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Braden: Olá and welcome back to PortuguesePod101.com. I’m Braden.
Thássia: I’m Thássia, and this is all about lesson 8 - Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Brazilian Society.
Braden: Today, we’re going to tell you more about life in Brazil.
Thássia: There are so many aspects to Brazilian society, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Braden: Well, since the title of this lesson is top 5 things you need to know about Brazilian society, I picked five topics.
Thássia: Which are?
Braden: Major cities and city life, family life in Brazil, Brazilian work culture, and generational trends.
Thássia: Why don’t we start with city life. Most Brazilians live in cities after all.
Braden: Good idea! We’ll start with the three major Brazilian cities; Rio, São Paulo, and Brasília.
Thássia: Sounds great! Rio is located in the southeast of Brazil.
Braden: With a population of just over 3 million, Rio isn't the political capital of the country, but it is certainly the tourist capital.
Thássia: In Rio, you can see the Cristo Redentor.
Braden: "Christ Redeemer"
Thássia: Pão de Açúcar
Braden: "Sugar Loaf"
Thássia: And Ipanema and Copacabana beaches.
Braden: Besides that, Rio has unique architecture, and geological formations.
Thássia: And in 2016, the Olympics!
Braden: You’re really excited about that.
Thássia: Yes, I am! I love the Olympics.
Braden: Well, what does São Paulo have to offer?
Thássia: São Paulo is located about two hundred and seventy miles south of Rio.
Braden: São Paulo is the third largest city in the world and the manufacturing and mass media hub for all of Brazil.
Thássia: São Paulo is more a city of business than tourism.
Braden: Yes, it is. Lots of money in São Paulo.
Thássia: It’s also one of the oldest and simultaneously, most modern cities in Brazil. it is home to a fantastic contrast of old and new world influences.
Braden: From the baroque styled…
Thássia: Theatro municipal de São Paulo
Braden: The "Municipal Theater of São Paulo" built in 1903 to São Paulo Fashion Week, the largest fashion event in South America and one of the largest in the world.
Thássia: And with a population of roughly 18 million people…
Braden: São Paulo has not just a little but a lot of something for everyone.
Thássia: And what does Brasília have to offer?
Braden: Tons! Every inch of Brasília was pre-planned before any construction began.
Thássia: That’s right. It was designed like a giant airplane.
Braden: With the capitol as the cockpit, Brasília is also located at the practical center of Brazil.
Thássia: Brasília is divided into sectors, isn’t it?
Braden: Yep! Down the "first class," you can find the individual government ministries. Down the “south wing,” the Central Bank towers above everything else in the city. Toward the "tail fin" is the tallest radio tower in South America.
Thássia: And with every path surrounding the entire eastern side is a beautiful manmade lake called Lago Paranoá.
Braden: Yes, it’s very pretty. Over 2 million people live in the Distrito Federal (“The Federal District”) with over 400,000 living in Brasília proper.
Thássia: That’s pretty amazing! But I’m Brazilian and I know that there’s much more to these cities than what first meets the eye.
Braden: That’s true. Probably, the number one thing you need to know about Brazilian cities is that they are full of contradiction.
Thássia: Rio is and probably always will be beautiful almost beyond compare.
Braden: Mountains rising straight out of the ocean and towering hundreds of feet in the air make Rio's coastline breathtaking to say the least.
Thássia: But for about the past 10 years, Rio has been consistently ranked in the Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in the world.
Braden: The violence there is such a problem. It earns a spot on the list of major challenges Brazil needs to overcome. What about São Paulo?
Thássia: São Paulo is a behemoth of a city, rapidly absorbing once distant cities into a massive metropolitan area.
Braden: There you see Ferraris taking one person to the shopping mall and one bicycle taking entire families to church.
Thássia: São Paulo is a mixture of all that’s good and bad in Brazil.
Braden: Wealth, affluence, and creativity no other Brazilian city can match amid a road system so convoluted that only a spaghetti bowl dumped on an ant hill gives the right mental image.
Thássia: Brasília is different.
Braden: Quite, safe, organized, and recently voted the best place to live in South America, Brasília has one of the highest standards of living in the Americas.
Thássia: Basically, Brasília is a high-class city full of lawyers, doctors, senators, and of course, the President of Brazil, but it’s a high-class only city.
Braden: Brasília has an unbelievably high cost of living, too high for most Brazilians. A 5-minute bus ride west of Brasília takes you to Estrutural, a shanty town of over 40,000 where the street cleaners, housekeepers, garbage men, and window washers, the people who keep Brasília running, live.
Thássia: There’s no room for them in the city. And even if there were, most of them make minimum wage. They can’t afford to live in Brasília.
Braden: Let’s move on to family life.
Thássia: Families in Brazil are typically very traditional and very tight-knit. It is not unusual or strange for 20, 30, or sometimes even 40-year-old men and women to still live with their parents. I still live with my parents.
Braden: Yeah, it’s still weird to me though.
Thássia: Brazilian families are typically large, but that tradition has tapered off as the cost of living increases.
