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Brazil ( ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil ( ) , is the largest country in South America and the only Portuguese-speaking country on that continent. It is the fifth largest country by geographical area, occupying nearly half of South America and the fifth most populous country in the world.

Bounded by the Atlantic Oceanmarker on the east, Brazil has a coastline of over . It is bordered on the north by Venezuelamarker, Guyanamarker, Surinamemarker and the Frenchmarker overseas department of French Guianamarker; on the northwest by Colombiamarker; on the west by Boliviamarker and Perumarker; on the southwest by Argentinamarker and Paraguaymarker and on the south by Uruguaymarker. Numerous archipelagos are part of the Brazilian territory, such as Fernando de Noronhamarker, Rocas Atollmarker, Saint Peter and Paul Rocksmarker, and Trindade and Martim Vazmarker.

Brazil was a colony of Portugalmarker from the landing of Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500 until its independence in 1822. Initially independent as the Brazilian Empiremarker, the country has been a republic since 1889, although the bicameral legislature, now called Congressmarker, dates back to 1824, when the first constitution was ratified. Its current Constitution defines Brazil as a Federal Republic. The Federation is formed by the union of the Federal Districtmarker, the 26 States, and the 5,564 Municipalities.

Brazil is the world's eighth largest economy at market exchange rates and the ninth largest by purchasing power parity. Economic reforms have given the country new international recognition. It is a founding member of the United Nations and the Union of South American Nations. A predominantly Roman Catholic, Portuguese-speaking, and multiethnic society, Brazil is also home to a diversity of wildlife, natural environments, and extensive natural resources in a variety of protected habitats.


The etymology of the name Brazil is not well established. The most accepted is that it was named after the tree brazilwood which in Portuguese is pau-brasil, with the Portuguese word brasil being commonly given the etymology 'red like an ember,' formed from Latin brasa ('ember') plus the suffix -il* (from -iculum or -ilium). Another possibility is the Irish legendary island of Hy-Brazil, known to Western European sailors in the 1500s and popularized in its current spelling by Italian cartographer Angelinus Alorto's 1325 map "L'Isola Brazil." Its origin comes from the celtic word bress, which means 'to bless,' thereby giving the island Hy Brazil the name 'Blessed land.' The "scholars from the 16th century did not doubt that the name Brazil came from the legendary island", but wrongly held the belief that it had been named after the wood came from the sailors who trafficked it.


Native Brazilians and early Portuguese settlers

When arriving in April 1500 in the coast of what would later be known as Brazil, the Portuguese fleet commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral found the primitive people who inhabited it. They were divided in several distinct tribes, that fought among themselves and that shared the same Tupi-Guarani linguistic family. The "men were hunters, fishers and food collectors and the women were encharged of the reduced agricultural activity that was practiced." Some of the tribes were nomads and other sedentary; they knew the fire but not metal casting and a few were cannibals. The settling was effectively initiated in 1534, when King Dom João III divided the Brazilian territory in twelve hereditary captaincies that would be governed by members of the lesser nobility or proceeding from educated families. The experience revealed itself to be an utter disaster, and in 1549 the king assigned a governor-general to administrate the entire colony.

Around 1530, the Tupiniquim (the same tribe that Cabral met) and their bitter enemies the Tupinambá, the largest and most important tribes in Brazil, allied themselves with the Portuguese and the French, respectively. Between the Portuguese and the Tupiniquim "occurred a certain intermittently pacific inter-racial assimilation." While the Tupinambás, however, were mostly exterminated in long wars and mainly by European diseases to which they had no immunities. The ones that survived were enslaved by other tribes or by the Portuguese or fled toward the countryside. By the middle of the 16th century, sugar had become the most important item of the Brazilian exportations. Thus, the Portuguese turned to other forms of man power to handle with the increasing international demand. Enslaved Africans were imported and became the "basic pillar of the economy" in the most populous areas of the colony.

Territorial expansion

Through wars against the French, the Portuguese slowly expanded their territory to the Southeast, taking Rio de Janeiromarker in 1567, and to the northwest, São Luísmarker in 1615. They suffered a setback with the Dutch invasions that began in 1630 and that managed to conquer large portions of the Brazilian northeastern coastline. The Dutch domain did not last long and they were expelled definitively in 1649. The Portuguese sent military expeditions to the Amazon rainforest that defeated and conquered British and Dutch strongholds. The Portuguese settlement in the region initiated in 1669, with the foundation of villages and forts. In 1680 they reached the far south and founded Sacramentomarker at the side of the Rio de la Platamarker, in the Eastern Strip region (current Uruguaymarker). At the end of the 17th century sugar exports entered in decline due to competition with the British and Dutch colonies in the Caribbean and also due to high taxes. The discovery of gold by explorers in the region that would later be called Minas Geraismarker (General Mines) between 1693 and 1695 saved the colony from its imminent collapse. From all over Brazil, as well from Portugal, thousands of immigrants, from all ethnicities, departed toward the mines. In the following decades other gold mines were found in current Mato Grosso and Goiásmarker, in the Brazilian Central-West.

The Spanish tried to prevent the Portuguese expansion on the territory belonging to them according to the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 and succeeded on conquering the Eastern Strip in 1777. All in vain as the Treaty of San Ildefonso signed in the same year confirmed Portuguese domain over all lands proceeding from its territorial expansion, thus creating most of current Brazilian borders. In 1808, the Portuguese Royal family, fleeing from the troops of the French Emperor Napoleon I that were invading Portugal and most of Central Europe, established themselves in the city of Rio de Janeiro, which thus became the seat of the entire Portuguese Empire In 1815 King Dom João VI, then regent on behalf of his incapacitated mother, elevated Brazil from colony to sovereign Kingdom united with Portugal. The Portuguese invaded French Guianamarker in 1809 (that was returned to France in 1817) and the Eastern Strip in 1816 that was subsequently renamed Cisplatina.

Independence and Empire

King Dom João VI returned to Europe in 26 April, 1821, leaving his elder son Dom Pedro as regent to rule Brazil. The Portuguese government attempted to turn Brazil into a colony once again, thus depriving it of its achievements since 1808. The Brazilians refused to yield and Prince Pedro stood by their side declaring the country's independence from Portugal in September 7, 1822. On October 12, 1822, Pedro was acclaimed first Emperor of Brazil as Dom Pedro I and crowned on 1 December 1822. In 1822 almost all Brazilians were in favor of a monarchical form of government. Republicanism was an ideal supported by few individuals at that moment of the Brazilian history. The subsequent Brazilian War of Independence expanded through almost its entire territory, with battles that were fought in the northern, northeastern and southern regions of Brazil. The last Portuguese army surrendered in March 8, 1824 and Brazilian independence was recognized by Portugal in November 25, 1825.

The first Brazilian constitution was promulgated in March 25, 1824, after its acceptance by the municipal councils across the country. However, the Brazilian defeat in the Argentina-Brazil War resulting in the loss of Cisplatine (nowadays Uruguaymarker), Pedro I incapacity in dealing with a representative system where he would have to take in account the opinion of the parliamentary opposition and the provincial desire for a higher decentralization all contributed for lowering his prestige among the Brazilians. But the main reason for his abdication was due to his continuous interest in the succession crisis in Portugal. The emperor refused the Portuguese crown in favor of his eldest daughter in 1826, but his brother Dom Miguel usurped the throne. For the surprise, and against the will, of the Brazilians, Pedro I abdicated in 7 April 1831 and departed to Europe to reclaim his daughter’s crown leaving behind his son and heir who became Dom Pedro II.

Emperor Pedro II reign

As the new emperor, who ascended the crown as a child, could not exert his constitutional prerogatives as emperor until he reached maturity, a regency was created. Disputes between political factions that led to rebellions resulted in an unstable, almost anarchical, regency. The rebellious factions, however, were not in revolt against the monarchy, even though some declared the secession of the provinces as independent republics (but only so long as Pedro II was a minor). Thus, he was prematurely declared of age and "Brazil was to enjoy nearly half a century of internal peace and rapid material progress." Brazil also won three international wars during his long reign of 58 years (Platine War, Uruguayan War and War of the Triple Alliance.)

