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The Just Student Jobs Country guide for gap year travel in South America - Brazil

Where to Go - South America

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Argentina | Brazil | Chile| Colombia
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Population : 172,860,370

Literacy rate : 83.3%

Life expectancy at birth : male – 58.54 yrs, female – 67.56 yrs

Infant mortality rate : 38.04 deaths /1,000 live births

Population growth rate : 0.94%

GDP growth rate : 83.3%

GDP per capita : £4,200

Unemployment : 7.5%

Inflation : 5%

TI index : 3.9

Time: Brazil spans various time zones:

Eastern Standard Time: GMT - 3 (GMT - 2 from third Sunday in October to third Saturday in March).

North East States and East Parà Time: GMT - 3.

Western Standard Time: GMT - 4 (GMT - 3 from third Sunday in October to third Saturday in March).

Amapa and West Para Time: GMT - 4.

Acre State: GMT - 5.

Fernando de Noronha Archipelago: GMT - 2.

Electricity: Bahia (Salvador) and Manaus 127 volts AC;Brasília and Recife 220 volts AC, 60Hz; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo 110 or 220 volts AC, 60Hz. Plugs are of the 2-pin type. Most hotels provide 110-volt and 220-volt outlets, transformers and adaptors.

Climate : Tropical in Amazonas, hot and dry in north-east, Mediterranean in south.

Websites :

The British Consulate in São Paulo is at

One of the best Brazilian newspapers (O Estado de São Paulo) has a website with an English option at

Brazil has cultural traditions from West Africa, Portugal, France, Germany, Italy and the Middle East. The official religion is Roman Catholic, but find out about Umbanda and Candombl é and go to the sea during the Festa de Iemenjá. Find out about the other Orixás (saints) as well. Brazil is much more than it seems. It even has its own martial art – capoeira.

Brazil has the largest economy and the largest population of any country in South America. The Central Bank’s announcement that the Real is no longer pegged to the US dollar (January 1999) led to a small devaluation, but the economy rebounded well and things are looking up for Brazil.

This is by no means a uniform country – one can go from Amazonas, with the Free Trade area of Manaus, to the river mouth city of Bel ém , south down the coast through the poor north-east and then further south still to Rio de Janeiro (now a fading shadow of its former self with many crime problems), to the state of S ão Paulo; the dynamo which drives the Brazilian economy. The capital city of the state (also called São Paulo, or ‘ Sampa ’) has a population of some 14m people. It is said that if the state were to proclaim independence, its standard of living would rise to that of Germany. Going further down the coast we come to the southern states where the cultural heritage is more linked to that of the gauchos of Argentina and Uruguay. German settlers also settled here, as did some Welsh families.

Brazilians are hospitable and only serious when they need to be. They are great party people. The population figures quoted above have taken the appreciable incidence of AIDS into account. Take all necessary precautions.

If you want somewhere a little quieter, go to the seat of government and administration – Bras ília . This city is on a high plain, far from other big cities and is quite an exceptional place to live. Other cities will also offer good opportunities, but less money. Try Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Bahia or Recife.

One thing you must not miss is Carnaval, in fact take part in this festival before you die. Food excellent and varied (try feijoada – the traditional Saturday dish), not much wine, but good beer. Beware of the local rum – cacha ça - very strong and usually drunk as a caipirinha (little country girl) - a cocktail mixed with limes, sugar and ice. If you are not so keen on alcoholic beverages, or just want something to pick you up on the morning after the night before, ask for a vitaminas – a thick milk-shake made with avocados. Beats three Weetabix™ any day.

Entry requirements

This is the downside. It will be up to you to arrange a work permit. Many people nip back and forth across the border at Foz de Igua çu (to Paraguay) until the paper work is sorted. This could take from 4 to 6 months. Looking on the bright side, it is a good opportunity to visit Asunci ón (Paraguay) – very much as pictured in Graham Greene’s novels. Find work first and then sort out the bureaucracy later. Have enormous amounts of patience. Take all relevant documents/diplomas with you. Passport must have at least 6 month’s validity.


Cholera, Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid, Malaria (especially if going to or coming from Amazonas) and Yellow Fever.

Taxes and Insurance

Tax will vary from 12.5% to 25% and there is also a Social Security (INPS) deduction. Get health insurance. If you get it locally, be aware that most local policies do not cover dental treatment.

Gap Year Programmes

Click here to find gap year programmes and placements in Brazil

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