20 Things Brazil is Famous For

Brazil is the largest country in South America and the most populous, with 200 million inhabitants. Its official language is Portuguese. It’s famous for many things, some of which you’re bound to know already.

What is Brazil famous for? Brazil is famous for its iconic carnival festival and its talented soccer players like Pelé and Neymar. Brazil is also known for its tropical beaches, exquisite waterfalls, and the Amazon rainforest.

flag of brazil

Let’s go over the 20 things that Brazil is famous for!

1. Carnival

woman wearing colorful costume during the brazil carnival

Let’s kick things off with the number one thing Brazil is famous for: Carnival!

Brazil’s carnival is the country’s largest popular festival. The event takes place during the four days preceding Ash Wednesday (beginning of Lent). It’s commonly referred to by Brazilians as the “greatest show on Earth“.

It was brought from Portugal to its then colony back in the fifteenth century. The festival evolved closer to what we see today only in 1808 when the Portuguese court moved to Rio de Janeiro and tried to incorporate some Parisian costumes and dances to the festival.

Around 30 schools gather hundreds of thousands of participants in Rio. The participants prepare for an entire year, choreographing the samba numbers, creating the costumes, and building the parade floats.

Find out more about the Brazilian carnival in our article on 19 Brazilian cultural facts that you should know about.

2. Soccer

Mural of famous Brazilian soccer player Pele

If you’re a soccer fan, then you surely know that Brazil has produced some of the world’s greatest legends of this sport, like Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Neymar, and the great Pelé.

Brazil’s style of soccer is linked to Capoeira, a dance created by African slaves in Brazil as a form of cultural resistance – they call it “Ginga”. It is the national pastime and you’ll find young kids playing it anywhere: on a field, the beach, even in the middle of the street.

3. Capoeira

Black and white photo of people doing Capoeira
Picture by Nelson Cerino

Capoeira is a Brazilian cultural expression that mixes martial art, sport, popular culture, dance, and music. It was developed by enslaved Africans in Brazil and it’s known for its acrobatic and complex maneuvers.

In the 1970s, capoeira mestres began going abroad to teach it. Every year capoeira attracts thousands of foreign students and tourists to Brazil.

Music is a vital piece of the equation as it sets the tempo and style of the game. It’s a combination of singing and rhythmic instruments, like the berimbau.

4. Bossa Nova

Bossa nova

Bossa Nova is the term by which a samba renewal movement became known. It originated from the South area of Rio de Janeiro in the late 1950s.

From the 1960s onwards, the Bossa Nova samba was firmly consolidated in the Brazilian music scene, with names such as Gilberto Mendes or duo Tom and Vinícius rising to global notoriety. The famous “Garota de Ipanema” was so highly praised that two years after winning the Grammy for Album of the Year, it got recorded by the legendary Frank Sinatra.

5. Rio

Buildings in rio with Christ the Redeemer in the background

Now that we’ve gone over some of Brazil’s cultural elements, let’s move over to (unarguably) the most famous of its cities – Rio de Janeiro.

Even though the Brazilian capital is actually Brasília, Rio is the biggest international tourist destination. It’s home to over 6 million Cariocas – the affectionate term for those who are born in this city.

6. Christ the Redeemer

Statue of Christ the Redeemer

Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is an art deco statue depicting Jesus Christ.

It’s located at the top of the Corcovado hill, 709 meters above sea level, in the Tijuca National Park, which overlooks most of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

In 2007, he was informally elected as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

7. Beaches

A crowded Brazilian beach

The Brazilian beaches are desired by many travelers who are seeking to relax on their vacation.

Choosing the best beaches in Brazil is an almost impossible task because they are countless and each has its own charm. There are lively beaches, deserted beaches, family-friendly beaches, perfect beaches for water sports, and the list goes on.

From that never-ending list, Copacabana and Ipanema stand out as the best known internationally.

8. Beautiful people

Girl wearing bikini in the sea during sunset

Brazil is a melting pot of races and cultures, mixing African blood with European and Indigenous blood. There is a stereotype that the people in Brazil are beautiful unlike nowhere else.

As a tropical country, it’s no overstatement to say that it’s bikini season pretty much all year round and, as such, Brazilians tend to pay more attention and take care of their bodies.

Brazil is famous for being the plastic surgery capital of the world, a place where even men have skincare routines and wax their bodies. Brazilians sure are vain and they take no offense to it! To them, feeling beautiful on the outside is to feel good inside.

9. The Brazilian Thong

Thong cookies

As we’ve seen above, it’s summer almost all year round in Brazil. It is common to see people wear smaller clothes, whilst striving to get the perfect tan. Thus, emerged the Brazilian thong, not as underwear, but as a form of a bikini bottom, an attempt to minimize tan lines.

