As an enormous country boasting an abundance of beautiful beaches, vibrant cities, jungle adventures, an intense passion for football (soccer) and the wildly popular celebration of Carnaval, Brazil makes itself impossible to go unnoticed. There’s plenty to learn about this powerhouse, but to start off here are just ten interesting facts about Brazil.
1. Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world, in terms of land mass, and has the fifth-largest population. This makes plenty of sense with over 13 cities acting as the home to more than one-million people, with São Paulo alone clocking in at over 12 million. Brazil makes up close to a third of Latin America’s population and almost 50 percent of South America’s land mass.
2. Ironically, the home of the largest number of Portuguese speakers, also known as Lusophones, is not Portugal. Brazil takes that title.
3. Brazil is home to about 60 percent of the Amazon Rainforest, which helps make it the world leader in number of mammal, plants and freshwater-fish species. More specifically, Brazil is also home to more species of monkeys than any other country.
4. Snake Island, one of the deadliest islands in the world, lies roughly twenty miles off the coast of São Paulo. This island is aptly named as up to 4,000 snakes live on this landmass of only 110 acres. It has been reported that one snake can be found for every six square yards. These snakes are far from friendly. This island is the only known home of the golden lancehead, one of the most venomous vipers in the world.
© Adam Reeder
5. Brazil was the first country to ban tanning salons after the World Health Organization labeled them as a level one carcinogen, the highest cancer risk category, which also contains cigarettes and plutonium.
6. For over 150 years, Brazil has been the world’s leading producer of coffee. Statistics used to be even higher, but to this day Brazil still accounts for about a third of the world’s coffee production.
© Deni Williams
7. There are 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Brazil, with both natural and cultural sites combined. One popular example is Iguaçu National Park, which sits on the border of Argentina, most known for its magnificent waterfalls.
8. Despite its location in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, Manaus is a thriving city with over two million inhabitants. Due to the area’s richness in rubber, Manaus was actually one of the wealthiest cities in South America in the late 1800’s. Today it’s most known for its iconic pink opera house, Teatro Amazonas, and for acting as a departure point for adventures into the jungle.
© Antonio Campoy
9. Since 2008 Brazil has provided free sex reassignment surgeries to its citizens. Patients must be 18 years old with no personality disorders and must undergo a psychological evaluation with a multidisciplinary team for two years, which can begin at sixteen years old. This began after a federal court decided that sexual reassignment surgery was constitutionally considered medical care, a basic human right in Brazil.
10. Caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil, is made up of sugarcane liquor, ice, sugar and crushed limes. This is unsurprising considering Brazil is a large producer of sugarcane, and there fore ethanol, as well.