Thursday, August 5, 2010


Population: 11,236,444
GDP per capita: $9,700
Capital with Population: Havana's population is 2,328,000

Did you know?
1.The Cubans refer to their island as 'El Cocodrilo' - viewed from above Cuba is believed to resemble a crocodile.
2. When Christopher Columbus first stumbled upon Cuba in 1492 he thought he had landed in China.
3. Despite being a world apart politically, Cuba is only 90 miles away from the US.
4. US law does not forbid US citizens to travel to Cuba - they're just not allowed to spend any money there! - effectively meaning a travel ban.
5. As well as producing some of the world's finest cigars - Cuba also has a knack of producing great sports stars, particularly in boxing, athletics and baseball.
6. In something of a paradox Cuba has one of the best health care systems in the world. The average life expectancy of around 76 years is comparable with that of the UK and US and one of its most successful exports is that of medical technology. Cuban scientists have developed vaccines for hepatitis-B and meningitis-B.


  • Western cuisine makes wider use of eggs, particularly omelettes (such as tortilla de papa) and fried eggs (huevos à la habanera, fried eggs served over white rice and fried plantains). 
  • Fish dishes are also common, especially in coastal areas, and although Cuba has a well-developed lobster fishing industry, it is used very sparsely. Aside from Cuba's present economic condition, which makes lobster an unreachable food for most families, Cuban cuisine was always of inland origin, therefore fish and sea products are as commonly used as in coastal areas, where crab is another common food staple. Popular fish recipes are enchilado (shrimp, fish, crab or lobster in a sauce that, despite its name, contains no chili), and à la vizcaína, a tomato-based sauce of Basque origin used to cook bacalao (salted cod).
    Other Spanish dishes can be found in Cuba, such as the paella, arroz con pollo (chicken cooked with yellow rice much like a paella), and the empanada gallega (which is similar to an English meat pie). 
  • While western Cuba is heavily influenced by its European roots, eastern Cuba (the old Oriente province) is influenced by African and Caribbean cuisines. Perhaps the biggest contribution is the Congrí oriental, which is cooked red beans and rice. This is due to the close proximity to the other Spanish-speaking islands, where red beans are more prevalent than black beans. 
  • Many foods from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico can be found in eastern Cuba with their own twists. One example would be the mofongo (called fufú de plátano in Cuba), which is mashed plantains stuffed with pork, chicken, or seafood. The name "fufu" comes from Western Africa.

Famous Cubans
Cuban literature is most famous for its poetry and essays. The influential Afro-Cuban tradition has been explored by Cuban scholars, most notably by Fernando Ortiz (1881–1916), jurist and ethnographer. Another leading writer was José Antonio Saco (1797–1879), author of a six-volume history of slavery.
Ernesto Lecuona (1896–1963) was a composer of popular music
Juan José Sicre (b.1898) is Cuba's outstanding sculptor. 
Camilo Cienfuegos (d.1959).
Cubans notable in literature include poet Nicolás Guillén (1902–89) and playwright and novelist Alejo Carpentier y Valmont (1904–80).
Alicia Alonso (b.1921), a noted ballerina, founded the National Ballet of Cuba.

Many people would be surprised how many Cuban Americans in the United States have achieved fame in the world of entertainment. While there are many more who fit this category, below are just a few of the most well known.

  • Desi Arnaz may be one of the most famous Cuban Americans to achieve fame in the entertainment industry. Born in Santiago, Cuba, Arnaz moved to the United States to be a part of the big band movement. While his original career was in music, his break into film came when he met and married Lucille Ball. Soon thereafter, the couple became the stars of the television show “I Love Lucy.” In addition, Arnaz and his wife established Desilu Productions.
  • In modern times, the well-known actor, Andy Garcia is a Cuban American who has achieved fame. Garcia was born in Havana, with the name of Andres Arturo Garcia Menendez. Garcia moved to the United States at a young age and eventually became a well established actor, starring in such films as “The Godfather Part III,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and “The Lost City.”
  • Further famous Cuban Americans in the entertainment industry include Eddie Cibrian, Rosario Dawson, Daisy Fuentes, Eva Mendes, Cesar Romero, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler.
  • Gloria Estefan began her career in her home of Havana Cuba. However, she went on to become one of the most established Latin singers in the United States. Throughout her career, Estefan has taken home seven Grammy’s, and her songs have reached top one hundred billboards time and again. Her music, which includes a significant Latin influence, includes such well known pieces as “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” and “Anything for You.” 