The emperor, who never owned slaves, also led the abolitionist campaign that eventually extinguished slavery after a slow but steady process that went from the end of international traffic in 1850 up to the complete abolition in 1888. However, he took longer than expected "to trespass the political obstacles" making Brazil the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery. Slavery had been in decline since the country's independence: in 1823, 29% of the Brazilian population were slaves; it fell to 24% in 1854; then to 15,2% in 1872; and finally to less than 5% in 1887. When the monarchy was overthrown in November 15, 1889. there was no desire in Brazil (at least among the majority of its population) to change the form of government and Pedro II was on the height of his popularity among his subjects. Pedro II, however, "bore prime, perhaps sole, responsibility for his own overthrown." After the death of his two male sons, he believed that "the imperial regime was destined to end with him." The emperor did not care about its fate and did nothing (nor allowed anyone) to prevent the military coup that was backed by former slave owners that resented the abolition of slavery. The monarchist reaction after the fall of the empire “was not small and even less was its repression”.

Old Republic and Vargas Era

The early republican government "was little more than a military dictatorship. The army dominated affairs both at Rio de Janeiro and in the states. Freedom of the press disappeared and elections were controlled by those in power." In 1894 the republican civilians rose to power, opening a "prolonged cycle of civil war, financial disaster, and government incompetence." By 1902, the government "began a return to the policies pursued during the Empire, policies that promised peace and order at home and a restoration of Brazil's prestige abroad." and was successful in negotiating several treaties that expanded (with the purchase of Acre) and secured the Brazilian boundaries. In the 1920s the country was plagued by several rebellions caused by young military officers. By 1930, the regime was weakened and demoralized, which allowed the defeated presidential candidate Getúlio Vargas to lead a coup d'Etat and assume the presidency. Vargas was supposed to assume the presidency temporarily, but instead closed the National Congress, extinguished the Constitution, ruled with emergency powers and deposed the states governors and nominated substitutes loyal to him in their places.

In 1935 the Communists rebelled all over the country and tried to take power, but were defeated. The communist threat served as an excuse for him to launch another coup d'Etat in 1937, making Brazil a full dictatorship. The repression against the opposition was brutal, with more than 20,000 people imprisoned, interment camps for political prisoners were created in distant regions of the country, censorship of the press was established and torture by the government's agents of repression became common. Brazil remained neutral at the early years of World War II until the government declared war against the Axis powers in 1942. After that Vargas forced Germans, Japanese and Italians immigrants into concentration camps, and sent troops to the battlefields in Italy in 1944. With the end of the Nazi-fascist regimes in Europe after the allied victory in 1945, Vargas position became unsustainable and he was overthrown by a military coup in the same year. Democracy was reinstated and General Eurico Gaspar Dutra was elected president and took office in 1946. Vargas returned to power in 1951, this time democratically elected, but he was incapable of both governing under a democracy and of dealing with an active opposition and ended up committing suicide in 1953.

Military regime and Contemporary era

Some brief interim governments succeeded after Vargas's suicide. Juscelino Kubitscheck became president in 1956 and assumed a conciliating posture that allowed him to govern without major crises. His economical and industrial policy was highly successful. But his greatest achievement was the construction of Brasíliamarker, the new Brazilian capital inaugurated in 1960. His successor was Jânio Quadros who resigned in 1961, less than a year after taking office. His vice-president, João Goulart, assumed the presidency, but suffered large opposition and was deposed in April 1964 by a coup that resulted in a military regime intended to be transitory, but that gradually closed itself until it became a full dictatorship with the promulgation of the Fifth Institutional Act in 1968. The repression against the dictatorship's opponents and also against the communist terrorists (who did not struggle over the return of democracy, but instead over the implantation of a communist dictatorship) was the most severe, but not nearly as brutal as in other Latin American countries. Due to the extraordinary economic growth, that was known as “economic miracle”, the regime reached its highest level of popularity in those years of repression.

General Ernesto Geisel became president in 1974 and began his project of re-democratization through a process that would have to be "slow, gradual and safe." Geisel ended with the military indiscipline that plagued the country since 1889, as well as with the torture of political prisoners and censorship of the press, and finally, with the dictatorship itself after he extinguished the Fifth Institutional Act. However, the military regime continued under his chosen successor to accomplish the transition to full democracy, General João Figueiredo. The civilians fully returned to power in 1985 when José Sarney assumed the presidency but he ended his term extremely unpopular due to the uncontrollable economic crisis and unusually high inflation. That allowed the election in 1989 of the almost unknown nationwide Fernando Collor, who was impeached by the National Congress in 1992. He was succeeded by his Vice-President Itamar Franco, who called Fernando Henrique Cardoso to assume the Ministry of Finance portfolio. Cardoso was highly successful with his Plano Real (Royal Plan) that granted stability to the Brazilian economy and his efforts were recognized by the Brazilians who elected him president in 1994 and again in 1998. The peaceful and warmly transition from power to Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, who was elected in 2002 (and re-elected in 2006), revealed that Brazil had finally succeeded in achieving its long sought political stability.

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. Judges and other judicial officials are appointed after passing entry exams. Voting is compulsory for those between 18 and 65 years old. 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). Almost 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, and re-elected on October 29, 2006. 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 Congressmarker is the Federation's bicameral legislature, consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate. Judiciary authorities exercise jurisdictional duties almost exclusively.


Interior of the Brazilian Supreme Court.

Brazilian law is based on Roman-Germanic traditions. 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. As of April 2007, there have been 53 amendments. States have their own constitutions, which must not contradict the Federal Constitution. Municipalities and the Federal District do not have their own constitutions; instead, they have "organic laws" ( ). 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 Tribunalmarker. 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. Nevertheless, Supreme Federal Tribunal is the first court in the world to transmit its sessions on television, and more recently also in Youtube.

Foreign relations

Brazil is a political and economic leader in Latin America. However, social and economic problems prevent it from becoming an effective global power. 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 Statesmarker. 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. In general current Brazilian foreign policy reflects multilateralism, peaceful dispute settlement, and nonintervention in the affairs of other countries. The Brazilian Constitution also determines the country shall seek the economic, political, social and cultural integration of the nations of Latin America.


Special Forces of the Brazilian Army.
The Armed forces of Brazil consist of the Brazilian Army, the Brazilian Navy, and the Brazilian Air Force. The Brazilian military numbers about 300,000 men and women and has a budget of 2.6 percent of the national economy in 2009 or about $52 billion US dollars. The Military Police (States' Military Police) is described as an ancillary force of the Army by the constitution, but is 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, the largest air force in Latin America, with about 700 manned aircraft in service. 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 to operate an aircraft carrier, the NAe São Paulo (formerly FS Foch of the French Navy). The Brazilian Army is responsible for land-based military operations, with a strength of approximately 190,000 soldiers. In 2008 the Brazilian minister of defense has formulated the "Estratégia Nacional de Defesa" (National defense Strategy), that claims to build a strong national industry and make strategic partnerships with allied nations to develop technology together.
Recently, Brazil has began to emerge as a major world power and a potential superpower; thus Brazil has begun to develop as a major military power. In 2008, Brazil has signed a strategic partnership with Francemarker and Russiamarker to trade military technology. Brazil has also begun negotiations with France to have Brazil build 120 Rafale aircraft locally by Embraer. Also in 2008 the Brazilian company Embraer showcased the Brazilian transport aircraft, Embraer KC-390, and some countries already have shown interest in the aircraft, with France even placing orders. In 2009 Brazil purchased 4 Scorpène submarines for US $9.9 billion with a massive technology transfer agreement. In a second agreement, France will provide technical assistance to Brazil so that Brazil can design and produce indigenous nuclear powered submarines, to be completely built in Brazil. The Brazilian government has announced that a Helibras factory in Itajubámarker, Minas Geraismarker, will initially produce 50 units of the EC 725 and up to 1,300 new helicopters for the Brazilian military. Helibras will now also produce Eurocopter's full line of products, with the first units to be operational in 2010.

