Brazil is a vibrant, culturally diverse society that evokes images of the mad passion of Carnival along with the mythic nooks of the Amazon. As the largest and most populous Latin American country, the Federative Republic of Brazil has long ignited the imagination of explorers, scholars and adventurers alike. This regional powerhouse has experienced a vast amount of changes over the last thirty years, including overcoming military governance of the country, in order to become the third largest democracy in the world. As well, tremendous industrial and agricultural development has led Brazil to become South America's leading economic power. At the dawn of the 21st century, the future of Brazil as both a regional and international leader looks bright.
BRAZIL QUICK FACTS
Official Name: República Federativa do Brasil (Federative Republic of Brazil)
Capital : Brasília
Flag : Brazil's flag was introduced after the country's independence in 1822. In 1889 the royal arms were replaced with an emblem of night sky in Rio de Janeiro on the night Brazil became a republic. The emblem also includes the national motto, Ordem e Progresso (Order and Progress).
Anthem : "Hino Nacional do Brasil" ("Brazilian National Anthem")
Population : 173,790,810 (2000 estimate)
Population Density: 20 persons/sq km (53 persons/sq mi, 2000 estimate)
Urban/Rural Breakdown : 80% Urban, 20% Rural (1998 estimate)
Largest Cities : São Paulo 9,839,436
Rio de Janeiro 5,551,538
Belo Horizonte 2,691,448
Ethnic Groups : 55% European (primarily Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and German), 38% Mulatto or Mestizo, 6% Black, 1% Other (Asian, Arab, and Native American)
Official Language: Portuguese
Other Languages : Native American languages, German, Japanese, Italian
Religions : 89% Roman Catholicism, 6% Protestantism and 5% Other
Gross Domestic Product : $820.4 billion (1997)
Chief Economic Products :
Soybeans, coffee, tobacco, sugarcane, cacao beans, beef and poultry
Shrimp, lobsters, sardines
Iron ore, tin, gold, phosphates, platinum, bauxite, uranium, manganese, copper, coal
Machinery and transportation equipment, food products, textiles and clothing, chemicals
Employment Breakdown : 53% Services, 26% Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, 20% Industry
Major Exports : Road vehicles and parts, coffee and coffee substitutes, metals, feeding-stuff for animals, transport and aeronautics equipment.
Major Imports : Petroleum, road vehicles and parts, electrical machinery, organic chemicals, industrial machinery and parts
Major Trading Partners :
Exports: United States, Argentina, Netherlands, Japan, Germany
Imports: United States, Argentina, Germany, Japan, Italy
Currency : Real
Exchange Rate : 2,40 reais = U.S.$1 (January 27th 2002)
$0,42 U.S. = 1 reais
1,5 reais = CAD $1
$0,67 CAD = 1 reais
Form of Government : Federal republic
Head of State and Government : President (Elected by the voters to a four-year term)
Legislature : Bicameral legislature
Chamber of Deputies : 513 deputies elected to four-year terms
Senate :81 senators elected to eight-year terms
Voting Qualifications : Compulsory for literate persons aged 18-70; optional for illiterate persons, persons age 70 and older, or persons age 16 or 17
Highest Court : Supreme Federal Tribunal
Armed Services : Army, Navy, Air Force (291,000 active duty personnel; service of 12 to 18 months compulsory for men aged 18 to 45)
Political Divisions : 26 states and one federal district
Major Universities and Colleges
University of Brasília (Brasília)
University of São Paulo (São Paulo)
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro)
Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre)
The Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral landed in eastern Brazil and claimed the land for Portugal.
Successful settlements developed at Recife and Salvador. Portuguese colonists used Native American and African slaves to work huge sugar plantations.
The capital moved from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro, which had become Brazil's largest city and main port.
Pedro I declared Brazil's independence from Portugal.
Slavery was abolished in Brazil.
Pedro II was forced to abdicate, despite Brazil's many advances during his reign. Brazil became a republic.
Military forces overthrew the republic and named Getúlio Vargas as president.
President Vargas was granted dictatorial authority in an attempt to help Brazil out of the Great Depression.
Vargas was forced from office. The next year, Brazil returned to constitutional government.
The capital of Brazil moved from Rio de Janeiro to the newly built city of Brasília in the country's interior.
Seeking to prevent a Communist takeover of Brazil, military forces again seized power. The military rigged elections and curbed civil rights.
Brazil regained a civilian government.
A new constitution providing for a directly elected president was enacted.
Facing impeachment proceedings in the Senate for corruption charges, President Fernando Collor de Mello resigned.
Brazil joined Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay in forming the Southern Cone Common Market, a free-trade organization also known by its Spanish acronym, MERCOSUR.
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso issued a controversial presidential decree allowing non-Native American individuals, regional governments, and private companies to appeal land allocation decisions made by Brazil's Indian Affairs Bureau.