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Brazil Facts

Area 8.516 million km²

Population210,085, 398


Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. As the world’s fifth-largest country by both area and population, it is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language–and the only one in the Americas. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 km (4,655 mi). It borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and covers 47.3% of the continent’s land area. Its Amazon River basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. This unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, and is the subject of significant global interest and debate regarding deforestation and environmental protection. Brazil was inhabited by numerous tribal nations prior to the landing in 1500 of explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed the area for the Portuguese Empire. Brazil remained a Portuguese colony until 1808, when the capital of the empire was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. In 1815, the colony was elevated to the rank of kingdom upon the formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Independence was achieved in 1822 with the creation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. The ratification of the first constitution in 1824 led to the formation of a bicameral legislature, now called the National Congress. The country became a presidential republic in 1889 following a military coup d’état. An authoritarian military junta came to power in 1964 and ruled until 1985, after which civilian governance resumed. Brazil’s current constitution, formulated in 1988, defines it as a democratic federal republic. The federation is composed of the union of the Federal District, the 26 states, and the 5,570 municipalities. Brazil’s economy is the world’s ninth-largest by nominal GDP and seventh-largest by GDP (PPP) as of 2015. A member of the BRICS group, Brazil until 2010 had one of the world’s fastest growing major economies, with its economic reforms giving the country new international recognition and influence. Brazil’s national development bank plays an important role for the country’s economic growth. Brazil is a founding member of the United Nations, the G20, BRICS, Unasul, Mercosul, Organization of American States,Organization of Ibero-American States, CPLP, and the Latin Union. Brazil is a regional power in Latin America and a middle power in international affairs, with some analysts identifying it as an emerging global power.One of the world’s major breadbaskets, Brazil has been the largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years.


Interior of the São Francisco Church and Convent in Salvador, Bahia, one of the richest expressions of Brazilian baroque. The core culture of Brazil is derived from Portuguese culture, because of its strong colonial ties with the Portuguese empire. Among other influences, the Portuguese introduced the Portuguese language, Roman Catholicism and colonial architectural styles. The culture was, however, also strongly influenced by African, indigenous and non-Portuguese European cultures and traditions. Some aspects of Brazilian culture were influenced by the contributions of Italian, German and other European as well Japanese, Jewish and Arab immigrants who arrived in large numbers in the South and Southeast of Brazil. The indigenous Amerindians influenced Brazil’s language and cuisine; and the Africans influenced language, cuisine, music, dance and religion. Brazilian art has developed since the 16th century into different styles that range from Baroque (the dominant style in Brazil until the early 19th century) to Romanticism, Modernism, Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and Abstractionism. Brazilian cinema dates back to the birth of the medium in the late 19th century and has gained a new level of international acclaim since the 1960s.


Biodiversity and environment

Brazil’s large territory comprises different ecosystems, such as the Amazon rainforest, recognized as having the greatest biological diversity in the world, with the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado, sustaining the greatest biodiversity. In the south, the Araucaria pine forest grows under temperate conditions. The rich wildlife of Brazil reflects the variety of natural habitats. Scientists estimate that the total number of plant and animal species in Brazil could approach four million, mostly invertebrates.The Amazon rainforest, the richest and most biodiverse rainforest in the world.Female pantanal jaguar in Piquirí River, Pantanal. The jaguar is a wild animal typical of Brazil. Larger mammals include carnivores pumas, jaguars, ocelots, rare bush dogs, and foxes, and herbivores peccaries, tapirs, anteaters, sloths, opossums, and armadillos. Deer are plentiful in the south, and many species of New World monkeys are found in the northern rain forests. Concern for the environment has grown in response to global interest in environmental issues. Brazil’s Amazon Basin is home to an extremely diverse array of fish species, including the red-bellied piranha. Despite its reputation as a ferocious freshwater fish, the red-bellied piranha is actually a generally timid scavenger. Biodiversity can contribute to agriculture, livestock, forestry and fisheries extraction. However, almost all economically exploited species of plants, such as soybeans and coffee, or animals, such as chickens, are imported from other countries, and the economic use of native species still crawls. In the Brazilian GDP, the forest sector represents just over 1% and fishing 0.4%. The natural heritage of Brazil is severely threatened by cattle ranching and agriculture, logging, mining, resettlement, oil and gas extraction, over-fishing, wildlifeTRADE, dams and infrastructure, water pollution, climate change, fire, and invasive species. In many areas of the country, the natural environment is threatened by development. Construction of highways has opened up previously remote areas for agriculture and settlement; dams have flooded valleys and inundated wildlife habitats; and mines have scarred and polluted the landscape. At least 70 dams are said to be planned for the Amazon region, including the controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric dam.



