The long-lasting impression most visitors leave Brazil with is of carefree, colorful people dancing and celebrating in the street parades at Carnival, and of a passion for life and exuberance of spirit that charms visitors from around the world.
The country has much to offer visitors at all times of year. Tourists descending on the country’s exciting cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, can enjoy the five-star hotels, shopping malls, pristine beaches, sunny skies and bustling nightlife without really having to confront the hundreds of shantytowns (favelas) where the poorest of the poor eke out a living in the shadows of the skyscrapers.
Brazil also caters well for business tourism and is a favored destination for conventions, congresses and expos, particularly the city of Sao Paulo, which is the country’s largest city and the business capital of Brazil.
Being so vast, larger than the continental United States, Brazil offers a variety of cultures and topographies. The range is evident in the contrast of the Amazon and Pantanal rain forests to the mountain towns of Minas Gerais, the urban jungle of Sao Paulo and the vast central plateau around Brasilia, and the world-famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. It all adds up to an exotic and exciting Latin American mix where the common denominators are samba, sunshine, sultry smiles and soccer.
The international access code for Brazil is +55. The outgoing code depends on what network is used (e.g. 0014 for Brasil Telecom), which is followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 001444 for the United Kingdom). The area code for Brasilia is 61, but the access code to make a call within the country from another area also depends on what network is used (e.g. (014)61 for Brasil Telecom). GSM 900and 1800 mobile phone networks cover the main cities, and phones are available to rent. Internet cafes are widely available. Every town has a central telephone office called a Posto Telefonico, from where long distance calls can be made, and public phone booths are everywhere, operated by phone cards. For cheaper calls, visitors can connect to an operator at home and place a credit card or collect call. Sending mail overseas is expensive, but the postal system is generally reliable.
Emergencies: 190 (police), 192 (ambulance).
The spoken language in Brazil is Portuguese, however Spanish and English are also used in the cities.
Travelers to Brazil can enter the country with 400 cigarettes or 25 cigars; 2 liters of alcoholic beverages and goods to the value of $500 USD, without incurring customs duty. Restricted items include fresh produce, meat and dairy products. Strict regulations apply to temporary import or export of firearms, antiquities, tropical plants, medication and business equipment.
Brazil spans four time zones: Rio and Sao Paulo: GMT -2 (GMT -3 April to October); Brasilia and Belm: GMT -3 (GMT -2 October to March); GMT -4 in the West.
Brazil has a variety of electrical voltages, sometimes within the same city, The better hotels offer 220 volts. If not, transformers are available in electrical stores. Outlets often accept a variety of plug types but the two-pin type is standard.