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The Federative Republic of Brazil (''República Federativa do Brasil'' in Brazilian Portuguese) 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, 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 today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader. As a former colony of Portugal, Portuguese is its official language.


''Main article: History of Brazil'' 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. Work in the colony was based on slavery. 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 Kingdom united to Portugal's Crown. Then prince regent Dom Pedro I of Brazil and 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.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 industrialise, further colonize, and develop its interior. Brazilian democracy was replaced by dictatorships three times — 19301934 and 19371945 under Getúlio Vargas, and 19641985, 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.


''Main article: Politics 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.See also:

  • Cangaço (criminal hinterland bands in the first years of the 20th century)

  • Café com leite (reference to Brazil's domination by the "coffee oligarchs" in the first years of the 20th century)

  • Coronelismo (reference to machine politics in the first years of the 20th century, still present on a lesser scale in modern times)

  • Integralismo (influential Brazilian fascist movement in the 1930s)


''Main article: States of Brazil''Brazil consists of 26 states (''estados'', singular ''estado'') and 1 federal district (''distrito federal''):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).See also:

Map of Brazil
''Main article: Geography of Brazil''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 3,014 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.Situated on the equator, Brazil's climate is predominantly tropical, with little seasonal variation, although the subtropical south is more temperate, and 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:

''Main article: Economy of Brazil''São Paulo, the second largest city in the world 1 ]]
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 crafting a fiscal adjustment program, and pledging progress on structural reform, Brazil received a US$41.5 billion IMF-led international support program in November 1998.'S_IMF_DISASTER.html 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 pegged to the US dollar. 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 government to be elected. 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's inauguration 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 enjoyed a robust growth in 2004. It is estimated that there will be moderate growth in 2005 and 2006.
Brazil Socioeconomic Rankings
IndicatorWorld RankValueComparable countries
Total Nominal GDP14th604,855 million USDAustralia, Russia
Total PPP GDP9th1,461,564 million Int.DollarsItaly, Russia
Per capita Nominal GDP74th3,325 USDRomania, Dominica
Per capita PPP GDP70th8,049 Int.DollarsBulgaria, Thailand
Gini Coefficient111th59,3Paraguay, Guatemala
'''Human Development Index63th0.792Russia, Romania
But... FIFA soccer ranking for Brazil is number one (with 848 points for January 2005), above France, Spain, Netherlands, Argentina.


''Main article: Demographics of Brazil.
See also: Indigenous peoples in Brazil.''
Strong influence from German immigrants in Blumenau, Southern Brazil]]
The main ethnic group in Brazil are the Portuguese, who colonized the country after 1500. 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 Amerindian population of Brazil 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.Brazil has a large black population, descended from African slaves brought to the country from the 16th century until the 19th century. The African population in Brazil has mixed substantially with the Portuguese, causing 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. However, significant European immigration to Brazil began only in the 1870s, when immigration from Italy increased. Brazil has the largest Italian population outside of Italy, with 25 million Italians and Italian-descended Brazilians, constituting 15% of Brazil's population. Another important influx of immigrants came from Spain. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Brazil received immigrants from several other European countries, such as Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Austria.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%

  • other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian) 0.9%

  • unspecified 0.7%Most white Brazilians are of Portuguese or Italian descent. There are also significant populations of German, Spanish, and Polish descent, and other European ethnic groups.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, such as German and Polish, are mostly concentrated in the extreme South of Brazil. There are entire cities settled by Germans-Brazilians in Southern Brazil.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, however the majority are a mix of Amerindians, whites and blacks.Black Brazilians are concentrated mostly in the Northeastern states, although large black populations can be found throughout the country.Asian Brazilians (mainly of Japanese descent) and Arab Brazilians are concentrated in the Southeastern states (mainly in São Paulo).Amerindian Brazilians are concentrated in the Northern states, mostly in the Amazon area.Despite their diversity, most Brazilians consider themselves to be part of a single "Brazilian ethnic group", and all people born in Brazil, no matter their origin, are considerated totally Brazilians. The only exceptions are non-assimilated indigenous tribes. Racism in Brazil is an unbailable crime.


