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República Federativa do Brasil
( Flag of Brazil) ( Coat of Arms)
National motto ( Portuguese): Ordem e Progresso
(Translated: Order and Progress)
Official language Portuguese
Capital Brasilia
Largest city São Paulo
• President
• Vice President
Democratic federal republic
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
José Alencar Gomes da Silva
• Total
• % water
Ranked 5th
8,547,403 km²
• Total (2004)
• Density
Ranked 5th
• Declared:
• Recognized:
From Portugal
September 7, 1822
August 29, 1825
GDP (2005 est.)
• Total
• GDP/head
Ranked 9th World Bank(2004)
.580 trillion (PPP)
,500 (PPP)
HDI (2003) 0.792 ( 63rd) – medium
Currency Real (R$ BRL)
Time zone UTC -2 to -5 (Official: -3)
National anthem Hino Nacional Brasileiro
Internet TLD .br
Calling code +55
The Federative Republic of Brazil ( Portuguese: República Federativa do Brasil, IPA: [ʁe'publikɐ fedeɾa'tʃivɐ du bɾa'ziw]) is the largest and most populous country in Latin America, and fifth largest in the world. Spanning a vast area between central South America and the Atlantic Ocean, it is the easternmost country of the Americas and it borders Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the French department of French Guiana—every South American nation except for Ecuador and Chile. Named after brazilwood, (pau-brasil) a tree highly valued by early colonists, Brazil is home to both extensive agricultural lands and rain forests. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, it is South America's leading economic power and a regional leader. As a former colony of Portugal, Portuguese is its official language.

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Regions and States
Poverty, illiteracy and income concentration
International rankings
Flora and fauna

History - Contents

Brazil is thought to have been inhabited for at least 10,000 years by semi-nomadic populations when the first Portuguese explorers, led by Pedro Álvares Cabral, disembarked in 1500. Over the next three centuries, it was resettled by the Portuguese and exploited mainly for brazilwood (Pau-Brasil) at first, and later for sugarcane (Cana-de-Açúcar) agriculture and gold mining. The colony's source of manpower was initially on enslaved Amerindians, and after 1550, mainly African slaves. In 1808, Queen Maria I of Portugal and her son and regent, the future João VI of Portugal, fleeing from Napoleon, relocated to Brazil with the royal family, nobles and government. Though they returned to Portugal in 1821, the interlude led to the opening of commercial ports to the United Kingdom — at the time isolated from most European ports by Napoleon — and to the elevation of Brazil to the status of a united kingdom with Portugal's Crown. Then prince regent Dom Pedro I (later Pedro IV of Portugal) declared independence on 7 September 1822, establishing the independent Empire of Brazil. As the crown remained in the hands of the house of Bragança, this was more the severance of the Portuguese empire in two, than an independence movement as seen elsewhere in the Americas.
Ouro Preto, Historical city of XVIII century.
Ouro Preto, Historical city of XVIII century.
The Brazilian Empire was theoretically a democracy in the British style, although in practice, the emperor-premier-parliament balance of power more closely resembled the autocratic Austrian Empire. Slavery was abolished in 1888, and intensive European immigration created the basis for industrialization. Pedro I was succeeded by his son, Pedro II — who in old age was caught by a political dispute between the Army and the Cabinet, a crisis arising from the Paraguay War. In order to avoid a civil war between Army and Navy, Pedro II renounced the throne on 15 November 1889, when a federal republic was established by Field Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca.In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Brazil attracted over 5 million European and Japanese immigrants. That period also saw Brazil industrialize, further colonize, and develop its interior. Brazilian democracy was replaced by dictatorships three times — 1930–1934 and 1937–1945 under Getúlio Vargas, and 1964–1985, under a succession of generals appointed by the military. Today, Brazil is internationally considered a democracy since 1985, specifically a presidential democracy, which was kept after a plebiscite in 1993 where voters had to choose between a presidential or parliamentary systems, whilst also choosing if Brazil should reinstate its constitutional monarchy.

