Brazil under the Olympic Spotlight

With the Rio Summer Olympics taking place from 5th - 21st August 2016, Brazil has been all the buzz around the internet and in conversation. But how much do you really know about the country?

Did you know that in the city of Laguna, west of Copacabana Beach, fishermen use dolphins as their assistants to help catch fish in the murky water? Scientists had known that dolphins work together to herd groups of mullet, a fish that's an important source of food for local fishermen, toward a line of fishermen in boats or knee-deep water. Then the dolphins signal with specialized head or tail slaps when and where the fishermen should throw their nets. The cooperation is helpful to both parties who wouldn't survive without each other.

Here are some more interesting facts that you may not know about Brazil:

  • Brazil is the largest country in South America and covers 3,287,612 square miles (8,514,877 sq. km) which is around 47% of the continent!
  • The national football (soccer) team of Brazil has won the FIFA World Cup a record five times. Brazil is famous for some seriously huge soccer stars, namely Pele, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho.
  • Every Brazilian city has at least one soccer stadium.
  • The best coffee in the world is said to come from Brazil. About one-third of all of the world’s coffee is grown in Brazil, and much of Brazil’s premium coffee is labelled Santos after the port it is shipped through. Many high quality espresso blends are made from either Bourbon Santos or Brazil Cerrado since Brazilian coffee are grown at relatively low elevations (compared to Central American coffees, for example), the Brazil coffee beans are not particularly dense. For this reason a Medium-Dark Roast (Vienna Roast; Full City Roast) is recommended – be careful not to choose too dark of a roast as it may cause an ashy bitterness.

Food is a treasured part of Brazilian life. With roots in African, America and Europe, the tastes of this marvellous country range from meaty churrascarias, hearty feijoadas, vibrant street food and upscale, gourmet selections – all best accompanied by Brazil's national cocktail, the tangy caipirinha

This is a wonderfully refreshing cocktail using Cachaça and also includes, limes, sugar, ginger, mint and ice.

  • Brazil has 13 cities with over one million residents. Many mistakenly assume that Brazilians speak Spanish; however Portuguese is the local language although there are some 180 different languages spoken here in total.
  • Brazil contains almost 60 percent of the Amazon rain forest and there are more species of monkeys in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. Coming in at 6,400 km (4,000 miles), the Amazon River runs through the forest and is the 2nd longest river on earth. With over 3,000 fish species the Amazon basin is home to half of the remaining rainforest on earth.
  • Further south is The Iguazu National Park, home to the semi-circular waterfall called Iguazu Falls. Bordering Brazil and Argentina, this 80 meter high landscape is made up of 250 spectacular waterfalls surrounded by subtropical rainforest. It also boasts over 2,000 species of vascular plants and is home to the typical wildlife of the region: tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and caymans.

  • Brazil is 100 percent energy independent
  • The Christ Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Proudly standing on top of Corcovado Mountain since 1931, this Art Deco statue towers 30 meters over Rio. The statue has become an icon for Rio de Janeiro and Brazil’s most famous monument. On a clear day the views from the base of the statue are fantastic. At night the statue is lit up and seemingly hovers over the city as the mountain it stands on is dark. If it is cloudy the clouds light up and the effect can be quite spectacular and ethereal.
  • Brazil is 100 percent energy independent
  • Brazil has the most famous and celebrated carnival festival in the world. Rio Carnival is a wild 5-day celebration, 40 days before Easter. It's not only the biggest Carnival in the world, it is also a benchmark against which every other carnival is compared to. Rio Carnival is the result of months of preparation. It begins with the crowning of the Fat King (King Momo), who is presented with a giant silver and gold key by the city's mayor. Then it is Carnival all over the place, in the streets and squares, bars, clubs and all other venues, taking over the whole city of Rio and culminating in the Rio Carnival Parade also known as the Samba Parade
  • Brazil’s Praia do Cassino is the Longest Beach in the World. Extending to reach around 150 miles in length, this is longer than the entire coastline of New York State (127 miles)


  • It is the longest country in the world from north to south via land, spanning approximately 2,800 miles.
  • Brazilian models are generally considered to be some of the most gorgeous women in the world.
  • The Brazilian bikini wax was invented in New York in 1987 by seven Brazilian-born sisters.
  • Brazil has the ninth highest number of billionaires in the world.
  • The prisoners of Brazil’s Arisvaldo de Campos Pires maximum security penitentiary wait out their sentences by knitting, thanks to a partnership with Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes. As part of a prison-wide program called the Lotus Flower project, male inmates are crocheting high-end clothing in exchange for a modest salary and reduced prison sentences.

 As Brazil comes under the Olympic spotlight, life goes on as usual for millions of Brazilians working to make a living in the shanty towns - or favelas. The largest favela in Rio de Janeiro is Rocinha, where homes are packed together in a sprawling maze of streets and alleys.

The first favelas appeared in the late 19th century and were built by soldiers who had nowhere to live. Favelas with a privileged location like Rocinha have relatively better standards than other shanty towns further away from jobs and services; and even within Rocinha there are richer and much poorer communities. The poorer areas are usually higher on the hilltop, with many houses only accessible on foot. In Rio's favelas, most homes are made from brick and cement, a majority have running water and about 99% have electricity. Sanitation is often a big problem - in Rocinha sewage flows down a large channel in the middle of houses.


The eyes of the world will descend onto this amazing city from 5th - 21st August 2016 who just recently celebrated her 450th Birthday. The Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place in South America for the first time as this iconic city hosts the XXXI Summer Olympiad. Get ready for the intense excitement of 42 Olympic sports. 306 events over the course of 19 days of competition will yield 136 medals for women, 161 for men and nine mixed medals.

The legendary Maracanã stadium stages the decisive matches of the football tournament and two of the Games' most striking moments: the opening and closing ceremonies. The stadium was recently modernised for the 2014 World Cup.

For those of you who are staying put this summer but want a taste of Rio ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games can now head to a Brazil-inspired beach on the South Bank.

Organisers of the Copacabana Brazilian beach are hoping the pop-up eating and drinking venue will bring the “spirit and optimism” of the city to London while also celebrating “everything that is great” about it.

More than 85 tonnes of sand have gone into creating the attraction — which is 80 metres long and located by the Southbank Centre. Rio’s famous lifeguard tower “postos” have also been recreated and turned into a bar serving cocktails such as the Caipirinha and a selection of street food like spicy Malagueta chicken skewers, pork and papaya sausage and grilled halloumi. Bringing the carnival fun, food and booze all summer long, and getting us ready for the Rio Olympics, you really don’t wanna miss the Copacabana…

So whether you're dancing on the sand to Duran Duran or sipping cocktails with Barry Manilow, music and passion were always the fashion at the Copa...............................

Late May – end of September 2016, 11am-late
Copacabana Beach, Queen Elizabeth Walk, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

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