration was estimated at over 20 million (with suburbs) and accounts for 10 percent of the nation’s total. Industrial production in the state, most of which occurs in the São Paulo metropolitan area or its environs, accounts for about 50 percent of the nation’s output. This large population and industrial base have combined to make São Paulo the most important city in Brazil.
São Paulo lies almost exactly on the tropic of Capricorn, which marks the southern boundary of the tropics. The city’s climate is subtropical, with an average annual temperature of 19° C (66° F), but there are considerable seasonal variations. The summer months, November to March, when most of the rainfall occurs, can be humid and hot, with temperature highs and lows from 27° C to 19° C (from 81° F to 66° F). The city’s elevation on the plateau moderates summer temperatures. In the winter months, mean high and low temperatures drop to about 20° C and 10° C (68° F and 50° F) respectively.
The city’s population is decidedly multiethnic, and several residential districts close to the central city core are strongly identified with various immigrant groups. The São Paulo metropolitan region includes a multitude of independent municipalities or towns. Many of the region’s key manufacturing activities are located in the outlying municipalities.
Quite often São Paulo intimidates people because of its size, its constant pedestrian and vehicle traffic, ethnic and cultural multiplicity. But it is this very 'city-in-a-hurry' tempo that makes the city entertaining, attractive, diversified and unique. To think of São Paulo as merely a business destination would be inaccurate. After all, what business capital has 280 movie theatres, more than 70 shopping malls and 12 thousand restaurants featuring every sort of international cuisine? This is the place to see a Broadway-style play. And São Paulo has many charming street boutiques, from the simplest and cheapest to the most sophisticated and expensive ones, to satisfy any shopping taste!
The city is home to the São Paulo Museum of Art, which houses the best collection of Western art in Latin America, including originals of Rembrandt, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso. The São Paulo State Museum specializes in Brazilian art, while the Sacred Art Museum focuses on religious art and artifacts. Other important museums include the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Aeronautics Museum, the Folklore Museum, and the House of the Bandeirante. The São Paulo International Bienal, an international contemporary art show, held from October through December in odd-numbered years is one of the city’s premier cultural events. Two symphony orchestras make their home in the city, the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and the Municipal Symphony Orchestra.
The Championships will take place at the Hotel Transamérica, a wonderful deluxe 5-star hotel, located near the most important business, shopping, and gourmet areas of the city. The hotel has free internet access (Ethernet and wireless) and offers, together with very comfortable and well equipped rooms: two restaurants, one bar, tennis courts, a soccer field, a 3-hole golf course, jogging lane, fitness center, a heated pool, a dry sauna and steam rooms, pool tables, etc.
• Hotel Transamérica
• Transamérica Flat Nacoes Unidas (Economic alternative)