Politics - Contents

National Congress of Brazil.
National Congress of Brazil.
The 1988 constitution grants broad powers to the federal government. The President has extensive executive powers; he appoints the Cabinet, and he is also both head of state and head of government. The President and Vice-President are elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms.The Brazilian legislature, the bicameral National Congress or Congresso Nacional, includes the Federal Senate or Senado Federal of 81 seats, of which three members from each state or federal district are elected according to the principle of majority to serve eight-year terms; one-third elected after a four-year period, two-thirds elected after the next four-year period. Beside the Senate there is the Chamber of Deputies or Câmara dos Deputados of 513 seats, whose members are elected by proportional representation to serve four-year terms.

Regions and States - Contents

Brazil consists of 26 states (estados, singular estado) and 1 federal district (distrito federal):
Map of Brazil
Map of Brazil
Brazil and its 26 states and Federal District are divided by IBGE into 5 distinctive regions: North, Northeast, Center-West, Southeast and South ( Division by Regions).( Division by Regions).
  • North: Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins.
The North constitutes 45.27% of the surface of Brazil and it is simultaneously the region with the lowest number of inhabitants. It is a fairly unindustrialized and undeveloped region, but it accommodates the largest rainforest of the world, the Amazon, and many indigenous tribes.
Fortaleza the State capital of Ceará, located in northeastern Brazil.
Fortaleza the State capital of Ceará, located in northeastern Brazil.
  • Northeast: Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe.
The Northeast has 1/3 of Brazil's population. The region is culturally diverse, with roots from the Portuguese colonial period, Afro-Brazilian culture and some Brazilian Indian influence. It is also the poorest region of Brazil, with long periods of dry climate. It is well-known for its beautiful coast.
  • Central-West: Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul and Federal District.
The Central-West is the second largest region of Brazil, but has a low demographic density, since most of the population is concentrated in large cities. It is where the capital of Brazil, Brasília, is located. The region also accommodates the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland area.
Belo Horizonte capital of Minas Gerais in Southeast region.
Belo Horizonte capital of Minas Gerais in Southeast region.
  • Southeast: Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais and São Paulo
The Southeast is the richest and most populated region of Brazil. It has more inhabitants than any other South American country, with two of the largest megalopolises of the world: São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the largest producer of oil and gas in Brazil. The region is very diverse, including the major business center of São Paulo, the Historical cities of Minas Gerais, the world famous beaches of Rio de Janeiro, and the Espírito Santo beautiful coast.
  • South: Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul
Strong influence from German immigrants in Blumenau, Southern region
Strong influence from German immigrants in Blumenau, Southern region
The South is the wealthiest per capta region of Brazil, with the highest standard of living in the country. It is also the coldest part of Brazil, with occasional occurrences of frosts and snowstorms. The region has been heavily settled by European immigrants, mainly Germans and Italians, and shows clear influences from both cultures.See also:
  • List of cities in Brazil (all cities and municipalities)
  • List of major cities in Brazil (metropolitan areas and major regional cities)

Geography - Contents

Brazil is characterized by the extensive low-lying Amazon Rainforest in the north and a more open terrain of hills and low mountains to the south — home to most of Brazil's population and its agricultural base. Along the Atlantic seacoast are also found several mountain ranges, reaching roughly 2,900 m high. The highest peak is the Pico da Neblina at 2,994 m, in Guiana's highlands. Major rivers include the Amazon, the largest river in the world by volume, and often considered the world's longest; the Paraná and its major tributary, the Iguaçu River, where the impressive Iguaçu falls are located; the Rio Negro, São Francisco, Xingu, Madeira and the Tapajós rivers.
Iguaçu Falls
Iguaçu Falls
Situated on the equator, Brazil's climate is predominantly tropical, with little seasonal variation. Although the subtropical south is more temperate, it occasionally experiences frost and snow. Precipitation is abundant in the humid Amazon Basin, but more arid landscapes are found as well, particularly in the northeast.A number of islands in the Atlantic Ocean are part of Brazil:
  • Saint Peter and Paul Rocks
  • Rocas Atoll
  • Fernando de Noronha
  • Trindade and Martim Vaz

Demographics - Contents

Main article: Demographics of Brazil
São Paulo, the third largest city of the world
São Paulo, the third largest city of the world
Brazil is a melting-pot of different ethnicities and origins.The dominant ancestry among Brazilians is the Portuguese, descendants of the early colonists or of 19th and 20th centuries Portuguese immigrants. The settlement of Portuguese started in Brazil after 1532, when the active process of colonization began since the founding of São Vicente. Until independence in 1822, the Portuguese were the only European nation that successfully settled in Brazil, and most of Brazil's culture is based on that of Portugal. The Dutch and the French also colonized Brazil during the 17th century, but their presence lasted only a few decades.The original Amerindian population of Brazil (between 3-5 million) has in large part been exterminated or assimilated into the Portuguese population. Since the beginning of Brazil's colonization, intermarriage between the Portuguese and Native Brazilians has been common. Nowadays, there are 700,000 Native-Americans in Brazil, comprising less than 1% of the national population.
Brazilian Indians.
Brazilian Indians.
Brazil has a large black population, descended from African slaves brought to the country from the 16th century until the 19th century. More than 3 million Africans were brought to Brazil until the end of slave trafficking in 1850. They were mainly from Angola, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and São Tomé e Príncipe. Brazil has the largest population of African descended people after Nigeria. The African population in Brazil has mixed substantially with the Portuguese, resulting in a large mixed-race population.Beginning in the 19th century, the Brazilian government stimulated European immigration to substitute for the manpower of the former slaves. The first non-Portuguese immigrants to settle in Brazil were Germans, in 1824. In 1869 the first Polish immigrants settled in Brazil. However, strong European immigration to Brazil began only after 1875, when immigration from Italy, Portugal and Spain increased. According to the Memorial do Imigrante, between 1870 and 1953, Brazil attracted nearly 5.5 million immigrants, Italians (1,550,000), Portuguese (1,470,000), Spaniards (650,000), Germans (210,000), Japanese (190,000), Poles or Russian (120,000) and 650,000 of many other nationalities. Brazil is home to the largest Italian population outside of Italy, with 25 million Italians and Italian-descended Brazilians.Starting in the early 20th century, Brazil also received a large number of Asians: Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese immigrants. The Japanese are the largest Asian minority in Brazil, and Japanese-Brazilians are the largest Japanese population outside of Japan (1.5 million). Significant immigration from the Middle-East (Lebanon and Syria) has also occurred.Brazil's population is mostly concentrated along the coast, with a lower population density in the interior. The population of the southern states is mainly of European descent, while the majority of the inhabitants of the north and northeast are of mixed ancestry (Amerindians, Africans and Europeans).

Ethnicity and race
According to the 2000 IBGE census:
  • white 53.7%
  • mixed race 38.5%
  • black 6.2%
  • asian 0.5%
  • amerindian 0.4%
  • unspecified 0.7%
White Brazilians are a mix of several European ethnic groups, mainly Portuguese, Italians, Germans, Spaniards and Poles. The Portuguese-Brazilian ancestry predominates, although 30% of white Brazilians have some Italian Brazilian descent, 15% have German-Brazilian descent,another 15% Spanish Brazilian [2] and 2% Polish Brazilian origin. Minority ancestries includes Austrian, Hungarian, Russian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Swiss, among others.Brazilians of Portuguese ancestry are found in the entire country, while those of Italian descent are predominantly in Southern and Southeastern Brazil. The other white ethnic groups, mainly Brazilians of German descent, are concentrated in the extreme South of Brazil. There are entire cities settled by Germans-Brazilians in Southern Brazil.
Afro-Brazilian Capoeira art
Afro-Brazilian Capoeira art
There is a considerable number of Japanese descendants. Brazil has the largest Japanese descended population in the world outside of Japan, with estimated 1.5 million people.Brazilians of mixed-race ancestry are found in the whole country, although most of them live in the Northern and Northeastern states. Mixed-race Brazilians include mulatto, caboclo (or mameluco) and cafuzo. The mulattoes, those mixed white and black, make up the majority of them and predominate in the coast of Northeastern Brazil and other parts of the country. Caboclos, mixed white and Amerindian, are found in Northern region, parts of Northeast, Southeast (offsprings from bandeirantes and gauchos) and the cafuzos, those mixed black and Amerindian, are the less numerous group, living mainly in the Northeastern part of Brazil. However, most mixed race Brazilians are in fact tri-racial, mixed whites, blacks and Amerindians. Black Brazilians are concentrated mostly in the Northeastern states, although large black populations can be found throughout the country. The black population in Brazil is probably higher than 6.2%, since many black Brazilians classify themselves as mixed-race, due to local cultural and social aspects when considering the subject of race. Asian Brazilians (mainly of Japanese descent) and Arab Brazilians are concentrated in the Southeastern states (mainly in São Paulo). The population of Arab descent in Brazil is between 5-8 million people, most of them of Christian Lebanese or Syrian descent. Amerindian Brazilians are concentrated in the Northern states, mostly in the Amazon area. Indian reservations make up 10% of Brazil's territory.Racism in Brazil is an unbailable crime.

