Infobox Country
native_name = "República Federativa do Brasil"
conventional_long_name = Federative Republic of Brazil
common_name = Brazil

symbol_type = Coat of arms
national_motto = "Ordem e Progresso"
pt icon
"Order and Progress"

national_anthem = Hino Nacional Brasileiro
pt icon
"National Anthem of Brazil"

other_symbol_type =

capital = Brasília
latd=15 |latm=45 |latNS=S
longd=47 |longm=57 |longEW=W
largest_city = São Paulo
official_languages = Portuguese
demonym = Brazilian
government_type = Presidential Federal republic
leader_title1 = President
leader_name1 = Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
leader_title2 = Vice-President
leader_name2 = José Alencar
leader_title3 = President of the Chamber of Deputies
leader_name3 = Arlindo Chinaglia
leader_title4 = President of the Senate
leader_name4 = Garibaldi Alves Filho
leader_title5 = Chief Justice
leader_name5 = Gilmar Mendes
sovereignty_type = Independence
sovereignty_note = from Portugal
established_event1 = Declared
established_date1 = September 7, 1822
established_event2 = Recognized
established_date2 = August 29, 1825
established_event3 = Republic
established_date3 = November 15, 1889
area_rank = 5th
area_magnitude = 1 E12
area_km2 = 8514877
area_sq_mi = 3287597
percent_water = 0.65
area_label = Total
population_estimate = 187,393,918
population_estimate_rank = 5th
population_estimate_year = 2008
population_census = 183,987,291
population_census_year = 2007
population_density_km2 = 22
population_density_sq_mi = 57
population_density_rank = 182nd
GDP_PPP = $1,837 trillioncite web|url= |title=Brazil|publisher=International Monetary Fund|accessdate=2008-10-09]
GDP_PPP_rank = 9th
GDP_PPP_year = 2007
GDP_PPP_per_capita = $9,703
GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank = 65th
GDP_nominal = $1,313 trillion
GDP_nominal_rank = 10th
GDP_nominal_year = 2007
GDP_nominal_per_capita = $6,937
GDP_nominal_per_capita_rank = 61st
Gini = 50.5
Gini_year = 2008
HDI = increase 0.800
HDI_rank = 70th
HDI_year = 2005
HDI_category = high
currency = Real (R$)
currency_code = BRL
time_zone = BRT [Officially UTC-3 (Brasília time). From 24 June 2008, timezone change into UTC-2 to UTC-4.| Officially UTC-2 (Brasília time). From 24 June 2008, DST will change into UTC-2 to UTC-3.
utc_offset = -2 to -4cite web|url=|title=Fusos Brasil sem HV|accessdate=2008-08-10|publisher=Observatório Nacional|language=Portuguese]
time_zone_DST = BRST [Officially UTC-2 (Brasília time). From 24 June 2008, DST will change into UTC-2 to UTC-3.]
utc_offset_DST = -2 to -5
cctld = .br
calling_code = 55

Brazil ( _pt. Brasil), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil ( _pt. República Federativa do Brasil) Audio|Brazil.ogg|listen, is the largest and most populous country in South America.cite web | title = Geography of Brazil | booktitle = The World Factbook | publisher = Central Intelligence Agency | year = 2008 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-03 ] It is the fifth largest country by geographical area, the fifth most populous country, and the fourth most populous democracy in the world.cite web | title = People of Brazil | booktitle = The World Factbook | publisher = Central Intelligence Agency | year = 2008 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-03 ] Its population comprises the majority of the world's Portuguese speakers. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of over km to mi|7491|abbrev=yes|precision=0. It is bordered on the north by Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and the overseas department of French Guiana; on the northwest by Colombia; on the west by Bolivia and Peru; on the southwest by Argentina and Paraguay and on the south by Uruguay. Numerous archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean are part of the Brazilian territory, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz.

Brazil was a colony of Portugal from the landing of Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500 until its independence in 1822.cite web | title = Introduction of Brazil | booktitle = The World Factbook | publisher = Central Intelligence Agency | year = 2008 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-03 ] Initially independent as the Empire of Brazil, the country has been a republic since 1889. The bicameral legislature (now called Congress) dates back to 1824, when the first constitution was ratified. The Constitution defines Brazil as a Federal Republiccite web | title = Brazilian Federal Constitution | publisher = Presidency of the Republic | year = 1988 | url =çao.htm | language = Portuguese | accessdate = 2008-06-03 cite web | title = Brazilian Federal Constitution | publisher = | year = 2007 | url = | quote = Unofficial translate | accessdate = 2008-06-03 ] formed by the union of 26 States, the Federal District and the Municipalities (nowadays more than 5,564). [cite web | title = Territorial units of the municipality level | publisher = Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics | year = 2008 | url = | language = Portuguese | accessdate = 2008-06-03 ]

Brazil is the world's tenth largest economy at market exchange rates and the ninth largest in purchasing power.cite web | title = Economy of Brazil | booktitle = The World Factbook | publisher = Central Intelligence Agency | year = 2008 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-03 ] Economic reforms have given the country new international projection. [cite web | last = Penner | first = Andre | title = Booming Brazil could be world power soon | pages = 2 | publisher = The Associated Press | date = 2008-04-17 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-03 ] It is a founding member of the United Nations, the Union of South American Nations, and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. The Brazilian population is predominantly Roman Catholic, almost all Portuguese-speaking and multiethnic. Brazil is also home to a diversity of wildlife, natural environments, and extensive natural resources in a variety of protected habitats.



Most native tribes who live and lived within Brazil's current borders are thought to descend from the first wave of migrants from North Asia (Siberia) that crossed the Bering Land Bridge at the end of the last Ice Age around 9000 BC. In 1500 AD, the territory of modern Brazil had an estimated total population of nearly 3 million Amerindians divided in 2,000 nations and tribes.

A not-updated linguistic survey found 188 living indigenous languages with 155,000 total speakers. In 2007, Fundação Nacional do Índio ( _en. National Indian Foundation) reported the presence of 67 different tribes yet living without contact with civilization, an increase up from 40 in 2005. With this figures, now Brazil has the largest number of uncontacted peoples in the World, even more than the island of New Guinea. When the Portuguese arrived in 1500, the Amerindians were mostly semi-nomadic tribes, with the largest population living on the coast and along the banks of major rivers. Unlike Christopher Columbus who thought he had reached the India, the Portuguese Vasco da Gama had already reached India sailing around Africa two years before they reached Brazil.

Nevertheless, the word "índios" ("Indians") was by then established to designate the peoples of the New World and stuck being used today in the Portuguese language, while the people of India are called "Indianos" or "Hindus". Initially, the Europeans saw the natives as noble savages, and miscegenation of the population began right away. Tribal warfare and cannibalism convinced the Portuguese that they should "civilize" the Amerindians. [Megan Mylan, [ Indians of the Amazon] , Jewel of the Amazon, FRONTLINE/World, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), (24 January 2006)]


Initially Portugal had little interest in Brazil, mainly because of high profits gained through commerce with India, Indochina, China and Japan. Brazil's only economical exploitation was the pursuit of brazilwood for its treasured red dye. After 1530, the Portuguese Crown devised the Hereditary Captaincies system to effectively occupy its new colony, and later took direct control of the failed captaincies. [Fundação Maria e Oscar Americano website, [ "Colonial Brazil"] , retrieved 12 June 2007.] [CasaHistória website, [ "Colonial Brazil"] , retrieved 12 June 2007.] Although temporary trading posts were established earlier to collect brazilwood, used as a dye, with permanent settlement came the establishment of the sugarcane industry and its intensive labor. Several early settlements were founded across the coast, among them the colonial capital, Salvador, established in 1549 at the Bay of All Saints in the north, and the city of Rio de Janeiro on March 1567, in the south. The Portuguese colonists adopted an economy based on the production of agricultural goods that were exported to Europe. Sugar became by far the most important Brazilian colonial product until the early 18th century. [ [ JSTOR: Anglo-Portuguese Trade, 1700-1770] . JSTOR. Retrieved on 16 August 2007.] [Janick, Jules. [ Lecture 34] . Retrieved on 16 August 2007] Even though Brazilian sugar was reputed as being of high quality, the industry faced a crisis during the 17th and 18th centuries when the Dutch and the French started producing sugar in the Antilles, located much closer to Europe, causing sugar prices to fall.

