OFFICIAL NAME: FEDERATIVE REPUBLIC OF BRAZIL
Brazil is another land of contrasts. Rio and Sao Paulo are modern cities, bustling and with relatively high standards of living. The Amazon has been barely touched by civilization. The Northeast is poverty ridden and almost feudal in social structure. The gulf between rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, is great. The minimum wage of about $100 a month changes little except to reflect the huge inflation rate. The military has long played an active role in politics and periodically takes over the government or exercises behind-the-scenes control.
A national debt of ninety plus billion dollars brought on by the sharp increase in oil prices, giant public spending projects and subsidized industrial development places a staggering burden on the country.
Rio de Janeiro (the River of January), with ten million people, is to North Americans the most glamorous of South American cities. The exploring Portuguese came upon what they thought was a river. It was in January. Hence, the name Rio de Janeiro. By any standards the setting of Rio is spectacular. Rio is a Brazilian Miami Beach hot and humid in the summer (our winter), pleasantly mild during the months of June through September.
Ranking with Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Fasching in Munich, Rio’s Carnival begins on the Friday night before Ash Wednesday and continues, virtually nonstop, for four days. The Rio people the Cariolas go wild, fed by drinks, dope, and dancing.
Travel films of Rio always show the Copacabana beach with its hotels and its tiled beach walk, tiles of several colors. Actually Rio has sixteen beaches and some of the shapeliest women in the world are certain to make sure you notice. It also has magnificent views from Sugar Loaf Mountain and from the top of Corcovado, on which stands the huge statue, Christ the Redeemer.