10 things you probably didn’t know about Brazil

While many people may know the capital of Brazil is Brasília, the national drink is the caipirinha, and that Rio de Janeiro is a great place to party and relax on the beach, there is a lot more to be learned about this beautiful country. To help enhance your knowledge, here are ten interesting facts you may not have known about Brazil along with a photo gallery.

1. Natal, which means Christmas in English and is the capital of Rio Grande do Norte, was given this name because it was founded on December 25.

2. Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world. The main feature of the coffee grown in Brazil is the great diversity due to differences in soils, climate, species and varieties, and cultivation techniques in each region.

3. The most common last name in Brazil is Silva. Along with being very common in Portugal, Silva was also given to thousands of slaves brought into the country during the colonial period.

4. São Luís, capital of Maranhão, is the only Brazilian city founded by the French. The city name is a tribute to Louis XIII of France. Before the arrival of the Europeans the land was inhabited by the Tupinambas Indians, who called the place Upaon-Acu (Big Island).

5. Brazil’s soccer team is the only team that has participated in every World Cup. Currently, Brazil won five World Cups: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002.

6. Pizza is definitely the favorite food of many “paulistas” (people from São Paulo). According to a survey conducted by the Food Service EDC, about 1.5 million pizzas are consumed each day in Brazil and the state of São Paulo is responsible for devouring 800,000, or 53% of them.

7. One of the main attractions in Rio, Sugar Loaf, is 1,296 feet above sea level and there are speculations that it consists of a single block of 6 million-year-old gneiss-granite, which comes from the separation between South America and Africa.

8. Angra dos Reis is a Brazilian municipality located in the southern part of Rio de Janeiro and includes in its territory 365 offshore islands, one for every day of the year (except leap years).

9. With over 80 different species, Brazil has more species of monkeys than any other country in the world.

10. Brazil is home to the Amazon Rainforest, the world’s largest remaining rainforest, which encompasses an area of 2.3 million square miles. Native Indian tribes can still be found dwelling in these rainforests today.


Dim Sum Dialogues : Top 10 Facts About Hong Kong

Before I start to dig deeper and bring you the best of what Hong Kong has to offer, I think it’s appropriate to share some of the most essential pieces of information that I’ve discovered about the territory in my past few months here.

1. The name Hong Kong is a phonetic rendering of a Cantonese name meaning “fragrant harbour”.

2. With a population of 7 million people but land area of only 1,108 km, Hong Kong is the 4th most densely populated territory in the world.

3. In 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. The territory was a colony of the United Kingdom from 1842 until 1997, when it was handed back to the Chinese government.

4. All land in Hong Kong is owned by the government, and leased to private users for periods of 50 years (before the 1997 handover, lease terms were 75, 99, or 999 years). New real estate is being reclaimed from the harbor for commercial development.

5. The average work week is 47 hours.

6. Hong Kong has no sales tax and offers extremely low corporate and income tax, making it a favorable location for businesses to operate. The government is able to maintain income through its real estate leases.

7. Hong Kong is the world’s eleventh largest trading entity, with many of the exports consisting of products made outside of the territory and distributed from Hong Kong.

8. Hong Kong is home to a highly developed network of transport – buses, ferries, railways, a tramway system and rapid transit system. Over 90% of all daily travels in the city are on public transport – the highest in the world.

9. As of 2006, there are 114 countries that maintain consulates in Hong Kong, more than any other city in the world.

10. Architect Tao Ho designed Hong Kong’s flag as part of a post-colonial contest. He used juxtaposition of red and white on the flag to symbolises the “one country two systems” political principle applied to the region. The stylised rendering of the Bauhinia blakeana flower, a flower discovered in Hong Kong, is meant to serve as a harmonising symbol for this dichotomy.

A windmill and the wonderful way it works

While searching out Dutch facts for a post on Dutch facts, details about windmills caught my attention.

Did you know that there used to be 10,000 windmills in the Netherlands? That was 150 years ago. Today there are about 1,000. This lovely video is an ode of sorts to one of the windmills that is still working. This one is located in the southern part of the country.

I watched this video twice. The interaction between the windmill operator and the windmill’s movements reminds me of the experience of watching a butterfly come out of a cocoon. Mesmerizing. The music fits perfectly.

The Dutch by numbers

This month’s issue of Holland Herald, KLM’s in-flight magazine is devoted to a numbers theme. For example, California’s Highway 1 is touted as being one of the world’s most scenic drives in an article devoted to pointing out the highway’s finer points.

Another article was perfect for in-flight reading. By browsing two pages filled with random statistics, I found out several interesting facts about the Dutch that might be useful to toss out at parties if there is absolutely nothing left to talk about.

Here are five of them:

  • In 2008, Sophie has been the most popular name for a girl, and Daan the most popular for a boy.
  • On average, women don’t marry in the Netherlands until age 32.7, and men don’t marry until 35.8.
  • When the Dutch want to go on a vacation, France is their number one destination.
  • The average Dutch person eats 16.7 kilos of cheese per year.
  • On average, a person in the Netherlands drinks 77.4 liters of beer per year. This is a considerable drop from the 300 liters the same person would have downed during the Middle Ages.

Here’s one more fact about the Dutch I found out. Each year, they produce 3 million pairs of clogs.