The Department of Defense of Brazil, in 2009 also asked the Brazilian Navy to develop a plan for the next 30 years. To carry out the plans of power projection that Brazil wants to run, the expenditure will cost more than $138 billion US dollars, within the Navy alone. The program is called PEAMB. The strategy is to buy or build 2 aircraft carriers (40 000 tonnes), 4 Amphibious assault ships (20 000 tonnes), 30 escort ships, 15 submarines, 5 nuclear submarines and 62 (patrol ships). In July 2009, the minister of defense, Nelson Jobim, said that Brazil will expend about 0.7% ($13 billion USD) of the GDP per year to modernize the forces in addition to the 2.6% yearly defense budget. He stated, "We are raising a study to make the financial schedule of the entire project. It will be a 20 year plan, including modernization and expansion of the elements for defense of the Brazilian territory."


According to the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, Brazil is a federation of 26 states, one federal districtmarker and also the municipalities. None of these units has the right to secede from the Federation.


States (estados) 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 a desire to do so in a plebiscite. States have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a share of taxes collected by the Federal government. They have a governor and a unicameral legislative body (Assembleia Legislativa) elected directly by their voters. They also have independent Courts of Law for common justice. Despite that, in Brazil states have much less autonomy to create their own laws than in the United Statesmarker. For example, criminal and civil laws can only be voted by the federal bicameral Congress and are uniform throughout the country.

In 1977, Mato Grosso state was split into two. The northern new state retained the name Mato Grosso and the old capital, Cuiabámarker, 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 Goiásmarker state became the new state of Tocantins. Initially, the capital of Tocantins was the small city of Miracema do Norte (now called Miracema do Tocantins), but it was later moved to the new city of Palmasmarker.

The equator cuts through the states of Amapámarker, Parámarker, Roraima and Amazonasmarker in the North, and the Tropic of Capricornmarker cuts through the states of São Paulomarker, northern Paranámarker and southern Mato Grosso do Sul. Acre is in the far west side of the country, covered by the Amazonian forest. Paraíbamarker is the easternmost state of Brazil; Ponta do Seixasmarker, in the city of João Pessoamarker, is the easternmost point of continental Brazil and of the Americas. In contrast to the tropical climate of most of Brazil, the southern states of Paranámarker, Rio Grande do Sul, and Santa Catarinamarker all have a temperate subtropical climate.

The state of Amazonas is the largest in area, comparable in size to Alaskamarker. The state of São Paulo has the largest population and is the economic center of Brazil. Its agriculture, industry, commerce, and services are the most diversified in the nation. Although a large part of its production is exported to other states and other countries, the consumer market of the state is also the biggest in Brazil. In contrast to most of the Brazilian states, the economy of São Paulo is strong even in noncoastal cities.

Today the city of Rio de Janeiromarker is the capital of the homonymous statemarker, but it has not always been so. Until 1960, the city was the national capital, and its territory was Brazil's Federal District. This led to the strange and confusing situation that the city of Rio de Janeiro was not located in the surrounding state with the same name (whose capital was then Niteróimarker). In 1960, Brasíliamarker became the new national capital, and a new Federal District was carved out of Goiásmarker state to contain it. Then the city of Rio de Janeiro became a new state, named Guanabara (after the large bay on which the city sits), as one can still find in old books. Comprising only one city, Guanabara was the only Brazilian state that had no municipalities: the city was directly administered by the state government. All these anomalies disappeared in 1975, when the states of Guanabara and Rio de Janeiro merged, retaining the name of Rio de Janeiromarker. The city of Rio de Janeiro then became a new municipality and the capital of the new combined state.


Municipalities (municípios) can be split or joined together in new municipalities if their people express a desire to do so in a plebiscite, following some rules of the Federal Constitution and keeping their borders within the former state; forming exclaves is also expressly forbidden. 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 and a legislative body elected directly by their people, but they have no separate Courts of Law. Indeed, a Court of Law organized by the state can encompass many municipalities in a single justice administrative division called comarca.

The Federal District

The Federal Districtmarker (Distrito Federal) contains the national capital city, Brasíliamarker. The Federal District is not a state in its own right, but shares some characteristics of a state and some of a municipality, while also having some special provisions of its own, intended for the local administration not to conflict with the federal government seat that it hosts. It cannot be divided into municipalities, and its Courts of Law are part of the Federal Judiciary System.

Former territories

The Brazilian Constitution allows for the existence of incorporated territories (territórios), ruled directly by the federal government and with less autonomy than states, but no territory currently exists. The first territory to be created was Acre, in 1904, when that former Bolivianmarker region became Brazilian. In 1943, when Brazil went to the Second World War, for strategic reasons the Getúlio Vargas regime detached six further territories from border and outlying areas of the country, in order to administer them directly: Amapámarker, Rio Branco, Guaporémarker, Ponta Porãmarker, Iguaçumarker, and the archipelago of Fernando de Noronhamarker.

In 1946, two of the seven territories became extinct, reverting to the original states they had been split from: Mato Grosso state incorporated the territory of Ponta Porã and the northern part of Iguaçu, while central Iguaçu went to the state of Paranámarker, and southern Iguaçu went to the state of Santa Catarinamarker.

As for the other territories (Acre, Amapá, Guaporé, Rio Branco, and Fernando de Noronha), they remained as such for many years more. In 1956, the name of Guaporé territory was changed to Rondôniamarker, and in 1962 Rio Branco territory was renamed Roraima. Also in 1962, Acre became a state.

In 1988, with the new Constitution, Amapá, Rondônia and Roraima became states as well, while Fernando de Noronha became part of the state of Pernambuco, thus leaving no more territories remaining in Brazil.


Brazilian regions.
The Brazilian regions are merely geographical, not political or administrative divisions, and do not have any specific form of government. 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, but has the lowest number of inhabitants. With the exception of Manausmarker, which hosts a tax-free industrial zone, and Belémmarker, the biggest metropolitan area of the region, it is fairly unindustrialized and undeveloped. It accommodates most of the Amazon rainforest and many indigenous tribes.

The Northeast region is inhabited by about 30% of Brazil's population. 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, and suffers from long periods of drought. The largest cities are Salvadormarker, Recifemarker, and Fortalezamarker.

The Central-West region has low demographic density when compared to the other regions, being only more densely populated than the North region. Part of its territory is covered by the world's largest wetland area, the Pantanalmarker as well as a small part of the Amazon Rainforest in the northwest. However, most of the region is covered by the Cerradomarker, the world's largest savanna. The Central-West region contributes significantly towards the nation's agricultural output.

The Southeast region is by far the richest in terms of total economic output, and also the most densely populated region. It has a larger population than any South American country except Brazil itself, and hosts one of the largest megalopolises of the world, extending between the country's two largest cities: São Paulomarker and Rio de Janeiromarker. The region is very diverse, including the major business center of São Paulo, the historical cities of Minas Gerais and its capital Belo Horizontemarker, 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 among the country's regions. It is also the coldest region of Brazil, with occasional frost and snow in some of the higher-altitude areas. It has been settled mainly by European immigrants, mostly of Italianmarker, Germanmarker and Portuguesemarker ancestry, being clearly influenced by these cultures.