During the 17th century, private explorers from São Paulo Captaincy, nowadays called Bandeirantes, explored and expanded Brazilian borders mainly while raiding the hinterlands tribes aiming to enslave Native Brazilians. In the 18th century, the Bandeirantes found gold and diamond deposits in the nowadys state of Minas Gerais. The exploration of these mines were mostly used to finance the Portuguese Royal Court's expenditure with both the preservation of its Global Empire and the support of its luxurious lifestyle at mainland. The way in which such deposits were exploited by the Portuguese Crown and the powerful local elites, however, burdened colonial Brazil with excessive taxes. Some popular movements supporting independence came about against the taxes established by the colonial government, such as the Tiradentes in 1789, but the secessionist movements were often dismissed by the authorities of the ruling colonial regime. Gold production declined towards the end of the 18th century, starting a period of relative stagnation of the Brazilian hinterland. [Maxwell, Kenneth R. "Conflicts and Conspiracies: Brazil and Portugal 1750-1808". Cambridge University Press: 1973.] Both Amerindian and African slaves' man power were largely used in Brazil's colonial economy. [ [ Slavery in Brazil] retrieved on 19 August 2007.]

In contrast to the neighboring Spanish possessions in South America, the Portuguese colony of Brazil kept its territorial, political and linguistic integrity due to the action of the Portuguese administrative effort. Although the colony was threatened by other nations across the era of Portuguese rule, in particular by Dutch and French powers, the authorities and the people ultimately managed to protect its borders from foreign attacks. Portugal even had to send bullion to Brazil, a spectacular reversal of the colonial trend, in order to protect the integrity of the colony. [Kenneth R. Maxwell, [ Conflicts and Conspiracies: Brazil and Portugal 1750-1808 (p. 216)] , JSTOR]


In 1808, the Portuguese court, fleeing from Napoleon’s troops who had invaded Portugal, established themselves in the city of Rio de Janeiro, which thus became the seat of government of Portugal and the entire Portuguese Empire, even though being located outside of Europe. Rio de Janeiro was the capital of the Portuguese empire from 1808 to 1815. After that, the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves (1815-1825) was created with Lisbon as its capital. After João VI returned to Portugal in 1821, his heir-apparent Pedro became regent of the Kingdom of Brazil, within the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Following a series of political incidents and disputes, Brazil achieved its independence from Portugal on 7 September 1822. On 12 October 1822, Dom Pedro became the first Emperor of Brazil, being crowned on 1 December 1822. Portugal would recognize Brazil as an independent country in 1825.

In 1824, Pedro closed the Constituent Assembly, stating that the body was "endangering liberty". Pedro then produced a constitution modeled on that of Portugal (1822) and France (1814). It specified indirect elections and created the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government; however, it also added a fourth branch, the "moderating power", to be held by the Emperor. Pedro's government was considered economically and administratively inefficient. Political pressures eventually made the Emperor step down on 7 April 1831. He returned to Portugal leaving behind his five-year-old son Pedro II. Until Pedro II reached maturity, Brazil was governed by regents from 1831 to 1840. The regency period was turbulent and marked by numerous local revolts including the Male Revolt, the largest urban slave rebellion in the Americas, which took place in Bahia in 1835. [Reis, João José. "Slave Rebellion in Brazil — The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia". Translated by Arthur Brakel. Johns Hopkins University Press.]

On 23 July 1840, Pedro II was crowned Emperor. His government was marked by a substantial rise in coffee exports, the War of the Triple Alliance, and the end of slave trade from Africa in 1850, although slavery in Brazilian territory would only be abolished in 1888. By the Eusébio de Queirós law, [Leslie Bethell, [ The Abolition of the Brazilian Slave Trade: Britain, Brazil, and the Slave Trade Question, 1807-1969] , JSTOR] Brazil stopped trading slaves from Africa in 1850. Slavery was abandoned altogether in 1888, thus making Brazil the last country of the Americas to ban slavery. [ [ Brazil's Prized Exports Rely on Slaves and Scorched Land] Larry Rohter (2002) New York Times, 25 March] [Anstey, Roger: The Atlantic Slave Trade and British abolition, 1760-1810. London: Macmillan, 1975.] When slavery was finally abolished, a large influx of European immigrants took place. [cite web |url= |title=Slavery and Abolition |date= |quote=A Journal of Comparative Studies |accessdate=2007-07-19] [cite web |url= |title=Links between Brazil & Ireland |year=2004 |quote= Aspects of an Economic and Political Controversy between Great Britain and Brazil, 1865-1870. |accessdate=2007-07-19] [cite web |url= |title=JSTOR |date= |quote=The Independence of Brazil and the Abolition of the Brazilian Slave Trade: Anglo-Brazilian Relations, 1822-1826 |accessdate=2007-07-19] By the 1870s, the Emperor's control of domestic politics had started to deteriorate in the face of crises with the Catholic Church, the Army and the slaveholders. The Republican movement slowly gained strength. The dominant classes no longer needed the empire to protect their interests and deeply resented the abolition of slavery. [cite web |url= |title=CIAO Atlas |date= |quote=The Empire, 1822-89 |accessdate=2007-06-23] Indeed, imperial centralization ran counter to their desire for local autonomy. By 1889 Pedro II had stepped down and the Republican system had been adopted in Brazil. In the end, the empire really fell because of a coup d'etat.


Pedro II was deposed on November 15, 1889 by a Republican military coup led by general Deodoro da Fonseca, [U.S. Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, Country Studies: Brazil, [ "The Republican Era, 1889-1985"] . Library of Congress. Retrieved on 16 August 2007.] who became the country’s first "de facto" president through military ascension. The country’s name became the "Republic of the United States of Brazil". From 1889 to 1930, the dominant states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais alternated control of the presidency.cite web| url=| title=CasaHistória "Republic 1889-1964"| accessdate=2007-06-12] U.S. Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, Country Studies: Brazil, [ "The Era of Getúlio Vargas, 1930-54"] ] A military junta took control in 1930. Getúlio Vargas took office soon after, and would remain as dictatorial ruler until 1945. He was re-elected in 1951 and stayed in office until his suicide in 1954. After 1930, successive governments continued industrial and agricultural growth and the development of the vast interior of Brazil. [Valença, Márcio M. [ "Patron-Client Relations and Politics in Brazil: A Historical Overview"] . Retrieved June 16, 2007] Juscelino Kubitschek's office years (1956-1961) were marked by the political campaign motto of plunging "50 anos em 5" ( _en. fifty years of development in five). [cite web |title=Plano de Metas criado por JK foi um marco da economia brasileira |date=2006-02-17 |url= |author=Renato Marques |language=Portuguese |accessdate=2007-08-12 ]

