Brazilian culture has been shaped not only by the Portuguese, who gave the country its religion and  language , but  also  by  the country's native Indians, the considerable African population  , and other settlers from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.


 Brazil is officially a Catholic country, but in practice the country's religious life incorporates Indian animism, African cults ,   Afro-Catholic  syncretism  and  Kardecism ,  a  spiritualist  religion  embracing  Eastern  mysticism , which is gaining popularity with Brazilian whites.


 Portuguese, infused with many words from Indian and African languages, is spoken by all Brazilians. Acento, dialects and slang vary regionally.


 The staples of the Brazilian diet are white rice, black beans and manioc flour, usually combined with steak, chicken or fish. Brazilian specialties include moqueca, a seafood stew flavored with dendê oil and coconut milk; caruru, okra and other vegetables mixed with shrimp, onions and peppers; and feijoada, a bean and meat stew. On many street corners in Bahia, women wearing flowing white dresses sell acarajé, beans, mashed in salt and onions and then fried in dendê oil. The fried balls are filled with seafood, manioc paste, dried shrimp, pepper and tomato sauce.


 Brazilian   music   has always   been  characterized by  great  diversity  and  shaped  by  musical influences from three continents  and  it  is  still  developing new and original forms. The samba, which reached the height of popularity during the 1930s,  is  a  mixture  of  Spanish bolero  with  the cadences  and rhythms of African music. Its most famous exponent was probably  Carmen  Miranda ,  known for  her  fiery temperament and fruity headdresses. The more subdued  bossa nova , popular in the 1950s and characterized by performers  such as João Gilberto  and songs such as The Girl from Ipanema , was influenced by North American jazz. Tropicalismo  is  a mix  of  musical  influences  that  arrived in Brazil in the 1960s, including Italian ballads. More recently, the lambada, influenced by Caribbean rhythms, has become internationally popular.


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