The 2014 FIFA World Cup is only weeks away.
For soccer fans, the FIFA World Cup is the holy grail of tournaments. The month-long event takes place June 12 through July 13 in 2014 and is expected to draw around 600,000 soccer aficionados from around the world. With the tourney only a few weeks away, it's time to learn about some of the do's and don'ts in Brazilian culture with an emphasis on safety. Before you depart, brush up on these cultural and safety tips:
- In total, Brazil has a population of about 198 million people, making it the fifth most populous country in the world. The metropolises are dense and bustling, and pick pocketing is a fact of life in the streets. Despite the Brazil's generally friendly people, travelers should keep an eye out for their goods and never leave wallets or phones in their back pocket, putting them in their front pockets instead.
Rio de Janeiro in particular is considered one of the most crime-ridden cities in the world. Sao Paulo also experiences regular incidents of pick pocketing and robbery. With that being said, many crimes in Brazil are opportunistic in nature, such as pick pocketing, which is especially common in popular tourist areas and on crowded public transportation. Other hot spots include beaches, bars and nightclubs. It is worth noting however that crime rates are slightly slower in Brasilia and Recife.
Safety and security should be a top priority for visitors in Brazil, no matter the city.
- If you're staying with a friend, relative or other host family in Brazil, always bring the host or hostess a small gift of gratitude. While the same custom exists in the U.S., it's a gentle reminder to make sure your host knows he or she was appreciated. However, avoid giving anyone a gift that is black or purple, as these are perceived as mourning colors.
- Arrive early for events and dinners. Brazilians do not run on Spanish time – punctuality is respectful and expected.
- Brazilians tend to be quite affectionate. While men shake hands with one another, women will kiss each other's cheeks in greeting. Start with the left cheek and then the right.
- Try not to bring excessive valuables such as diamond necklaces, rings or expensive watches out at night. Keep these in a safe place.
- Don't keep all of your money in the same place. Split up between your wallet, safe or hidden pocket in a backpack.
- Never make the OK sign with your fingers. In Brazil, the gesture the equivalent of flicking someone off.
- For business travelers mixing sports with work, there is a different set of etiquette. English may be the universal language in the business world, but there are still customs to respect. First off, Brazilians tend to deal with individuals, not companies. It's crucial to establish a trusting relationship with them if you wish to gain their business. Brazilian businessmen will usually get to know one another before committing to long-term business dealings. Do not try to rush them into making decisions or forming relationships. As mentioned before, always arrive early for dinners and events – this advice is even more imperative in a business context.
- For women conducting business in Brazil, manicures are expected. There are plenty of mani and pedi salons around town if you don't want to worry about chipping nails during the schlepping process, otherwise polish up in the states. On top of that, formal dress for both sexes should be worn for corporate situations.
Gather other information about Brazil before you leave and inquire about the safety of areas you wish to visit from hotel operators or travel agents.