Topography map of Brazil.
Brazil occupies a large area along the eastern coast of South America and includes much of the continent's interior region, sharing land borders with Uruguaymarker to the south; Argentinamarker and Paraguaymarker to the southwest; Boliviamarker and Perumarker to the west; Colombiamarker to the northwest; Venezuelamarker, Surinamemarker, Guyanamarker and the Frenchmarker overseas department of French Guianamarker to the north. Brazil shares a border with every country in South America, except for Ecuadormarker and Chilemarker. The factors of size, relief, climate, and natural resources make Brazil geographically diverse. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world—after Russiamarker, Canadamarker, Chinamarker and the United Statesmarker—and third largest in the Americas; with a total area of , including of water. It spans three time zones; from UTC-4, in the western states; 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 and in elevation. 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 . These ranges include the Mantiqueira Mountainsmarker, 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 Neblinamarker at , and the lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean. 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. Major rivers include the Amazon, the largest river in terms of volume of water, and the second-longest in the world; the Paranámarker and its major tributary, the Iguaçumarker River, where the Iguazu Fallsmarker are located; the Negro, São Franciscomarker, Xingumarker, 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. Many regions have starkly different microclimates.

An equatorial climate characterizes much of northern Brazil. There is no real dry season, but there are some variations in the period of the year when most rain falls. Temperatures average , 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 generally receives less than of rain, most of which falls in a period of three to five months and occasionally even more insufficiently, creating long periods of drought. From south of Bahia, near São Paulo, the distribution of rainfall changes, where some appreciable rainfall occurs in all months. The south has temperate conditions, with average temperatures below 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; the Atlantic Forest and the Cerradomarker, which together sustain some of the world's greatest biodiversity. In the south, the Araucaria pine forest grows under temperate conditions. The rich wildlife of Brazil reflects the variety of natural habitats. Much of it, however, remains largely unknown, and new species are found on nearly a daily basis.

Scientists estimate that the total number of plant and animal species in Brazil could approach four 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. Concern for the environment in Brazil has grown in response to global interest in environmental issues.

Its natural heritage is extremely threatened by 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. 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.


Brazil is the largest national economy in Latin America, the world's tenth largest economy at market exchange rates and the ninth largest in purchasing power parity (PPP), according to the International Monetary Fundmarker and the World Bank; with large and developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors, as well as a large labor pool. Brazilian exports are booming, creating a new generation of tycoons. Major export products include aircraft, coffee, automobiles, soybean, iron ore, orange juice, steel, ethanol, textiles, footwear, corned beef and electrical equipment. The country has been expanding its presence in international financial and commodities market, and is regarded as one of the group of four emerging economies called BRIC. The biggest investment boom in history is under way; in 2007, Brazil launched a four-year plan to spend $300 billion to modernize its road network, power plants and ports.

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 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. Brazil received an International Monetary Fund rescue package in mid-2002 in the amount of $30.4 billion, 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). One of the issues the Brazilian central bankmarker 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. Nonetheless, foreign direct investment (FDI), related to long-term, less speculative investment in production, is estimated to be $193.8 billion for 2007. Inflation monitoring and control currently plays a major role in Brazil's Central Bank activity in setting out short-term interest rates as a monetary policy measure.

Components and energy

Brazil's economy is diverse, encompassing agriculture, industry, and a multitude of services. The recent economic strength has been due in part to a global boom in commodities prices with exports from beef to soybeans soaring. Agriculture and allied sectors like forestry, logging and fishing accounted for 5.1% of the gross domestic product in 2007. 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. The industry; from automobiles, steel and petrochemicals to computers, aircraft, and consumer durable; 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, Campinasmarker, Porto Alegremarker, and Belo Horizontemarker. Technologically advanced industries are also highly concentrated in these locations.

Brazil is the world's tenth largest energy consumer. Its energy comes from renewable sources, particularly hydroelectricity and ethanol; and nonrenewable sources, mainly oil and natural gas. A global power in agriculture and natural resources, Brazil witnessed tremendous economic growth over the past three decades. Brazil is expected to become a major oil producer and exporter, having recently made huge oil discoveries. The governmental agencies responsible for the energy policy are the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the National Council for Energy Policy, the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels, and the National Agency of Electricity.

Science 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 Janeiromarker, escaping from the Napoleon's army invasion of Portugalmarker in 1807. Until then, Brazil was a Portuguese colonymarker, 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. Some of Brazil's most notable technological hubs are the Oswaldo Cruz Institutemarker, the Butantan Institute, the Air Force's Aerospace Technical Centermarker, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation and the INPE. The Brazilian Space Agency has the most advanced space program in Latin America, with significant capabilities to launch vehicles, launch sites and satellite manufacturing.

A VLS model satellite launch vehicle entirely designed and produced in Brazil.
On 14 October 1997, the Brazilian Space Agency signed an agreement with NASAmarker to provide parts for the ISS. 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.
Brazil is one of the three countries in Latin America with an operational Synchrotron Laboratory, a research facility on physics, chemistry, material science and life sciences.

Brazil has today a well developed organization of science and technology.

Basic research is largely carried out in public universities and research centers and institutes, and some in private institutions, particularly in non-profit non-governmental organizations. Thanks to governmental regulations and incentives, however, since the 1990s is has been growing in the private universities and companies, as well. Accordingly, more than 90% of funding for basic research comes from governmental sources.

Applied research, technology and engineering is also largely carried out in the university and research centers system, contrary-wise to other countries such as the United Statesmarker, South Koreamarker, Germanymarker, Japanmarker, etc. Companies such as Motorola, Samsung, Nokia and IBM have established large R&D&I centers in Brazil, starting with IBM, which had established an IBM Research Center in Brazil since the 1970s. One of the incentive factors for this, besides the relatively lower cost and high sophistication and skills of Brazilian technical manpower, has been the so-called Informatics Law, which exempts from certain taxes up to 5% of the gross revenue of high technology manufacturing companies in the fields of telecommunications, computers, digital electronics, etc. The Law has attracted annually more than 15 billion dollars of investment in Brazilian R&D&I. Multinational companies have also discovered that some products and technologies designed and developed by Brazilians have a nice competitivity and are appreciated by other countries, such as automobiles, aircraft, software, fiber optics, electronics, games, personal computers and so on.


The Brazilian people is composed of several ethnic groups. The last National Research for Sample of Domiciles (PNAD) census revealed the following: 49.4% of the population self-declared White, about 93 million; 42.3% self-declared Brown (Multiracial), about 80 million; 7.4% self-declared Black, about 13 million; 0.5% self-declared Asian, about 1 million; and 0.4% self-declared Amerindian, about 519,000. Also, in 2007, the National Indian Foundation reported the presence of 67 different tribes yet living without contact with civilization, up from 40 in 2005. With this figure, now Brazil has the largest number of uncontacted peoples in the world, even more than the island of New Guinea.

In over three centuries of Portuguese colonization, Brazil received more than 700,000 Portuguese settlers and 4 million African slaves. The country has both the largest white population in the Tropics and population of African descent outside of Africa. Most Brazilians can trace their ancestry to the country's indigenous peoples, Portuguese settlers, and African slaves. Since 1500, with the arrival of the Portuguese, miscegenation between these three groups took place. The Brown population (as it is officially called the multiracial Brazilians) is a broader ethnic category that includes Caboclos (descendants of Whites and Indians), Mulattoes (those of Whites and Blacks) and Cafuzos (those of Blacks and Indians). The Caboclos forms the majority of the population in the Northern, Northeastern and Central-Western regions. A large Mulatto population can be found in the eastern coast of the northeastern region from Bahia to Paraíba and also in the northern Maranhão, southern Minas Gerais and in eastern Rio de Janeiro.
Race/Ethnicity (2007)
White 49.4%
Brown (Multiracial) 42.3%
Black 7.4%
Yellow 0.5%
Native Brazilian 0.4%
Beginning in the 19th century, Brazil opened its borders to immigration: people from over 60 countries migrated to Brazil. About 5 million European and Asian immigrants arrived between 1870 and 1953, most of them from Italymarker, Portugalmarker, Spainmarker, and Germanymarker. In the early 20th century, people from Japanmarker and the Middle-East also arrived. The immigrants and their descendants had an important impact in the ethnic make-up of the Brazilian population, and many diasporas are present in the country. Brazil has the largest Lebanese descendant population outside of Lebanonmarker, estimates range from 7-10 million. Brazil has the largest Italian descendant population outside Italy, with over 25 million Italian Brazilians, the largest Japanese descendant population outside Japan, with 1.6 million Japanese Brazilians, as well as the second largest German descendant population outside of Germanymarker (after only the United States), with 12 million German Brazilians. A characteristic of Brazil is the race mixing. Genetically, most Brazilians have some degree of European, African, and Amerindian ancestry.

