Despite the absence of marked reliefs as in the countries surrounding it, the vastness of the Brazilian territory, the largest in Latin America and the fourth largest in the world with nearly 9 million square kilometres, is characterized by infinite contrasts. As Mario Carelli wrote, Brazil is the result of a Métis epic. The five geographical regions (South, South-East, South-East, Central-East, North-East, North-East) have their own identities, cultures, traditions, dishes, accents... Indigenous, African and European origins certainly intersect everywhere, but some influences are more pronounced in some regions. In Belém, the Indian origins of the inhabitants are easily observable. In Bahia, the African origins of the country's first capital are expressed in the deep rootedness of African culture, perceptible in the local cuisine, musical and religious influences of the land of its origins. Further south, Italian and German immigration at the beginning of the 20th century explained the white skin and pale eyes of some of the inhabitants of Santa Catarina. In Pomerode, some people still speak an old Pomeranian dialect. Another eminently Brazilian feature is the contrasting population densities that will surely confuse visitors. Overcrowded and frenetic megacities, bristling with countless buildings such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, contrast with the indigenous villages where you can walk peacefully on the rivers, on board frail skiffs. Forests, ecological reserves, large rivers, sea, waterfalls... Nature, of incomparable richness, is changing. The climate varies between North and South, coastline and interior, plain and mountain, we can almost forget the concept of season. Wet heat, temperatures close to zero and extreme drought are some of the climatic conditions that can be found in June, for example, depending on the region visited. A cuisine often made up of rice, beans and beef, sometimes made from river fish or seafood, Amazonian fruit juices, pampas tea or the famous queijo pies (cheese breads) complete this feeling of diversity that often confuses at first sight. A trip will surely not be enough to see, know or taste everything, but this immensity is also a good excuse to return there!
A nature with genius :
To say that nature is grandiose in Brazil is a truism. The landscapes and biodiversity seem to rival each other in ingenuity and extravagance. Brazil is probably the country with the highest number of endemic species in the world. Beyond the extraordinary Amazonian green lung, the country has many reserves, natural parks or biosphere reserves, natural heritage of humanity. The Pantanal, located in the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, is another wonder to discover, a vast plain of 230,000 km² inhabited by many animals and struggling with the advance of the soybean front. Those who love nature will therefore have an incredible choice between the jungle with its exuberant vegetation and the great rivers, the Pantanal, a paradise for ornithologists, or the 43 national parks. These nature reserves are geographically very diverse sites in the middle of the sertão, such as the Chapada da Diamantina plateau in Bahia or in the open sea like the Fernando de Noronha archipelago near Recife. If Brazil is not known for its mountains, these, although modest, offer remarkable ecosystems, an opportunity for so many walks in the heart of national parks such as those of Agulhas negras or Caparao, which culminate, between Minas and Rio, at nearly 3,000 meters. The confrontation of tropical and high altitude climates will generate an extreme faunal and floristic diversity. The coastline, composed of superb white sand and coconut beaches, cliffs, reefs, mangroves, first contact between European "discoverers" and this incognita terrace remains an essential asset, despite the fierce struggle between the actors of coastal urbanization and their detractors.
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette