Brazil ? It's all about Girls, Guns and Gangs right ? Err.... Wrong. It's a whole lot more sophisticated. Undoubtedly this reputation helps to sell newspapers in the west so here we'll try and unravel the truth from what you've been told in the tabloid media.
Girls: Yes, Brazil has lots of them. About half the population in fact ! Some are very beautiful some are not so pretty. If you are male and can't attract the opposite sex at home its not going to be any easier here. There is currently a backlash against sex tourism going on so if you are considering Brazil for nefarious indulgence stay at home. You aren't welcome.
Guns: There're a lot less than many people would have you believe. This is partly due to one of the world's most successful handgun buy back programs. It has been a great victory in getting guns out of the hands of criminals, but it wouldn't of sold many newspapers so we doubt you've heard about it.
Gangs: Like all cities that run into the millions of inhabitants bracket some of Brazil's big cities have criminal gangs. But unless you are visiting Brazil for organised crime purposes you are not going to meet any. The gangs are normally involved in the transport of narcotics and fighting each other. The gangs sometimes shoot at the police and the police have a tendency to respond in kind. Remember though, Brazil is not a large consumer of narcotics. That'll be Europe and Uncle Sam...
Most journalists who visit Brazil just go to Rio or São Paulo and then make the mistake of thinking the rest of the country is like that city. Editors undoubtedly receive some good articles but the temptation to play on the above stereotypes all too often proves irresistible.
Brazil is also known for being violent and dangerous. This reputation was made during the 1980's when Rio de Janeiro was at it's lowest point in the history of the city after the capital moved to Brasilia in 1960 and after most of it's major industries relocation to São Paulo. The fact the rest of Brazil was not particularly dangerous was a subtly that western journalists missed. Is Rio still dangerous in the 21st Century ? holidayinbrazil.com decided to investigate.
Before we pose the question, let's set the scene. It's February 6th 2005, the middle Sunday of Carnaval and the busiest day of the year. The entire nation is on holiday, it's a sultry 32 C and the south zone of Rio is jam packed with over half a million foreign tourists. Have a guess at how many crimes were committed on that sunny Sunday in Samba Land ? 10 ? 20 ? 30 ? A hundred ? More than a 1000 ? The exact figure as reported on page 18 of Globo newspaper on the 7th of Feb was 5. As in countable on one hand. There were 3 un-armed robberies for wallets and money. One bag snatch and an Italian tourist was violently robbed after his own botched cocaine purchase. We think he could have avoided that. Page 17 of the same newspaper detailed the road traffic accidents for the 3 day run up to middle Sunday: 154 accidents injured 52 people and killed 16. Rio and Brazil are not dangerous, though you are advised to drive carefully.
Brazil is a very individual experience where the size and diversity of the country mean no two vacations are ever the same. One of the aims of this website is to attempt to get across what Brazil is really like, but to discover the real truth you'll just have to visit !