The largest metropolitan areas in Brazil are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte, with 19.7, 11.4, and 5.4 million inhabitants respectively. Almost all the capitals are the largest city in their corresponding state, except for Vitóriamarker, the capital of Espírito Santo, and Florianópolismarker, the capital of Santa Catarina. There are also non-capital metropolitan areas in the states of São Paulo (Campinasmarker, Santosmarker and the Paraíba Valley), Minas Geraismarker (Steel Valley), Rio Grande do Sul (Sinos Valleymarker), and Santa Catarina (Itajaí Valley).


Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. It is spoken by almost all of the 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 was granted co-official status alongside Portuguese in the municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeiramarker. 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.

Brazilian Portuguese has had its own development, influenced by the Amerindian and African languages. As a result, the language is somewhat different from that spoken in Portugalmarker and other Portuguese-speaking countries, mainly for phonological and orthographic differences. These differences are somewhat greater than those of American and British English. As of 2008, the CPLP (Community of Portuguese Language Countries) reached an agreement in the reform of Portuguese as one international language, as opposed to two diverged dialects of the same language, in which all countries with Portuguese as the official language participated. All CPLP countries were given a certain period of time to adjust to the necessary changes, between 2009 and 2014.

Minority languages are spoken throughout the vast national territory. Some of these are spoken by indigenous peoples: 180 Amerindian language 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.


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. 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.

The number of Protestants is rising. 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.

According to the 2000 Demographic Census: 73.89% of the population follow Roman Catholicism; 15.41% - Protestantism; 0.907% - other Christian denominations; 1.332% - Kardecist spiritism; 0.309% - traditional African religions; 0.126% - Buddhism; 0.051% - Judaism; 0.016% - Islam; 0.01% - Amerindian religions; 0.6% - other religions; 7.354% - Agnosticism, Atheism or without a religion.

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 their own maintenance, which manage 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.

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. Although in the same year, Brazil's education had low levels of efficiency by 15-year-old students, particularly in the public school network. 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.

The public health system is managed and provided by all levels of government, whilst private healthcare fulfils a complementary role. 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. In 2006 nearly 50,000 people were murdered in Brazil. More than 500,000 people have been killed by firearms in Brazil between 1979 and 2003, according to the UN report.


People and festivals

A wide variety of elements create a society with considerable ethnic complexity. The core culture of Brazil 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. This culture, however, was strongly influenced by African, Indigenous cultures and traditions, and other non-Portuguese European people. Some aspects of Brazilian culture are contributions of Italian, German and other European immigrants; 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. Darcy Ribeiro, in his O Povo Brasileiro, wrote that "Brazil emerges thus as a bud mutant, rescheduled from its own characteristics, but tied to the genetic Portuguese matrix, which unsuspected potential to grow and to be full were only realized here."
Brazilian people spend much of their time meeting other people. "Papo" (chit-chat) and the offering of tea and coffee in the cities is common.Many of these meetings happen in traditional festivals: Brazil's cultural tradition extends to its music styles which include samba, bossa nova, forró, frevo, pagode and many others. The festival of Carnival ( ), 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 Salvadormarker, Recifemarker, and Olindamarker, although the nature of the events varies. For its magical and historical sense to have originated with the pagans and Greeks, often the Brazilian carnival is called "Tamed Dionysus." Other regional festivals include the Boi Bumbá and Festa Junina (June Festivals).

The Brazilian people are known to be socially happy. Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda, one of the most important historian of the country, wrote that the Brazilians had a friendly character and this was one of its greatest virtues (which he developed the theory of "cordial man"). Gilberto Freyre praised the adaptability of the Portuguese in Brazil, while Buarque denounced the laxity with which they left the country for three centuries. Brazil is also known for its sports stars and top models. Models like Gisele Bundchen and Alessandra Ambrosio and the Brazil women's national football team make that Brazil has good international reputation. This Brazilian reputation also has an impact worldwide. In Nation branding 2008, people in 20 different states were asked to assess the country's reputation in terms of culture, politics, exports, its people and its attractiveness to tourists, immigrants and investers. Brazil was placed in tenth position in the category Culture & Heritage among 15 countries; in category Tourism Brand, the country was in thirteenth place, and in the general category, was siding in the twenty-first, among 50 countries and above countries such as Russiamarker, Icelandmarker, Argentinamarker and Mexicomarker.

Leisure in Brazil

Characterized by political populism and the national development project, the period from 1946 until 1964 in Brazil, witnesses, among other important changes, the rise of the automobile industry, the construction of roads throughout the country, the inauguration of the capital Brasiliamarker, the adoption of labor policies and the creation of a basic industry such as mining, oil extraction and steel. Threatened by foreign cultural invasion, the field of culture tries to make the issues in Brazil. Through the construction of "companies-clubs", economic development and industrial drives changes that allow greater access to arts and entertainment. The "companies-clubs" creates the sports development, the creation of theaters and musical. During this period, the urban class grows, and therefore stands out as sports clubs, trips by car on the road network expands, holiday retreat in the fields or homes on the coast. During the military dictatorship , urban growth, censorship and police repression has its effect. The popularization of TV helped to disintegrate the artistic events that sought to achieve the popular sectors and the military coup of 64 ensured the continuation of capitalist development in Brazil on a increasingly larger, increasing the concentration of income, choosing a conservative modernization from a coalition of classes that "playing ground the hypothesis of an antagonism between the Brazilian bourgeoisie on the one hand, and the international bourgeoisie and agrarian oligarchy of another."

In the 70s, there is an increase in the number of families typical of the middle class who could buy televisions and cars, go to the movies, enjoy weekends in the field or beach and gradually replace the street trading by going to the mall. With the military regime are inhibited the popular terms, the traditional festivals of some regions, the friendship with neighbors, play street children and leisure typical of the country. The military know that the popular demonstrations and entertainment served as propaganda against the government and therefore initiated an extensive investment in sport, promoting and encouraging participation in Olympic and world football championships, building stadiums, fields and flooded public parks; this practice, according to some Brazilian scholars, served to show the evolution of the nation before the totalitarian regime. In the 90s and following years, globalization offers shops, entertainment, leisure and tourism to the detriment of the secondary sector (industry) and the Brazilians are giving greater importance to language learning and technology.

Brazilian women

For a long time, the historiography considered the history of Brazil as a result almost exclusively from the actions of men, but this is changing. Brazilian scholars, influenced by Jacques Le Goff, Fernand Braudel and Georges Duby, among others, went to work with the notion that "History" can also be studied through the biography of ordinary people. In this context, the role of the Brazilian woman has acquired a new dimension, showing rich, poor, slaves, free, literate or illiterate, women were present in all the important moments of Brazil. Through this reconstruction of historiography, scholars emphasize the importance of women who fought in the War of Paraguay; who were from the street demanding the abolition of slavery; black women who for centuries have taken care of the kitchen, the houses and plantations of the whites; that of midwives helped in the birth of several children; the Indigeous women, as Kaigang Vanuire that helped end the constant conflicts between the people of his tribe and the whites at the beginning of the twentieth century, that invaded Indigeous territory to build the Northwest Railroad.



