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Homelessness. Medical emergencies. Natural disaster. Your donation helps children when they need it most..
Brazil is known for its stunning natural resources and vibrant, hardworking population. It is also a country whose most impoverished people are largely uneducated. Child trafficking is a growing problem. But at the Compassion center, there is hope.
A group of children smile and cheer while holding Brazilian flags.
A boy smiles while playing with bubbles.
Children play at the wall at their child development center.
A teenage boy teaches from his Bible at soccer practice.
A group of students practice karate.
A young boy smiles at a goat sitting on his shoulders.
A group of girls hold musical instruments at their child development center.
A girl who received help to fight scoliosis stands in the street with her mother and sister.
Issue: Brazil’s booming economy brought the 2016 Summer Olympics and 2014 soccer World Cup to this country — along with a significant increase in child abductions.
Response: Compassion-assisted children spend at least 220 hours per year at their child development centers, where they are cared for by staff members who have been specially trained in child protection and children’s rights.
Prayer Point: Pray for the thousands of children in Brazil who live in dangerous favelas (slums) and are at risk of exploitation and abuse.
Children feel safe and cared for at Compassion child development centers.
Visit the Compassion blog to learn more about our work in Brazil.
Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world! The only countries bigger than Brazil are Russia, Canada, the United States of America and China.
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Official Name: Federal Republic of Brazil
Form of Government: Federal presidential republic
Official Language: Portuguese
Currency: Brazilian real
Area: 3,286,470 square miles (8,511,965 square kilometers)
Six major groups make up the Brazilian population: the Portuguese, who colonized Brazil in the 16th century; Africans, brought to Brazil as slaves; various other European, Middle Eastern and Asian immigrant groups who have settled in Brazil since the mid-19th century; and indigenous peoples of the Tupi and Guarani language stock. Intermarriage between the Portuguese and indigenous people or slaves was common. Although the major European ethnic stock of Brazil was originally Portuguese, subsequent waves of immigration have contributed to a diverse ethnic and cultural heritage.
From 1875 until 1960, about 5 million Europeans immigrated to Brazil, settling mainly in the four southern states of Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Immigrants have come mainly from Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, Poland and the Middle East. The largest Japanese community outside Japan is in Sao Paulo. Despite class distinctions, national identity is strong and racial friction is a relatively new phenomenon.
Pedro Alvares Cabral claimed Brazil for Portugal in 1500. The colony was ruled from Lisbon until 1808, when Dom Joao VI and the rest of the Portuguese royal family fled from Napoleon's army and established its seat of government in Rio de Janeiro. Dom Joao VI returned to Portugal in 1821. His son declared Brazil's independence on Sept. 7, 1822, and became emperor with the title of Dom Pedro I. His son, Dom Pedro II, ruled from 1831 to 1889. Slavery had been abolished a year earlier by the Regent Princess Isabel while Dom Pedro II was in Europe.
From 1889 to 1930, the government was a constitutional democracy, with the presidency alternating between the dominant states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. This period ended with a military coup that placed Getulio Vargas, a civilian, in the presidency; Vargas remained as dictator until 1945. Between 1945 and 1961, Jose Linhares, Gaspar Dutra, Vargas himself, Café Filho, Carlos Luz, Nereu Ramos, Juscelino Kubitschek and Janio Quadros were elected presidents. When Quadros resigned in 1961, Vice President Joao Goulart succeeded him.
Brazil completed its transition to a popularly elected government in 1989, when Fernando Collor de Mello won 53% of the vote in the first direct presidential election in 29 years. In 2018, Jair Bolsonaro won the presidency with 55% of the vote. He took office in January 2019.
Brazilians treasure family and traditional values. Graciousness in conversation and other communication is highly regarded and relationships take precedence over other matters.
Brazilians enjoy wood carving and sculpture of African descendants in Bahis Salvador.
The “Bossanova,” a ballroom dance, originated in Brazil. Other popular music includes the Samba, Pagode and MPB (Brazilian Popular Music, a mix of many Brazilian rhythms). African rhythms have a strong influence in Brazilian music, too.
