Learn about Brazil

September 14, 2010|By KATRINA BUSHKO / Pulse correspondent
  • Brazil's flag is a deep green banner with a yellow diamond enclosing a night-blue, star-studded Southern Hemisphere sky. The sky depicts 27 white, five-pointed stars (one for each state and the Federal District); the stars are arranged in the pattern of the night sky over Rio de Janeiro on November 15, 1889 (this is the date when the last Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, was deposed, and the republic was proclaimed). The stars in view include the constellations Southern Cross (also called Crux), Scorpius, Canis Major and others. A banner across the sky reads, "Ordem E Progresso," which means "order and progress" in Portuguese," according to
Photo illustration,

In the month of July, I spent three weeks in Brazil with my family. My grandmother lives in the city of Rio de Janeiro, where the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are located. My cousins live in a city across the Guanabara Bay, called Niteri. During this time, I got to experience the wonders of this country.

Brazil was originally colonized by Portugal in 1500. So, Brazilians speak Portuguese. They are the only country in South America that speaks Portuguese. Brazil officially became independent from the Portuguese crown in 1822, and has been a democratic republic since 1889.

The most popular sport in Brazil, like the rest of the world, is soccer. Its popularity is equivalent to the popularity of football in the United States. Everyone has a team that they cheer for and it's not uncommon for sons to like a different team than their father. The state of Rio de Janeiro has four main teams: Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo and Vasco. Personally, I'm a Botafogo fan.


As for education, kids in Brazil only go to school for half a day. You can choose whether to go in the morning or the afternoon. However, they go to school year-round, with multiple weeks of vacation throughout. Most schools offer the same courses: math, science, history, Portuguese, and a foreign language (usually English or Spanish).

The colleges in Brazil are different. Instead of choosing a college and being able to major in anything that the college offers, students must know what they want to major in before they apply.

Each college is specialized and uses its own curriculum. My cousins have gone to school for journalism, biochemistry, geography, veterinary medicine and law. Even though they live very close to each other, each went to a different college because of their individual studies.

Brazil has many fruits because of the tropical climate. There is a fruit called a jaca (which in English means jackfruit) that is the size of a large watermelon.

The biggest difference between the jaca and a watermelon, other than the taste, is that this huge fruit actually grows on tall trees.

Also, there are several different types of bananas. The banana that I like most is one that tastes like an apple, banana maca (literally: apple banana).

The music of Brazil is also very different from our own. Their radios play Top 40 hits, but they also mix in a healthy dose of samba. Brazil is renowned for samba: it has an African rhythm behind brass, guitar, and vocals. There are also Brazilian bands such as Restart that sound much like our own, only their lyrics are in Portuguese. Other types of Brazilian music include forre, pagode and bossa nova.

Every year during Carnival, the biggest parade in the country, several samba schools compete for first place by dancing through a section of Rio de Janeiro for several days. Not only is the music spectacular, but also the costume each dancer wears is incredible.

Two important international events will be held in Brazil over the next six years. The next FIFA World Cup is scheduled to be hosted by Brazil in 2014, and in 2016, the Summer Olympics. These are two excellent opportunities to visit this country and experience all the amazing things you've just read - and more.

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