The military took office in Brazil in a coup d'état in 1964, and remained in power until March 1985, when it fell from grace because of political struggles between the regime and the Brazilian elites. In 1967 the name of the country was changed to "Federative Republic of Brazil". Just as the Brazilian regime changes of 1889, 1930, and 1945 unleashed competing political forces and caused divisions within the military, so too did the 1964 regime change. [CasaHistória website, [ "Military Rule"] , retrieved June 12, 2007] Democracy was re-established in 1988 when the current Federal Constitution was enacted. [cite web |title=Election Resources on the Internet: Federal Elections in Brazil |url= |date=2006-10-30 |author=Manuel Álvarez-Rivera |accessdate=2007-06-20] Fernando Collor de Mello was the first president truly elected by popular vote after the military regime.cite web |url= | publisher=Brazilian Government website |title=20th century (1990-1992 The Collor Government) |accessdate=2007-06-20] Collor took office in March 1990. In September 1992, the National Congress voted for Collor's impeachment after a sequence of scandals were uncovered by the media. [cite web |url= |title=The Rise and Fall of President Collor and Its Impact on Brazilian Democracy | publisher=JSTOR | accessdate=2007-07-19] The vice-president, Itamar Franco, assumed the presidency. Assisted by the Minister of Finance at that time, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Itamar Franco's administration implemented the Plano Real economic package, which included a new currency temporarily pegged to the U.S. dollar, the "real". In the elections held on October 3, 1994, Fernando Henrique Cardoso ran for president and won, being reelected in 1998. Brazil's current president is Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, elected in 2002 and reelected in 2006.

Government and politics

The Brazilian Federation is based on the union of three autonomous political entities: the States, the Municipalities and the Federal District. A fourth entity originated in the aforementioned association: the Union. There is no hierarchy among the political entities. The Federation is set on six fundamental principles: sovereignty, citizenship, dignity of the people, social value of labor, freedom of enterprise, and political pluralism. The classic tripartite branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial under the checks and balances system), is formally established by the Constitution. The executive and legislative are organized independently in all four political entities, while the judiciary is organized only in the federal and state levels.

All members of the executive and legislative branches are directly-elected.cite web |url= |title=Embassy of Brazil — Ottawa |date= |quote=Political Institutions — The Executive |accessdate=2007-07-19] [cite web |url= |title=City Mayors |date= |quote=Brazil federal, state and local government |accessdate=2007-07-19] [cite web |url= |title=JSTOR |date= |quote=Brazilian Politics |accessdate=2007-07-19] Judges and other judicial officials are appointed after passing entry exams. Voting is compulsory for those aged 18 or older. Four political parties stand out among several small ones: Workers' Party (PT), Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), and Democrats (formerly Liberal Front Party — PFL). Practically all governmental and administrative functions are exercised by authorities and agencies affiliated to the Executive.

The form of government is that of a democratic 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 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He was elected on October 27, 2002, [ [ "Leftist Lula wins Brazil election"] BBC News. Accessed 17 May 2007] and re-elected on October 29, 2006. [ [ "Brazil re-elects President Lula"] BBC News. Accessed 17 May 2007] The President appoints the Ministers of State, who assist in governing. Legislative houses in each political entity are the main source of laws 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.


Brazilian law is based on Roman-Germanic traditions. [ [ "The Brazilian Legal System"] , Organization of American States. Accessed 17 May 2007.] Thus, civil law concepts prevail over common law practices. Most of Brazilian law is codified, although non-codified statutes also represent a substantial part of the system, playing a complementary role. Court decisions set out interpretive guidelines; however, they are not binding on other specific cases except in a few situations. Doctrinal works and the works of academic jurists have strong influence in law creation and in law cases. The legal system is based on the Federal Constitution, which was promulgated on 5 October 1988, and is the fundamental law of Brazil. All other legislation and court decisions must conform to its rules. [Silva, José Afonso da; "Curso de Direito Constitucional Positivo"; Malheiros, 2004, p. 46, ISBN 85-7420-559-1] As of April 2007, there have been 53 amendments. States have their own constitutions, which must not contradict the Federal Constitution. [Silva, José Afonso da; "Curso de Direito Constitucional Positivo"; Malheiros, 2004, p. 592, ISBN 85-7420-559-1] Municipalities and the Federal District do not have their own constitutions; instead, they have "organic laws" ( _pt. "leis orgânicas"). [ [ "Government structure"] Brazilian Government. Accessed 17 May 2007.] Legislative entities are the main source of statutes, although in certain matters judiciary and executive bodies may enact legal norms.

Jurisdiction is administered by the judiciary entities, although in rare situations the Federal Constitution allows the Federal Senate to pass on legal judgments. There are also specialized military, labor, and electoral courts. The highest court is the Supreme Federal Tribunal. This system has been criticised over the last decades due to the slow pace at which final decisions are issued. Lawsuits on appeal may take several years to resolve, and in some cases more than a decade elapses before definitive rulings are made. [Glugoski, Miguel; Medauar, Odete. [ "Nossos direitos nas suas mãos"] , USP Journal, 24–30 November 2003. Retrieved 17 May 2007.]

Foreign relations and the military

Brazil is sought to be a political and economic leader in Latin America, [Lima, Maria Regina Soares; Hirst, Mônica. [ "Brazil as a regional power"] Blackwell Synergy Journal. Accessed 22 June 2007.] [Bandeira, Luiz Alberto Moniz. [ "Brazil as a regional power"] Sage Journals Online. Accessed 22 June 2007. ] even though this claim is partially contested by Argentina and Mexico, who oppose the country's aim of obtaining a permanent seat as the representative of the region in the UN Security Council. Social and economic problems prevent Brazil from effectively exerting global power. [Zibechi, Raúl [ "Difficult Path"] Funder's Network on Trade and Globalization. Accessed 22 June 2007.] Between World War II and 1990, both democratic and military governments sought to expand Brazil's influence in the world by pursuing a state-led industrial policy and an independent foreign policy. More recently, the country has aimed to strengthen ties with other South American countries, engage in multilateral diplomacy through the United Nations and the Organization of American States. [ Universia Knowledge at Wharton website, [ "Can Brazil Play a Leadership Role in the Current Round of Global Trade Talks?"] . Wharton School, Pennsylvania. Accessed 22 June 2007. ] Brazil's current foreign policy is based on the country's position as a regional power in Latin America, a leader among developing countries, and an emerging world power. [Ribando, Clare [ US-Brazil relations] . Congressional Research Service. Retrieved on 16 August 2007.] Brazilian foreign policy has generally reflected multilateralism, peaceful dispute settlement, and nonintervention in the affairs of other countries. [Georges D. Landau, "The Decisionmaking Process in Foreign Policy: The Case of Brazil," Center for Strategic and International Studies: Washington DC: March 2003] The Brazilian Constitution also determines the country shall seek the economic, political, social and cultural integration of the nations of Latin America. [Zibechi, Raul. [ Brazil and the Difficult Path to Multilateralism] . IRC Americas. Retrieved on 16 August 2007.] [De Lima, Maria Regina Soares. Hirst, Monica. [ Brazil as an intermediate state and regional power: action, choice and responsibilities] .International Affairs 82 (1), 21–40. Retrieved on 16 August 2007.] [Bandeira, Luiz Alberto Moniz. [ Brazil as a Regional Power and Its Relations with the United States] University of Brasília. Retrieved on 16 August 2007.]

The Armed forces of Brazil comprise the Brazilian Army, the Brazilian Navy, and the Brazilian Air Force. The Military Police (States' Military Police) is described as an ancillary force of the Army by constitution, but under the control of each state's governor. The Brazilian armed forces are the largest in Latin America. The Brazilian Air Force is the aerial warfare branch of the Brazilian armed forces, being the largest air force in Latin America, with about 700 manned aircraft in service. [ [ Sala de imprensa - FAB em números] . Força Aérea Brasileira. Retrieved on 16 August 2007.] The Brazilian Navy is responsible for naval operations and for guarding Brazilian territorial waters. It is the oldest of the Brazilian Armed forces and the only navy in Latin America that operates an aircraft carrier, the NAeL "São Paulo" (formerly FS "Foch" of the French Navy). [ [ FAQ] . Brazilian Navy Website. Retrieved on 16 August 2007.] Finally, the Brazilian Army is responsible for land-based military operations, with a strength of approximately 190,000 soldiers.