Languages - Contents

Corcovado hill in Rio de Janeiro with Jesus Christ the Redeemer statue
Corcovado hill in Rio de Janeiro with Jesus Christ the Redeemer statue
Portuguese is the official language, and is spoken by nearly the entire population, with exception of some amerindian tribes and part of the population of some few isolated villages, European colonies. Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas, giving it a national culture distinct from its Spanish-speaking neighbors.Portuguese is the only official language of Brazil, and there are few regional variances. It is virtually the only language used in schools, newspapers, radio and TV, and for all business and administrative purposes.The language spoken in Brazil is slightly different from that spoken in Portugal and other Portuguese-speaking countries. Brazilian Portuguese is more archaic than European Portuguese, and has some phonological and orthographic differences, although mutual comprehension is not affected.Spanish is understood in various degrees by most people, since it is very similar to Portuguese and is spoken in the border of Brazil with Spanish-speaking countries. English is part of the official high school curriculum, but very few people achieve any usable degree of fluency.Many minority languages are spoken daily throughout the vast national territory of Brazil. Half of these languages are spoken by indigenous peoples, mostly in Northern Brazil. The main indigenous languages are: Tupi, Guarani (also in Paraguay), Kaingang, Nadëb, Carajá, Caribe, Tucano, Arára, Terêna, Borôro, Apalaí, Canela and many others.Still others are spoken by communities of descendants of immigrants, who are for the most part bilingual, in rural areas of Southern Brazil. These communities speak dialects of Italian, German, Polish or Japanese languages. The most dominant spoken Brazilian German dialect is Riograndenser Hunsrückisch, a Brazilian variation of the Hunsrückisch dialect of German. Talian is the main spoken Italian dialect in Brazil, and is based on the Venetian Language, which has its origin in Northern Italy. German is spoken as first language by 1.500.000 people, Italian is spoken by 500.000, Japanese by 400.000 and Korean language by 37.000. However, these non-Portuguese speaking immigrants communities in Brazil are in full decline, especially among teenagers, who learn primary Portuguese.

Religion - Contents

Our Lady of Aparecida is the Patroness of Brazil.
Our Lady of Aparecida is the Patroness of Brazil.
About 74% of the population in Brazil are Roman Catholic. Followers of Protestantism are rising in number, currently at 15.4%. Spiritism constitutes 1.3% of the population (about 2,3 million) and is the country with the most adepts of this religion. African traditional religions such as Candomblé, Macumba, and Umbanda are the next largest groups. There are around 120,000 members of the Jewish community (located mostly in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro but also in Brasilia, Curitiba, Porto Alegre and other major towns) while Buddhism, Shinto, and other Asian religions are also sizeable. There are around 28,000 muslims, or 0.01% of the population. Some practice a mixture of different religions, such as Catholicism, Candomble and indigenous American religion combined.Brazil is the country with the largest Catholic population in the world, as well the country with the most members of Asian religions in the Western world.

