While the Portuguese influence has been strong in architecture and literature, African and Native contributions have been important in Brazilian folklore, art and music.

Brazilians have a rich collection of legends and myths that reflect their religious heritage and their country's many wonders. Many stories originated with the Natives who lived in the Amazon region. The Native people believe that spirits who dwell in the jungle, both good and evil, influence their lives.

Brazilian writers produce poetry, fiction and drama with a complexity and diversity that is among the best in the world. Perhaps the best-known modern Brazilian artist is Candido Portinari. Most of his paintings are of Brazilian life and its people. His mural, War and Peace, is displayed in the United Nations Building in New York.

In Brazil one is never too young to start displaying artistic talent. In Curitiba, located in the southern state of Parana, famous artists come to the city to paint blank billboards while people watch. Every Saturday morning, city workers take a huge roll of paper and unroll it down an entire block. Young boys and girls come and each is given jars of paint and a paintbrush. When they are finished, the long pieces of colourful paper are displayed in buildings around the city.

Brazilians love music. The best-known Brazilian types of music are internationally recognized. These include the samba, which originated in the slums of Brazil, the bossa-nova, a combination of samba and jazz and the lambada. There is also a dance called the ciranda, performed mostly in the northeast, which is done in a circle to represent the net used by fishermen.

Did you know?

One of Brazil's artistic marvels is a series of figurines carved in the 18th century by a sculptor known as Aleijadinho, or Little Cripple. This sculptor completed dozens of statues using tools strapped to his limbs as he had no hands.