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Brazil is the largest country in South America and is home to an ever-expanding expat population. With a resource-rich economy and booming mining, agricultural and manufacturing sectors, there is an extensive range of job opportunities for expats moving to Brazil. However, the country also has a vastly unequal income distribution which has resulted in high crime rates in the larger cities and the growth of its infamous favelas. Despite these issues, this relatively young democracy has become one of South America’s leading economic powers. On a global platform, it is a resource-rich BRIC country.
From the Amazon basin to the beautiful beaches along its northern and eastern shores, Brazil’s climate is as varied as its terrain. Due to its sprawling size, the easiest way to travel between cities in Brazil is by air. Long-distance buses, trains and boats also keep the country connected. Within cities, there are generally extensive bus services and a range of bus companies to choose from. Major cities, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, all have efficient metros.
All of Brazil's major cities have numerous English-language international schools servicing the diplomatic, expat and immigrant populations. Brazil also has an extensive network of both public and private healthcare options available.
Speaking at least basic Portuguese will be a vital skill for expats wanting to make a life in the country. Without it, one will undoubtedly encounter problems when conducting business and taking care of everyday affairs.
Brasília, the country's capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the seat of Brazil’s government. It's home to over 100 embassies and consulates as well as the headquarters of numerous multinational companies, drawing expats from all around the globe. Vibrant cities, pristine beaches, exotic jungles and gargantuan rivers add further allure to make Brazil an exhilarating destination full of exciting travel and career potential.
Population: About 209 million
Capital city: Brasília
Neighbouring countries: Brazil is bordered by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana to the north; Colombia to the northwest; Bolivia and Peru to the west; Argentina and Paraguay to the southwest; and Uruguay to the south.
Geography: Brazil occupies about half of South America with a long coastal region to the east. It has a vast and complex network of rivers, including the famous Amazon river. About two-thirds of the massive Amazon rainforest is within Brazil's borders. The rest of the country has a diverse landscape ranging from plateaus and plains to mountains, hills and highlands.
Political system: Federal presidential constitutional republic
Major religions: Roman Catholicism with a Protestant minority
Main language: Portuguese
Money: The Brazilian Real (BRL) is divided into 100 centavos. Expats will need a residence visa to open a bank account. ATMs are widely available, although some only operate during certain hours for safety reasons.
Tipping: Standard 10 percent
Time: Brazil has four time zones: GMT -2, GMT -3, GMT -4 and GMT -5.
Electricity: 110V/220V, 60Hz. Plugs with two or three round pins are generally used.
Internet domain: .br
International dialling code: +55
Emergency contacts: 190 (police), 192 (ambulance), 193 (fire)
Transport and driving: Motorists drive on the right-hand side of the road. The types and extent of public transport services available vary widely from city to city.
"When I first arrived in Belo Horizonte, I encountered a lot of very patient people who were willing to let me muddle through conversations in broken Portuguese!" Read more about Jennifer's experiences in Brazil.
"I moved because Rio is the most beautiful big city in the world and to start my travel business here." Read more about Elliot's views on Brazil.
Are you an expat living in Brazil?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Brazil. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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