Brazil’s struggle with violence is an entrenched facet of its identity, permeating all levels of society. The country has the highest number of homicides worldwide, with over 50,000 recorded in 2020 alone, while some cities’ homicide rates are comparable to those of civil wars. Organized crime groups, particularly those involved in drug trafficking, are responsible for much of the violence, with impoverished urban areas and young black men being frequent victims. However, violence is not confined to specific groups, as it is a complex behavioral phenomenon stemming from Brazil’s historical roots, poverty, weak institutions, and inadequate policy responses.

Brazil remains one of the world’s most unequal countries, with rapid urbanization leading to the expansion of cities in haphazard ways, resulting in vulnerable areas lacking basic infrastructure and public goods. These areas, such as favelas, morros, and periferias, have the highest rates of homicides and other violent crimes in the country. Violence has shifted from southern to northern and northeastern regions in recent decades, with a culture of impunity and weak state institutions, exacerbated by centuries of savage inequality and drug trafficking networks.

Research continues to investigate the geography of violence in Brazil and identify ways to address it. Despite Brazil’s renowned beaches, carnival, samba, and football, it remains one of the world’s most violent countries, where blood and sorrow have unfortunately become commonplace.