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Brazilian Culture

A Mixed Population

Brazil’s population, the fifth biggest in the world, reached its lands from Africa, Asia, Europe and other parts of the Americas -diverse origins that have created one of the planet’s most racially mixed societies. How they came, intermingled and developed the unique Brazilian identity that charms visitors today is a rough-and-tumble story of courage, greed, endurance and cruelty, eventually yielding a fitful progress towards the democracy the country now enjoys.

Minas Gerais' colonial cities seem to have been taken directly from the Portuguese countryside. Rio de Janeiro used to be the capital city of Brazil and many Portuguese emigrants went to the city during the 19th and 20th centuries.

São Paulo received thousands of Italians and Japanese emigrants during the 19th and 20th centuries and their influence spread all over the State. Germans settled in the valleys and mountains of Southern Brazil and their culture and language is still strong in Santa Catarina. Finally, Rio Grande do Sul, the country's southernmost State, share similarities with Argentina and Uruguay. 

Religion

In 1891, when the first Brazilian Republican Constitution was set forth, Brazil ceased to have an official religion. The present Constitution (1988) guarantees absolute freedom of religion.

Food & Drink

Each region of Brazil – depending on its indigenous culture, the culture of its colonizers, proximity to rivers or the ocean, annual rain and soil conditions – developed its own very diverse cuisine. 

Belo Horizonte’s cuisine, for example, is strongly based on pork and chicken, and legumes and cereals (most notably beans and corn).

The region's very mild white cheese is known throughout Brazil simply as queijo Minas (Minas cheese). Pão de queijo (bread baked with Minas cheese) is irresistible, and popular throughout Brazil. You'll realize very quickly that Minas Gerais isn't the place to start a diet.

But if there is one dish that typifies Brazilian cooking it is probably feijoada. It is a complicated bean dish prepared with air-dried beef, smoked sausage, tongue, pig's ears and tails, garlic, and chilli peppers. It is customary to fill a plate with white rice and spoon feijoada over the top, covered with farofa (cassava flour) to thicken the sauce. The whole dish is garnished with spring greens and slices of oranges.  

 The national drink is cachaça, made from crushed sugar cane, which is the basis of the popular caipirinha. Cachaça is also the basis for batidas, a mix of cachaça and fresh fruit juices. Brazil is, of course, the world's largest coffee producer.