Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil is the largest country in both South America and the Latin American region. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population.
Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7491km/4.655mi. It is bordered on the north by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the French overseas region of French Guiana; on the northwest by Colombia; on the west by Bolivia and Peru; on the southwest by Argentina and Paraguay and on the south by Uruguay. Brazil is one of 17 mega diverse countries, home to a variety of wildlife, natural environments, and extensive natural resources in a variety of protected habitats.
Time zone: The time zones are UTC/GMT -2 hours, -3 hours, -4 hours and -5 hours.
International calling code: +55
Currency: In Brazil the local currency is the Brazilian Real (BRL). The Brazilian Real is fairly easily found outside Brazil but both U$D or €uro can be changed easily (be careful not to bring bills that are in some way damaged) or use your credit card to withdraw cash.
Security: Brazil has a reputation of having a high crime rate but with common sense you should not have any problems. Like anywhere, wherever there are tourists there are pickpockets. Stay alert and do not let your bags and valuables unattended. Make copies of your documents (passports, insurance information etc.) before you leave and keep them apart from the originals. Keep important documents in the hotel safes (where available) and only carry small amounts of cash (local currency) with you on tours.
Shopping: Brazil is a shopping paradise - especially swim suit fashion! Shoes, casual wear and jewellery are usually also cheaper. Apart from that Brazil offers a great variety of arts and handicrafts of different materials – each region with their own specialities.
Gastronomy: Because of the size of the country it is difficult to define the Brazilian cuisine but there is definitely a Portuguese influence. The national dish is known as Feijoada, a black bean stew with different kinds of meat. Feijoada is usually served with rice, farofa and orange slices.
Climate: The climate of Brazil comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large area and varied topography, but most of the country is tropical. According to the Köppen system, Brazil hosts five major climatic subtypes: equatorial, tropical, semiarid, highland tropical, temperate, and subtropical. The different climatic conditions produce environments ranging from equatorial rainforests in the north and semiarid deserts in the northeast, to temperate coniferous forests in the south and tropical savannas in central Brazil. Many regions have starkly different microclimates. An equatorial climate characterizes much of northern Brazil. There is no real dry season, but there are some variations in the period of the year when most rain falls. Temperatures average 25°C/77°F, with more significant temperature variation between night and day than between seasons. Over central Brazil rainfall is more seasonal, characteristic of a savannah climate. This region is as extensive as the Amazon basin but has a very different climate as it lies farther south at a higher altitude. In the interior northeast, seasonal rainfall is even more extreme. The semiarid climatic region generally receives less than 800 millimetres (31.5 in) of rain, most of which generally falls in a period of three to five months of the year and occasionally less than this, creating long periods of drought. Brazil's 1877–78 Grande Seca (Great Drought), the most severe ever recorded in Brazil, caused approximately half a million deaths. South of Bahia, near São Paulo, the distribution of rainfall changes, with rain falling throughout the year. The south enjoys temperate conditions, with cool winters and average annual temperatures not exceeding 18°C/64.4°F; winter frosts are quite common, with occasional snowfall in the higher areas.
Last but not least...: The unforeseen happens – and nowhere more than in South America - your flight might be late or the bus brakes down! Remember that life works at a different pace here, and people do not have the same sense of timekeeping as at home - people do not expect you to be on time! Try to accept this as part of the charm of travelling in a relaxed country. We always include extra time to allow for these things, sometimes too much and sometimes not enough; in both cases we try to ensure that you have a great trip.