Brazilian cuisine varies greatly by region. This diversity reflects the country's mix of native and immigrants. This has created a national cooking style marked by the preservation of regional differences. Since the colonial period, the Feijoada, directly linked to the presence of blacks in Brazilian land, has been the country's national dish. Luís da Câmara Cascudo wrote that, having been revised and adapted in each region of the country, it is no longer just a dish but has become a complete food. Rice and beans, also present in the feijoada, and that are considered basic at Brazilians table, is highly regarded as healthy because it contains almost all amino acids, fiber and starches needed for our body.
Brazil has a variety of candies that are traditionally used for birthdays, like brigadeiros ("brigadiers") and beijinhos ("kissies"). Other foods typically consumed in Brazilian parties are Coxinhas, Churrasco, Sfihas, Empanadas, Pinion (in Festa Junina). Specially in the state of Minas Geraismarker, are produced and consumed the famous cheese bun. The typical northern food is pato no tucupi tacacá, carurumarker, vatapá and maniçoba; the Northeast is known for moqueca (having seafood and palm oil), and acarajé (the salted muffin made with white beans, onion and fried in oil palm (dendê) which is filled with dried shrimp, red pepper), manioc, dizmarker, hominy, dumpling and Quibebe. In the Southeast, it is common to eat Minas cheese, pizza, tutu, sushi, stew, polenta, and masses as macaroni, lasagna, gnocchi. In the South, these foods are also popular, but the churrasco is the typical meal of Rio Grande do Sul. Cachaça is the Brazil's native liquor, distilled from sugar cane, and it is the main ingredient in the national drink, the Caipirinha. Brazil is the world leader in production of green coffee (café); because the Brazilian fertile soil, the country could produce and expand its market maker and often establish its economy with coffee since the Brazilian slavery, whick created a whole culture around this national drink, which became known as the "fever of coffee" — and satirized in the novelty song "The Coffee Song" sung by Frank Sinatra and with lyrics by Bob Hilliard, interpreted as an analysis of the coffee industry, and of the Brazilian economy and culture.


The oldest known examples of Brazilian art are cave paintings in Serra da Capivara National Parkmarker in the state of Piauímarker, dating back to c. 13,000 BC. In Minas Geraismarker and Goiásmarker have been found more recent examples showing geometric patterns and animal forms. One of the most sophisticated kinds of Pre-Columbian artifact found in Brazil is the sophisticated Marajoara pottery (c. 800–1400 AD), from cultures flourishing on Marajó Islandmarker and around the region of Santarém, and statuettes and cult objects, such as the small carved-stone amulets called muiraquitãs, also belong to these cultures. Many of the Jesuits worked in Brazil under the influence of the Baroque, the dominant style in Brazil until the early 19th century. The Baroque in Brazil flourished in Bahia and Pernambuco and Minas Geraismarker, generating valuable artists like Manuel da Costa Ataíde and especially the sculptor-architect Aleijadinho.
In 1816, the Missão Artística Francesa on Brazil created the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and imposed a new concept of artistic education and was the basis for a revolution in Brazilian painting, sculpture, architecture, graphic arts, and crafts. A few decades later, under the personal patronage of Emperor Dom Pedro II, who was engaged in an ambitious national project of modernization, the Academy reached its golden age, fostering the emergence of the first generation of Romantic painters, whence Victor Meirelles and Pedro Américo, that, among others, produced lasting visual symbols of national identity. It must be said that in Brazil Romanticism in painting took a peculiar shape, not showing the overwhelming dramaticism, fantasy, violence, or interest in death and the bizarre commonly seen in the European version, and because of its academic and palatial nature all excesses were eschewed.

The beginning of the 20th century saw a struggle between old schools and modernist trends. Important modern artists Anita Malfatti and Tarsila do Amaral were both early pioneers in Brazilian art. Both participated of The Week of Modern Art festival, held in São Paulomarker in 1922, that renewed the artistic and cultural environment of the city and also presented artists such as Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, Vicente do Rego Monteiro, and Victor Brecheret. Based on Brazilian folklore, many artists have committed themselves to mix it with the proposals of the European Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. From Surrealism, arises Ismael Nery, concerned with metaphysical subjects where their pictures appear on imaginary scenarios and averse to any recognizable reference. In the next generation, the modernist ideas of the Week of Modern Art have affected a moderate modernism that could enjoy the freedom of the strict academic agenda, with more features conventional method, best exemplified by the artist Candido Portinari, which was the official artist of the government in mid-century. In our times, names such as Oscar Araripe, Beatriz Milhazes and Romero Britto are well acclaimed.

Literature and poetry

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, filled with descriptions of fauna, flora and natives that amazed Europeans that arrived in Brazil. When Brazil became a colony of Portugal, there was the "Jesuit Literature", whose main name was father António Vieira, a Portuguese Jesuit who became one of the most celebrated Baroque writers of the Portuguese language. A few more explicitly literary examples survive from this period, José Basílio da Gama's epic poem celebrating the conquest of the Missions by the Portuguese, and the work of Gregório de Matos Guerra, who produced a sizable amount of satirical, religious, and secular poetry. Neoclassicism was widespread in Brazil during the mid-18th century, following the Italianmarker style.

Brazil produced significant works in Romanticism — novelists like Joaquim Manuel de Macedo and José de Alencar wrote novels about love and pain. Alencar, in his long career, also treated Indigenous people as heroes in the Indigenist novels O Guarany, Iracema, Ubirajaramarker. The French Mal du siècle was also introduced in Brazil by the likes of Alvares de Azevedo, whose Lira dos Vinte Anos and Noite na Taverna are national symbols of the Ultra-romanticism. Gonçalves Dias, considered one of the national poets, sang the Brazilian people and the Brazilian land on the famous Song of the Exile (1843), known to every Brazilian schoolchild. Also dates from this period, although his work has hatched in Realism, Machado de Assis, whose works include Helena, Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas, O alienista, Dom Casmurro, and who is widely regarded as the most important writer of Brazilian literature. Assis is also highly respected around the world.

Monteiro Lobato, of the Pré-Modernism (literary moviment essentially Brazilian), wrote mainly for children, often bringing Greek mythology and didacticism with Brazilian folklore, as we see in his short stories about Saci Pererê. Some authors of this time, like Lima Barreto and Simões Lopes Neto and Olavo Bilac, already show a distinctly modern character; Augusto dos Anjos, whose works combine Symbolistic, Parnasian and even pre-modernist elements has a "paralytic language". Mário de Andrade and Oswald de Andrade, from Modernism, combined nationalist tendencies with an interest in European modernism and created the Modern Art Week of 1922. João Cabral de Melo Neto and Carlos Drummond de Andrade are placed among the greatest Brazilian poets; the first, post-modernist, concerned with the aesthetics and created a concise and elliptical and lean poetic, against sentimentality; Drummond, in turn, was a supporter of "anti-poetic" where the language was born with the poem. In Post-Modernism, João Guimarães Rosa wrote the novel Grande Sertão: Veredas, about Sertão, with a highly original style and almost a grammar of his own, while Clarice Lispector wrote with an introspective and psychological probing of her characters. Nowadays, Rubem Fonseca and Sérgio Sant'Anna, next to Nélida Piñon and Lygia Fagundes Telles, both members of Academia Brasileira de Letras, are important authors who write about contemporary issues sometimes with erotic or political tones. Ferreira Gullar and Manoel de Barros are two highly admired poets and the former has also been nominated for the Nobel Prize.

Popular media

The Cinema has a long tradition in Brazil, reaching back to the birth of the medium in the late 19th century, and gained a new level of international acclaim in recent years. Bus 174 (2002), by José Padilha, about a bus hijacking, is the highest rated foreign film at Rotten Tomatoes. O Pagador de Promessas (1962), directed by Anselmo Duarte, is one of the most acclaimed Brazilian film critics and the first (and only, to date) Brazilian film to won the Palme d'Or at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival. Fernando Meirelles' City of God (2002), is the highest rated Brazilian film on the IMDb Top 250 list, and Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (1964), from Cinema Novo and directed by Glauber Rocha, has been selected by Brazilian critics as the best film of all time several times, such as the 27th edition of Brazilian film magazine Contracampo. The highest-grossing film in Brazilian cinema, taking 12 million viewers to cinemas, is Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1976), directed by Bruno Barreto and basead on the novel of the same name by Jorge Amado.