According to the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, Brazil is a federation of 26 states ( _pt. "estados"), one federal district ( _pt. "Distrito Federal") and, also, the municipalities. Neither of this units have the right to secede from the Federation.

States are based on historical, conventional borders and have developed throughout the centuries; though some boundaries are arbitrary. The states can be split or joined together in new states if their people express so in a plebiscite. States have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a share of taxes collected by the Union government. They have a governor and legislative body ("Assembléia Legislativa") elected directly by their people. They also have independent Courts of Law for common justice. Despite that, states are not so free to create their own laws as in the United States. For example, criminal and civil laws can only be voted by the Brazilian bicameral Congress.

Municipalities can be split or joined together in new municipalities if their people express so in a plebiscite, following some rules of the Federal Constitution and keeping the border within the former state. Municipalities have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a share of taxes collected by the Union and state government. They have a mayor ("prefeito") and a legislative body ("Câmara de Vereadores") elected directly by their people, but they have no separated Courts of Law. Indeed, a Court of Law organized by the state can comprehend many municipalities in a single "comarca" (justice administrative division).

The federal district ( _pt. "Distrito Federal") contains the capital city, Brasília. The federal district is not a state on its right, but shares some characteristics of a state and some of a municipality. It can not be divided in municipalities and its Courts of Law are part of the Federal Judiciary System.

The Brazilian Constitution allows the existence of incorporated territories, but they are no more. In 1943, with the entrance of Brazil into the Second World War, the Vargas regime detached seven strategic territories from the border of the country in order to administrate them directly: Amapá, Rio Branco, Acre, Guaporé, Ponta Porã, Iguaçu and the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha. After the war, the first three territories were retained as states, with Rio Branco and Guaporé being renamed Roraima and Rondônia, respectively. Ponta Porã and Iguaçu territories resorted to the original state they belonged. The Mato Grosso state incorporated the territory of Ponta Porã and the northern part of Iguaçu. Central Iguaçu went to the state of Paraná, and southern Iguaçu went to the state of Santa Catarina. In 1988, Fernando de Noronha became part of the state of Pernambuco.

Since the first years of the Republican regime, a square-shaped territory was carved out of Goiás in preparation for the new capital. In 1960, the new city of Brasília was founded and the "Distrito Federal" moved out. The previous federal district became the state of Guanabara until 1975 when it was merged with the state of Rio de Janeiro, becoming the municipality of Rio de Janeiro.

In 1977, Mato Grosso state was split into two states. The northern area retained the name Mato Grosso while the southern area became the new state of Mato Grosso do Sul, with Campo Grande as its capital. In 1988, the northern portion of Goiás state became the state of Tocantins, with Palmas as its capital.


The Brazilian regions are not political or administrative divisions. Although defined by law, Brazilian regions are useful mainly for statistical purposes and, sometimes, to define the application of federal funds in development projects.

The national territory was divided in 1969 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), for demographic and statistical purposes, into five main regions: North, Northeast, Central-West, Southeast and South.

The North region covers 45.27% of the land area of Brazil, and has the lowest number of inhabitants. With the exception of Manaus, which hosts a tax-free industrial zone, and Belém, the biggest metropolitan area of the region, it is fairly unindustrialized and undeveloped. It accommodates most of the rainforest vegetation of the world and many indigenous tribes.

The Northeast region is inhabited by about 30% of Brazil's population. [cite web |title=IBGE — Estatísticas da população |url= |date=2006-07-01 |language=Portuguese |accessdate=2007-06-19 |format=PDF] It is culturally diverse, with roots set in the Portuguese colonial period, and in Amerindian and Afro-Brazilian elements. It is also the poorest region of Brazil,cite web|title=In 2004, North and Northeast gain participation in the GDP of the country|url=|date=2006-11-16|author=IBGE|accessdate=2007-08-22 See also, List of Brazilian states by GDP per capita] and suffers from long periods of dry climate. [PDFlink| [ Dry Periods over Eastern Brazil] |464 KB INPE. Retrieved 16 August 2007]

The Central-West region has low demographic density when compared to the other regions,See List of Brazilian states by population density] mostly because a part of its territory is covered by the world's largest marshlands area, the Pantanal [cite web |url= |title=Brazilian Ministry of External Relations |date= |quote=Centre-West Region |accessdate=2007-06-20] as well as a small part of the Amazon Rainforest in the northwest. However, much of the region is also covered by Cerrado, the largest savanna in the world. The central-west region contributes significantly towards agriculture. [cite web |title=Cerrado |url= |author=Vânia R. Pivello |accessdate=2007-06-22 |language=Portuguese ]

The Southeast region is the richest and most densely populated. It has more inhabitants than any other South American country, and hosts one of the largest megalopolises of the world, and has the country's two largest cities; São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The region is very diverse, including the major business center of São Paulo, the historical cities of Minas Gerais and its capital Belo Horizonte, the third-largest metropolitan area in Brazil, the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, and the coast of Espírito Santo.

The South region is the wealthiest by GDP per capita, and has the highest standard of living in the country. [See List of Brazilian states by HDI] It is also the coldest region of Brazil, [cite web |url= |title=Brazilian Ministry of External Relations |date= |quote=Brazil and Its Regions |accessdate=2007-06-20] with occasional occurrences of frost and snow in some of the higher altitude areas. [cite web |url= |title=Brazilian Ministry of External Relations |date= |quote=South Region |accessdate=2007-06-20] It has been settled mainly by European immigrants, mostly of Italian, German and Portuguese ancestry, being clearly influenced by these cultures.


The Equatorial line cuts through the state of Amapá in the north, and the Tropic of Capricorn line cuts through the state of São Paulo. The southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul is further to the south than the entire European continent is to the north. [cite web |url= |publisher=Brazil Travel |title=States of Brazil |accessdate=2008-03-10] Acre is in the far west side of the country, covered by the Amazon forest; Paraíba is the easternmost state of Brazil; Cabo Branco, in the city of João Pessoa, is the easternmost point of Brazil and the Americas. The states of Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, and Santa Catarina all have a temperate climate.

State of São Paulo is the economic center of Brazil. Its agriculture, industry, commerce and services are the most diversified of Brazil. Although a large part of its production is exported to other states and other countries, the consumer market of the state of São Paulo is also the biggest in the Brazil. Different from most of the Brazilian states, São Paulo economy is strong even in non-coastal cities.

Rio de Janeiro, the most well known Brazilian city and with many famous landmarks, is the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Older books may still reference the state of Guanabara: after the Federal District (capital of the Republic) was moved to Brasília in 1960, the city of Rio de Janeiro was elevated to the condition of state of Guanabara (name of the large bay that washes the city or Rio); in 1975, Guanabara state was incorporated to the state of Rio and returned to the condition of municipality, with the old name of city of Rio de Janeiro.


Brazil occupies an immense area along the eastern coast of South America and includes much of the continent's interior region,cite encyclopedia | title = Land and Resources | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-11 ] sharing land borders with Uruguay to the south; Argentina and Paraguay to the southwest; Bolivia and Peru to the west; Colombia to the northwest; Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and the overseas department of French Guiana to the north; stretching from the North to the Southern Hemisphere. The factors of size, relief, climate, and natural resources make Brazil geographically diverse. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world—after Russia, Canada, the People's Republic of China and the United States—and third largest on the Americas; with a total area of km to mi|8511965|abbrev=yes|precision=0, include km to mi|55455|abbrev=yes|precision=0 of water. It spans three time zones; from UTC-4, in the North (except Pará) and UTC-4, in the central states; [cite web | title = Law No. 11.662/2008| publisher = Brazilian Government website | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-25 ] to UTC-3, in the eastern states, the official time of Brazil, and UTC-2, in the Atlantic islands.

