BRAZIL was originally inhabited by hunter-gatherers and farmers. Portuguese explorers brought with them the Roman Catholic religion, and subsequently, many churches and chapels were built—some adorned with elaborate wood carvings covered with gold leaf.
From the mid-16th to the mid-19th century, slave ships carried some four million Africans to Brazil to work in the fields. These brought along their rites, which developed into such Afro-Brazilian religions as macumba and the candomblé sect. The African influence is also evident in Brazil’s music, dance, and food.
Traditional feijoada, an adaptation of a Portuguese dish, is a stew made of a mixture of meats and black beans, served with rice and collard greens. In the 19th and 20th centuries, millions of emigrants from Europe (mainly Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain), Japan, and other areas joined the population.
Today, there are some 750,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses in more than 11,000 congregations all over Brazil. They conduct more than 800,000 Bible studies. In order to provide meeting places, 31 mobile construction teams work with the local Witnesses to build and repair about 250 to 300 Kingdom Halls each year. Since March 2000, 3,647 of these projects have been completed.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Amazon River discharges more water than any other river and extends for more than 3,900 miles (6,275 km)