Football ( ) is the most popular sport in Brazil. Many famous Brazilian players such as Pele and Ronaldo, Kaka, and Ronaldinho are among the most well known players in the sport.The Brazilian national football team (Seleção) is currently ranked second in the world according to the FIFA World Rankings. They have been victorious in the World Cup tournament a record five times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. 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, futsal (official version of indoor football) and footvolley emerged in the country as variations of football. In martial arts, Brazilians have developed Capoeira, Vale tudo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In auto racing, Brazilian drivers have won the Formula One world championship nine times: Emerson Fittipaldi in 1972 and 1974; Nelson Piquet in 1981, 1983 and 1987; and Ayrton Senna in 1988, 1990 and 1991.

Brazil has undertaken the organization of large-scale sporting events: the country organized and hosted the 1950 FIFA World Cup and is chosen to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup event. The circuit located in São Paulomarker, Autódromo José Carlos Pacemarker, hosts the annual Grand Prix of Brazilmarker. São Paulo organized the IV Pan American Games in 1963, and Rio de Janeiro hosted the XV Pan American Games in 2007. Brazil also tried for the fourth time to host the Summer Olympics with Rio de Janeiro candidature in 2016. On the 2nd of October, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was selected to host the 2016 Olympic Games, which will be the first to be held in South America.

See also



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  • Dohlnikoff, Miriam. Pacto imperial: origens do federalismo no Brasil do século XIX. São Paulo: Globo, 2005.
  • Enciclopédia Barsa. Volume 3: Aparelho digestivo – Battle y Ordóñez. Rio de Janeiro: Encyclopaedia Britannica do Brasil, 1987.
  • Enciclopédia Barsa. Volume 4: Batráquio – Camarão, Filipe. Rio de Janeiro: Encyclopaedia Britannica do Brasil, 1987.
  • Enciclopédia Barsa. Volume 10: Judô – Merúrio. Rio de Janeiro: Encyclopaedia Britannica do Brasil, 1987.

  • Ermakoff, George. Rio de Janeiro - 1840-1900 - Uma crônica fotográfica. Rio de Janeiro: G. Ermakoff Casa Editorial, 2006.
  • Fausto, Boris and Devoto, Fernando J. Brasil e Argentina: Um ensaio de história comparada (1850-2002), 2. ed. São Paulo: Editoria 34, 2005.
  • Gaspari, Elio. A ditadura envergonhada. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2002.
  • Gaspari, Elio. A ditadura escancarada. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2002.
  • Janotti, Aldo. O Marquês de Paraná: inícios de uma carreira política num momento crítico da história da nacionalidade. Belo Horizonte: Itatiaia, 1990.
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  • Lustosa, Isabel. D. Pedro I: um herói sem nenhum caráter. São Paulo: Companhia das letras, 2006.
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Further reading


