OFFICIAL NAME: Federative Republic of Brazil
CAPITAL: Brasilia
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Federal Republic
AREA: 8,511,965 Sq Km (3,286,488 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 175,891,100


Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Brazil is located in East Central South America and occupies nearly 50% of the South American Continent. It is bound by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana to the north, Colombia to the northwest, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay to the west, Argentina to the southwest, Uruguay to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Brazil can be divided into four topographical zones. (1.) The densely forested northern lowlands which cover around 50% of the country's interior and contains the Amazon River Basin. (2.) The semiarid scrub lands of the northeast. (3.) The rugged hills and mountains mixed with rolling plains, to the central west and south (4.) The narrow coastal belt which contains 30% of the country's population. Approximately 50% of the land area is covered by forests with the largest forest in the world located in the Amazon River Basin. The country has eight river systems which carry around 20% of the world's running water, of which the most important are the Amazon, Sao Francisco, Paraguay, Parana and Uruguay. Major Cities (pop. est.); Sao Paulo 9,394,000, Rio de Janeiro 5,474,000, Salvador 2,070,000, Belo Horizonte 1,530,000, Brasilia 1,493,000, Recife 1,297,000 (1991). Land Use; forested 58%, pastures 22%, agricultural-cultivated 6%, other 14% (1993).


CLIMATE: Brazil has a tropical and subtropical climate characterized by high temperatures and moderate to heavy rainfall. The geography of the country divides it into four climatic regions, (1.) the Amazon basin which has no dry season and is typically tropical. (2.) The Brazilian Plateau which has a more distinct wet and dry season, and is susceptible to prolonged drought. (3.) The coastal belt which has a hot tropical climate and (4.) a region further south that has a seasonal temperate climate. Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year and the nationwide average annual precipitation varies between 1,010 mm (40 inches) and 2,030 mm (80 inches). Average temperature ranges in Rio de Janeiro are from 17 to 24 degrees Celsius (63 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to 23 to 29 degrees Celsius (73 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit) in February.


PEOPLE: The Brazilians are composed of the following groups. The indigenous AmerIndians who account for .1% of the population, of which the major tribes are the Tupi, Ge, Garib, Arawak and Nambicuara. The Whites who account for 53%, of which the Portuguese represent 15%, Italians 11%, Spanish 10% and Germans 3%. The Mulattoes who are of mixed European and Black African descent account for 22%, the Mestizos who are of mixed AmerIndian and White descent account for 12% while 11% of the population are Black Africans. Japanese immigrants also account for just under 1%.


DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 18 persons per sq km (47 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 75.0% urban, 25.0% rural (1990). Sex Distribution; 49.9% male, 50.1% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth; 62.3 years male, 67.6 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 35% under 15, 28% 15 to 29, 19% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 6% 60 to 74, 2% 75 and over (1990). Birth Rate; 28.6 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 7.9 per 1,000 (1990). Increase Rate; 20.7 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 63.2 per 1,000 live births (1990).


RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 88% of the population Roman Catholic making it the largest Roman Catholic nation in the world. The remainder are Protestants, Spiritualists, Voodooists and Buddhists with a small Jewish minority.


LANGUAGES: The official language is Portuguese which is nearly spoken by all Brazilians except the AmerIndians whose main languages are Tupi, Ge, Garib, Arawak and Nambicuara. English and French are spoken as second languages.


EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling 32.9%, some primary 50.3%, primary 4.9%, secondary 6.9%, higher 5.0% (1980). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 74,047,843 or 81.1% (1988).


MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: The abortive uprising in Nov. 1935 resulted in the end of democracy with the establishment of a fascist model new state in Dec. 1937 headed by Getulio Vargas as dictator. In 1951 Vargas was elected President again after military rule from 1945 to 1951. In 1954 military officers again took control of the government and Vargas committed suicide in Aug. 1954. In 1955 Juscelino Kubitschek became President and built the new capital, Brasilia, in the hope that the new city would develop Brazil's interior. In 1960 the government moved from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, while the project funded by borrowed money crippled the economy. In 1961 Janio da Silva Quadros became President. He believed that Brazil had to trade with all nations and worked to increase trade with communist countries such as Cuba. Pres. Joao Goulart succeeded him after 7 months, when military leaders feared that Silva would open the doors for a communist take over. In 1964 troops forced Goulart out of office and Gen. Castel Branco took over. Branco was given many powers by the military including the right to suspend the rights of citizens and he was succeeded by three other Generals until 1978. During the late 1960's and early 1970s Brazil's economy flourished after the military banned political as well as trade union activities. In 1974 the chief problem was the high cost of oil on the world market and in 1975 Brazil began a program to reduce oil imports by substituting them with alcohol fuels. In 1979 Gen. Joao Figueiredo became President and was challenged by high inflation rates, labor unrest, union strikes and as a result he allowed other political parties to form. In 1985 military rule ended and a civilian President was elected. In 1986 Brazilians elected a new congress as well as a state legislature and governors in the first nationwide general election following the end of military rule. In March 1990 Fernando Collor was inaugurated President and introduced the "Collor I" plan in an attempt to stabilize the economy. In Jan. 1991, the government was forced to introduce a second stabilizing plan "Collor II" while in Feb. 1991 the government placed a hold on wage increases as well as an indefinite freeze on prices to combat inflation which was running at 1800%. In 1991 the president's standing was undermined by a series of corruption scandals involving various family members including his wife, Rosanne while his efforts to change provisions in the 1988 constitution collectively known as the "emendao" were blocked for months. The emendao was seen as crucial to achieving long-term public sector accounts improvements and in the control of inflation. In Nov. 1991, Pres. Collor announced that 94,000 sq km (36,280 sq mi) of Amazon rain forest would be reserved for the Yanomamo Indians, despite strong opposition from the military and mining sector. In May 1992, a scandal known as "Collorgate" developed as a result of allegations from Pres. Collor's younger brother, Pedro, that Collor was involved in or knew of a million dollar corruption scheme by Paulo Cesar Farias, Collor's campaign treasurer. In Aug. 1992, the Congress found that it had enough evidence from a report inquiry to merit impeachment proceedings against the President which took place on Sept. 29, 1992. On Oct. 2, 1992 the then vice president, Itamar Franco, took control of the presidency while on Nov. 12, 1992 the attorney general's office began instigating criminal proceedings against Collor. On Dec. 29, 1992 the Senate impeachment trial against Collor which resulted in Franco being sworn in as President and Collor being banned from public office for eight years. Under Franco the Economy Ministry established by Collor was decentralized and adopted a more consultative role with the Congress in an attempt to pass several constitution-economic measures that had been blocked under Collor's presidency. In Dec. 1992, Franco suspended the privatization program for three months and in the same month the nation was shocked to learn that a popular television star, Daniela Perez, was murdered by her co-star, Guilherme de Padua. Also during 1992, the Brazilian economy remained largely in recession with inflation running well above 20% per month while the external sector and trade position continued to improve significantly. In early 1993, Pres. Franco further fused cross-party support in the Congress for legislative measures needed to overcome the fiscal crisis of the country. In late Jan. 1993, Congress approved a package of partial tax reforms and the modernization-of-ports bill. On April 21, 1993 a national plebiscite on the form and system of government took place with some 66% of voters electing to keep the presidential system while 85% voted to keep the republican from of government. In 1993 violent incidents continued to affect life with three military policemen arrested and charged with the killing of several homeless boys in Rio de Janeiro in July 1993. In Aug. 1993, 33 policemen were arrested for the murder of 21 people in a Rio shantytown while in the same month illegal Brazilian miners reportedly killed 73 members of the Yanomamo Indian tribe. In 1993 the economy had begun to recover with industrial output increasing in late 1992 helped by lower interest rates while the external accounts position continued to be positive.


CURRENCY: The official currency is the Real (R) divided into 100 Centavos.


ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $471,978,000,000 (1993). Public Debt; USD $86,650,000,000 (1993). Imports; USD $25,711,000,000 (1993). Exports; USD $38,783,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $1,449,000,000 (1993). Balance of Trade; USD $10,391,000,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 64,467,981 or 43.8% of total population (1990). Unemployed; 6.0% (1994).


MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its major trading partners are the USA, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Argentina, the former USSR and Italy.

MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Asbestos, Bananas, Bauxite, Beryllium, Cassava, Cereals, Chromium, Coffee, Coal, Cocoa, Cotton, Crude Oil, Diamonds, Fish, Gold, Graphite, Iron Ore, Manganese, Natural Gas, Nickel, Oranges, Phosphates, Quartz Crystal, Rice, Rubber, Salt, Silver, Soya Beans, Sugar, Timber, Tin, Titanium, Tobacco, Tungsten, Zinc.

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Chemicals, Consumer Goods, Fertilizers, Food Processing, Iron and Steel, Lumber, Machinery, Mining, Motor Vehicles, Oil and Mineral Refining, Paper, Rubber Processing, Ship Building, Textiles, Wood Pulp.

MAIN EXPORTS: Animal Foodstuffs, Chemicals, Cocoa, Coffee, Iron Ore, Iron and Steel, Machinery, Motor Vehicles, Non-Ferrous Metals, Oranges, Soya Beans and Oil, Sugar.


TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 29,833 km (18,537 mi) (1987), passenger-km 15,264,000,000 (9,485,000,000 passenger-mi) (1987), cargo ton-km 109,421,000,000 (74,942,000,000 short ton-mi) (1987). Roads; length 1,663,987 km (1,033,953 mi) (1989). Vehicles; cars 14,995,837 (1988), trucks and buses 1,609,764 (1988). Merchant Marine; vessels 691 (1990), deadweight tonnage 10,004,910 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 17,844,000,000 (11,088,000,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 2,414,000,000 (1,653,000,000 short ton-mi) (1990).


COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 373 with a total circulation of 8,500,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 55,000,000 (1994). Television; receivers 30,000,000 (1994). Telephones; units 11,752,831 (1993).


MILITARY: 295,000 (1995) total active duty personnel with 66.0% army, 17.0% navy and 17.0% air force while military expenditure accounts for 1.3% (1991) of the Gross National Product (GNP).


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