Thinking of Latin America as Hispanic American often denies the reality of other countries that are part of the South American continent, such as French Guiana and Brazil. Brazil, in particular, is the largest country in the continent and is also characterized by speaking a language different from Spanish and having certain cultural characteristics different from those of other Latin American countries.
In extension and population, Brazil is by far the largest country in Latin America. However, its inhabitants are the least likely to identify themselves as Latin American in the region, according to the study "The Americas and the World, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy," published in 2019.
While many people claim that Spanish and Portuguese may be similar, as they are languages originating from Romance languages, it is the language that has largely disassociated the country from the rest of the continent.
Brazilians' experience of conquest in colonial times is marked by the transfer of the Portuguese crown to Rio de Janeiro in 1808, prior to Brazil's declaration of independence (1822).
As Jorge Damiao explained to EFE, the fact that Brazil was conquered by the Portuguese installed a great difference between it and other countries in the region that were dominated by the Spanish, which spawned a feeling of unity among them.
"This created a Brazilian identity, especially in the elites, who always saw Europe as a model and Latin America as barbarism," said Damiao.
One of the most relevant characteristics when it comes to differentiating Brazil from the rest of Latin America is its musical rhythms, which are usually more focused on the national audience than on the international, due to the language barrier.
Some genres such as sertanejo, forró and funky are often compared to Latin rhythms such as vallenato, salsa, merengue and reggaeton. But, although Brazilian music is very Caribbean, it has not yet transcended the country's borders to the same extent that other rhythms such as bachata or reggaeton have done in Latin America.
Singers such as Michel Teló and Anitta have tried to merge their genres and languages to demonstrate that music can be a means to unite both cultures.
"The language barrier is very big because Brazil is a Latin country but because of language there is a very big cultural separation. I believe that language is a way, a source, that is used to communicate with everyone and that is why it is the way I did to speak Spanish and mix with other artists from other countries," mentioned Anitta during an interview with Télam last year.
All these musical genres also share a common characteristic, which is the use of drums, wind instruments and strings, inherited from the Africans who arrived in America during slavery period and who shared their traditions in each country. In Brazil, these rhythms have evolved differently, but the root they share is the same, so the melodies may seem similar to those who listen to them in other parts of the region.
Brazilian gastronomy is influenced by European, African and Indigenous cuisine, and is widely noted for the use of different flours to prepare food, as well as the beans that usually accompany most of the country's typical dishes.
The national dish of Brazilian gastronomy is feijoada, a black bean soup that in the south is usually accompanied by rice and french fries, while in the northeast it is accompanied by rice and farinha (cassava flour powder). Other typical dishes are moqueca and churrasco, which are also usually accompanied by rice.
This same type of black bean used to make Brazilian feijoada is known as caraotas in Venezuela or moros y cristianos in Central America. Thanks to the African heritage that crosses the entire continent, many foods tend to be similar in different countries.
Traditional desserts include brigadeiros, which are small chocolate balls with condensed milk; cocada, known in other Caribbean countries; and goiabada, which is guava candy.
The national drink is the caipirinha, made from cachaça brandy with lemon.
Thanks to its location, Brazil also grows unique fruits such as açaí and cupuaçu, in addition to mango, papaya, guava, orange and pineapple, which are also abundant in the region.
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