A KC-390 military transport aircraft, developed by Brazilian company Embraer, the third largest producer of civil aircraft, after Airbus and Boeing. Brazil is the largest national economy in Latin America, the world’s eight largest economy at market EXCHANGE RATES and the seventh largest in purchasing power parity (PPP), according to theInternational Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Brazil has a mixed economy with abundant natural resources. After rapid growth in preceding decades, the country entered an ongoing recession in 2014 amid a political corruption scandal and nationwide protests. Its GDP (PPP) per capital was $15,048 in 2016 putting Brazil in the 77th position according to IMF data. Active in agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors Brazil has a labor force of over a 107 million (ranking 6th worldwide) and unemployment of 6.2% (ranking 64th worldwide). The country has been expanding its presence in international FINANCIAL and commodities markets, and is one of a group of four emerging economies called the BRIC countries. Brazil has been the world’s largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years. It has become the fourth largest car market in the world. Major export products include aircraft, electrical equipment, automobiles, ethanol, textiles, footwear, iron ore, steel, coffee, orange juice, soybeans and corned beef.[213] In total, Brazil ranks 23rd worldwide in value of exports. Combine harvester in a rice plantation in Santa Catarina. Brazil is the third largest exporter of agricultural products in the world. Brazil pegged its currency, the real, to the U.S. dollar in 1994. However, after the East Asian financial crisis, the Russian default in 1998 and the series of adverse FINANCIAL events that followed it, the Central Bank of Brazil temporarily changed its monetary policy to a managed-float scheme while undergoing a currency crisis, until definitively changing the exchange regime to free-float in January 1999. Brazil received an International Monetary Fund rescue package in mid-2002 of $30.4 billion, then a record sum. Brazil’s central bank paid back the IMF loan in 2005, although it was not due to be repaid until 2006. One of the issues the Central Bank of Brazil recently dealt with was an excess of speculative short-term capital inflows to the country, which may have contributed to a fall in the value of the U.S. dollar against the real during that period. Nonetheless, foreign direct investment (FDI), related to long-term, less speculative INVESTMENT in production, is estimated to be $193.8 billion for 2007. Inflation monitoring and control currently plays a major part in the Central bank’s role of setting out short-term interest rates as a monetary policy measure. Central Bank of Brazil, in Brasília Between 1993 and 2010, 7012 mergers & acquisitions with a total known value of $707 billion with the involvement of Brazilian firms have been announced. The year 2010 was a new record in terms of value with 115 billion USD of transactions. The largest transaction with involvement of Brazilian companies has been: Cia. Vale do Rio Doce acquired Inco in a tender offer valued at US$18.9 billion.Corruption costs Brazil almost $41 billion a year alone, with 69.9% of the country’s firms identifying the issue as a major constraint in successfully penetrating the global market. Local government corruption is so prevalent that voters perceive it as a problem only if it surpasses certain levels, and only if a local media e.g. a radio station is present to divulge the findings of corruption charges. Initiatives, like this exposure, strengthen awareness which is indicated by the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index; ranking Brazil 69th out of 178 countries in 2012. The purchasing power in Brazil is eroded by the so-called Brazil cost.


Government and politics

Palácio do Planalto, the official workplace of the President of Brazil. The form of government is that of a democratic federative republic, with a presidential system. The president is both head of state and head of government of the Union and is elected for a four-year term, with the possibility of re-election for a second successive term. The current president is Michel Temer, who replaced Dilma Rousseff after her impeachment. The President appoints the Ministers of State, who assist in government. Legislative houses in each political entity are the main source of law in Brazil. The National Congress is the Federation’s bicameral legislature, consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate. Judiciary authorities exercise jurisdictional duties almost exclusively. Brazil is a democracy, according to the Democracy Index 2010. The Brazilian Federation is the “indissoluble union” of the States, the Municipalities and the Federal District. The Union, the states and the Federal District, and the municipalities, are the “spheres of government”. The federation is set on five fundamental principles: sovereignty, citizenship, dignity of human beings, the social values of labour and freedom of enterprise, and political pluralism. The classic tripartite branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial under a checks and balances system) are formally established by the Constitution. The executive and legislative are organized independently in all three spheres of government, while the judiciary is organized only at the federal and state/Federal District spheres. National Congress of Brazil, seat of the legislative branch. All members of the executive and legislative branches are directly elected. Judges and other judicial officials are appointed after passing entry exams. For most of its democratic history, Brazil has had a multi-party system, proportional representation. Voting is compulsory for the literate between 18 and 70 years old and optional for illiterates and those between 16 and 18 or beyond 70. Together with several smaller parties, four political parties stand out: Workers’ Party (PT), Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB),Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) and Democrats (DEM). Fifteen political parties are represented in Congress. It is common for politicians to switch parties, and thus the proportion of congressional seats held by particular parties changes regularly. Almost all governmental and administrative functions are exercised by authorities and agencies affiliated to the Executive.



The Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo is one of the most well-known health units in Brazil. The Brazilian public health system, the National Health System (SUS), is managed and provided by all levels of government. The public health services are universal and available to all citizens of the country for free. Nevertheless, millions of affluent Brazilians have private health care coverage. According to the Brazilian Government, the most serious health problems are:

  • Childhood mortality: about 2.51% of childhood mortality, reaching 3.77% in the northeast region.

  • Motherhood mortality: about 73.1 deaths per 100,000 born children in 2002.

  • Mortality by non-transmissible illness: 151.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants caused by heart and circulatory diseases, along with 72.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants caused by cancer.

  • Mortality caused by external causes (transportation, violence and suicide): 71.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants (14.9% of all deaths in the country), reaching 82.3 deaths in the southeast region.

In 2002, Brazil accounted for 40% of malaria cases in the Americas. Nearly 99% are concentrated in the Legal Amazon Region, which is home to not more than 12% of the population.



Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Aparecida do Norte, São Paulo, is the second largest Catholic church in the world. Religion in Brazil formed from the meeting of the Catholic Church with the religious traditions of enslaved African peoples and indigenous peoples. This confluence of faiths during the Portuguese colonization of Brazil led to the development of a diverse array of syncretistic practices within the overarching umbrella of Brazilian Catholic Church, characterized by traditional Portuguese festivities, and in some instances, Allan Kardec’s Spiritism (a religion which incorporates elements of spiritualismand Christianity). Religious pluralism increased during the 20th century, and the Protestant community has grown to include over 22% of the population.The most common Protestant denominations are Pentecostal and Evangelical ones. Other Protestant branches with a notable presence in the country include the Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Lutherans and the Reformed tradition. Roman Catholicism is the country’s predominant faith. Brazil has the world’s largest Catholic population. According to the 2000 Demographic Census (the PNAD survey does not inquire about religion), 73.57% of the population followed Roman Catholicism; 15.41%Protestantism; 1.33% Kardecist spiritism; 1.22% other Christian denominations; 0.31% Afro-Brazilian religions; 0.13% Buddhism; 0.05%Judaism; 0.02% Islam; 0.01% Amerindian religions; 0.59% other religions, undeclared or undetermined; while 7.35% have no religion. However, in the last ten years Protestantism, particularly Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism, has spread in Brazil, while the proportion of Catholics has dropped significantly. After Protestantism, individuals professing no religion are also a significant group, exceeding 7% of the population as of the 2000 census. The cities of Boa Vista, Salvador, and Porto Velho have the greatest proportion of Irreligious residents in Brazil. Teresina, Fortaleza, and Florianópolis were the most Roman Catholic in the country. Greater Rio de Janeiro, not including the city proper, is the most irreligious and least Roman Catholic Brazilian periphery, while Greater Porto Alegre and Greater Fortaleza are on the opposite sides of the lists, respectively.


Iguazu Falls, Paraná, in Brazil-Argentina border, is the second most popular destination for foreign tourists who come to Brazil for pleasure.
Sancho Bay, in Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Pernambuco.