Brazilian topography is also diverse, including hills, mountains, plains, highlands, and scrublands. Much of Brazil lies between convert|200|m and convert|800|m in elevation.cite encyclopedia | title = Natural Regions | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-11 ] The main upland area occupies most of the southern half of the country. The northwestern parts of the plateau consist of broad, rolling terrain broken by low, rounded hills. The southeastern section is more rugged, with a complex mass of ridges and mountain ranges reaching elevations of up to convert|1200|m. These ranges include the Mantiqueira Mountains, the Espinhaço Mountains, and the Serra do Mar. In north, the Guiana Highlands form a major drainage divide, separating rivers that flow south into the Amazon Basin from rivers that empty into the Orinoco river system, in Venezuela, to the north. The highest point in Brazil is the Pico da Neblina with convert|3014|m, and the lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean with convert|0|m. Brazil has a dense and complex system of rivers, one of the world's most extensive, with eight major drainage basins, all of which drain into the Atlantic Ocean.cite encyclopedia | title = Rivers and Lakes | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-11 ] Major rivers include the Amazon, the largest river in terms of volume of water, and the second-longest in the world; the Paraná and its major tributary, the Iguaçu River, where the Iguaçu Falls are located; the Negro, São Francisco, Xingu, Madeira and the Tapajós rivers.


The climate of Brazil comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale and varied topography, but the largest part of the country is tropical. Analysed according to the Köppen system, Brazil hosts five major climatic subtypes: equatorial, tropical, semiarid, highland tropical, and temperate; ranging from equatorial rainforests in the north and semiarid deserts in the northeast, to temperate coniferous forests in the south and tropical savannas in central Brazil.cite web | title = Brazil | work = Country Guide | publisher = BBC Weather | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-11 ] Many regions have starkly different microclimates.cite encyclopedia | title = Natural Regions | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-11 ] cite web | title = Temperature in Brazil | publisher = Brazil Travel | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-11 ]

A 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 convert|25|°C, with more significant temperature variations between night and day than between seasons. Over central Brazil rainfall is more seasonal, characteristic of a savanna climate. This region is as large and extensive as the Amazon basin but, lying farther south and being at a moderate altitude, it has a very different climate. In the interior Northeast, seasonal rainfall is even more extreme. The semiarid climate region receives less than convert|800|mm of rain, which falls in a period of two or three months. From the south of Bahia, near São Paulo, the distribution of rainfall changes, here some appreciable rainfall occurs in all months. The South has temperate conditions, with average temperatures below convert|18|°C and cool winters, frosts are quite common, with occasional snowfalls in the higher areas.


Brazil's large territory comprises different ecosystems, such as the Amazon Rainforest, recognized as having the greatest biological diversity in the world;cite web | title = One fifth of the world's freshwater | work = Amazon | publisher = World Wide Fund for Nature | date = 2007-08-06 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-12 ] the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado, which together sustain some of the world's greatest biodiversity.cite encyclopedia | title = Plant and Animal Life | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-12 ] In the South, the Araucaria pine forest grows under temperate conditions. The rich wildlife of Brazil reflects the variety of natural habitats; however, remains largely unknown, and new species are found on nearly a daily basis. [cite web | title = Forests as Habitats | work = Importance of Forests | publisher = World Wide Fund for Nature | date = 2006-01-16 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-12 ] Scientists estimate that the total number of plant and animal species in Brazil could approach two million. Larger mammals include pumas, jaguars, ocelots, rare bush dogs, and foxes. Peccaries, tapirs, anteaters, sloths, opossums, and armadillos are abundant. Deer are plentiful in the south, and monkeys of many species abound in the northern rain forests. [cite web | title = Atlantic Forest, Brazil | work =
publisher = BBC News | date = 2004-10-01 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-12

Concern for the environment in Brazil has grown in response to global interest in environmental issues.cite encyclopedia | title = Environmental Issues | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-12 ] It's natural heritage is extremely threatened due to cattle ranching and agriculture, logging, mining, resettlement, oil and gas extraction, over-fishing, expansion of urban centres, wildlife trade, fire, climate change, dams and infrastructure, water contamination, and invasive species. In many areas of the country, the natural environment is threatened by development. [cite web | title = Under threat | publisher = Greenpeace | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-12 ] 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. [cite web | title = Amazon destruction: six football fields a minute | publisher = Greenpeace | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-12 ]


Brazil is the largest national economy in Latin America, the world's tenth largest economy at market exchange rates [cite conference | title = Report for Selected Countries and Subjects | booktitle = World Economic Outlook Database | publisher = International Monetary Fund | date = 2008-04-17 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] [cite conference | title = Total GDP 2006 | publisher = World Bank | date = 2007-07-01 | url = | format = PDF | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] and the ninth largest in purchasing power parity (PPP), [cite conference | title = Report for Selected Countries and Subjects (PPP) | booktitle = World Economic Outlook Database | publisher = International Monetary Fund | date = 2008-04-17 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] [cite conference | title = PPP GDP 2006 | publisher = World Bank | date = 2007-07-01 | url = | format = PDF | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; with large and developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors, as well as a large labor pool. The country has been expanding its presence in international financial and commodities markets, and is regarded as one of the group of four emerging economies called BRIC. [cite web | last = O'Neill | first = Jim | authorlink = Jim O'Neill | title = BRICs | publisher = Goldman Sachs | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] Brazilian exports are booming, creating a new generation of tycoons.cite news | last = Phillips | first = Tom | title = The country of the future finally arrives | publisher = The Guardian | date = 2008-05-10 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] Major export products include aircraft, coffee, automobiles, soybean, iron ore, orange juice, steel, ethanol, textiles, footwear, corned beef and electrical equipment. [cite news | title = The economy of heat | publisher = The Economist | date = 2007-04-12 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] The biggest investment boom in history is under way; in 2007, Brazil launched a four-year plan to spend $300 billion to modernise its road network, power plants and ports. [cite news | title = Building BRICs of growth | publisher = The Economist | date = 2008-06-05 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] Brazil's booming economy is shifting into overdrive, with biofuels and deep-water oil providing energy independence and the government collecting enough cash to irrigate the desert and pave highways across the Amazon Rainforest. [cite news | last = Clendenning | first = Alan | title = Booming Brazil could be world power soon | publisher = The Associated Press | date = 2008-04-17 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 Dead link|date=August 2008] Brazil had pegged its currency, the real, to the U.S. dollar in 1994. However, after the East Asian financial crisis, the Russian default in 1998 [cite conference | first = Taimur | last = Baig | first2 = Ilan | last2 = Goldfajn | title = The Russian default and the contagion to Brazil | booktitle = IMF Working Paper | publisher = International Monetary Fund | year = 2000 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 |format=PDF] and the series of adverse financial events that followed it, the Brazilian central bank 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. [cite conference | first = Arminio | last = Fraga | title = Monetary Policy During the Transition to a Floating Exchange Rate: Brazil's Recent Experience | publisher = International Monetary Fund | year = 2000 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ]

