Whether we like to admit it or not, language plays a big role in how people decide where to travel in the world. English-speaking people tend, as a rule, to confine themselves to travelling to destinations where English is the principal language or is at least widely spoken and understood. It is perhaps for this reason alone, that more people don’t travel to South America. It’s certainly not any further to travel to than say south-east Asia; it’s relatively cheap; politically stable; boasts amazing scenery and where the locals are extremely hospitable. The hosting of next year’s Olympic Games in Rio will no doubt put South America in general and Brazil in particular, back under the spotlight that it enjoyed in 2014 when the World Cup was also hosted in the city and at other stadia throughout the country. That’s assuming of course that everything gets built on time for the worrying news is that the infrastructure programme is way behind schedule right now. On the upside, there has been a huge crackdown on crime with the result that there’s probably never been a better time to visit Rio. Of course, Brazil is not just Rio de Janeiro. As South America’s largest country (both in terms of size and population), there is a huge amount to both see and do in this Latin American powerhouse — the ‘B’ in those oft referred to ‘BRIC’ nations (the others being Russia, India and China) that economic commentators never to seem to tire talking about. At over 8.5 million square kilometres in size, Brazil is more than 126 times larger than the Republic of Ireland and boasts a population in excess of 200 million, making it the 5th most populous country in the world, after China, India, the United States and Indonesia!
Brazil literally has it all from rainforests and sub-tropical jungles to huge cities, vast plains, idyllic beach locations and of course one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world which it shares with Argentina and which is located near to the border with Paraguay. Being the only country in South America where Portuguese is spoken, Brazil sets itself apart from the rest of the continent, not only in terms of its vast size and population but also its language. Brazil is also the only country that comes to mind that is named after a tree as it was named after brazilwood which grew in profusion along great swathes of the coastline a few centuries ago and which was one of the reasons why early Portuguese explorers were attracted to its shores!
Perhaps the most famous area of Brazil and known the world over is the Amazon. The Amazonian rain forest area covers more than 3 million square kilometres. Imagine that — a forest 65 times larger than the ENTIRE island of Ireland! It’s just impossible to get your head around. In fact the bio diversity of the Amazonian ecosystem is so huge that one in five of all bird and fish species on earth can be found in this area alone. Being such a hugely diverse country in terms of its flora, fauna and physical features one small blog cannot hope to even begin to do it justice so I will return to this subject in several future blogs. In the meantime, why not check your calendar, break into your kitty jar; make sure that your passport is fully up to date and start making plans to visit Brazil before the hordes arrive!