The Brazil reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Brazil

See the real Africa
This article is about Brazil, the country. For other article subjects named Brazil see Brazil (disambiguation).

The Federative Republic of Brazil (República Federativa do Brasil in Portuguese) is the largest and most populous country in South America. Spanning a vast area between the Andes and the Atlantic Ocean, it borders Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. Named after brazilwood, a local tree, Brazil is home to both extensive agricultural lands and rain forests.

República Federativa do Brasil
125px
125px
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Ordem e Progresso
(Portuguese, Order and Progress)
image:LocationBrazil.png
Official Language Portuguese
Minority Languages Indigenous and Immigrant Languages, please see below
Capital Brasília
Largest City São Paulo
PresidentLuiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 5th
8,511,965 km2
0.65%
Population
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 5th
174,468,575
20.5/km²
Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised
From Portugal
September 7, 1822
August 29, 1825
GDP (base PPP)
 - Total (2002)
 - GDP/head
Ranked 10th(countries)
Ranked 7th(economies)

1,34 trillions $
9,300 $
Currency Real
Time zone UTC -2 to -5
National anthem Hino Nacional Brasileiro
Internet TLD.BR
Calling Code55

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 States
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Sports
9 Miscellaneous topics
10 External links

History

Main article: History of Brazil

Brazil had been inhabited for at least 6,000 years by semi-nomadic tribes when it was discovered by Portuguese explorers around 1500. Over the next three centuries it was re-settled by Portuguese and managed as a commercial colony, based to a large extent on slavery. In 1808 King João VI of Portugal, fleeing from Napoleon, relocated to Brazil with the royal family and government. Though they returned in 1821, the interlude led to a growing desire for self-rule among Brazilians, and in 1822 the then prince-regent Dom Pedro I established the independent Empire of Brazil. This lasted until the next emperor, Dom Pedro II was deposed in 1889 and a republican based federation was established.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Brazil attracted over 5 million European and Asian immigrants. That period also saw Brazil industrialise and further expand into its interior. Brazilian democracy was replaced by dictatorship three times — 19301934 and 19371945 under Getulio Vargas, and 19641985 under a succession of generals appointed by the military.

Brazil is now undergoing a deep economic and social crisis due to its huge national debt, which consumes a disproportionate fraction of its GNP and is preventing much-needed investment and economic growth.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Brazil

The 1988 constitution grants broad powers to the federal government, of which the president and vice president are elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms. The president has extensive executive powers and is both head of state and head of government and he also appoints the cabinet.

The Brazilian legislature, the bicameral National Congress or Congresso Nacional, consists of the Federal Senate or Senado Federal of 81 seats, of which three members from each state or federal district are elected according to the principle of majority to serve eight-year terms; one-third elected after a four-year period, two-thirds elected after the next four-year period. Beside the Senate there is the Chamber of Deputies or Câmara dos Deputados of 513 seats, whose members are elected by proportional representation to serve four-year terms.

Some Brazilians have advocated a parliamentary, rather than presidential, system of government, while some have even advocated restoring the monarchy as a symbol of national unity and political stability. (Brazil was briefly a parliamentary republic, similar to India and Germany, during the mid-1960s.) However, a national plebiscite was held on both issues in April 1993, but both options were rejected, and voters chose instead to remain a presidential republic.

See also:

States

Main article:
States of Brazil

Brazil consists of 26 states (estados, singular - estado) and 1 federal district (distrito federal):

Map of Brazil

See also: List of cities in Brazil

Geography

Main article: Geography of Brazil

Brazil is characterised by the extensive low-lying Amazon Rainforest in the north, and a more open terrain of hills and (low) mountains to the south, home to most of Brazil's population and its agricultural base. Along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean are also found several mountain ranges, amongst which the highest peak is the Pico da Neblina at 3,014 m. Major rivers include the Amazon, the largest river in the world by volume, the Paraná with its impressive Iguaçu falls, the Rio Negro, São Francisco, Xingu, Madeira and the Tapajós rivers.

Situated along the equator, Brazil's climate is predominantly tropical, with little seasonal variation, though the subtropical south is more temperate and can occasionally experience frost and snow. Precipitation is abundant in the humid Amazon Basin, though more arid landscapes are found as well, in particular in the northeast.

Economy

Main article:
Economy of Brazil

Possessing large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, as well as a large labour pool, Brazil's economy outweighs that of all other South American countries and is expanding its presence in world markets. Major export products include coffee, soybeans, iron ore, orange juice and steel.

