is a huge country encompassing nearly half of South America and is the
fifth largest country in the world. Around nine-tenths of the country
is situated between the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn. Bathed by
the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil has 12,000km of borders with Spanish speaking
countries (all south American countries except for Chili and Equador).
The relief is dominated by the Brazilian Plateau, which unfolds after
the mountain ranges that closely follow the coastline from Porto Alegre
in the South to Natal in the Northeast. The major lowland areas are the
Pantanal, the Amazonian plains and the coastal region. The highest point
of the country is "Pico de Neblina" 3,014m high, located in
the extreme North of the Amazon region.
of the enormous area of Brazil it's one of the most urbanized countries
of the world. Of the ten biggest metropolises in the world two of them
are situated in Brazil; São Paulo (more than 17 million people)
and Rio de Janeiro (more than 7 million). Nearly the whole of the immense
Brazilian territory is inaccessible, as well as extremely abundant in
mineral resources. Brazil has the largest tropical forest and oxygen reserve
in the world, which is the Amazon jungle and more than 8.000 kilometers
of coastline with many unspoilt beaches and tropical islands.
Pedro Álvares Cabral claimed Brazil for the Portuguese on landing
in 1500. Brazil remained their colony until independence and the establishment
of a monarchy in 1822. Brazil was one of the last nations to abolish slavery
in 1888. The decision was unpopular with wealthy landowners who relied
on slave labour. Dom Pedro II abdicated in 1889 after the Republican Army
challenged the monarchy.
military coup ended the Republic when in 1930, economic depression and
regional disputes allowed dictator Getulio Vargas to take power. He ruled
with the armys support until 1945, concentrating on industrial growth
at the expense of social reform. This set a trend of widening the gap
between rich and poor. The military took over government again in 1964,
following civil unrest amongst workers and further economic problems.
Successive regimes of leaders like Castello Branco brought the economy
under control but repressed the people.
rule ended in 1985, and in 1989 Fernando Collor became Brazils first
democratically-elected president for 25 years. Brazils poverty,
and corruption charges saw Collor replaced by VicePresident Franco
in 1992. Following the successful launch of his currency plan for the
Real, Fernando Henrique Cardoso was enthusiastically elected
in 1994 and again in 1998. In 2002, a former shoeshine boy Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva - known as Lula - became the first left-wing president of
Brazil in four decades.
Brazil's present population is approximately 173 million inhabitants,
which makes Brazil the 6th most populous country in the world. The demographic
density comes to just over 19,2 people per square kilometer, but the distribution
is highly irregular, with the majority of the population concentrated
in a comparatively narrow lowland strip along the coast, and 81% lives
in urban areas.
Brazil can be divided into five regions; North, Northeast, Central West,
Southeast and the South.
North: the largest region in Brazil and is made up of the states: Amazonas
(AM), Pará (PA), Acre (AC), Rondonia (RO), Roraima (RR), Amapa
(AP) and Tocantins (TO). The immense Amazon Rainforest covers almost this
whole region. As a result of this dense rainforest this region is sparsely
populated. The main cities of this region are Belém and Manaus.
Northeast: called a paradise because of the cultural and the historical
richness and the magnificient beaches. The region is made up of the following
states: Bahia (BA), Sergipe (SE), Alagoas (AL), Pernambuco (PE), Paraiba
(PB), Rio Grande do Norte (RN), Ceará (CE), Piaui (PI) and Maranhão
(MA). Almost 60% of the total area consists of desert-like "Sertões"
(backlands). The major cities in this region are Salvador, Natal, Recife
Central West: made up of the following three states: Mato Grosso (MT),
Mato Grosso do Sul (MS), Goiás (GO) and Distrito Federal (DF).
This region is famous for the Pantanal wetlands in the states of Mato
Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. Furthermore for the capital of Brazil,
Brasilia, which is situated in the Distrito Federal. Other major cities
in this region are Campo Grande, Cuiabá and Goiânia.
Southeast: the most densely populated region and the main gateway to Brazil.
The region consist of the following states: São Paulo (SP), Rio
de Janeiro (RJ), Espirito Santo (ES) and Minas Gerais (MG). This region
is the pounding heart of Brazil, it's the economic center of whole Brazil.
