The name Brazil came from the fact the land was rich in Brazilwood trees. However, in the early 1500s it was first called Ilha de Vera Cruz, (island of the true cross) soon changed to Terra de Vera Cruz when someone realised the country was not an island! Another suggestion for the name Brazil, is that it is based on “Insula Brasil,” a phantom island alleged to have been located off the south west coast of Ireland. In the year of our STR12 car, here are a further 12 true but STRange facts about Brazil.
1. Sao Paulo is nicknamed “terra da garoa,” meaning “land of drizzle,” which will come as no surprise to those who have witnessed many wet and thrilling Brazilian Grands Prix.
2. Brazil borders every other South American nation, barring Ecuador and Chile, and makes up 47 per cent of the continent.
3. Brazil is famous for its Samba and Bossa Nova musical style and one of its most famous exponents was the guitarist and composer Baden Powell: an unusual name for a Brazilian, his father was a Scout Leader and named him after the founder of the Scouting movement, Robert Baden Powell.
4. In the 1959 Sao Paulo city council elections, the top vote of approximately 100,000 went to a female rhinoceros named Cacareco. However, the council refused to let the rhino take office.
5. The Toro Rosso crew always feels at home here, maybe that’s because there is a very large Italian community in Sao Paulo, with around 60% of the city’s population claiming some Italian ancestry.
6. Sao Paulo has the largest number of helicopters of any city in the world with around 2000 flights per day taking place.
(From left: he statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and the Iguazu Falls)
7. The spectacular Iguazu Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brazil are the largest waterfall system in the world
8. Brasilia, the country’s capital, took just 41 months to build, from 1956 to 1960 and from the air, it looks like the outline of an airplane.
9. The statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro weighs 635 tonnes, is 38 metres high including its pedestal and was named one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” in 2007. It was damaged by a lightning strike in 2014.
10. Brazil is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, with a total of around four million plant and animal species. It has more species of monkey than any other nation.
11. Total meat exports from Brazil amounted to just short of €12 billion in 2016. Brazil is home to 209m head of cattle and is the second largest producer of beef in the world after the USA.
12. Brazil is fifth on the list of nations that have provided the most F1 drivers (leaving out all those from the USA who only qualify through having competed in the Indy 500 when it was a championship round.) We wish all the best to one of them, Felipe Massa, as he competes in his home race for (definitely) the last time this Sunday.