Location: South America
Time zone: GMT/UTC minus 2-4 hours
Daylight savings time: during southern hemisphere summer
Current time: 21:45 (Brasília, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro) 20:45 (Manaus) 19:45 (Rio Branco)
Dialling code: +55
Internet suffix: .br
Millions of travellers visit Brazil each year. The large, predominantly Portuguese-speaking country has a mostly tropical climate, rich cultural heritage and unrivalled biodiversity. However, social inequality is prevalent, corruption levels are moderate and the crime rate is high. Infrastructure can also be poor, especially beyond urban areas.
Overall security situation: security challenges exist
Crime rate: high
Murder rate: one of the highest in the world
Gun ownership levels: average
Kidnapping hotspot: yes
Maritime piracy hotspot: no
Do landmines/unexploded munitions pose a significant risk in parts of the country: no
While Brazil is a very popular tourist destination, it nonetheless contains security risks that affect travellers. The most important of these is crime. The crime rate is high with widespread associated violence. The country’s homicide rate is also extremely high. The threat is concentrated in poorer neighbourhoods but tourist spots are also at risk.
Kidnap for ransom is a concern and while the country is not a piracy hotspot, low level criminal activity around some of the country’s harbours also poses a risk to the shipping sector.
Various issues such as unemployment, underdevelopment, party politics, political corruption and pension reform also mean that significant portions of society have sufficient grievances to engage in public demonstrations and civil unrest. Protests can be disruptive and sometimes violent.
The country’s institutions, notably the police and military, are relatively resilient and well-developed, but there are still major gaps in capabilities, transparency and efficiency.
There is a residual risk posed by terrorism and related activities by hostile groups have been uncovered in the past but it is not thought to be a major threat in the country.
Aviation safety levels: standard
Annual road fatality rates: very high
Vehicles drive on the: right
Infrastructure quality: poor
Urban ATM availability: very good
Electricity supply: 127V/220V 60Hz
Electricity supply reliability: poor
Plug types: C and N
Plug type C (2 round pins, not grounded/earthed)
Plug type N (3 round pins, grounded/earthed, socket compatible with plug type C)
Is tap water drinkable: no
Healthcare quality: significant gaps in healthcare provision
Infectious disease prevalence: some infectious diseases are prevalent
Travellers should consult a medical practitioner prior to their trip but the following vaccines may be considered before travelling to the country, depending on factors such as specific destination, planned activities, intended time and length of stay as well as personal medical conditions (in some cases no additional vaccines may be required at all):
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B (not always needed)
- Rabies (usually only for long-term stays, or for those spending time in isolated areas or coming into contact with animals)
- Yellow Fever
- Standard vaccinations (ie those commonly used in the developed world, such as diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tuberculosis and tetanus)
Malaria risk: low
Yellow fever presence: yes
Dengue fever prevalence: frequent cases
Rabies prevalence: high risk
HIV prevalence in society: moderate
Hepatitis A prevalence: high
Hepatitis B prevalence: high
Hepatitis E prevalence: not highly endemic
Cholera status: low risk
Chikungunya virus presence: present
Zika virus presence: recent outbreak(s) reported
Japanese encephalitis presence: no
Cutaneous leishmaniasis presence: endemic and problematic
Visceral leishmaniasis presence: endemic and problematic
Onchocerciasis presence: endemic
Schistosomiasis presence: moderate
Tick-borne encephalitis status: low/non-existent risk
Chagas disease presence: endemic
Typhoid fever presence: endemic
African trypanosomiasis presence: none
Plague status: present
Rift Valley fever status: not present
Lassa fever status: not present
Polio status: not endemic
Ebola outbreaks: no
Meningococcal meningitis hotspot: no
Climate: mostly tropical, but temperate in south
Terrain: mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north; some plains, hills, mountains, and narrow coastal belt
Natural disaster risk: small level of risk
Natural hazards: flooding; storms; recurring droughts in northeast; landslides; occasional frost in south
Tropical storms: few/none
Volcanic activity: low/none
Previous earthquake(s) with over 1,000 fatalities: no
Government type: federal republic
Socio-economic development score: 5/10 (medium levels of socio-economic development)
Adult literacy rate: 92.6%
Unemployment rate: moderate by global standards
Civil liberties: some restrictions, usually mild
Investment rating: speculative/sub-investment grade
Corruption levels: moderate
Same-sex sexual activity: legal
Death penalty: only used under rare and exceptional circumstances
Languages: Portuguese (official, most common), German, Italian, Japanese, English and indigenous languages also present
Ethnic groups: white 47.7%, mulatto (mixed white and black) 43.1%, black 7.6%, Asian 1.1%, indigenous 0.4%
Beliefs: Roman Catholic 64.6%, other Catholic 0.4%, Protestant 22.2% (includes Adventist 6.5%, Assembly of God 2.0%, Christian Congregation of Brazil 1.2%, Universal Kingdom of God 1.0%, other Protestant 11.5%), other Christian 0.7%, Spiritist 2.2%, other 1.4%, none 8%, unspecified 0.4%
- The following advice has been compiled by travel safety specialists and ex-special forces personnel.
- However, please note that it is of a general nature only and may not reflect the reality of your circumstances.
- Ensure you have proper insurance cover in place.
- Select good quality accommodation and properly prepare for any tasks, excursions or other activities you have to undertake.
- Be mindful of local laws and cultural norms, bearing in mind that they might be different to what you are accustomed to.
- Consider conducting or obtaining a risk assessment specific to you, your profile and your trip, task or operation.
- This should take into account the likelihood of potential risks affecting you, as well as the likely impact they will have, and will help you decide, depending on your risk appetite and implementable risk mitigation measures, whether or not you should proceed.
