Brazil is Latin America’s largest country and one of its most unique. Filled with beautiful rainforests, mountains and beaches alike, this Portuguese-speaking country boasts the most World Cup wins of any other nation. But is there anything about Brazil beyond the supermodels, soccer stars and partying Carnaval revelers that we all know and love? Gozamos took the liberty of un-earthing some interesting, little-known facts. Go ahead and use them to make yourself sound more fascinating at your next cocktail party… we won’t tell.

Confederate Refuge
Yes, Confederate, as in Confederate States of America. After the American Civil War, Confederate refugees (can you even call them that?) immigrated to a town in the state of São Paulo. Since slavery had been abolished in the U.S., they flocked to Brazil, where slavery was still legal. With the expansion of the railway system, a station was built, and the town became known as Americana. One can’t help but wonder how quickly the new American-Brazilians took to the language of their new country, or if it was all “This is Americana! Speak English or get out!”

By 1888, slavery was abolished in Brazil as well, and shortly thereafter a surge of Italian immigrants came to reside in the area. Although somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 Confederados immigrated, about 10 English-speaking families remain in the area today.

Blago’s Got Nothing On ‘Em
In 2005, word leaked that the votes of the Brazilian Labor Party (PTB) were being bought by the opposing political party, the Worker’s Party (PT). Dubbed the Mensalão (“big monthly payment” in Portuguese) scandal, it was revealed that congressional deputies were being paid 30,000 reals every month to vote in favor of legislation supported by the Worker’s Party. In 2005, that would have been the equivalent of about $144,000 a year per deputy to allow legislation to pass. Of course, word leaked to the papers when someone didn’t get the money they were promised. Doesn’t make Chicago politics seem so dirty now, does it? Although, let’s not over-vilify this; isn’t it kind of essentially what lobbyists in the U.S. do? Although this scandal threatened to ruin the political career of then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, he remained unscathed while many of his advisors and deputies resigned. He was re-elected in 2006 and is still currently in office. He was even voted one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People this year. If that doesn’t give Rod hope that his reality TV career will blossom, I don’t know what will.

Sprechen Sie Deutsche
Like many countries in the New World, Brazil has become home to immigrants from around the globe. In parts of Southern Brazil, German immigrants have found a place to call heim. One place this is especially true is Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state. São Leopoldo and what is now Novo Hamburgo were settled by Germans in the 1820s, and their influence has remained. The German dialect of Hunsruckisch is still taught in schools, although there is pressure to assimilate to the Brazilian culture.

The Girl from Ipanema Wears Combat Boots
…and she likes to rock. Brazil boasts several influential thrash metal scenes in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. The latter is the hometown of platinum-selling band Sepultura, one of thrash metal’s heavy hitters. The sounds coming from these regions influence the metal scene worldwide. As metal bands in America merged thrash metal with grunge and alternative music, Sepultura merged thrash metal with tribal music creating a unique sound all their own. While there’s no question Sepultura found success outside of its native Brazil, there is still debate about whether it was the lush landscapes or beautiful women that made them rage in the first place.

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