Economy - Contents

Possessing large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, as well as a large labor pool, Brazil's GDP (PPP) outweighs that of any other Latin American country, and the country is expanding its presence in world markets. Major export products include airplanes, coffee, vehicles, soybean, iron ore, orange juice, steel, textiles, footwear and electrical equipment.After forming a fiscal adjustment program and pledging progress on structural reform, Brazil received a US.5 billion IMF-led international support program in November 1998. [3] During the summer of 1998, investors expressed concerns that a downturn in economic growth was imminent. However, in January 1999, the Brazilian Central Bank announced that the Real would no longer be related to the US dollar value. This devaluation helped moderate the downturn, and the country posted moderate GDP growth.Economic growth slowed considerably in 2001 — to less than 2% — because of a slowdown in major markets, the hiking of interest rates by the Central Bank to reduce inflationary pressures, and fears over the economic policies of the new elected government. Investor confidence was strong at the end of 2001, in part because of the strong recovery in the balance of trade. Chronic poverty remains a pressing problem.After Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office on 1 January 2003, there was some fear that his party radicals might provoke an economic about-face, and that Brazil might experience a financial crisis. However, the Brazilian economy seems to have detached itself from politics, and after a GDP increase of 0.5% in 2003, Brazil has allegedly enjoyed a robust growth in 2004. It is estimated that there will be moderate growth in 2005 and 2006. Despite this, Brazil has consistently dropped 11 positions on the WEF Growth Competitiveness Index ranking from 2003 to 2005 [4] [5]. However, as of January 10, 2006, the IMF has shown satisfaction [6] with Brazil's economic policies.
Brazil Socioeconomic Rankings
Indicator World Rank Value Comparable countries
Total Nominal GDP 14th 604,855 million USD Australia, Russia
Total PPP GDP 9th 1,461,564 million Int. Dollars Italy, Russia
Per capita Nominal GDP 74th 3,325 USD Romania, Dominica
Per capita PPP GDP 70th 8,049 Int. Dollars Bulgaria, Thailand
Gini coefficient 111th 59,3 Paraguay, Guatemala
Human Development Index 63th 0.792 Russia, Romania

Poverty, illiteracy and income concentration - Contents

Rocinha, a Rio de Janeiro favela
Rocinha, a Rio de Janeiro favela
Brazil currently has 45 million people living in conditions of poverty. This is a critical issue.Poverty in Brazil can be seen in the large metropolitan areas (capitals) and in the "pockets of poverty" (upcountry regions with low rates of economic and social development). The Northeast has chronic problems as a result of its dry climate, with millions of people suffering hunger during the dry seasons. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has proposed a program ( Fome Zero) to mitigate this problem but its success is disputed.About 8% of the Brazilian population is officially considered illiterate (analfabetos in Portuguese) but over 30% of the total population do not have capacity to read and write texts, although a growing percentage show some writing and computing abilities. [7]

Technology - Contents

Brazil has important technology poles located at São José dos Campos ( aerospace and telecommunications) , Campinas ( software, computers) , São Carlos, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte and São Paulo.

International rankings - Contents

A river in the Amazon rainforest
A river in the Amazon rainforest
  • A.T. Kearney/ Foreign Policy Magazine: Globalization Index 2005, ranked 57 out of 62 countries
  • IMD International: World Competitiveness Yearbook 2005, ranked 51 out of 60 economies (countries and regions)
  • Reporters without borders: Fourth annual worldwide press freedom index (2005), ranked 63 out of 167 countries
  • Save the Children: State of the World's Mothers 2005, ranked 50 out of 110 countries
  • The Wall Street Journal: 2005 Index of Economic Freedom, ranked 90 out of 155 countries
  • The Economist: The World in 2005 - Worldwide quality-of-life index, 2005, ranked 39 out of 111 countries
  • Transparency International: Corruption Perceptions Index 2004, ranked 59 out of 146 countries
  • United Nations Development Programme: Human Development Index 2005, ranked 63 out of 177 countries
  • United Nations Development Programme: Inequality measures - GINI Index 2005, ranked 169 out of 177 countries
  • World Economic Forum: Global Competitiveness Report 2004-2005 - Growth Competitiveness Index Ranking, ranked 65 out of 104 countries
  • Yale University Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network: Index of Environmental Sustainability Index, ranked 11 out of 146 countries.

