By Elizabeth Bowley.
With the Olympics taking place in Rio this month, we thought we would delve in the archive to see what we could find on Brazil. As both Latin America’s and South America’s largest country there turned out to be quite a few interesting clips, from football to carnival to Copacabana beach! The following films highlight some of the history and culture of Brazil.
When you think of Brazil and Rio how can you not think of Carnival! It’s Brazil’s most famous holiday and takes place on an enormous scale as the whole country unifies for six days and six nights of intense festivities before fasting begins for Lent. A celebration not to be missed!
Which leads us to Carmen Miranda – the Brazilian Samba dancer, singer and film star known for those bananas in her hair and the precursor to Brazil’s cultural movement the Tropicalismo in the 1960s. She is also the first South American to have her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
And of course it goes without saying – football! Brazil have produced some of the world’s greatest footballer’s, with Pelé, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo springing to mind, and that’s only to name a few!
Now we come on to politics and President Vargas – regarded as Brazil’s most influential politician of the twentieth century and noted as the first president of Brazil to gain the widespread support of the masses. Originally he became president of Brazil as a revolutionary leader, however his popularity meant he would later also become an elected President. Vargas led Brazil for a total of 18 years – that’s longer than any other Brazilian president.
Moving onto a bit of Brazilian history – Brazil was first claimed by Portugal in 1500. However, after a series of political and military events Brazil gained independence from Portugal on 7 September 1822.
Brazil became involved with both World Wars. Although, originally obtaining a neutral position during the First World War, it was the repeated sinking of Brazilian merchant ships that saw Brazil declare war on the Central Powers in 1917. Brazil was the only Latin American country directly involved with the Great War and its main contribution was the Navy’s patrolling of the Atlantic Ocean.
Brazil also played an important role during the Second World War. Brazil declared war against Germany and Italy in August 1942, following a German submarine sinking six Brazilian merchant ships in a week, killing 600 civilians and leading to national uproar.
Brazil’s airbase at Natal was the second largest US airbase outside of its own territory, and an important base during the North Africa campaign. The Brazilian Navy also played a key part in the Battle of the Atlantic, helping the Allies patrol the Central and South Atlantic Ocean, combating Axis naval forces. Brazilian Expeditionary Forces were eventually sent to fight in the Italy Campaign in July 1944, and they were a crucial contributor to the Allied success.
Brazil and the UK established diplomatic relations in 1826. But, it was not until 1968 that they had their first reigning British Monarch go to visit them – The Queen. And of course Pathé was there documenting her and Prince Philip’s tour around the country.
More and more people are choosing to journey to Brazil – making Brazil the most visited country in South America. Therefore tourism has become a major industry over there, with Rio and São Paulo acting as big pulls for the country.
You also have the Amazon acting as a big draw to the country, home to a diverse range of wildlife, beautiful rain forest and awe-inspiring river. We can’t really blame them for wanting to hold the Olympics there!
It goes without saying Brazil is a fascinating country with an incredibly rich and diverse culture. Its complex heritage and natural spectacle make it a definite place to add to the bucket list!