Although most of Brazil lies in the tropics, more than 60 percent of the population live in areas which are cooled either by altitude, sea winds or polar fronts. While the coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Salvador can get extremely hot, plateau cities such as São Paulo, Brasília and Belo Horizonte have mild climates, and the southern cities of Porto Alegre and Curitiba have a climate similar to that of southern Europe.

Despite the popular image of the Amazon as a region of blistering heat, temperatures of more than 32°C (90°F) are in fact rare. The annual average temperature in the region is 22-26°C (72-79°F), with not much variation between the warmest and the coldest months. The hottest part of Brazil is the northeast, where temperatures of more than 38°C (100°F) are frequently recorded during the dry season between May and November. Along the Atlantic coast from Recife to Rio de Janeiro, average temperatures range from 23 to 27°C (73-81°F). Inland, on higher ground, temperatures are lower, ranging from 18 to 21°C (64-70°F). South of Rio the seasons are more defined and the range of temperatures significantly wider, with the anuual average falling between 17 and 19°C (63-66°F).

Brazil's most intense rain falls around the mouth of the Amazon near the city of Belém, and also in the upper regions of Amazonia where more than 2,000 millimetres (78 inches) of rain fall every year. Most of Brazil has moderate rainfall of between 1,000 and 1,500 millimetres (39 to 59 inches) a year, most of it coming between December and April. The driest part of the country is the northeast, where rainfall is irregular and the evaporation rate very high, making it difficult to grow crops.

Average temperatures and rainfall

Rio de Janeiro (Southeast)
Recife (North)
Porto Alegre (South)
Temperatures in degrees celsius. Rainfall in milimeters. Source: BBC Weather