• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

  • Ecuador!

    Ecuador: Sally Lightfoot Crab. Go Now!

    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

  • Venezuela!

    Venezuela: Los Roques. Go Now!

    Rooted in Europe, Venezuela boasts an impressive history, culture, and beauty, including the Caribbean Coast (pictured). Explore Venezuela!

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    This hidden gem is full of surprises, from the impressive salt flats (pictured) to the migrating flamingos. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent. Explore Bolivia!

BrazilBrazil (in Portuguese spelled "Brasil") got its name from the famous brazilwood trees, which were an important crop in early European trade (used for their red dye more than for the wood itself). Over time this tree, often found on the coast, became so popular people began calling the region the "land of Brazil." The name of the brazilwood tree actually comes from the Latin word brasa, which means "ember" to describe the color of the wood, which is "red like an ember."



Brazil is a huge country with great geographic diversity, including numerous natural barriers. This landscape, from the foothills of the Andes to the Amazon River basin, has created hundreds of different cultures in the past, many of which continue to survive today.

Due to geographic isolation, many people in modern day Brazil developed along very different paths, but nearly all clung to the earth as culture and lifestyle were based on the plants and animals that were available to the people. Even today many of these people and cultures survive, particularly in the dense Amazon rain forests. In some areas the people are so isolated and their cultures are so authentic, the Brazilian government doesn't allow anyone into these areas in fear of destroying these people by way of disease.

Although some cultures and ethnic minorities have survived in Brazil for thousands of years, for the overwhelming majority of the country, life is more strongly rooted in more recent changes. With the arrival of the Spanish the many indigenous groups of people in Brazil took many different paths, from surviving in the forests to being enslaved or integrated into the immigrating population.

Among the earliest immigrants, most were Portuguese, but the Portuguese sought to control and profit from this vast land and didn't have the manpower to do so. This led to massive immigration of people from other areas, including Africa, often in the form of slavery. The French, Dutch, Spanish, and others also arrived to profit from these lands, making the country even more diverse.

The many introductions and changes to the country led to a continuous altering of the culture and people. Some communities remain tied to indigenous roots and cultures, others have become almost wholly African in ethnicity, but culturally and linguistically may be more closely tied to Portugal or Africa. Still others have taken on the route of the majority, which is a developing Brazilian culture based on European traditions as the Portuguese language and Catholicism dominate.

Cultural variations expand beyond just ethnicity; they also change according to the urban-rural balance, socio-economic class, and more. The cultural and lifestyle differences among the people in Brazil are vast and seemingly endless. However, most of the people remain united in many ways; most of the people speak Portuguese and are Catholic, among other important identifying features.

Information for Brazil was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks