Brazil is the most populated country in South America and perhaps one of the most diverse. A true melting pot of people from all over the world and of different cultural backgrounds—from the Amazon to Japan and everything in between—Brazilian culture is lively and full of wonderful food, music, and energy. Here are 14 facts about this great country that are sure to blow your mind—and whet your appetite for the Brazilian foods from the box.
1. Snake Island
Ilha da Queimada Grande is an island off the coast of Brazil that is filled with so many snakes (about five per square meter) that civilians are forbidden to go there.
2. Commuter Traffic
The world’s widest road is the Monumental Axis in Brasilia on which 160 cars can drive side by side.
3. Moving Day
Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil for almost 2,000 years before it was moved to Brasilia in 1960.
4. Linguistic Nostalgia
Brazil is the only country in South America in which Portuguese is spoken. The Portuguese that is spoken in Brazil today is most similar to the way it was in the 1500s.
5. A Lesson in Geography
Brazil is huge! It shares a border with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador, and spans three different time zones.
6. Frequent Fliers
With more than 2,500 airports, Brazil is home to the second largest number of airports in the world. The US comes in first.
7. Progressive Policies
One prison in Brazil allows inmates to pedal stationary bicycles, which provide electricity to a nearby city, in exchange for reduced sentences. Another will reduce sentences by four days for each book report written by a prisoner.
8. A Home Away from Home
Outside of Japan, the biggest community of Japanese is in Brazil.
Three out of 5 of the wealthiest Brazilians made their money from beer.
10. Caffeine Fix
Brazil is currently the largest coffee producer in the world and has held that title for the last 150 years.
11. Brazilian Catholics
It is a popular misconception that the largest population of Catholics in the world is in Italy or Spain; it’s actually in Brazil! 123 million Brazilians are Catholic, around 64% of the country’s total population.
12. A Natural Wonder
Brazil, along with Argentina, is home to one of the biggest waterfalls in the world: Iguazu Falls.
13. Public Health
Brazil is the first country to ban tanning beds, and since 2008, sex changes have been covered under public health insurance.
14. Energy Efficient
Brazil is fully self-sufficient in energy. 92% of all new cars sold in Brazil are fueled with ethanol, which is produced from sugar cane.