|Rio De Janeiro
Brazil Nature Brazilian ecotourism and ecosystems.
Conservation International - Brazil
|Background: Following three centuries under the rule of
Portugal, Brazil became an independent nation in 1822. By far the largest
and most populous country in South America, Brazil has overcome more than
half a century of military intervention in the governance of the country
to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of the
interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, Brazil
became Latin America's leading economic power by the 1970s. Highly unequal
income distribution remains a pressing problem.
Government type: federative republic
Currency: 1 real (R$) = 100 centavos
Geography of Brazil
Location: Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean
Environment - international agreements:
People of Brazil
With an estimated 170 million inhabitants, Brazil has the largest population in Latin America and ranks sixth in the world. The majority live in the south-central area, which includes the industrial cities of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte. Urban growth has been rapid; by 2000, 81% of the total population were living in urban areas. Rapid growth has aided economic development but has also created serious social, environmental, and political problems for major cities.
Four major groups make up the Brazilian population: the Portuguese, who colonized Brazil in the 16th century; Africans brought to Brazil as slaves; various other European, Middle Eastern, and Asian immigrant groups who have settled in Brazil since the mid-19th century; and indigenous people of Tupi and Guarani language stock. Intermarriage between the Portuguese and indigenous people or slaves was common. Although the major European ethnic stock of Brazil was once Portuguese, subsequent waves of immigration have contributed to a diverse ethnic and cultural heritage.
From 1875 until 1960, about 5 million Europeans emigrated to Brazil, settling mainly in the four southern states of Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul. Immigrants have come mainly from Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, Poland, and the Middle East. The largest Japanese community outside Japan is in Sao Paulo. Despite class distinctions, national identity is strong, and racial friction is a relatively new phenomenon. Indigenous full-blooded Indians, located mainly in the northern and western border regions and in the upper Amazon Basin, constitute less than 1% of the population. Their numbers are declining as contact with the outside world and commercial expansion into the interior increase. Brazilian Government programs to establish reservations and to provide other forms of assistance have existed for years but are controversial and often ineffective.
Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. About 80% of all Brazilians belong to the Roman Catholic Church; most others are Protestant or follow practices derived from African religions.
Population: 186,112,794 (July 2005 est.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State
Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Brazil > Map Economy History