• The brazil nut comes from a tree of the same name, and really does grow in the jungles of Brazil, though Bolivia exports more of them. In Brazil the nuts are called castanhas-do-pará. Brazilians actually prefer the cashew nut, which is native to the country and called simply caju.

Rio-born author Paulo Coelho has sold around 150 million books worldwide (The Alchemist accounts for around 65 million), making him by far the bestselling writer in Portuguese of all time.

“Garota de Ipanema” (or “Girl from Ipanema”) was written in 1962 by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, and allegedly inspired by the very real Helô Pinheiro (19 at the time), later a Brazilian model and Playboy “Playmate”.

Born in Minas Gerais in 1940, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, is generally regarded as the greatest football player of all time. He is the only player to have been in World Cup-winning teams three times and is the all-time leading goal scorer for Brazil (77). Brazil has won the World Cup a record five times.

When Brazil became a republic in 1889, its leaders were obsessed with all things French: the national motto “Ordem e Progresso” (Order and Progress) was inspired by Auguste Comte’s (much longer) musing on positivism.

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