Brazil received an International Monetary Fund rescue package in mid-2002 in the amount of $30.4 billion, [cite news | last = Wheatley | first = Jonathan | title = Brazil: When an IMF Bailout Is Not Enough | publisher = Bussines Week | date = 2002-09-02 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] a record sum at that time. The IMF loan was paid off early by Brazil's central bank in 2005 (the due date was scheduled for 2006). [cite news | title = Brazil to pay off IMF debts early | publisher = BBC News | date = 2005-12-14 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] One of the issues the Brazilian central bank is currently dealing with is the excess of speculative short-term capital inflows to the country in the past few months, which might explain in part the recent downfall of the U.S. dollar against the real in the period. [cite conference | title = Economic Quarterly | pages = 171 | publisher = Institute of Applied Economic Research | date = 2007-03-01 | url = | format = PDF | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] Nonetheless, foreign direct investment (FDI), related to long-term, less speculative investment in production, is estimated to be $193.8 billion for 2007. [cite press release | title = Capital Flows to Emerging Markets Set at Close to Record Levels | publisher = The Institute of International Finance | date = 2007-05-31 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] Inflation monitoring and control currently plays a major role in Brazil's Central Bank activity in setting out short-term interest rates as a monetary policy measure. [cite conference | title = IPCA, IPC-FIPE and IPC-BR: Methodological and Empirical Differences | publisher = Central Bank of Brazil | year = 2004 | url = | format = PDF | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ]


Brazil's "investment grade" economy is diverse, [cite news | title = Brazil's shares at all-time high | publisher = BBC News | date = 2008-04-30 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] encompassing agriculture, industry, and a multitude of services. [cite news | last = Alves | first = Fabio | last2 = Caminada | first2 = Carlos | title = Brazilian Debt Raised to Investment Grade by S&P | publisher = Reuters | date = 2008-04-30 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] cite news | last = Warner | first = Jeremy | title = Jeremy Warner's Outlook: Brazil secures investment grade | publisher = The Independent | date = 2008-05-02 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] Brazil is finally punching its weight with a booming economy and stronger global leadership.cite news | last = Colitt | first = Raymond | title = Sleeping giant Brazil wakes, but could stumble | publisher = Reuters | date = 2008-05-13 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] The recent economic strength has been due in part to a global boom in commodities prices with exports from beef to soybeans soaring. Its prospects have been helped by huge oil and gas discoveries. [cite news | title = An economic superpower, and now oil too | publisher = The Economist | date = 2008-04-17 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] A global power in agriculture and natural resources, Brazil unleashed the greatest burst of prosperity it has witnessed in three decades. [cite news | title = Brazil Joins Front Rank Of New Economic Powers | publisher = The Wall Street Journal | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ]

Agriculture and allied sectors like forestry, logging and fishing accounted for 5.1% of the gross domestic product in 2007.cite web | title = Field Listing — GDP — composition by sector | booktitle = The World Factbook | publisher = Central Intelligence Agency | year = 2008 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] A performance that puts agribusiness in a position of distinction in terms of Brazil's trade balance, in spite of trade barriers and subsidizing policies adopted by the developed countries. [cite web | title = Agriculture and Cattle-raising | work = Brazil by Topics | publisher = Brazilian Government official website | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] [cite encyclopedia | title = Agriculture | url = | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] The industry; from automobiles, steel and petrochemicals to computers, aircraft, and consumer durables; accounted for 30.8% of the gross domestic product. Industry is highly concentrated geographically, with the leading concentrations in metropolitan São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Campinas, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Recife and Fortaleza. Technologically advanced industries are also highly concentrated in these locations. [cite encyclopedia | title = Manufacturing | url = | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ]

Brazil is the world's tenth largest energy consumer. It's energy comes from renewable sources, particularly hydroelectricity and ethanol; and nonrenewable sources, mainly oil and natural gas. [cite encyclopedia | title = Energy | url = | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] Brazil will become an oil superpower, with massive oil discoveries in recent times. [cite news | title = Oil discovery rocks Brazil | publisher = CNN | date = 2007-11-09 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] [cite news | last = Schneyer | first = Joshua | title = Brazil, the New Oil Superpower | publisher = Business Week | date = 2007-11-09 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] [cite news | title = More bounty | publisher = The Economist | date = 2008-04-17 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ]

cience and technology

Brazilian science effectively began in the first decades of the 19th century, when the Portuguese Royal Family, headed by John VI, arrived in Rio de Janeiro, escaping from the Napoleon's army invasion of Portugal in 1807. Until then, Brazil was a Portuguese colony, without universities, and a lack of cultural and scientific organizations, in stark contrast to the former American colonies of the Spanish Empire, which although having a largely illiterate population like Brazil and Portugal, had, however, a number of universities since the 16th century.

Technological research in Brazil is largely carried out in public universities and research institutes. Nonetheless, more than 73% of funding for basic research still comes from government sources. [cite web |title=Skills training for growth |url= |author=Brazilian Government |accessdate=2007-08-10 ] Some of Brazil's most notables technological hubs are the Oswaldo Cruz Institute, the Butantan Institute, the Air Force's Aerospace Technical Center, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation and the INPE. Brazil has the most advanced space program in Latin America, with significant capabilities to launch vehicles, launch sites and satellite manufacturing. [cite web |url= |title=Brazil — The Space Program |accessdate=2008-05-24 |year=1997 |month=April | ] On 14 October 1997, the Brazilian Space Agency signed an agreement with NASA to provide parts for the ISS. [cite web |url= |title=Brazilian International Space Station Program |accessdate=2008-05-24 |work=Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espacias ] Uranium is enriched at the Resende Nuclear Fuel Factory to fuel the country's energy demands. Plans are on the way to build the country's first nuclear submarine. [cite news |title=Brazil to revive nuclear project |url= |work=BBC News |publisher=BBC |date=2007-07-11 |accessdate=2008-05-24 ] Brazil is one of the three countries in Latin America [ [ Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität] ] with an operational Synchrotron Laboratory, a research facility on physics, chemistry, material science and life sciences.


Brazil's population comes from many racial and ethnic groups.cite encyclopedia | title = Population | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ] The last National Research for Sample of Domiciles (PNAD) census revealed the following: 49.7% of the population self-identified as White, about 93 million; 42.6% Pardo (meaning brown in Portuguese), about 79 million; 6.9% Black, about 13 million; 0.5% Asian, about 1 million; and 0.3% Amerindian, about 519,000.cite conference | title = National Research for Sample of Domiciles | pages = Table 1.2 | publisher = Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics | year = 2006 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 |format=PDF] Most Brazilians can trace their ancestry to the country's indigenous Amerindians, Portuguese colonists, or African slaves, either alone, in combination with one or both of the others, and/or in combination with other ethnic or racial groups. Since the arrival of the Portuguese in the 1500s, this miscegenation between the three groups has been a part of the evolution of the people of Brazil. In the over three centuries of Portuguese colonization, Brazil received more than 700,000 Portuguese settlers and 4 million African slaves.cite encyclopedia | title = People and Society | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ]

Starting in the late 19th century, Brazil opened its doors to immigration: people of over 60 nationalities immigrated to Brazil. About 5 million European and Asian immigrants arrived from 1870 to 1953, most of them from Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Germany. In the early 20th century, people from Japan and the Middle-East also arrived. The immigrants and their descendants had an important impact in the ethnic composition of the Brazilian population, and many diasporas are present in the country.

