3). Thus, the culture of the new nation soon became a mixture of Portuguese, Indian, and African influences.
Of all these, the Hispanic influence of the Portuguese has been the strongest. For example, the official language of Brazil today is Portuguese. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the Portuguese spoken in Brazil differs slightly from that in the homeland, just as modern American English differs from that spoken in Great Britain (Thompson, 1988, p. 35). In addition to language, the Portuguese left a strong cultural heritage through their introduction of the Roman Catholic religion. Today, approximately 90 percent of the Brazilian population remains Catholic (Nyrop, 1983, p. 139). Perhaps the strongest Portuguese influence on Brazilian culture, however, can be seen in the political and social institutions which were introduced by the Portuguese ruling class in colonial times (p. 3).
The origins of Brazilian literature and art can also be traced to the colonial period. As early as the sixteenth century, Portuguese writers in the Brazilian colonies provided the world with travel narratives and other forms of literature. It has been noted that "the content and style of these works expressed the Portuguese spirit in their detailed description, taste for the picturesque, and lyric quality" (Nyrop, 1983, p. 13). In later centuries, prior to Brazil's independence from Portuguese rule in the 1800s, the influences of Hispanic culture con