10. Caipirinha

A cup of Caipirinha

Caipirinha is a Brazilian alcoholic drink, a cocktail of São Paulo origin, made with cachaça, lemon, sugar and ice. Variations include caipiroska – with vodka instead of cachaça – and caipiríssima – with rum.

Some say that the cachaça in caipirinha is rich in antioxidants (that protect the heart and combat high cholesterol), as well as anticoagulants, substances that improve blood circulation and prevent stroke and thrombosis.

Regardless of its health benefits, caipirinha is the perfect drink for a warm summer night and the exact right fuel to keep you dancing all through the night.

11. Picanha

Beef with a knife through it

Picanha is a Brazilian type of beef cut, the best kind of steak to some. Usually the fat layer that most butchers often trim is retained for cooking in Brazil, which allows for the meat to become extra flavorful.

It’s usually served with white rice, black beans, fries, some greens, and farofa – a traditional Brazilian side dish made with toasted yuca flour/cassava flour.

12. Brigadeiro

Three pieces of Brigadeiro in a hand

Now that we’ve covered a drink and a main dish, let’s skip over to dessert – the popular brigadeiro.

Brigadeiro is a typical Brazilian sweet, originating in the Southeast of the country. It’s commonly found at birthday parties. It’s made out of condensed milk, chocolate powder, butter and topped with chocolate sprinkles.

13. Coffee

Coffee beans

Production of coffee in Brazil makes up a third of all coffee, making Brazil the world’s largest producer by far, a position the country has held for the last 150 years.

The coffee plantations are mainly located in the southeastern states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo, and Paraná where the environment and climate provide ideal growing conditions.

14. Amazon Rainforest

A big tree trunk in the forest

The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest rainforest. It covers much of northwestern Brazil and extends to Colombia, Peru, and other South American countries.

Famous for its biodiversity, it’s crossed by thousands of rivers, among them the great Amazon River.

Today virtually no forest Amerindians live in their full traditional ways, although there are still several dozen groups living in voluntary isolation.

15. Iguaçu Falls

Iguaçu Falls

Iguaçu Falls is a cluster of about 275 waterfalls on the Iguaçu River, located between the Iguaçu National Park, Paraná, Brazil, and the Iguazú National Park in Misiones, Argentina, on the border between the two countries.

The Iguaçu Falls participated in the world campaign to choose the seven natural wonders of the world, organized by the New 7 Wonders Foundation. The falls were among the 28 finalists of the campaign.

16. Fernando de Noronha Islands

Sea and outcrops in the Fernando de Noronha Islands

Fernando de Noronha is a volcanic archipelago about 350 kilometers off the northeast coast of Brazil.

It is named after its largest island, a protected marine park and ecological sanctuary with a jagged coastline and several ecosystems.

It is recognized for its uninhabited beaches and for activities such as diving and snorkeling. Sea turtles, rays, dolphins and reef sharks swim in the warm, crystal clear waters.

17. Sertanejo

A concert at night

Sertanejo music is a Brazilian musical genre created the 1910s by urban composers, in which the viola sound is predominant.

Some of the most acclaimed sertanejo artists are Gustavvo Lima, Marília Mendonça, Paula Fernandes, and Michel Teló, better known for the 2011 hit “Ai Se Eu Te Pego”.

18. Guaraná

Guaraná vine

Guaraná is a vine originating in the Amazon. It is found in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. It’s mainly cultivated in the town of Maués, in the state of Amazonas, and in Bahia.

Its fruit has a large amount of caffeine (called guarain) which is used in the production of syrups, bars, powders and soft drinks.

19. Brazilian Portuguese

A book in Brazilian Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese is the term used to classify the variety of Portuguese spoken by more than 200 million Brazilians living in and outside Brazil.

It differs from dialects spoken in Portugal and Portuguese-speaking African countries, particularly in phonology and prosody. In those latter countries, the language tends to have a closer connection to contemporary European Portuguese, partly because Portuguese colonial rule ended much more recently than in Brazil.

Regional varieties of Brazilian Portuguese, while remaining mutually intelligible, may diverge from each other in matters such as vowel pronunciation and speech intonation.

20. Nightlife

Girl smiling in club

Brazil is famous for its nightlife. The sunset is just the beginning of yet another chapter of energy and happiness that extends into the next morning.

Brazilians are as passionate about their music as they are about their food and football, which makes it easier to find concerts or pubs and cafés with live music.

View of Rio de Janeiro

Craving for more trivia? Get to know some fun facts about Brazil. Also, check out some of the best books about Brazil as well as the awesome Brazilian souvenirs to take home!

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