Brazil Travel Information

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Rio De Janeiro
Sao Paulo
Brazil Nature Brazilian ecotourism and ecosystems.
Conservation International - Brazil

Facts About 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
Capital: Brasilia
Currency: 1 real (R$) = 100 centavos

Geography of Brazil

Location: Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean
Geographic coordinates: 10 00 S, 55 00 W
Map references: South America
Area:
total: 8,511,965 sq km
land: 8,456,510 sq km
water: 55,455 sq km
note: includes Arquipelago de Fernando de Noronha, Atol das Rocas, Ilha da Trindade, Ilhas Martin Vaz, and Penedos de Sao Pedro e Sao Paulo
Land boundaries:
total: 14,691 km
border countries: Argentina 1,224 km, Bolivia 3,400 km, Colombia 1,643 km, French Guiana 673 km, Guyana 1,119 km, Paraguay 1,290 km, Peru 1,560 km, Suriname 597 km, Uruguay 985 km, Venezuela 2,200 km
Coastline: 7,491 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: mostly tropical, but temperate in south
Terrain: mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north; some plains, hills, mountains, and narrow coastal belt
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pico da Neblina 3,014 m
Natural resources: bauxite, gold, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, platinum, tin, uranium, petroleum, hydropower, timber
Land use:
arable land: 5%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 22%
forests and woodland: 58%
other: 14% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 28,000 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: recurring droughts in northeast; floods and occasional frost in south
Environment - current issues: deforestation in Amazon Basin destroys the habitat and endangers the existence of a multitude of plant and animal species indigenous to the area; air and water pollution in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and several other large cities; land degradation and water pollution caused by improper mining activities
note: President CARDOSO in September 1999 signed into force an environmental crime bill which for the first time defines pollution and deforestation as crimes punishable by stiff fines and jail sentences

Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: largest country in South America; shares common boundaries with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador

More Geography

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.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  28.57%
15-64 years:  65.98% 
65 years and over:  5.45%
Population growth rate: 0.91%
Birth rate: 18.45 births/1,000 population
Death rate: 9.34 deaths/1,000 population
Net migration rate: -0.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population
Infant mortality rate: 36.96 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  63.24 years
male:  58.96 years
female:  67.73 years 
Total fertility rate: 2.09 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Brazilian(s)
adjective: Brazilian
Ethnic groups: white (includes Portuguese, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish) 55%, mixed white and black 38%, black 6%, other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian) 1%
Religions: Roman Catholic (nominal) 80%
Languages: Portuguese (official), Spanish, English, French
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.3%
male: 83.3%
female: 83.2% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Brazil Map Economy History