Race, religion, language, culture, and national character are full of contradictions. Brazil, the largest country in South America, embodies so much paradox that it defies neat description. This book will help students and general readers dispel stereotypes of Brazil and begin to understand what country's "bigness" means in terms of its land, people, history, society, and cultural expressions. This is the only authoritative yet accessible volume on Brazil that surveys a wide range of important topics, from geography, to social customs, art, architecture, and more. Highlights include discussions of the fluid definitions of race, rituals of candomble, the importance of extended family networks, beach culture, and soccer madness. A chronology and glossary supplement the text.