Brazil - (almost) everything you need to know

Whether you love or loathe 'the beautiful game', it won't have escaped your notice that the World Cup is fast approaching. This time round, the tournament is held in Brazil, so to get in the mood we've rounded up some insights in to Brazilian culture, sourced from Mumsnetters


First of all, Brazil is absolutely MASSIVE

It's 65 times bigger than England and 23 times bigger than UK.

It spans three time zones.

It shares borders with every country on the continent except Chile and Ecuador.

Contrary to what many people assume, the capital of Brazil is not Rio, or São Paulo, but Brasilia.


Dangerously, food is often sold by weight…

The majority of Brazil's restaurants are comida por quilo (food by kilo): diners are given a piece of paper (comanda) when they enter, on which the staff note how much they've consumed. You can help yourself to as much or as little food as possible, before getting your plate weighed on the balança (scales). At the end of the meal, everyone has their own personal bill, so there's no need to quibble over who's paying what. Excelente!


Even more dangerously, you can eat pizza for pudding...

In Brazil, it's not unusual to eat dessert pizza, which can be topped with chocolate, guava paste, dulche de leche, cooked apples, strawberries, Nutella or whipped cream.


And delicious caipirinha is sold almost everywhere...

Caipirinha, which translates roughly as 'little hillbilly', is Brazil’s national cocktail. It's made with cachaca liqueur, sugar and lime – and is the country’s strongest drink. Sounds great, but beware: as one Mumsnetter put it, "If you drink too many caipirinhas, you won't remember anything about Brazil!"


Which may help with O jeitinho brasileiro

O Jeitinho Brasileiro, which translates as 'little Brazilian way', can be defined in one Mumsnetter's words as: "behaviour most Brits would think of as cheating, but they seem to view as kind of charmingly bending the rules a little bit. Think queue jumping and small bribes". The phrase even has its own internet meme, in which people photograph botched improvised repair jobs.


And what about that statue? 

Considered by many as one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World, the statue of Christ the Redeemer took five years to construct, and is 38 metres tall with an arm span of 28 metres.

The image of its huge form looking down over Rio is familiar to us through music videos and television - and in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 version of Romeo + Juliet, it famously watches over the fictional Verona Beach.

From atop the summit you can see all of Rio – from the old town to the stadium, the beaches and the deprived favelas.


Ah yes, the favelas

Favelas (the Brazilian term for 'slums'), have existed in Brazil since the end of the 19th century. Today, six percent of Brazil's population still live in slums, and there are over 600 favelas in Rio alone.

In 2008, the Brazilian government launched the Pacifying Police Unit (UPPs) project which placed policemen in slum land with the ostensible aim of eliminating violence in the areas concerned. However, their presence has been deemed by critics to be ineffectual at best, and intimidating and harmful at worst.

One favela news agency writer stated recently that the presence of the police is nothing more than a kind of "urban marketing" whose aim is to give the impression of order and prosperity, rather than to actually bring it.

Ironically perhaps, the country's most passionate football fans - and players - are to be found in the favelas. But with residents increasingly sceptical about the aims and motivations of those organising the World Cup, outreach charity Football Beyond Borders will run its own alternative Favela World Cup on June 16.


It's not all about football...

The second most popular sport is mixed martial arts (MMA), in particular Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The Gracie family adapted Jiu Jitsu so that shorter people can also use the techniques to defend against a larger person.

Formula One is also very popular, with Ayrton Senna being a national hero. He gave a fortune to charities in Brazil and even had a cartoon series based on him called Senninha (Little Senna).


But the World Cup is A Very Big Deal

The Mane Garrincha World Cup stadium is the second most expensive football stadium in the world - coming in at $900m, it narrowly misses out to Wembley which cost $1.25bn to build. The joint cost of all the World Cup stadia is currently running four times higher than the figure put forward by Brazil in 2007, when they first bid to host the tournament.


Like this? Check out our other World Cup pages:

world cup food like this? football books for kids


Last updated: about 1 hour ago