History, Language & Culture Brazil
Most Brazilians are descended from three ethnic groups: Amerindians, European settlers (mainly from Portugal) and Africans. Starting in the 19th century, waves of immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and even Japan added to this mix. This diversity of people has created a rich religious, musical and culinary culture. Brazilians are football crazy, and their country has produced some of the most popular players in the world! Brazil has won the FIFA World Cup finals five times, more than any other nation. Brazil is also home to the world’s largest carnival – Rio Carnival! Each year, in the days leading up to Lent, around 2 million people take to the streets of Rio de Janeiro to enjoy music, dancing, elaborate costumes and parades. Portuguese is the first language of the vast majority of Brazilians, but numerous foreign words have expanded the national lexicon. The Portuguese language has undergone many transformations, both in the mother country and in its former colony, since it was first introduced into Brazil in the 16th century. The two countries have largely standardized their spellings, but pronunciations, vocabularies, and the meanings of words have diverged so widely that it now may be easier for some Brazilians to understand Spanish-language films from other Latin American countries than films from Portugal. Italians, Germans, Japanese, and Spanish-speaking immigrants have introduced new words and expressions in Brazilian Portuguese, such as the ubiquitous expression tchau (“farewell”), which was adopted from the Italian ciao.