Brazil is the largest country in the South American continent. The population of Brazil accounts to a significant percentage of the world’s populace as it is one of the highly inhabited countries universally. With regards to this, the country comprises of diverse cultures from the immigrants who came in during the colonial period, and the indigenous tribes that were adamant enough to stay in Brazil. The different immigrants including the dominant Europeans came along with rich cultures that triggered beliefs and innovations. Slavery of the Africans also contributed to new customs and ideas that were incorporated in the Brazilian culture. With a keen interest to look at the importance of the several cultural differences, the contents of this paper will expound on the cultures that existed in history, and how they are included in the current Brazil.
Religion and Beliefs
The Portuguese subjected Brazil to their rule for hundreds of years. Significantly, the dominant religion in the country for a long time was the Roman Catholic, which still is to date. Religious practices varied with distance. Some communities chose to honor their saints by the pilgrimage vows while others went the syncretic way (Hofstede et al. 336-352). Brazil has its own symbol of religious affiliation, which is a colossal statue that stands on top of a mountain in Rio de Janeiro. The statue was constructed by the Portuguese in 1931. Other than Christianity, other religions such as Muslim, Buddhists and Jews came to existence over the years. The Government of Brazil incorporated the religion aspect in the constitution when they declared Mary as the patroness of Brazil in 1980.
Brazil was proclaimed by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It stayed under the colonial rule until the 1800s when government seats were established. The Portuguese then left for their country around 1821 and left Prince Dom Pedro to lead the kingdom. A year later the prince declared Brazil independent from the Portugal rule and named himself the emperor. The kingdom was then led by hereditary means until it was declared a federal state in 1889 by Deodoro de Fonseca. The state was ruled by democracy until the then president was overthrown by Getulio Vargas in 1930 (Fausto and Fausto 190). He led the country through dictatorship until democracy was regained 15 years later. Brazil then faced a major economic backlash and dictatorship was reintroduced. The merry-go-round went on until official elections were held for the first time in 1989. Prior to this, constitutional amendments were made and voting rights awarded to illiterates. Until now, the republic remains democratic with a total of 26 states.
Language, Economic and Social life
The National language in Brazil is Portuguese. When the colonialists arrived, they eroded a number of native languages that existed amongst the hundreds of tribes then. The National language serves as a symbol of unity in Brazil. A small group of the population however sticks to their native languages. The economic environment became unstable in the 1930s (Fausto and Fausto 233-236). The number of foreign immigrants went down as the percentage of internal migration went up. Some of the states underwent negative effects of migrations as the economic growth lugged. On the other hand, the immigration into other states helped boost their economic status. During the same period, Brazil concentrated more on the locally made products rather than imported goods (Fausto and Fausto 233-236). Agricultural produce significantly increased leading to construction of more industries.
Originally, the inhabitants of Brazil were dark brown in color. However, the frequent foreign immigration led to the existence of diverse skin colors which triggered racism. People were discriminated by their races when it came to places of work (Hofstede et al. 336-352). Dark browned individuals were economically disadvantaged. Interaction of the upper class and lower class was a social taboo. In most cases, whites were regarded as high class persons. Wages were also paid with regards to race. Gender imbalance was a major issue as women were always appointed in lower ranking jobs. Women were often underpaid and submitted to male dictatorship. When the constitution was amended a bill of rights against discrimination of women w2as included. Today, Brazil is a better place with very few racists and women are included.
Brazil has a combination of diverse cultures that were mainly influenced by foreigners. The food in the country for example consists of several cuisines from several countries. Indigenous delicacies are also incorporated as prepared by the native tribes (Castro et al. 68). The staple food of the country is rice and beans. African slaves had a major contribution to the menu as Feijoada was introduced by them. Other popular delicacies originated from the Italians, Chinese, Japanese and the Middle East. Furthermore, celebrations in Brazil vary across the regions. In the olden days, village squares were used as the venues for big celebrations in the community. Occasions were graced with entertainment, food and drink enough for everyone to enjoy. Today, the Brazilian Carnival is celebrated annually to ensure bad omen is sent away. Other celebrations are made to mark the New Year, Independence Day, Christmas and many other important days. The culture established both in the pre-colonial and colonial period still lives on. With a few improvements including urbanization, the capital city of Brasilia is one of the most beautiful places in the country (Canclini et al. 85-111). Racism has reduced in the country and the social lives of the citizens greatly impacted by the changes made in the historical times. Brazil remains to be a democratic republic with a stable political scene. The constitution also ensures that the rights of every citizen are respected.
- Canclini, Néstor Garcia, et al. City/Art: the urban scene in Latin America. Duke University Press, 2009.
- Castro, Rodolfo AL, et al. “Child-OIDP index in Brazil: cross-cultural adaptation and validation.” Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 6.1 (2008): 68.
- Fausto, Boris, and Sergio Fausto. A concise history of Brazil. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
- Hofstede, Geert, et al. “Comparing regional cultures within a country: Lessons from Brazil.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 41.3 (2010): 336-352.