Brazil Country Report
Brazil is open to foreign direct investment; the left-wing governments that governed between 2003 and 2016 favoured strong state intervention in the economy, particularly in the oil sector. Trade protectionism has been a salient feature in Brazil. The government of Jair Bolsonaro has embarked on a free-market agenda that includes easing regulations for the participation of private investors in airport, railways, highways, and port concessions, as well as the privatisation of dozens of state-owned companies. Other sectors benefiting from liberalisation are oil and gas, particularly via the divestment of refineries and gas distribution assets. Bolsonaro's government is also seeking approval of a pension reform in efforts to restore Brazil's fiscal sustainability.
There are no known terrorist groups in Brazil; however, organised crime poses significant threats to state security, particularly police personnel. The heavily armed gangs, which control slum areas in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and other major capitals, in addition to attacking police stations also conduct arson attacks against buses as well as commercial establishments as retaliation against police raids. The increase in gang criminality in Rio de Janeiro and more recently in the state of Ceará has forced the federal government to order temporary military interventions. The gangs’ footprint also extends to transnational drug trafficking particularly along the border with Paraguay, Peru, and Bolivia as well as the northeast.
The main threat comes from drug-trafficking organisations, and organised crime, particularly gangs operating in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, which have national reach. They control drug and weapons smuggling; their use of violence poses theft as well as collateral death and injury risk for visitors. Brazil is a transit country for drugs and a major consumer. Remote and sparsely populated frontiers allow for illegal gold mining, contraband, weapons smuggling, and drug trafficking. The border with Paraguay is one of the main hotspots. Police brutality and corruption remain serious obstacles to tackling crime and violence. Militias, many of them rogue police officers, also resort to extortion in low-income neighbourhoods.
Brazil’s relations with neighbours are very friendly; however, it has prioritised deployment of the military and police along its borders to curb drug trafficking, gun running, and illegal mining and logging. To counter transnational threats, it has reached security co-operation agreements with neighbouring countries, including Colombia, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru. More recently, deployment has been stepped up on the border with Venezuela to contain refugee inflows. Outside the Americas it has struck agreements with West African states to curb shared threats, such as smuggling of drugs and sea piracy. Brazil has also contributed to UN peacekeeping operations; the latest, in Haiti, ended in September 2017.
Vaccines Required to Enter the Country
Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers arriving from Angola or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease; it should be taken ten days in advance to be fully effective.
Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).
Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is generally recommended for travelers to the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Distrito Federal (including the capital Brasília), Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, and Tocantins states; designated areas of Bahia, Paraná, Piauí, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and São Paulo; and Iguazu Falls.
Much of the country is vulnerable to torrential rains and consequent flooding and landslides, including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The rainy season in the south and southeast of the country runs from November until March, and from April to July in the northeast.
Brazil has high rates of road accidents (22.5 road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants per year) due to aggressive driving habits and poor maintenance of some roads. The quality of road conditions varies considerably from one area to another, but nearly 60 percent of Brazilian highways reportedly need repair.
Rates of petty and violent crime are high on public transportation in cities. The Rio and São Paulo metros are relatively safe but often overcrowded, leaving riders vulnerable to pickpocketing and unwanted sexual contact. Crime committed against car and bus passengers on the road remains a problem for both visitors and local residents, especially during evening travel and traffic jams (see CRIME section).
For safety reasons, only licensed taxis or chauffeured cars (e.g. Uber) should be used (see SECURITY section).
It is advisable to travel by air for any long trips; no Brazilian airlines are featured on the European Union's "blacklist" of airlines banned from EU airspace due to substandard security practices.
Given the vast size of the Brazilian territory, it is not surprising the climate varies throughout the county. Generally speaking, the months of December, January, and February are the hottest months (between 30°C and 40°C) with high levels of humidity and brief but frequent rain showers, particularly in the southeast (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro). Winters in this region are mild and nights are often cool, particularly in Sao Paulo.
In the north of the country (Amazonia), the climate is tropical - hot and humid - with a rainy season (January to May) and a relatively dry season (June to October). In the Northeast Region the climate is temperate throughout the year (22°C to 28°C) with frequent rain showers from December to March. Inland climates are hot and very dry. The southern coast (Porto Alegre) enjoys a Mediterranean climate (hot summers, mild to cool winters). The highlands experience a cold winter with occasional snowfall.
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