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Useful Information


The City

PORTO ALEGRE is a young and dynamic metropolis, capital of Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul. With population of approximately 1.3 million, it is an important economic and cultural center. The "porto alegrenses" pride themselves in their quality of life, associated not only with vibrant cultural activity, but also with an intimate and respectful relation with nature. City streets are tree-lined, and the city has a long coastline on the Guaíba estuary. Its topography is punctuated by 40 hills. The porto alegrense’s way of life includes many parks and other green areas.

Climate - During spring, temperatures range from 15ºC (59º F) to 30º C (86º F) sunset at 18h45;

Banks - Are open from Monday to Friday from 10:00-16:00.

Currency & Credit Cards

The Brazilian monetary unit is the real R$ (plural= reais). There are 100 centavos to 1 real. The US dollar is by far the most widely accepted foreign currency in Brazil. There is also a network of cash points at which foreign cash cards can be used, and all major credit cards are accepted in Brazil. Traveller's checks and foreign bills may be exchanged according to daily rates at the airport, banks and currency exchange stores.

Electric Current

In Porto Alegre, the current is 110 volts (60 cycles), although many of the larger hotels also offer 220 volts. In case of doubt, check with the front desk. Transformers to boost the current from 110 to 220 volts are available in most good electrical supply stores. For most electric appliances, Brazil uses a two-round-pinned socket.

Food & Drink

Brazil’s cuisine is the product of tradition. Each region of Brazil — depending on its indigenous culture, which European group colonized it, proximity to rivers or the ocean, annual rain and soil conditions— has developed its own very diverse cuisine. If there is one dish that typifies Brazilian cooking it is probably feijoada. It is a complex bean dish prepared with air-dried beef, smoked sausage, pork, garlic, and pepper. It is customary to fill a plate with white rice and spoon feijoada over the top, and farofa (cassava flour) to thicken the sauce. The whole dish is garnished with spring greens and slices of orange. The typical dish of Rio Grande do Sul is churrasco, a barbecue of meats, mainly beef, grilled over charcoal using skewers. It is popular throughout Brazil and increasingly appreciated in different countries around the globe.

The national alcoholic beverage is cachaça, made from crushed sugar cane, which is the basis of the popular caipirinha. Cachaça is also used for batidas - a mix of cachaça and fresh fruit juices. A wide variety of fruit juices are frequent meal companions. Brazil’s own soft drink is calledGuaraná, after the berry upon which it is based. As for the coffee, no disappointment here - Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer. The typical beverage of Rio Grande do Sul is chimarrão, a hot herbal tea drank from a gourd using a metal straw, and passed among friends.


Most hotels in Brazil offer web access, and cyber cafés can be found in many of the main shopping centers.

Telephone Service and Mobile Phone Coverage

Brazil has a well-developed telephone network, and it is relatively simple to direct dial to anywhere in Brazil or internationally. Brazil’s country code is 55, the Porto Alegre area code 51. To stimulate competition, long distance calls must add the operator number. For a national call, after obtaining access, dial the operator code, then the area code and number (e.g. to place a call to the Epidemiology Program in Pelotas, dial 0 14 53 3271 2442, where 0 is for access, 14 is the operator code and 53 is the area code; to place a call to the International Journal of Epidemiology, dial 00 14 44 117 928 7370, where 00 is the international access code, 14 the operator code, and 44 the country code.)

Mobile phone coverage - Visitors should check with service providers as to exactly what coverage to expect because this does vary from state to state and from one service provider to another - as does the cost. If your mobile phone is not compatible and thus will not work in Brazil, handsets can be rented and arranged to be delivered to your hotel or picked up at the airport.

Time Zone

UTC/GMT Offset: Standard time zone UTC/GMT – 3 hours.


Tips are usually 10% of the bill. Nearly all hotels automatically add a service charge to the bill, usually 10%. Most bars and restaurants also automatically add 10% or more to the total of the bill, but are obliged to specify the amount. If service is not included, it will be stated at the bottom of the bill: “Serviço não incluso.” Brazilians don't normally tip taxi drivers, although they may round up the total.

Travel Insurance

A travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is recommended.


As the Brazilian Foreign Office bases its actions on reciprocity, visitors from many foreign countries will require a visa. Requesting the visa several weeks before the Congress should minimize inconvenience. Appication should be made to nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate. More information can be provided by the travel agency.

Brazilian Mission to the European Community
Brazilian Embassies

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