Culture - Contents

Brazilian Carnival.
Brazilian Carnival.
Brazil is a multiracial country, and its culture reflects the wide variety of ethnic groups found in the country: Amerindians, Portuguese, Africans, Italians, Germans, Spaniards, Japanese, Arabs, etc. As result of intense mixing of peoples, a rich mix of different cultures has been synthesized.
  • Brazilian Carnival
  • Religion in Brazil
  • Cuisine of Brazil
  • List of Brazilians
  • Literature of Brazil
  • Music of Brazil
  • Cinema of Brazil
  • Holidays in Brazil
  • Brazil Skyscrapers

Sports - Contents

The Brazil national football team scores a goal in Haiti.
The Brazil national football team scores a goal in Haiti.
The most popular sport in Brazil is Football (soccer). The National Team is immensely popular, not only in Brazil but also in the many parts of the world where football is appreciated, and there is also a renowned National League, boasting a nation-wide competition as well as several regional competitions. The Brazilian national team has been victorious in the World Cup tournament a record five times. Pele, one of the world's most recognized players, led Brazil to three of those championships. After the third time, Brazil kept the World Cup trophy permanently. Some of the contemporary talents in the national team prominent in the football world include Romário, Rivaldo and Ronaldo. The current holder of the title of best football player in the world, according to FIFA, is Ronaldinho, who won the FIFA World Player of the Year prize in 2004 and 2005.Three other variations of football are widely practiced by Brazilians, namely Futsal, an indoor version with teams composed of 5 players, beach football, which originated in the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and Footvolley, which is a mix of football and volleyball, where the players must use their feet and head to get the ball over the net and into the opponent's court, and is also played in sand.Volleyball is also a very popular sport in Brazil. National and state leagues are popular and enjoy good public attendance. Television coverage is more limited. Brazil's national team has also been very successful, particularly in winning men's gold medals in the 1992 and 2004 Olympic Games. Beach volleyball has also given Brazilian athletes much success worldwide, today Brazil is the ruling country, with six of its players in the first six positions of FIVB ranking: these include Emanuel Rego, Ricardo Santos, Marcio Araujo and others.Basketball is also popular, but lost popularity after the increased attention volleyball has gained recently. The Brazilian national team has won the Basketball World Championship twice, in 1959 and 1963. Brazilian Oscar Schmidt was one of the best basketball players of basketball history.Recently tennis has also raised interest. Gustavo Kuerten (a.k.a. Guga) reached number 1 status in the ATP world ranking in 2001, having won the Roland Garros French Open 3 times (1997, 2000 and 2001). Auto racing has also been very popular for a very long time, and Brazil has produced some Formula One world champions: Emerson Fittipaldi (1972 and 1974), Nelson Piquet (1981, 1983 and 1987) and Ayrton Senna (1988, 1990 and 1991), as well as an Indy Racing League champion, Tony Kanaan in 2004.Sailing is another strong sport, in spite of the fact that is an elite sport. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a regional martial art, is a significant extension to the original jiu-jitsu. It is renowned with martial artists throughout the world.See also:
  • Brazil national football team
  • Brazilian Football League Teams
Some fight sports with Brazilian origins have become popular around the world:
  • Capoeira
  • Vale tudo

Flora and fauna - Contents

Golden Lion Tamarin (Mico Leão Dourado in Portuguese) , one of the most famous tipical brazilian animals.
Golden Lion Tamarin (Mico Leão Dourado in Portuguese) , one of the most famous tipical brazilian animals.
  • List of Brazilian mammals
  • List of Brazilian birds
  • List of Brazilian reptiles
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