Sugar loaf mountain- Rio

Tourism in Brazil is a growing sector and key to the economy of several regions of the country. The country had 5 million visitors in 2010, ranking in terms of international tourist arrivals as the second destination in South America, and third in Latin America after Mexicoand Argentina. Revenues from international tourists reached US$6billion in 2010, showing a recovery from the 2008–2009 economic crisis. Historical records of 5.4 million visitors and US$6.8 billion in receipts were reached in 2011. Natural areas are its most popular tourism product, a combination ofecotourism with leisure and recreation, mainly sun and beach, andadventure travel, as well as cultural tourism. Among the most popular destinations are the Amazon Rainforest, beaches and dunes in the Northeast Region, the Pantanal in the Center-West Region, beaches at Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina, cultural tourism in Minas Gerais and business trips to São Paulo city. In terms of the 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), which is a measurement of the factors that make it attractive to develop business in the travel and tourism industry of individual countries, Brazil ranked in the 28st place at the world’s level, third in the Americas, after Canada and United States. Brazil’s main competitive advantages are its natural resources, which ranked 1st on this criteria out of all countries considered, and ranked 23rd for its cultural resources, due to its many World Heritage sites. The TTCI report notes Brazil’s main weaknesses: its ground transport infrastructure remains underdeveloped (ranked 116th), with the quality of roads ranking in 105th place; and the country continues to suffer from a lack of price competitiveness (ranked 114th), due in part to high ticket taxes and airport charges, as well as high prices and high taxation. Safety and security have improved significantly: 75th in 2011, up from 128th in 2008. Snorkeling in the city of Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul. The rivers in the region are known for their crystal clear waters. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), international travel to Brazil accelerated in 2000, particularly during 2004 and 2005. However, in 2006 a slow-down took place, and international arrivals had almost no growth in 2007–08. In spite of this trend, revenues from international tourism continued to rise, from USD 4 billion in 2005 to 5 billion in 2007, despite 330 000 fewer arrivals. This favorable trend is the result of the strong devaluation of the US dollar against the Brazilian Real, which began in 2004, but which makes Brazil a more expensive international destination.This trend changed in 2009, when both visitors and revenues fell as a result of the Great Recession of 2008–09. By 2010, the industry had recovered, and arrivals grew above 2006 levels to 5.2 million international visitors, and receipts from these visitors reached USD 6 billion. In 2011 the historical record was reached with 5.4 million visitors and US$6.8 billion in receipts. Despite continuing record-breaking international tourism revenues, the number of Brazilian tourists travelling overseas has been growing steadily since 2003, resulting in a net negative foreign exchange balance, as more money is spent abroad by Brazilians than comes in as receipts from international tourists visiting Brazil. Tourism expenditures abroad grew from USD 5.8 billion in 2006, to USD 8.2 billion in 2007, a 42% increase, representing a net deficit of USD 3.3 billion in 2007, as compared to USD 1.5 billion in 2006, a 125% increase from the previous year.  This trend is caused by Brazilians taking advantage of the stronger Real to travel and making relatively cheaper expenditures abroad.Brazilians traveling overseas in 2006 represented 4% of the country’s population. In 2005, tourism contributed with 3.2% of the country’s revenues from exports of goods and services, and represented 7% of direct and indirect employment in the Brazilian economy. In 2006 direct employment in the sector reached 1.9 million people. Domestic tourism is a fundamental market segment for the industry, as 51 million people traveled throughout the country in 2005,and direct revenues from Brazilian tourists reached USD 22 billion, 5.6 times more receipts than international tourists in 2005. In 2005, Rio de Janeiro, Foz do Iguaçu, São Paulo, Florianópolis and Salvador were the most visited cities by international tourists for leisure trips. The most popular destinations for business trips were São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre. In 2006 Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza were the most popular destinations for business trips.



Stamp for the victory of the Brazilian team at the 1970 FIFA World Cup. The most popular sport in Brazil is football. The Brazilian men’s national team is ranked among the best in the world according to theFIFA World Rankings, and has won the World Cup tournament a record five times. Volleyball, basketball, auto racing, and martial arts also attract large audiences. The Brazil men’s national volleyball team, for example, currently holds the titles of the World League, World Grand Champions Cup, World Championship and the World Cup. Some sport variations have their origins in Brazil: beach football, futsal (indoor football) and footvolley emerged in Brazil as variations of football. In martial arts, Brazilians developed Capoeira, Vale tudo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Senna, one of the biggest names in F1’s history. In auto racing, three Brazilian drivers have won the Formula One world championship eight times. Brazil has hosted several high-profile international sporting events, like the 1950 FIFA World Cup and recently has hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The São Paulo circuit, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, hosts the annual Grand Prix of Brazil. São Paulo organized the IV Pan American Games in 1963, and Rio de Janeiro hosted the XV Pan American Games in 2007. On 2 October 2009, Rio de Janeiro was selected to host the 2016 Olympic Games and 2016 Paralympic Games, making it the first South American city to host the games and second in Latin America after Mexico City. Furthermore, the country hosted the FIBA Basketball World Cups in 1954 and 1963. At the 1963 event, the Brazil national basketball team won one of its two world championship titles.