Road traffic accident
- Be aware of local driving conditions and hazards.
- Drive defensively and adhere to speed limits to minimise the risk of being caught up in an accident, or request that your driver(s) do the same.
- If using a taxi or local driver, ensure that they are qualified and competent and that their vehicle appears well maintained.
- Ensure that vehicles are in good working order before travel.
- Perform regular checks on your vehicles for oil, fuel, tyres and seatbelts.
- Consider taking additional equipment such as a jack, spare tyres, water, blankets, torches and a first aid kit, especially if travelling to more rural or isolated areas.
- Consider using four-wheel drive vehicles for particularly poor road conditions.
- Car users should know how to perform emergency repairs.
- Bear in mind that healthcare facilities and services may be significantly less extensive than more developed countries.
- There may be very limited facilities, staff, techniques and medications available, especially in more isolated or underdeveloped areas.
- There may not be adequate reliable blood supplies in local hospitals.
- Pharmacists and other sources of even basic medical products may be difficult to find.
- Aim to be as medically self-sufficient as possible, taking basic medical supplies.
- Research whether or not certain medications are legal in your destination(s).
- Take extra supplies of any routinely-taken medicines.
- It may also be advisable to have them accompanied by a note from your doctor.
- Avoid carrying medication for other travellers.
- In the event of serious illness or injury it may be necessary for a patient to be evacuated out of the country.
- Ensure that there is sufficient medical insurance in place to cover such an event.
- Find out whether or not there are any specific diseases in the location(s) you intend to travel to.
- Research the specific measures you should take to lower the risk of infection.
- It might be useful to seek medical advice prior to your trip.
- If possible, do this several weeks in advance of your travel, in case you need to obtain specific vaccinations, some of which can take time to be administered properly.
- Be careful with any cuts and grazes which might be more susceptible to infection in your travel destination than at home.
- Hygiene will be very important, but it can be more challenging to maintain good standards of hygiene in some parts of the world.
- Try to avoid venues which appear unsanitary.
- Be very aware of any medical symptoms which might arise, both when you are travelling and for up to a month after you return home.
- Seek medical assistance if you have any concerns.
- Research and familiarise yourself with your destination in advance of travel.
- Find out what the local criminal trends are and identify any potential hotspots, such as certain neighbourhoods.
- Note than crime levels can often be higher around public transport, shopping areas and crowded places.
- In higher risk areas exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.
- Try not to overtly display your belongings or anything that could make you appear wealthy.
- Ask yourself if you need to show off your jewellery, watch, mobile phone or other items or equipment.
- Try to keep your wallet or cash hidden.
- It also helps to avoid appearing vulnerable in at-risk areas so try to display confidence and purpose as you move around.
- Avoid consulting a map in public as this will mark you out as both unfamiliar with the environment as well as being potentially vulnerable.
- Familiarise yourself with local maps and directions before wandering around.
- Identify routes to your accommodation and other safe havens (such as police stations, embassies, commercial areas with a police presence or quieter, safer neighbourhoods for example).
- Familiarise yourself with landmarks so you can orientate yourself and find your way out of trouble spots if you need to.
- Note that crime trends can change, and the level of risk can become higher, after dark.
- It might be advisable to avoid wandering around at night.
- Avoid dark alleys in urban areas.
- It is might also be advisable to travel in pairs or in a group.
- It may also be preferable to drive or be driven around certain areas rather than walking around in the street, even for going relatively short distances.
- In general, use your gut instincts and be prepared to avoid situations, places or people that seem suspicious, odd or wrong in some way.
- Civil unrest can lead to road closures and even curfews, which can affect your travel plans.
- Be prepared for delays and route alterations.
- Avoid demonstrations as they can turn violent.
- Large gatherings of people can be difficult to predict or control and can lead to issues such as mob violence, arson, assault and looting.
- The security forces may use excessive force to control events in some circumstances, posing an indiscriminate risk to anyone in the area.
- Even without any particular violence, large demonstrations can be at risk of poor crowd control, which can lead to crushes and stampedes.
- If demonstrations take place on a frequent basis, research the trends which tend to accompany them.
- Where do they tend to take place? Do they tend to turn violent? Do attendees target specific types of building or representative interests associated with a specific nationality, industry, political group (such as party-political offices, state buildings or foreign-owned businesses)?
- Once you have identified the sorts of risks, trends and areas of higher risk to be avoided you can start planning to minimise your exposure.
- If civil unrest appears to be particularly volatile, or set to last for an extended period, try to stock up with essential items (including food, water and medicine) in case you are stuck in your accommodation or work place or other location for an extended period of time.
- Be prepared to alter your plans at short notice and even to leave the area or even the whole country if conditions escalate. deteriorate.
- Identify evacuation routes and safe havens in case you need to get out of harms way at short notice.
- It is also advisable to identify the evacuation routes and fire safety procedures at your accommodation and/or work place in case you need to leave in a hurry.
- Beware of photography at sensitive sites or during civil disturbance.
- If rainfall, flooding, extreme temperatures or other types of severe weather are a concern, check the local weather patterns to find out if there are times of the year where the risk is much higher.
- Consider avoiding travel to at-risk destinations during these times.
- Try to stay in good quality accommodation.
- Take appropriate clothing and footwear.
- Take appropriate protection for any sensitive equipment you wish to bring.
- Note that storms, flooding and other types of harsh weather can overload infrastructure, lead to traffic jams and power cuts.
- Flooding and heavy rainfall can also raise the risk of landslides, as well as insect- and water-borne diseases in some parts of the world.
- As such, be prepared to delay, alter or even cancel travel plans to affected or high-risk areas.
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