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Brazil - Overview

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Brasilia is the capital of Brazil, but SÃÂGBPo Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are its largest cities. Other main cities include Manaus, in the Amazonian region, and Fortaleza, Natal, Recife and Porto Alegre on the coast. There are also a number of old colonial towns.

SÃÂGBPo Paulo is reportedly the world's third-largest metropolis, with population estimates ranging between 10 and 20 million, and the wealthiest city in Brazil. It is highly cosmopolitan and the home of Brazil's educated middle class, as well as many ethnic neighbourhoods including those of the city's many Italian and Japanese descendents. SÃÂGBPo Paulo is particularly renowned for its excellent shopping and nightlife, as well as its cluttered layout and perpetual traffic jams.

Rio de Janeiro is probably best known for its lively carnaval, beautiful beaches including Copacabana and Ipanema, and its giant open-armed statue of Jesus overlooking the city and harbour. With population estimates ranging from 5 to 10 million, Rio is also characterised by stark contrasts between rich and poor, as its many shantytowns, home to around a third of the population, are juxtaposed with exclusive residential areas. The beaches play a central role in the life of Rio's residents, being the venue for sunbathing, sports, and even business negotiations.

Brasilia, located inland, is famed for its planning and architecture although many observers are critical of its unattractive design. There is a small expatriate population here, mainly diplomatic and military staff and their dependents.

There are large expatriate communities in SÃÂGBPo Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and the coastal towns. Many of the western expatriates are American, British or Portuguese, and have retired to Brazil. The main concern for expatriates living in Brazil is the high crime rate, particularly in the main cities. There is a particularly high rate of violent street crime, and Brazil's murder rate is reportedly four times higher than that of the U.S. Offset against this, the benefits of living in Brazil include the friendliness of the people, a good climate, the country's natural beauty and the relatively low cost of living.


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