Terminal 3 of the São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport, the busiest airport in the country.

BR-116 in Fortaleza, Ceará, the longest highway in the country, with 4,385 km (2,725 mi) of extension.

Port of Itajaí, Santa Catarina, one of the main ports of the country

Brazilian roads are the primary carriers of freight and passenger traffic. The road system totaled 1.98 million km (1.23 million mi) in 2002. The total of paved roads increased from 35,496 km (22,056 mi) (22,056 mi) in 1967 to 184,140 km (114,419 mi) (114,425 mi) in 2002. The firstINVESTMENTS in road infrastructure have given up in the 1920s, the government of Washington Luis, being pursued in the governments of Getúlio Vargas and Eurico Gaspar Dutra. President Juscelino Kubitschek (1956–61), who designed and built the capital Brasília, was another supporter of highways. Kubitschek was responsible for theINSTALLATION of major car manufacturers in the country (Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors arrived in Brazil during his rule) and one of the points used to attract them was, of course, support for the construction of highways. With the implementation of Fiat in 1976 ending an automobile market closed loop, from the end of the 1990s the country has received large foreign direct investments installing in its territory other major car manufacturers and utilities, such as Iveco, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Honda, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Hyundai, Toyota among others. Brazil is the seventh most important country in the auto industry. Brazil’s railway system has been declining since 1945, when emphasis shifted to highway construction. The total length of railway track was 30,875 km (19,185 mi) in 2002, as compared with 31,848 km (19,789 mi) in 1970. Most of the railway system belonged to the Federal Railroad Corporation RFFSA, which was privatized in 2007.The São Paulo Metro was the first underground transit system in Brazil. The other metro systems are in Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Recife, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Teresina and Fortaleza. The country has an extensive rail network of 28,538 kilometres (17,733 miles) in length, the tenth largest network in the world. Currently, the Brazilian government, unlike the past, seeks to encourage this mode of transport; an example of this incentive is the project of the Rio–São Paulo high-speed rail, that will connect the two main cities of the country to carry passengers.There are about 2,500 airports in Brazil, including landing fields: the second largest number in the world, after the United States. São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport, near São Paulo, is the largest and busiest airport with nearly 20 million passengers annually, while handling the vast majority of commercial traffic for the country. For freight transport waterways are of importance, e.g. the industrial zones of Manaus can be reached only by means of the Solimões- Amazonas waterway (3,250 kilometres (2,020 miles) with 6 metres (20 feet) minimum depth). The country also has 50,000 kilometres (31,000 miles) of waterways.Coastal shipping links widely separated parts of the country. Bolivia and Paraguay have been given free ports at Santos. Of the 36 deep-water ports, Santos, Itajaí, Rio Grande, Paranaguá, Rio de Janeiro, Sepetiba, Vitória, Suape, Manaus and São Francisco do Sul are the most important. Bulk carriers have to wait up to 18 days before being serviced, container ships 36,3 hours on average.



The climate of Brazil comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large area and varied topography, but most of the country is tropical. According to the Köppen system, Brazil hosts five major climatic subtypes: equatorial, tropical, semiarid, highland tropical, temperate, and subtropical. The different climatic conditions produce environments ranging from equatorial rain forests in the north and semiarid deserts in the northeast, to temperate coniferous forests in the south and tropical savannas in central Brazil. Many regions have starkly different micro climates. An equatorial climate characterizes much of northern Brazil. There is no real dry season, but there are some variations in the period of the year when most rain falls.Temperatures average 25 °C (77 °F), with more significant temperature variation between night and day than between seasons. Over central Brazil rainfall is more seasonal, characteristic of a savanna climate. This region is as extensive as the Amazon basin but has a very different climate as it lies farther south at a higher altitude. In the interior northeast, seasonal rainfall is even more extreme. The semiarid climatic region generally receives less than 800 millimetres (31.5 in) of rain,most of which generally falls in a period of three to five months of the year and occasionally less than this, creating long periods of drought. Brazil’s 1877–78 Grande Seca (Great Drought), the worst in Brazil’s history, caused approximately half a million deaths. A similarly devastating drought occurred in 1915. South of Bahia, near the coasts, and more southerly most of the state of São Paulo, the distribution of rainfall changes, with rain falling throughout the year. The south enjoys subtropical conditions, with cool winters and average annual temperatures not exceeding 18 °C (64.4 °F); winter frosts and snowfall are not rare in the highest areas.

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