Braden: One thing I have noticed is that children still show a great deal of respect toward their parents, often calling them…
Thássia: senhor
Braden: Which means “sir” or…
Thássia: senhora
Braden: Which means “madam” or “ma’am” even in casual conversation.
Thássia: Yes, you must always be respectful to your parents. Without them, you would not exist.
Braden: So, the number two thing you should know about Brazilian society is that most Brazilians (more than 70%) are Catholic.
Thássia: One hundred and fifty million Brazilians identify themselves as Catholic making Brazil the largest Catholic country in the world.
Braden: Catholicism is often part of the family identity.
Thássia: That’s true.
Braden: Now, onto work culture and the economy, what are they like?
Thássia: Brazil’s economy is ranked 9th in the world by GDP and is strong in agriculture, industry, oil, and information technology.
Braden: Some well-known companies in Brazil are…
Thássia: PetroBrás, Vale, and Globo.
Braden: All large Brazilian corporations with bags of international clout.
Thássia: Globo Television has the largest television audience in Brazil and is transmitted to over 64 countries worldwide. Over 120 million people watch Globo every day.
Braden: Really? I didn’t know that.
Thássia: As far as work culture goes, every company and every region in Brazil is different. In the south, you find a culture much like the United States where people work long, busy, office hours. In the northern and western regions, tremendous ranches sprawl across the landscape.
Braden: Yeah. I read from the…
Thássia: IBGE…
Braden: Website. That’s the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics that the state of Mato Grosso alone has over 27 million head of cattle. That’s almost 10 times that of Montana.
Thássia: Actually, according to the numbers posted by IBGE, Brazil has more cattle than people.
Braden: Is that why beef and leather are so cheap here?
Thássia: Probably.
Braden: With that, the third most important thing you should know about Brazilian society is that it is closely tied to the land.
Thássia: That’s right. Casual expressions like está arara…
Braden: "is macaw"
Thássia: Which indicates that someone is angry, and burro amarrado na sombra…
Braden: "Donkey tied up in the shade"
Thássia: Which indicates an easy life, or no mato sem cachorro
Braden: To indicate “being lost…”
Thássia: Show up in casual conversations, even in business meetings. These and other thousands of other phrases and customs show a close connection to nature, despite Brazil's industrial development.
Braden: What about politics like in Brazil?
Thássia: Currently, Brazil is a Federative Republic.
Braden: The structure is similar to the American model.
Thássia: Yes. Three branches.
Braden: Executive, legislative, and judicial.
Thássia: With a bicameral legislative branch (called the Congresso) form the backbone of the Brazilian Federal Government.
Braden: And the head of the executive branch is President Lula who controls or influences almost all governmental action.
Thássia: Yes. You should also know that all literate people ages 18 to 70 are legally required to vote.
Braden: Required?
Thássia: Yes, required.
Braden: Interesting.
Thássia: With that, the number four thing you have to know about Brazilian society is that while there are many similarities to the USA, Brazilian government functions very differently.
Braden: This is very true. I’m often amazed and a bit confused at how things function here. Sometimes, things are more efficient here than in the States.
Thássia: What?
Braden: I said sometimes. But Brazilian government is very bureaucratic. Much more than the US, Canada, or the UK.
Thássia: combined
Braden: Combined. It can often take weeks or even months to do what can be done same-day in the States.
Thássia: That’s right. I remember having to readjust my schedule after I came back home from England. Things were slower. Things are slower here.
Braden: So, my quick tip here is to plan for delays. The government does function around here. It just moves much slower than you’re probably used to.
Thássia: That’s right. For example, it’s taking a long time, but all debts Brazil had overseas has been paid off and now Brazil lends money to first-world countries.
Braden: That’s true. Recently, the strides Brazil has made financially have been invested into education and the general well-being of the Brazilian populace.
Thássia: Many Brazilians look at the 2016 Olympics in Rio as international acceptance and approval of our progress. That’s why it means so much to us.
Braden: So, the number five thing you should know about Brazilian society is that it’s changing, constantly.
Thássia: Yep. I personally know several people who grew up without electricity that are now writing software and designing solar panels.
Braden: I know one woman who washed clothes by hand in the village river and now travels the world as a partner in an international consulting firm. Talk about added perspective. It's as if Brazil jumped from the 1820s straight to the 21st Century overnight.
Thássia: That’s right. In the past 30 years, Brazil has changed so fast that we can hardly talk to our grandparents about, well, really anything. The generational gap is massive.
Braden: The younger generation has absorbed every novelty presented to them. iPhones, Twitter, and bio-fuels are part of everyday life, but many of the older generation have had difficulty keeping up.
Thássia: As time goes on though, things keep getting better.
Braden: And we’re excited to have you with us as we interact with this unique culture.
Thássia: Well, that was our main theme to Brazilian society for today.
Braden: We certainly covered a lot of information.
Thássia: Yes and get to know more on the next All About Brazil at PortuguesePod101.com.
Braden: See you next time!
Thássia: Até mais!