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Brazil Weather, climate and geography

Weather and climate

Best time to visit

Brazil is a big country, covering 8.5 million square kilometres (3.2 million square miles) and its climate varies considerably from north to south, although it should be said that a large part of Brazil (roughly 60%) lies in the tropics.

In general, Brazil is a year-round destination with temperatures rarely dip below 20°C (68°F), apart from in the mountains and southern regions. The climate varies from hot and dry in the arid interior to humid and sticky in the tropical rainforests of the Amazon jungle.

Belém is the capital and largest city of the state of Pará in the country's north, as well as the gateway to the River Amazon. Belém has a tropical rainforest climate with daily mean stands at a toasty 26°C (79°F) throughout the year. The city also receives a fair amount of rain (60mm on the average) all year round.

São Paulo, situated in South-eastern Brazil, is the country's the most populous city. São Paulo has a humid subtropical climate with indistinct four seasons. January is the hottest and also the wettest month, with an average temperature of 25°C (76°F) and 170mm of rainfall. On the contrary, June is the coldest month although temperatures still averaging at a comfortable 19°C (66°F).

Rio de Janeiro is about 440km (273 miles) east of São Paulo but has a different climate classification. Rio's summer (December to February) can be very hot with temperatures reaching 40°C (104°F), plus the city also receives abundant rainfall. The hot and wet weather doesn’t stop millions of tourists coming to Rio de Janeiro in January or February for the annual Carnival though. Rio's winter (July and August) is still fairly warm with temperatures averaging 21°C (70°F), making it an ideal time to visit. For more information, see this weather in Rio de Janeiro guide.

Curitiba is the capital and largest city of the Brazilian state of Paraná. Located 478km (297 miles) south of São Paulo, Curitiba is in the south region and has a subtropical highland climate with cold fronts bringing rains in summer (December to February) and cold winds in winter (June to August). February is the hottest month, averaging 22°C (72°F) while the average temperature drops to around 15°C (59°F) in June. Also note that parts of the south region, particularly the plateau region, it can get near 0°C (32°F) in winter.

Required clothing

As the weather is generally on the warmer side, bring clothes made from lightweight natural fabrics such as cottons and linens which you can layer up. Waterproofs are a must if visiting during the rainy season, or places like Belém where it receives a substantial amount of rain year around. Bring warm clothing if visiting the south during winter (June to August). On the other hand, the extremely humid climate of the Amazon region demands quick-dry shirts and long cotton pants for any treks or activity tourism. Sunlight around the tropics is extremely strong, so take a wide-brimmed hat and a pair of sunglasses. Long-sleeve cotton shirts are also useful in the jungle; they protect you from mosquito bites and the sun.

Geography

Brazil covers almost half of the South American continent and it is bordered to the north, west and south by all South American countries except Chile and Ecuador; to the east is the Atlantic ocean. The country is topographically relatively flat; at no point do the highlands exceed 3,000m (10,000ft). Over 60% of the country is a plateau; the remainder consists of plains. The River Plate Basin (the confluence of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, both of which have their sources in Brazil) in the far south is more varied, higher and less heavily forested.

North of the Amazon are the Guiana Highlands, partly forested, partly stony desert. The Brazilian Highlands of the interior, between the Amazon and the rivers of the south, form a vast tableland, the Mato Grosso, from which rise mountains in the southwest that form a steep protective barrier from the coast called the Great Escarpment, breached by deeply cut river beds. The population is concentrated in the southeastern states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The city of São Paulo has a population of over 12 million, while over 7 million people live in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

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