The opening ceremonies for the summer Olympics are fast approaching and this year they’re set to take place in beautiful Rio de Janerio, Brazil.

Brazil, especially the beloved city of Rio, is known for its beautiful beaches, warm weather and party atmosphere; but there’s a lot more to the country than sun, surf, and Carnivale. It’s actually the largest country in South America, home to a wide variety of cultures, fascinating history, and some of the most pristine wilderness found anywhere in the world.

If you’re planning a trip to Brazil to catch the Olympics or just to check it off your bucket list, be sure to read up on some of the fascinating stories and discoveries that make this country so unique:

Geologist C. Frederick Hart gives readers a glimpse of Brazil as it was in 1867 in this travel story from the very first volume of The American Naturalist.

Brazil is home to around 1700 species of birds that we know of and potentially many that are yet to be discovered. Sadly about 10% of these animals are currently under threat of extinction, though the counties conservation efforts give ornithologists some hope.

A 1985 study explores the role of women and religion in the early colonial days of Brazil.

João Cabral de Melo Neto was a Brazilian poet and diplomat under the aesthetics of modernism. He was awarded the 1990 Camões Prize, the greatest literary prize in the Portuguese language, and the 1992 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

The National Ethyl-Alcohol program turns Brazil’s sugar cane crop into fuel to help combat economic and environmental issues in the region.

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Ambio, Vol. 14, No. 4/5, Energy in Developing Countries (1985), pp. 293-297
Springer on behalf of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Conservation Biology, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Jun., 2005), pp. 665-671
Wiley for Society for Conservation Biology
Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall, 1985), pp. 43-57
Indiana University Press on behalf of FSR, Inc
The American Naturalist, Vol. 1, No. 12 (Feb., 1868), pp. 642-651
The University of Chicago Press for The American Society
Poetry, Vol. 103, No. 1/2, Work in Progress: Long Poems, Sequences (Oct. - Nov., 1963), pp. 10-18
Poetry Foundation