Passports: by law you must carry a passport with you at all times, but many travelers opt to carry a photocopy (preferably certified) when traveling about town and to leave their passport securely locked up at their hotel.
Visas: Brazil has a reciprocal visa system, so if your home country requires Brazilian nationals to secure a visa, then you’ll need one to enter Brazil. US, Canadian and Australian citizens need visas, but UK, New Zealand, French and German citizens do not. You can check your status with the Brazilian embassy or consulate in your home country.
Entry & Exit Cards: on entering Brazil, all tourists must fill out a “cartão de entrada/saida” (entry/exit card); immigration officials will keep half, you keep the other. When you leave Brazil, the second half of the entry/exit card will be taken by immigration officials. Don’t lose your card while in Brazil, as it could cause hassles and needless delays when you leave.
Customs Regulations: travelers entering Brazil can bring in 2L of alcohol, 400 cigarettes, and one personal computer, video camera and still camera. Newly purchased goods worth up to US$500 are permitted duty-free. Meat and cheese products are not allowed.
Electricity: it is not standardized in Brazil and can be almost anywhere between 110V and 220V. The most common power points have two sockets, and most will take both round and flat prongs. Carry a converter and use a surge protector with electrical equipment.
Internet Access: most hostels, as well as many cafes and restaurants, provide Wi-Fi access. It's usually free, although hotels sometimes charge for it.
Mobile Phones: Brazil uses the GSM 850/900/1800/1900 network, which is compatible with North America, Europe and Australia, but the country’s 4G LTE network runs on 2500/2690 (for now), which is not compatible with many North American and European smartphones. Foreigners can purchase a local SIM with a passport instead of needing a Brazilian CPF (tax ID number). Local SIM cards can be used in unlocked European and Australian phones, and in US phones on the GSM network.
ATMs: they are the easiest way of getting cash in big cities and are common. In many smaller towns, ATMs exist but don’t always work for non-Brazilian cards.
Cash: Brazilian currency is the Real (often written R$). One real is made up of 100 centavos.
Credit Cards: you can use credit cards for many purchases and to make cash withdrawals from ATMs and banks. Visa is the most widely accepted card, followed by MasterCard. Amex and Diners Club cards are less useful. Visa cash advances are widely available, even in small towns with no other currency-exchange facilities.
Tipping: hotel tipping is optional for housekeepers, but appreciated. Parking is usually R$ 2 or more; assistants do not receive wages and are dependent on tips. It's customary to tip guides at the end of a tour, and certainly appreciated if you can give a little to the assistant. At restaurants a 10% service charge is usually included in the bill.
Banks 9am–3pm Monday–Friday
Nightclubs 10pm–4am Thursday–Saturday
Restaurants Noon–2:30pm and 6–10:30pm
Shops 9am–6pm Monday–Friday and 9am–1pm Saturday
Taxes & Refunds: value-added tax (VAT), levied on most goods, ranges between 17% and 20% depending on the region; it is always included in the given price. Most restaurants also add on a 10% to 13% service charge. There's no system of VAT refunds for purchases made in Brazil.
Brazil has four time zones:
Most of the country is GMT/UTC minus three hours. This includes Rio, São Paulo, the South, Northeast, Brasília and half of the Amazon.
Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul and most of the Amazon are one hour behind Brasília time (GMT/UTC minus four hours).
A tiny part of Amazonas state and all of Acre are two hours behind Brasília time (GMT/UTC minus five hours).
The Fernando de Noronha archipelago is one hour ahead of Brasília time (GMT/UTC minus two hours).
Brazilian daylight saving time runs from mid-October to mid-February, during which period clocks are advanced one hour – but only in the Southeast, South and Central West.
For hundreds of years, Brazil has symbolized the great escape into a primordial, tropical paradise, igniting the Western imagination like no other South American country. From the mad passion of Carnival to the immensity of the dark Amazon, Brazil is a country of mythic proportions. Brazilian people do permanently delight visitors with their energy, fantasy and joy. Brazil is the world's fifth largest country, occupying almost half the South American continent and bordering every country on it, except Chile and Ecuador. Much of Brazil is scarcely populated, although some regions with previously low population densities, such as the Amazon, are being rapidly settled, logged and depleted. Brazil can be divided into four major geographic regions. The long, narrow Atlantic seaboard has coastal ranges between the Rio Grande do Sul and Bahia, but is flatter north of Bahia. The large highlands, which extend over most of Brazil's interior south of the Amazon Basin are punctuated by several small mountain ranges and sliced by several large rivers. There are also two great depressions: the Parana-Paragui basin in the south, which is characterized by open forest, low woods and scrubland; and the huge, densely forested Amazon basin in the north. The Amazon, 6275km (3890mi) long, is the world's largest river, and the Amazon forest contains 30% of the world's remaining forest. The richness and diversity of Brazil's fauna, much of which is endemic, is astounding, and the country ranks first in the world for numbers of species of mammals, freshwater fish and plants; second for amphibians, third for bird species; and fifth for species of reptiles. Most of Brazil can be visited comfortably throughout the year, it's only the south - which can be unbearably sticky in summer (December-February) and non-stop rainy in winter (June-August) -submitted to large seasonal changes. The rest of the country experiences brief tropical rains throughout the year, which rarely affect traveling schedules.
Population: 205,8 millions.
Capital city: Brasília.
People: 55% European descent, 38% Mulatto, 6% African descent.
Religion: 70% roman catholic, also a significant proportion either belonging to various cults or practicing animism.