After crafting a fiscal adjustment program and pledging progress on structural reform, Brazil received a USD 41.5 billion IMF-led international support program in November 1998. In January 1999, the Brazilian Central Bank announced that the Real would no longer be pegged to the US dollar. This devaluation helped moderate the downturn in economic growth in 1999 that investors had expressed concerns about over the summer of 1998, and the country posted moderate GDP growth.

Economic growth slowed considerably in 2001 - to less than 2% - because of a slowdown in major markets and the hiking of interest rates by the Central Bank to combat inflationary pressures. Investor confidence was strong at yearend 2001, in part because of the strong recovery in the trade balance. Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing problem.

After Lula da Silva came to power in 2003, the government have changed softly the economic policies, but, after a recess of the economy, it is growing again, and it's expected to grown for a long time.

See also:

Demographics

Main article:
Demographics of Brazil

Ethnic groups

The only clearly separated minority ethnic groups in Brazil are the various non-assimilated indigenous tribes, comprising less than 1% of the population, who live in officially delimited reservations and either avoid contact with "civilized" people, or have assimilated mainstream Brazilain culture to some extent but still constitute separate social and political communities. The rest of the population can be considered a single "Brazilian" ethnic group, with highly varied racial types and backgrounds, some broad regional trends, but without clear ethnic sub-divisions.

Most of the population descends from early European settlers (chiefly Portuguese, but also some French and Dutch), African slaves (Yoruba, Ewe, Bantu, and others), and assimilated indigenous peoples (mostly Tupi and Guarani, but also of many other ethnic groups). Trans-ethnic marriages and concubinates have been common and fairly well accepted ever since the first Portuguese settlers arrived.

Starting in the late 19th century Brazil received substantial immigration from several other countries, mainly Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, Lebanon, Japan, China and Korea. Those immigrant populations and their descendants still retain some of their original ethnic identity, however they are not closed communities and are rapidly integrating into mainstream Brazilian society: for instance, very few of the third generation can understand their grandparent's language.

Religion

About 80% of all Brazilians belong to the Roman Catholic Church; most of the remaining 20% adhere to various Protestant faiths, Kardecism, Candomblé, Umbanda, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism.

Language

Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas, giving it a distinct national culture separate from its Spanish-speaking neighbors.

Portuguese is the only language with full official status in Brazil; it is virtually the only language used in schools, newspapers, radio and TV, and for all business and administrative purposes. However many of the indigenous peoples still speak their native languages. These include Mbyá-Guaraní (or simply Guaraní), Kaingang, Nadëb, Carajá, Caribe, Tucano, Arára, Terêna, Borôro, Apalaí, Canela, Língua Geral (which is now almost extinct but at one time it was the common language used by indigenous and African and African descendent captives throughout the coast of Brazil), and many others. Some of those languages have recently obtained local co-official status — e.g. Nheengatu, Tukano, and Baniwa in São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Amazonas (2003).

Other languages such as German, Italian, Polish and Japanese are still spoken by 19th and 20th century immigrants and their descendants; however they are rapidly being replaced by Portuguese as those communities are integrating into Brazilian society. Some immigrant communities in southern Brazil, chiefly German and Italians ones, have lasted long enough to develop distinctive languages — for example Hunsrückisch and Pommersch. A Japanese-language newspaper, the São Paulo Shinbun, is still published in São Paulo. The English-language daily Brazil Herald is directed mostly to tourists and foreign executives.

Portuguese is the first language of almost 99% of the population.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Brazil

Sports

Main Article: Sports in Brazil

Miscellaneous topics

Much of the material in these articles comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.

External links


Countries in South America
Argentina | Bolivia | Brazil | Chile | Colombia | Ecuador | Guyana | Paraguay | Peru | Suriname | Uruguay | Venezuela
Dependencies: Falkland Islands | French Guiana

Southern Common Market (Mercosur)
Argentina | Brazil | Paraguay | Uruguay
Associate members
Bolivia | Chile | Colombia | Ecuador | Mexico | Venezuela

Logo of the OAS
Organization of American States (OAS)
Antigua and Barbuda | Argentina | Bahamas | Barbados | Belize | Bolivia | Brazil | Canada | Chile | Colombia | Costa Rica | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | El Salvador | Grenada | Guatemala | Guyana | Haiti | Honduras | Jamaica | Mexico | Nicaragua | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | St. Kitts and Nevis | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago | United States | Uruguay | Venezuela

Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP)
Angola | Brazil | Cape Verde | East Timor | Guinea-Bissau | Mozambique | Portugal | São Tomé and Príncipe