3) The multi-cultural heritage: all kinds of people have come to settle here over the centuries, leaving a heritage of pioneering Portuguese, indigenous Indians; freed African slaves, Italians escaping both World Wars; the largest, ex-pat Japanese community, Syrians, Lebanese, adventurous Dutch and Swedes, post -war Germans and many more. It is a real melting pot. Although Portuguese is the main language, you can get by with Italian and Spanish in most places, and German in the south. More and more schools are introducing English into the curriculum, but this still is spoken mostly only in the big cities.
4) Religion: although a predominantly Catholic country (hence the One Direction-like euphoria at the Popes recent visit), youll also find protestants, Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews, muslims, Buddhists, plus (African) Yoruba, Shinto and Rastafarism. One thing that impresses me is that all these different faiths seem to live peacefully together: it could be because the Brazilian people are generally non-confrontational. Peace, not war . my dream place.
5) Parties and Festivals: Brazilians love any excuse for a knees-up. New Years eve is the big one, when the whole country dresses in white and heads to the beaches with candles its like being among angels to celebrate Lemanjá (Goddess of the Sea in the African Umbanda religion). Other big days are festivals of São Jorge ( April 23) and São João (St John the Baptist, June 24). Bahia is said to have up to 40 festivals a year no wonder they are all so happy and chilled out.
6) Sexiness everyone here (especially the women) behaves like they are drop- dead gorgeous, and it is that confidence that gives Brazilians their alluring sexuality. I have never come across a nation of people who feel so absolutely content with who they are and how they look, and all shapes, sizes and ages can be seen sporting those infamous (dental floss) thongs on the beaches.
7) Friendliness: ignore the bad press you hear about Brazil, the majority of the Brazilian people are full of smiles. Keep this in your mind when you come here, and dont be over suspicious of people - it will only ruin the experience. Of course, dont be too flash with the cash and the valuables, like anywhere but paranoia and suspicion attract the wrong types so act positive.
8) Beauty: its not just the lush green vegetation; exotic hummingbirds, colourful flowers, pretty butterflies and easy-on-the-eye people, but I also love the fact that women here, whether rich or poor, head to the beauty salons once a week to have their nails and hair done. It's a must, but it does help that for £10 you can have both a mani and a pedi.
9) Music: the one thing that unites all Brazilians is their music : they are never without it, and no matter how wealthy or poor they are, this is one thing that unites them as a people. If you love Brazilian music, whether it be bossa nova, forró, samba, zouk, hiphop or techno, trance or House you will find them all here.
10) Havaianas : make sure you sport a pair! And love and lap up every little thing, as I can promise youll be back for more. Look what happened to me