Famous cities as Rio de Janeiro (7 million) and São Paulo (18 million)
are the landmarks for this region and for whole Brazil.
South: the most European region of Brazil. This region has an 'European'
climate, with four seasons, as well as an European culture, brought here
by the immigrants from the European continent in the 19th century. The
region is made up of Rio Grande do Sul (RS), Santa Catarina (SC) and Paraná
(PR). Major cities in this region are Porto Alegre, Florianópolis
of the Brazilian population per region (in %):
Northeast : 28,5 %
Central West: 6,7 %
Southeast: 42,7 %
South: 15 %
The climate varies according to latitude and altitude. The seasons are
the exact reverse of those in Europe and the US. Brazil is marked by highly
varied climates, ranging from the humidity of the Amazon region, the dry
heat of the Northeastern region and the permanently pleasant warm weather
of most of the costal area, to cool evening temperatures in many parts
of the plateau and a temperate climate in the South, where snow and frost
can occur in the winter months.
90 percent of the country is within the tropical zone, more than 60 percent
of the population live in areas where altitude, sea winds, or cold polar
fronts moderate the temperature. There are five climatic regions in Brazil:
equatorial, tropical, semi-arid, highland tropical, and subtropical. Plateau
cities such as São Paulo, Brasília, and Belo Horizonte have
very mild climates averaging 19°C (66°F). Rio deJaneiro, Recife,
and Salvador on the coast have warm climates balanced by the constancy
of the Trade Winds. In the southern Brazilian cities of Porto Alegre and
Curitiba, the subtropical climate is similar to parts of the U.S. and
Europe with frosts occurring with some frequency. In this region temperatures
in winter can fall below zero degrees.
the popular image of the Amazon as a region of blistering heat, temperatures
of more than 32°C (90°F) are rarely experienced there. In fact,
the annual average temperature in the Amazon region is in the range of
22-26°C (72-79°F), with only a very small seasonal variation between
the warmest and the coldest months. The hottest part of Brazil is the
northeast where, during the dry season, between May and November, temperatures
of more than 38°C (100 °F) are recorded frequently. The northeast
has greater seasonal variation in temperatures than the Amazon region
has. Along the Atlantic coast from Recife to Rio de Janeiro, mean temperatures
range from 23 to 27°C (73°F-81°F). Inland, on higher ground,
temperatures are lower, ranging from 18 to 21°C (64°F-70°F).
South of Rio, the seasons are more noticeable and the annual range of
temperature greater. The average temperature for this part of the country
ranges between 17 to 19°C (63°F-66°F).
The time in most of Brazil is three hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.
This is true for Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasilía, Bahia,
Minas Gerais, etc. Amazonas, Roraima, Rondônia, Pará, Mato
Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul are a further one hour behind Brazilian
standard time while Acre is two hours behind. Fernando de Noronha and
other oceanic islands (Trindade, Martin Vaz, etc.) are one hour in front.
In 1985 Brazil introduced "summer time" to help save energy
and this measure has been repeated ever since. Brazilian summer time comes
into effect in October and ends in early February. During the period of
daylight saving time, Brazil's clocks go forward one hour in most of the
Brazilian southeast. This, at a time when most of the Northern Hemisphere,
such as for example the United Kingdom, are putting their clocks back
one hour and coming off summer time. Therefore, the time difference swing
is two hours and not just one.
example, when Brazil is on normal time and the UK is on summer time, the
time difference between Rio and London will be four hours, but drops to
just two hours when Brazil goes on summer time and the UK comes off.
Brazil will put its clocks forward one hour on 18 October to begin summer
time. The clocks will go back one hour on 28 February 2004, the weekend
* Portuguese is the official language of the country.
In the bigger cities with a good infrastructure for tourism, English and
Spanish is spoken in hotels, travel agencies and airports.
In the southern part of the country many Brazilians speak German or Italian,
as a consequence of the colonialization..
Officially, Brazil is a Catholic country and claims the largest Catholic
population of any country in the world. However, Brazil is also noted
for the diversity and syncretism of its many sects and religions, which
offer great flexibility to their followers. For example, without much
difficulty you can find people with Catholic backgrounds who frequent
the church and have no conflict appealing for help at a "terreio
de umbanda", the house of one of the Afro-Brazilian cults. Candomblé
is the most orthodox of the cults brought from Africa.