Brazil has the largest population of Italian origin outside of Italy, with over 25 million Italian Brazilians, [cite web | last = Valensise | first = Michele | title = Mensagem do Embaixador da Itália | publisher = Italian Embassy in Brazil | language = Portuguese | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ] the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, with 1.6 million Japanese Brazilians, [cite web | last = Nakamura | first = Akemi | title = Japan, Brazil mark a century of settlement, family ties | work = Brazil emigration centennial in Japan | publisher = The Japan Times | date = 2008-01-15 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ] the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East, with 10 million Arab Brazilians. [ [ People of Arab descent in Brazil] ] As well the second largest German population outside of Germany, with 12 million German Brazilians, [cite web | title = Germans | publisher = Ministry of External Relations of Brazil | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ] the second largest Spanish population outside of Spain, with 15 million Spanish Brazilians, [ [ People of Spanish descent in Brazil] ] the second largest Polish population outside of Poland, with 1.8 million Polish Brazilians. [ [ People of Polish descent in Brazil] ] However, the largest and oldest European ethnic group in Brazil is the Portuguese Brazilian, and most Brazilians can trace their ancestry to an ethnic Portuguese or a mixed-race Portuguese. A characteristic of Brazil is the race mixing. Genetically, most Brazilians have some degree of European, African, and Amerindian ancestry. [cite web | title = Color and genomic ancestry in Brazilians | publisher = National Academy of Sciences of the United States | date = 2003-01-07 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ] The entire population can be considered a single "Brazilian" ethnic group, with highly varied racial types and backgrounds, but without clear ethnic sub-divisions.cite encyclopedia | title = Ethnic Groups | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ]

About 81.3% of Brazilians live in an urban area. [ [] ] The metropolitan areas are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte, respectively with 19.7, 11.4, and 5.4 million inhabitants. In 2007, fourteen cities had more than 1 million residents, and six global cities had over 2 million (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Brasília, Fortaleza, and Belo Horizonte). [cite web | title = Cidades@ | publisher = Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-11] Almost all the capitals are the largest city in their corresponding state, except for Vitória, the capital of Espírito Santo, and Florianópolis, the capital of Santa Catarina. There are also non-capital metropolitan areas in the states of São Paulo (Campinas, Santos and the Paraíba Valley), Minas Gerais (Steel Valley), Rio Grande do Sul (Sinos Valley), and Santa Catarina (Itajaí Valley). [cite encyclopedia | title = Principal Cities | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ]

Education and health

The Federal Constitution and the 1996 "General Law of Education in Brazil" (LDB) determine how the Federal Government, States, Federal District, and Municipalities will manage and organize their respective education systems. Each of these public educational systems is responsible for its own maintenance, which manages funds as well as mechanisms and sources for financial resources. The new Constitution reserves 25% of state and municipal taxes and 18% of federal taxes for education.cite conference | title = Sector Study for Education in Brazil | booktitle = | publisher = Japan Bank for International Cooperation | year = 2005 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 |format=PDF] cite web | title = Education | work = Brazil by Topics | publisher = Brazilian Government official website | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-11 ]

Private school programs are available to complement the public school system. In 2003, the literacy rate was 88% of the population, and the youth literacy rate (ages 15–19) was 93.2%. Illiteracy is highest in the Northeast, around 27%, which has a high proportion of rural poor. [cite encyclopedia | title = Education | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ] Although at same year, Brazil's education had low levels of efficiency by 15-year-old students, particularly in the public school network. [cite web | last = Werthein | first = Jorge | title = A Pobre Educação dos Pobres | publisher = UNESCO | date = 2005-04-28 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ] Higher education starts with undergraduate or sequential courses, which may offer different specialist choices such as academic or vocational paths. Depending on choice, students may improve their educational background with "Stricto Sensu" or "Lato Sensu" postgraduate courses. [cite news | title = Universidades públicas ganham das particulares no Enade 2006 | language = Portuguese | publisher = UOL | date = 2007-05-31 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ]

The public health system is managed and provided by all levels of government, whilst private healthcare fulfills a complementary role.cite web | title = Health | work = Brazil by Topics | publisher = Brazilian Government official website | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-11 ] There are several problems in the Brazilian health system. In 2006, these were infant mortality, child mortality, maternal mortality, mortality by non-transmissible illness and mortality caused by external causes: transportation, violence and suicide. [cite web | title = Saúde | work = Radar social | language = Portuguese | publisher = Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-10 ]


Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. It is spoken by nearly the entire population and is virtually the only language used in newspapers, radio, television, and for all business and administrative purposes, with the exception of Nheengatu, an indigenous language of South America which has gained the co-official status alongside Portuguese in the municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeira. [ [ Language Born of Colonialism Thrives Again in Amazon ] "New York Times". Retrieved 2008-07-14] Moreover, Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas, making the language an important part of Brazilian national identity and giving it a national culture distinct from its Spanish-speaking neighbors.cite web | title = Portuguese Language | work = About Brazil | publisher = Brazilian Government offical website | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ]

Brazilian Portuguese has had its own development, influenced by the Amerindian and African languages. Due to this, the language is somewhat different from that spoken in Portugal and other Portuguese-speaking countries, mainly for phonological and orthographic differences. These differences are somewhat greater than those of American and British English.cite web | title = Languages of Brazil | publisher = Ethnologue | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ] As of 2008, Portugal is considering reforming its own language to accommodate linguistic developments in the Brazilian Portuguese since the two languages diverged. [cite news | last = Nash | first = Elizabeth | title = Portugal pays lip service to Brazil's supremacy | publisher = The Independent | date = 2008-05-02 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-09 ]

Minority languages are spoken throughout the vast national territory. Some of these are spoken by indigenous peoples: 180 Amerindian languages are spoken in remote areas. Others are spoken by immigrants and their descendants. There are important communities of speakers of German (mostly the Hunsrückisch, part of the High German languages) and Italian (mostly the Talian dialect, of Venetian origin) in the south of the country, both largely influenced by the Portuguese language.


A wide variety of elements create a society with considerable ethnic complexity. Brazilian culture has historically been influenced by European, African, and Indigenous cultures and traditions. Its major early influence derived from Portuguese culture because of strong colonial ties with the Portuguese empire. Among other inheritances, the Portuguese introduced the Portuguese language, the Catholic religion, and the colonial architectural styles. [cite web | title = 15th-16th century | work = History | publisher = Brazilian Government offical website | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-08 ] Other aspects of Brazilian culture are contributions of Italian, German, and other European immigrants who came in large numbers, and their influences are felt closer to the South and Southeast of Brazil. Amerindian peoples influenced Brazil's language and cuisine; and the Africans, brought to Brazil as slaves, influenced language, cuisine, music, dance, and religion. [cite news | last = Freyre | first = Gilberto | title = The Afro-Brazilian experiment — African influence on Brazilian culture | publisher = UNESCO | year = 1986 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-08 ]

Literature in Brazil dates back to the 16th century, to the writings of the first Portuguese explorers in Brazil, such as Pêro Vaz de Caminha, writer of the fleet of navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral. [cite encyclopedia | title = Literature | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-08 ] Cuisine varies greatly by region and reflects the country's mix of native and immigrants. This has created a national cooking style marked by the preservation of regional differences.cite encyclopedia | title = Way of Life | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-08 ] Brazil's cultural tradition extends to its music styles which include samba, bossa nova, forró, frevo, pagode, and many others.cite encyclopedia | title = Music and Dance | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-08 ] Brazil has also contributed to classical music, which can be seen in the works of many composers. In arts, important modern artists Anita Malfatti and Tarsila do Amaral were both early pioneers in Brazilian art. [cite encyclopedia | title = Art and Architecture | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-08 ] The cinema has a long tradition, reaching back to the birth of the medium in the late 19th century, and gained a new level of international acclaim in recent years. [cite encyclopedia | title = Theater and Film | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-08 ]

The festival of Carnival ( _pt. Carnaval), with its spectacular street parades and vibrant music, has become one of the most potent images of Brazil; an annual celebration held forty days before Easter and marks the beginning of Lent. Carnival is celebrated throughout Brazil with distinct regional characteristics, but the most spectacular celebrations outside Rio de Janeiro take place in Salvador, Recife, and Olinda, although the nature of the events varies. Other regional festivals include the Boi Bumbá and Festa Junina ("June Festivals").