Rio de Janeiro]]
Portuguese is the official language, and is spoken by the entire population. 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 language with fully official status in 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 close to Portuguese. 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: Guaraní, Kaingang, Nadëb, Carajá, Caribe, Tucano, Arára, Terêna, Borôro, Apalaí, Canela and many others. Still others are spoken by communities of descendants of 19th century 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.
Ouro Preto, Historical city of XVIII century]]


About 3 in 4 people, or 74% of the population in Brazil, are Roman Catholic. The Protestant population has been growing very fast, and is at 15.4%. Other Christian groups make up only 1.3%. African tribal religions are the next largest groups. The Jewish community numbers around 160,000, while Buddhism, Shinto, and other Asian religions are also sizeable. Adherents of Islam number around 28,000, or 0.01%.Brazil is the country with the largest Catholic population in the world, as well the country with the largest number of members of Asian religions in the Western world.

Poverty, illiteracy and income concentration

Favela in Rio de Janeiro]]
Brazil currently has 25 million people living in conditions of poverty This is a chronic problem without easy solutions.Two phenomena very relevant to the discussion of poverty and income concentration in Brazil are directly related to each other: the mechanization of agricultural techniques and the focus of Brazilian agribusiness on exports.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 programme (Fome Zero) to mitigate this problem but its success is disputed.About 8% of the Brazilian population is technically considered illiterate (''analfabetos'' in Portuguese), although a growing percentage show some writing and computing abilities.


''Main article: Culture of Brazil''* Brazil Religions

''Main Article: Sports in Brazil''* Brazil national football team

  • Brazilian Football League TeamsSome fight sports with Brazilian origins have become popular around the world:

  • Capoeira

  • Vale tudo

  • Brazilian jiu-jitsu

    Miscellaneous topics

    * Communications in Brazil

  • Foreign relations of Brazil

  • Military of Brazil

  • Public holidays in Brazil

  • Transportation in Brazil''Much of the material in these articles comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.''

    External links

    * ; Government, administration, economy & politics

  • Brasil - Central Bank of Brazil (in Portuguese/English)

  • - Official governmental portal (in Portuguese)

  • Deputados - Official Chamber of Deputies site (in Portuguese)

  • 2005

  • Zero - Official site of Fome Zero (zero hunger) programme (in Portuguese)

  • Ambiente - Ministry of the Environment of Brazil (in Portuguese)

  • República - Official presidential site (in Portuguese)

  • Federal - Official senatorial site (in Portuguese)

  • Federal - Supreme Federal Court (in Portuguese)

  • Justiça - Superior Court of Justice (in Portuguese)

  • Exteriores - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Português/English/Español)

  • Brazil - Official Website of CC Brazil (English); Information, statistics

  • Brazil

  • Brazil directory category

  • Brazilink - Selected and updated sources by experts (in English)

  • IBGE - Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (English, Español, Português)

  • Fácil - Online maps of more than 5000 Brazilian cities (in Portuguese)

  • Library (in Portuguese and English)

  • Bureau (in Portuguese and English); news media

  • Brasil-Post (in German)

  • Brasil - Brazilian newspaper (in Portuguese)

  • Globo- Online version of a famous Brazilian newspaper (in Portuguese)

  • Paulo- Site of one the most important brazilian newspapers (in portuguese)

  • Paulo- Another important Brazilian newspaper (in portuguese); Brazilian television

  • Globo- The first network in Brazil

  • SBT- The second network in Brazil

  • Record- Important brazilian channel

  • Band- Important brazilian channel; Society, social movements, etc.

  • terra

  • Watch

  • International

  • Eco - Journalistic website on the environmental issues of Brazil (in Portuguese); Art, cooking, culture, history, travel

  • info (in English)

  • Guide (in English)

  • information (in Portuguese)

  • Brasil on cooking, culture and travel (in English and Dutch)

  • History Dutch Portuguese Colonial History: history of the Portuguese and the Dutch in Ceylon, India, Malacca, Bengal, Formosa, Africa, Brazil. Language Heritage, lists of remains, maps.

  • EasyPortuguese Learn the Portuguese spoken in Brazil.

  • World - Languages of Brazil

  • Maria-Brazil - The first Brazilian pop-culture web site produced in the USA. Note: The section ''Maria's Cookbook'' is widely praised (site in English)

  • information (in Portuguese)

  • Sights

  • Partiers - Award winning travel guide to Rio de Janeiro and Salvador

  • sonia-portuguese Learning Portuguese

  • Sound Brazilian music & culture (in English)

  • Brazil (in English)

  • information (in Portuguese)

  • Brazil - Information about Brazilian culture, economy and tourism (in English)

  • Brasil! All about Brazilian Culture

  • Hy-Brazil Origins of the name Brazil