Portuguese: ¡Bom dia! (Good morning!), Até logo. (See you later.), Tchau (Goodbye), Boa tarde (Good afternoon), Boa noite (Good evening/good night), ¿Como vai você? (How are you?), Oi (Hi)
Sports & Games
Brazilians love soccer. Every town has professional teams and the season lasts all year. Brazilians also like volleyball and futsal (a form of soccer with five players per side, usually played indoors).
Common foods in Brazil include rice, beans, pasta, chicken, sausage, beef, vegetables, tropical fruits and coffee. There is at least one typical food from each of Brazil's five regions. For example, Brazilians who live in the northern region may eat pato no tucupi (duck with sauce) while those in the northeast region may eat shrimp.
The typical school year runs from February through November. Children attend one year of preschool, four years of elementary school, four years of middle school and three years of secondary school.
Over the last 15 years, some advances have been made in education. For example, the government has increased the facilities for children, and parents are required to keep their children ages 7 to 14 in school.
Despite advances, the Brazilian educational system has many challenges. Teachers are not adequately trained and many children in Brazil are being moved through school even though they have not mastered the basics, such as reading and math.
Responding to this situation, Compassion Brazil began a literacy program to teach children who have not gained adequate skills in school.
The constitution provides for freedom of religion and the government generally respects this right in practice.
There are no registration requirements for religions or religious groups. There is no favored or state religion, although the government maintains a formal agreement with the Vatican. Brazil is the biggest Catholic country in the world, according to the Brazilian Geography and Statistic Institute. However, the numbers of evangelicals in the country are growing.
All faiths are free to establish places of worship, train clergy and proselytize. There is a general provision for access to religious services and counsel in all civil and military establishments. The law prohibits discrimination based on religion. Foreign missionary groups operate freely throughout the country.
There are many Catholic religious holy days in Brazil. The following are observed as official, national holidays: Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Corpus Christi, Assumption Day, Our Lady Aparecida, All Souls Day and Christmas. Additionally, each city has at least one Catholic holy day.
Source: International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2012 by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
New Year’s Day: Jan. 1
Carnaval: six weeks before Easter — Carnaval is the biggest celebration in Brazil. For months in advance, people spend time making elaborate costumes and floats, as well as practicing their music and dancing.
Independence Day: Sept. 7
Republic Proclamation: Nov. 15
Christmas: Dec. 25 — Churches usually have a midnight service and dinner on Christmas Eve. Brazilians gather on Christmas Eve with their families to eat panetone (fruit bread), drink champagne and exchange gifts.
You can see through these Brazil facts that Brazil is a beautiful country with beautiful people. The people of Brazil are made up of various groups — Portuguese, Africans, Europeans, Middle Eastern, Asians, and indigenous peoples. These various people groups have freedom of religion, though most choose Catholicism. Evangelicals are also increasing in numbers throughout Brazil. One of the biggest cultural experiences is the love of soccer and many kids grow up with the dream of playing professionally.
Compassion has been working in Brazil since 1975. These Brazil facts and statistics provide a good picture of the reality of poverty and how child sponsorship through Compassion is making a difference.
Poverty is a problem in the country of Brazil but with your support, Compassion is working to change this. The Brazil facts tell a difficult story, but Compassion is bringing hope in the midst of the difficulties. Our programs are changing the statistics one child at a time.
Don’t let the hopelessness of poverty discourage you. Donate to children in Brazil! When you sponsor a child in need, your sponsorship meets physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of a child living in poverty in Brazil. Your sponsored child will receive urgent medical care, food, clean water, educational opportunities, a Bible, life-skills training, and an opportunity to hear about Jesus.
All of these essential items are provided within the ministry of a local church that is already present in the child’s community in Brazil. You are helping nurture your sponsored child and connect that child to a local church. With your help, we’re hoping it won’t be long before poverty isn’t even included in information about Brazil!