I am presently in Canada and when I tell people that I have been living in Brazil for the past 10 + years the flurry of questions and misconceptions arise. Let me clarify a few things that most people may not know about Brazil.
1. Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish. French was taught as a second language up until the 70's at Brazilian schools. Now the number one second language taught is English, followed by Spanish.
2. Carnaval is once a year for 5 days. No, people do not dance and party in the street the other 360 days of the year.
3. Brazil is the only country who has won the World Cup five times.
4. Brazil was a military dictatorship from the late 60's until the mid 80's.
5. Brazil has HUGE amounts of natural resources ranging from oil, fresh water and bauxite to gold and precious colored stones. It has a strong agricultural infrastructure. Coffee, orange juice,cotton and soyabeans are among some of the commodities from there. It also has the largest number of cattle in the world. The northern state of Ceara has the perfect location and conditions for wind power.
6. The Amazon forest is in the north, not near Rio de Janeiro.
7. The Brazilian Ministry of Health was instumental in breaking the patents on AIDS drugs. This reduced the price of the 'cocktails' from over $10 000/year per patient to less than $1000. This is covered by the national health system and the idea has been 'exported' to countries such as South Africa.
8. Brazilian doctors are amongst the best in the world. Not just the plastic surgeons, but orthopedic and oncologists too.
9. Brazil is very diverse. Originally discovered by the Portuguese, it has influences and immigrants from Holland, France, Germany, Italy, Africa, Japan, Poland and Syria and Lebanon. The aboriginal people of Brazil have been there for centuries, some tribes in the Amazon are yet to be discovered.
10. Not everyone lives in a 'favela' or slum. Unfortunately, favelas have grown fast and furious over the past few decades. What started out as small communities of migrant workers from the poorer Northeast part of Brazil, they have become 'no man's land' in some cases because of rampant crime caused by the drug trade and the 'milicia'. Not all people who live in the 'favela' are criminals. Most are hard working ,honest people who would give their shirt off of their back. Unfortunately, a few ruin it for all.