    Cuba will have an exhibit at the festival this year. Come check them out September 4th and 5th, 2010 at Southridge Mall!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Brazil borders 10 countries
1) Guyana

2) Suriname

3) Venezuela

4) Colombia

5) Bolivia

6) Peru

7) Argentina

8) Paraguay

9) Uraguay

10) French Guiana

Population: 192,272,890

GDP per capita: $10,513

Capital with population:
Brasilia - 2,051,146

Did You Know?

  • Brazil is one of the biggest countries of the world and the most populous countries in Latin America. It is officially known as Brasil or Republica Federtiva do Brasil.
  • The capital of Brazil is Brasilia and it is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities of the world. This city was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, who was considered to be one of the best architects in the world.
  • Christ the Redeemer, the 130-feet tall statue that overlooks Rio de Janeiro, is one of the seven wonders of the contemporary times. This sculpture is the symbol and icon of Brazil.
  • Apparently, Brazil has the 2nd highest Christian population in the whole world!
  • The only soccer team in this world to have won the prestigious ‘World Cup’ 5 times is Brazil's soccer team. Brazil is also the birthplace of one of the best soccer players of this century, Pele.
  • One of the most beautiful stadiums of the Third World is the Maracana Stadium, built in 1950 and located in Rio de Janeiro.
  • The world’s best and most delicious coffee is produced in Brazil.
  • The Amazon Rainforest, which is located in Brazil, is the world’s largest rainforest and covers an area of 2.3 million square miles.
  • The main industries in Brazil are those of textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, other machinery and equipment.
  • Brazil also has a substantial amount of agricultural production. Coffee, soybean, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa and citrus are the main agricultural products grown in Brazil.
  • Joaquim Osório Duque Estrada, the famous erudite personality of Brazil, composed the verses of the Brazilian anthem. The anthem is believed to be hard to understand, even by literate Brazilians, as there are many rare words and several complex sintatic constructions in the anthem.
  • Brazil doesn’t have any official religion. Around 74% of the Brazilian population comprises of Roman Catholics. Besides, a number of diverse evangelical cults are also represented, as are animist beliefs (more so, in the Afro-Brazilian religion of candomblé).
  • It is common in the country to kiss women on both their cheeks while meeting them or taking their leave, in informal situations. Between men, handshaking is customary and normal European courtesies are followed.
  • In Brazil, flowers are an acceptable gift, while visiting someone on a meal, or on arrival. Another custom comprises of frequent offers of tea and coffee to the visitors.
  • During the hot weather, people wear casual wear. The mode of dress is indicated on invitations for more formal occasions. 

The country's gigantic geographic scope creates regional differences in the cuisine, and no single dish can encompass and represent the national palate.

Rice and beans (above) is an extremely popular dish, considered basic at table; a tradition Brazil shares with several Caribbean nations.

Salgadinhos (above) are small savory snacks (literally salty snacks). Similar to Spanish tapas, these are mostly sold in corner shops and a staple at working class and lower middle-class familiar celebrations.

 Pizza is also extremely popular. It is usually made in a wood-fire oven with a thin, flexible crust, very little sauce, and a number of interesting toppings. In addition to the "traditional" Italian pizza toppings, items like guava jam and cheese, banana and cinnamon, catupiry and chicken, and chocolate are available. Many Brazilians enjoy putting ketchup on pizza, and even mayonnaise, mustard, and olive oil may be added.

Famous Brazilians
Gisele Bundchen
The tall, thin supermodel who wears dead animals, causing animal rights activists to haunt her wherever she goes.
Helo Pinheiro
The original Girl from Ipanema, as a teenager she used to walk past Tom Jobim and Vincet de Moraes in a bar in Ipanema and, dying of love, they wrote the bossanova classic “Garota de Ipanema” in her honour.Of course, not having an agent she didn’t cash in too well on the success and so eneded up posing for Playboy with her daughter a few years ago. A close family.

The greatest footballer that Brazil, perhaps the world, has ever seen. A world cup winner. now he coaches the young and features from time to time in the Brazilian paparazzi press.
Joao Gilberto
Known throughout the world for his classic version of the Girl from Ipanema with Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto was the original Mister Bossanova, with a lullaby voice that brings the classic air of saudade to everything he sang.

Brazil is a very interesting country, go visit some time!