  1. CIA - The CIA calls this nation in long form as Federative Republic of Brazil
  2. Encyclopædia Britannica - brazilwood
  3. CNRTL - Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales
  4. Michaelis - Moderno Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa
  5. iDicionário Aulete
  6. Bueno, p.36
  7. Boxer, p.98
  8. Skidmore, p.21
  9. Boxer, p.100
  10. Boxer, p.98
  11. Boxer, pp.100-101
  12. Skidmore, p.27
  13. Boxer, p.101
  14. Bueno, p.19 "Tupiniquim: Foram os indígenas vistos pela expedição de Cabral. Viviam em dois territórios: no sul da Bahia e em São Paulo, entre Santos e Bertioga. Eram 85 mil"
  15. Boxer, p.108
  16. Boxer, p.102
  17. Skidmore, p.30 "Doenças epidêmicas foram a principal causa. Os europeus trouxeram moléstias infecciosas como a varíola e o sarampo para um ambiente americano carente de qualquer exposição prévia a essas doenças e, portanto, sem nenhuma imunidade a elas. O tratamento brutal por parte dos portugueses, quando encontravam resistência nativa, dizimou ulteriormente as populações indígenas."
  18. Skidmore, p.30 "Os índios que sobreviveram no Brasil retiraram-se para a floresta tropical ou para o interior temperado, onde os portugueses tinham dificuldades para perseguí-los." and p.32 "Os índios que permaneciam sob o controle português na área de cultivo de cana do Nordeste minguavam conforme morriam de doenças contagiosas e maus tratos, obrigando os portugueses a capturar novos índios para manter a força de trabalho."
  19. Skidmore, p.36 "Por mais de um século o Brasil foi o principal exportador mundial de açúcar. De 1600 a 1650 o açúcar respondia por 90% a 95% dos ganhos brasileiros com exportações."
  20. Skidmore, p.32 "Com a mão-de-obra indígena minguando, os portugueses voltaram-se para a África." and p.33 "Conforme os portugueses se apercebiam, já na década de 1530, de que os índios não poderiam fornecer mão-de-obra suficiente para a coleta de madeira brasileira e o cultivo de cana-de-açúcar, eles se voltaram para a obtenção de escravos na África ocidental".
  21. Boxer, p.110
  22. Skidmore, p.34 "Os escravos africanos e seus descendentes logo passaram a ser encontrados em tod o Brasil. Esses escravos trabalhavam na criação de gado no extremo sul, nas minas de Minas Gerais e na cultura extrativista da Bacia Amazônica. Trabalhavam também na construção e no serviço doméstico." and p.35 "Embora o trabalho livre existisse e incluísse mesmo numerosos negros livres com o passar do tempo, a escravidão ainda era vista pela elite econômica como ssencial ao futuro do Brasil. Mesmo aquelas poucas almas que poderiam questionar a escravidão em bases morais acreditavam no que lhes era dito - que a sobrevivência econômica exigia a escravidão."
  23. Bueno, pp.80-81
  24. Bueno, p.96
  25. Calmon, p.294
  26. Bueno, p.86
  27. Boxer, p.164
  28. Boxer, p.168
  29. Boxer, p.169
  30. Boxer, p.170 “...continuaram tomando o rumo do ocidente nas décadas seguintes e descobriram os campos auríferos de Cuiabá, Goiás e Mato Grosso.”
  31. Boxer, p.207
  32. Boxer, p.213
  33. Bueno, p.145
  34. Calmon (2002), p.191
  35. Lustosa, pp.109-110
  36. Lustosa, pp.117-119
  37. Lustosa, pp.150-153
  38. Vianna, p.418
  39. Kraay, Hendrik apud Aldé, Lorenzo. Revista de História da Bblioteca Nacional. Issue 50. year 5. Rio de Janeiro: SABIN, 2009, p.20 "Símbolo poderoso, a monarquia estava profundamente enraizada na sociedade brasileira."
  40. Holanda (O Brasil Monárquico: o processo de emancipação), p.403 "... o que sabemos é que a idéia republicana no percurso da independência, pelo menos depois de 1821, foi um devaneio de poucos."
  41. Diégues 2004, p. 168
  42. Diégues 2004, p. 164
  43. Diégues 2004, p. 178
  44. Diégues 2004, pp. 179–180
  45. Lustosa, p.209
  46. Vianna, p.140
  47. Carvalho (1993), p.23
  48. Calmon (2002), p.189
  49. Vainfas, p.170
  50. Vainfas, p.322
  51. Vainfas, p.197
  52. Dohlnikoff, pp.60-61
  53. Lustosa, p.278
  54. Lustosa, p.221
  55. Lustosa, p.280
  56. Vianna, p.448 “levando a sua renúncia ao Trono, em favor do filho, o Príncipe Imperial D. Pedro de Alcântara. Agiu, portanto, por sua livre vontade, uma vez que o pronunciamento popular e militar não tinha esse objetivo, destinando-se a volta do Gabinete de março.”
  57. Janotti, p. 180 “Caiu o primeiro monarca – e a bem dizer a verdade por que ele abdicou e não por que quisessem que ele abdicasse – mas a Monarquia não caiu”.
  58. Calmon (2002), p.207
  59. Lyra (v.1), p.17
  60. Carvalho (2007), p.9
  61. Carvalho 2007, p.21
  62. Dohlnikoff, p.206
  63. " Rebelions in Bahia, 1798-l838"
  64. Carvalho (2007), p.43
  65. Souza, p.326
  66. Janotti, p.171 "No Pará, [...] declarou-se que a província não reconheceria o Governo da Regência durante a menoridade do Imperador (1835); começava a Cabanagem, para durar até 1840." and p.172 "explodia em novembro de 1837 a Sabinada que, declarava-se em Estado Republicano Independente [...], limitava o tempo da separação até o advento da maioridade de D. Pedro II."
  67. Munro, p.273
  68. Lyra (v.1),p.164
  69. Lyra (v.1),p.225
  70. Lyra (v.1),p.272
  71. Barman (1999), p.194
  72. Lyra (v.3), pp.29-30
  73. Lyra (v.1), p.166
  74. Lyra (v.3), p.62
  75. Schwarcz, p.315
  76. Bueno, p.218
  77. Vainfas, p.239
  78. Vainfas, p.18
  79. Ermakoff, p.189 "Não havia, portanto, clamor pela mudança do regime de governo, exceto alguns gritos de "Viva a República", entoados por pequenos grupos de militantes à espreita da passagem da carruagem imperial."
  80. Schwarcz, p.444
  81. Vainfas, p.201
  82. Barman (1999), p.399
  83. Barman (1999), p.130
  84. Lyra (v.3), p.126
  85. Barman (1999), p.361
  86. Lyra (v.3), p.99
  87. Schwarcz, pp.450 and 457
  88. Salles, p.194
  89. Munro, p.280
  90. Barman (1999), p.403
  91. Barman (1999), p.404
  92. Skidmore, p.153
  93. Bueno, pp.296-301
  94. Skidmore, p.154
  95. Skidmore, pp.155-156
  96. Bueno, pp.328 and 331
  97. Fausto (2005), p.249
  98. Fausto (2005), p.267
  99. Skidmore, p.162
  100. Bueno, p.336
  101. Skidmore, p.164
  102. Fausto (2005), p.272
  103. Dietrich, Ana Maria in História Viva magazine, issue 67, year VI, 2009, p.61
  104. Bueno, pp.343-344
  105. Skidmore, p.173
  106. Fausto (2005), p.281
  107. Skidmore, pp.182-183
  108. Bueno, pp.346-347
  109. Skidmore, pp.188-194
  110. Skidmore, p.201
  111. Skidmore, pp.202-203
  112. Skidmore, p.204
  113. Skidmore, PP.204-205
  114. Skidmore, pp.209-210
  115. Skidmore, p.210
  116. Fausto (2005), p.397 “o regime militar brasileiro, instalado em abril de 1964, teve uma seqüência ininterrupta de mais de vinte anos, até janeiro de 1985 [...] se tomarmos essa data como a mais relevante.”
  117. Gaspari (A Ditadura Envergonhada), p.141-142 “Essa contradição matou primeiro a teoria castelista da ditadura temporária, em seguida liquidou as promessas inconsistentes de abertura política feitas por um governo desastroso como o de Costa e Silva ou simplesmente falsas, como a de Garrastazu Medici. Restabeleceu-se a ordem com Geisel, por que, de todos os presidentes militares, ele foi o único a perceber que, antes de qualquer projeto político, era preciso restabelecer a ordem militar.”
  118. Gaspari (A Ditadura Envergonhada), p.35 “Desde 1868, quando através da vigência do Ato Institucional nº 5 o Brasil entrara no mais longo período ditatorial de sua história”
  119. Gaspari (A Ditadura Escancarada), p.193 ”A luta armada fracassou por que o objetivo final das organizações que a promoveram era transformar o Brasil numa ditadura, talvez socialista, certamente revolucionária. Seu projeto não passava pelo restabelecimento das liberdades democráticas.”
  120. Skidmore, p.239 “Era um outro sinal de que o regime militar brasileiro, embora repressivo, nunca alcançou a profundidade que teve nas ditaduras equivalentes na Argentina e Chile.”
  121. Fausto (2005), p.422 “Nos anos do chamado ‘milagre econômico’, [...] o apoio social ao regime militar, por parte de amplos setores da classe média, renasceu, colorido com as tintas patrioteiras que vislumbrava a entrada do Brasil no quadro das grandes potências, em algumas décadas. Os setores populares, cuja característica maior tinha sido o desinteresse pela vida política, deram também sinais de satisfação, derivados principalmente de seus ganhos materiais.”
  122. Bueno, p.379 “Com a posse de Geisel, em 15 de março de 1974, o general Golbery do Couto e Silva voltou ao poder. Ambos, Golbery e Geisel, articularam um projeto de abertura ‘lenta, gradual e segura’[...].”
  123. Fausto (2005), p.455 “É significativo que o processo de abertura tenha começado com as iniciativas do presidente Geisel (no poder a partir de março de 1974) – um oficial cioso da integridade das Forças Armadas e com longa experiência em postos administrativos, entre as quais a presidência da Petrobrás. Não foi também por acaso que o general Geisel selecionou como um de seus alvos principais a eliminação da tortura contra presos políticos, embora a tivesse coonestado, pouco antes de chegar ao poder, condenando-a principalmente, ao que tudo indica, pelo fato de que esses métodos conduziam à desmoralização das Forças Armadas.”
  124. Gaspari (A Ditadura Envergonhada), pp.34-35 ”restabelecendo a autoridade constitucional do presidente da República sobre as Forças Armadas.”
  125. Gaspari (A Ditadura Envergonhada), pp.35-36 ”Antes, acabara com a censura a imprensa e com a tortura de presos políticos, pilares do regime desde 1968.” p.36
  126. Gaspari (A Ditadura Envergonhada), “dois presidentes prometeram restaurar as franquias democráticas. Geisel, o único a não fazer essa promessa, acabou com a ditadura.” and “No dia 31 de dezembro de 1978, 74 dias antes da conclusão de seu mandato, acabou-se o Ato Institucional nº 5, o instrumento parajurídico que vigorara por dez anos, por meio do qual o presidente podia fechar o Congresso, cassar mandatos parlamentares e governar pro decretos uma sociedade onde não havia direito a habeas corpus em casos de crimes contra a segurança nacional.”
  127. Bueno, p.382 ”o quinto general-presidente, João Baptista Figueiredo [...], foi levado ao cargo com a missão de concretizar a abertura iniciada por Ernesto Geisel – o único dos generais-presidentes a fazer o próprio sucessor.”
  128. Fausto (2005), p.460
  129. Fausto (2005), pp.464-465
  130. Fausto (2005), p.465
  131. Fausto (2005), p.475
  132. The name of the current Brazilian currency came from an older currency that existed up to 1942. In Portuguese it is called "Real," but it does not come from "realism," but istead, from "royal," as its origins are from Portugal when it was a monarchy.
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  134. Fausto (2005), p.474
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  250. Brazilian's literature. Portuguese Language Guide. Visited on November 2, 2009.
  251. Best of Foreign at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-10-27
  252. Revista de Cinema. Visited on November 8, 2009.
  253. Ancine. Visited on November 8, 2009.
  254. Filme B. Visited on November 8, 2009.
  255. The Guardian, October 2, 2009, Olympics 2016: Tearful Pele and weeping Lula greet historic win for Rio

External links

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