Tag Archives: Rio Grande do Sul

What if Brazilian states were nations?

The Economist magazine asks this question in this week’s edition and reveals that:

  • São Paulo’s Gross Domestic Product and GDP per capita could be compared to Poland’s; while its population is similar (numerically) to Argentina’s
  • Rio’s GDP can be compared to Singapore’s, its GDP per capita, to Russia’s., and its population to Kazakstan.
  • Alagoas, the poorest state, according to the latest official statistics, has the GDP of Afghanistan, the GDP per capita of China and the population of Albania.
  • Rio Grande do Sul, generally considered a very rich state, has the GDP per person of…Gabon.

Check all the other states status in their infographic:


7 memorable TV historic series

A Muralha/The Big Wall
A Muralha/The Big Wall

Brazilian TV, namely Rede Globo network, produced some high-quality historic series. These ones definitely deserve a visit:

1 – Casa das Sete Mulheres – Probably the best historic series ever produced in the country. Its about the Revolução Farroupilha, also known as Guerra dos Farrapos, a 10-year revolution that opposed the landowners of the Southern state of Rio Grande do Sul and the federal government. It also depicts the Brazilian phase of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary that sided with the gaúchos and then went back to Europe, where he fought to unify his country.

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Porto Alegre in old postcards

Rua Duque de Caxias, cerca de 1912
Vários postais, provavelmente dos anos 30
Vista aérea, 1950
Anos 50
Anos 50
Avenida Borges de Medeiros, meados dos anos 60
Avenida Sepúlveda, meados dos anos 60
Avenida Borges de Medeiros, meados dos anos 60

Only 73,000 people lived in Porto Alegre, the capital of the Southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, in 1900. Today, its population is around 1.4 million – but the latest Census informs that now it began to grow in slow motion, like most of the major cities in the region. These post cards show very clearly how it evolved during this period.

Check also for other old Brazilian postcards.

Sources: blogs Colecionáveis e Coleções and  Porto Alegre em meu baú

Brazil essentials: 18 Unesco World Heritage sites you must visit

Ouro Preto by Marcelo Costa/ Flickr
Ouro Preto by Marcelo Costa/ Flickr

You decided to make a list of all the absolutely must-see Brazilian sites – but don’t know how to begin it? Here is a great starting point.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization declared 18 Brazilian places of outstanding historic or environmental value UNESCO World Heritage sites. They are a precious guide for those who want to discover the country’s riches. I have visited most of them and couldn’t agree more with the selection.

See below the full list and the UNESCO’s justification for its choices:

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia


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Gaúchos and their horses

The image of a gaúcho – the cattle rancher, or his employee, wrangling in the vast fields of the state of Rio Grande do Sul – is invariably associated to two things. First, the mate – or chimarrão -, the hot bitter infusion of a special type of dry, crushed tea, sipped from a cuia, a calabash gourd. The second is his horse.

This wonderful series of images by Eduardo Amorim  portray rodeios and daily life in several municipalities of the Southern state: Bagé, Pelotas, Esteio, Santa Vitória do Palmar. This amazing photographer has loads of pictures that you can appreciate on Flickr.

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Xote, Brazilian version of a Scottish/German dance

Normally, when a Brazilian refers to xote, he is talking about a dance fairly common in the Northeast region, similar to forró. Curiously, the word comes from the German schottische, meaning Scottish, or Scottish polka, a type of country dance probably originated in Bohemia.  It was introduced in the Brazilian court in the mid-19th century. When you see a performance of the traditional schottische (see below) it is pretty tough to figure how it evolved into its Brazilian descendants. Yes, descendants, in the plural, because xote is also danced in the extreme South of the country, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, where it is known as xote gaúcho.

The following videos show examples of  the two Brazilian xotes (first the Northeastern style by group Fala Mansa – sorry for the intro ads -, and then danced in a ball in the South), plus a demonstration of schottische . Please, let me know if you see any similitude. Frankly, I don’t.

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Brazilian volcanoes

Trindande and Martim Vaz Archipel

If you ask a Brazilian if his country has any volcanoes, he will answer with a very solid no. He will even tell you a very popular joke about that.

Once upon a time, God was showing an angel around the brand new Earth. “This is Indonesia – they will have tsunamis and volcanoes. And this is the US – they will have hurricanes and earthquakes”, he says. The angel points to Brazil: “what about this country?”. God answers that Brazil will have the best weather of the planet, no volcanoes or earthquakes, a real paradise. The angel scratches his halo and asks: “How come everything is so great there?”, to what God answers: “Just wait to see the people I will put there!”

This joke, told whenever a Brazilian is in a self-deprecating mood, reinforces a stereotype that is only partially true. Check the image I chose to open this post. This is Trindade island, a stone wall of volcanic origin off the coast of Espírito Santo state. It’s cliffs are so steep that only crabs and spiders are able to survive there. Many ships that tried to go there sank and the only safe way to reach it is by helicopter. Trindade is the living proof that even if Brazil is safer than the average, it is not 100% immune to natural catastrophes. Continue reading Brazilian volcanoes