Religion is very diversified in Brazil; the constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respects this right in practice. The Roman Catholic Church is dominant, making Brazil the largest Catholic nation in the world.cite conference | title = Brazil | booktitle = International Religious Freedom Report | publisher = U.S. Department of State | date = 2005-11-08 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-08 ] The formal link between the state and the Roman Catholicism was severed in the late 19th century; however, the Catholic Church has continued to exert an influence on national affairs.cite encyclopedia | title = Religion | encyclopedia = Encarta | publisher = MSN | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-08 ] Adepts of Protestantism are rising in number. Until 1970, the majority of Brazilian Protestants were members of "traditional churches", mostly Lutherans, Presbyterians and Baptists. Since then, numbers of Pentecostal and Neopentecostal members have increased significantly. Traditional African beliefs, brought by slaves, have blended with Catholicism to create Afro-Brazilian religions such as Macumba, Candomblé, and Umbanda. Amerindians practice a wide variety of indigenous religions that vary from group to group. Islam in Brazil was first practiced by African slaves. Today, theMuslim population in Brazil is made up of mostly Arab immigrants. Thereare approximately fifty-five mosques and Muslim religious centers. A recenttrend has been the increase in conversions to Islam among non-Arabcitizens. [ [ Brazil ] ]

According to the 2000 Demographic Census, 73.9% of the population is Roman Catholic; 15.4% is Protestant; 0.91% from other Christian denominations; 1.33% follows Kardecist spiritism; 0.31% follows African traditional religions; 0.01% follows Amerindian traditions; 7.35% consider themselves agnostics, atheists or without a religion; and 0.81% are members of other religions such as Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and some practice a mixture of different religions. [cite conference | title = Religion in Brazil | booktitle = 2000 Demographic Census | publisher = Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics | year = 2000 | url = | format = PDF | accessdate = 2008-06-08 ]


Football ( _pt. futebol) is the most popular sport in Brazil. The Brazilian national football team ("Seleção") have been victorious in the FIFA World Cup tournament a record five times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. [cite web | title = Football in Brazil | work = Goal Programme | publisher = International Federation of Association Football | date = 2008-04-15 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] Basketball, volleyball, auto racing, and martial arts also attract large audiences. Though not as regularly followed or practiced as the previously mentioned sports, tennis, team handball, swimming, and gymnastics have found a growing number of enthusiasts over the last decades. Some sport variations have their origins in Brazil. Beach football, [cite web | title = Beach Soccer | publisher = International Federation of Association Football | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] futsal (official version of indoor football) [cite web | title = Futsal | publisher = International Federation of Association Football | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] and footvolley emerged in the country as variations of football. In martial arts, Brazilians have developed Capoeira, [cite web | title = The art of capoeira | publisher = BBC | date = 2006-09-20 | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] Vale tudo, [cite web | title = Brazilian Vale Tudo | publisher = I.V.C | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. [cite web | title = Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Official Website | publisher = International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] In auto racing, Brazilian drivers have won the Formula 1 world championship eight times: Emerson Fittipaldi in 1972 and 1974; [cite web | last = Donaldson | first = Gerald | title = Emerson Fittipaldi | work = Hall of Fame | publisher = The Official Formula 1 Website | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] Nelson Piquet in 1981, 1983 and 1987; [cite web | last = Donaldson | first = Gerald | title = Nelson Piquet | work = Hall of Fame | publisher = The Official Formula 1 Website | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] and Ayrton Senna in 1988, 1990 and 1991. [cite web | last = Donaldson | first = Gerald | title = Ayrton Senna | work = Hall of Fame | publisher = The Official Formula 1 Website | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ]

Brazil has undertaken the organization of large-scale sporting events: the country organized and hosted the 1950 FIFA World Cup [cite web | title = 1950 FIFA World Cup Brazil | work = Previous FIFA World Cups | publisher = International Federation of Association Football | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] and has been chosen to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup event. [cite web | title = 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil | publisher = International Federation of Association Football | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] The circuit located in São Paulo, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, hosts the annual Grand Prix of Brazil. [cite web | title = Formula 1 Grande Premio do Brasil 2008 | publisher = The Official Formula 1 Website | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] São Paulo organized the IV Pan American Games in 1963,cite web | title = Chronological list of Pan American Games | publisher = Pan American Sports Organization | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ] and Rio de Janeiro hosted the XV Pan American Games in 2007. Brazil is also trying for the fourth time to host the Summer Olympics with Rio de Janeiro's bid for the 2016 games. [cite web | title = Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic bid official website | publisher = Brazilian Olympic Committee | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-06 ]


Further reading

*cite book |author=Alves, Maria Helena Moreira |title=State and Opposition in Military Brazil |location=Austin, TX |publisher=University of Texas Press |year=1985
*cite book |author=Amann, Edmund |title=The Illusion of Stability: The Brazilian Economy under Cardoso |publisher=World Development (pp. 1805–1819) |year=1990
*cite web |title=Background Note: Brazil |publisher= US Department of State |url=
*cite book |author=Bellos, Alex |title=Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life |location=London |publisher=Bloomsbury Publishing plc |year=2003
*cite book |author=Bethell, Leslie |title=Colonial Brazil |location=Cambridge |publisher=CUP |year=1991
*cite book |author=Costa, João Cruz |title=A History of Ideas in Brazil |location=Los Angeles, CA |publisher=University of California Press |year=1964
*cite book |author=Fausto, Boris |title=A Concise History of Brazil |location=Cambridge |publisher=CUP |year=1999
*cite book |author=Furtado, Celso |title=The Economic Growth of Brazil: A Survey from Colonial to Modern Times |location=Berkeley, CA |publisher=University of California Press
*cite book |author=Leal, Victor Nunes |title=Coronelismo: The Municipality and Representative Government in Brazil |location=Cambridge |publisher=CUP |year=1977
*cite book |author=Malathronas, John |title=Brazil: Life, Blood, Soul |location=Chichester |publisher=Summersdale |year=2003
*cite book |author=Martinez-Lara, Javier |title=Building Democracy in Brazil: The Politics of Constitutional Change |publisher=Macmillan |year=1995
*cite book |author=Prado Júnior, Caio |title=The Colonial Background of Modern Brazil |location=Los Angeles, CA |publisher=University of California Press |year=1967
*cite book |author=Schneider, Ronald |title=Brazil: Culture and Politics in a New Economic Powerhouse |publisher=Boulder Westview |year=1995
*cite book |author=Skidmore, Thomas E. |title=Black Into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought |location=Oxford |publisher=Oxford University Press |year=1974
*cite book |author=Wagley, Charles |title=An Introduction to Brazil |location=New York, New York |publisher=Columbia University Press |year=1963
*cite book |title=The World Almanac and Book of Facts: Brazil |location=New York, NY |publisher=World Almanac Books |year=2006

External links

Government and administration
* [ Brazilian Federal Government]
* [ Chamber of Deputies]
*pt icon [ Federal Senate]
* [ Presidency of Brazil]

Information and statistics
* [ Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics]
*CIA World Factbook link|br|Brazil
*pt icon [ Institute of Applied Economics Research]
* [ National Bank for Social and Economical Development]
* [ U.S. Library of Congress]

Economy and business
* [ Brazilian Central Bank]
* [ Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce]
* [ Britcham in Brazil]
* [ São Paulo Stock Exchange]

Tourism and sports
* [ Accommodation in Brazil]
*pt icon [ Sport in Brazil]
* [ Tourism in Brazil]

Non-Governmental Organizations
* [ Assistance to Rio de Janeiro Favelas]

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