Brazil

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Template:Brazil infobox The Federative Republic of Brazil (República Federativa do Brasil in Portuguese) is the largest and most populous country in Latin America, and the fifth largest and fifth most populous in the world. Spanning a vast area between central South America and the Atlantic Ocean, it borders Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana — every South American nation except for Ecuador and Chile. The name Brazil comes from a specific tree called brazilwood (Pau-brasil in Portuguese), which was used to tinge textiles with its red pigments. Brazil is home to both extensive agricultural lands and rain forests. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, it has the biggest GDP in South America (10th in the world) and is today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader. Portuguese is the national language of Brazil.

History

Main article: History of Brazil

Brazil had been inhabited for at least 10,000 years by semi-nomadic populations when the first Portuguese explorers, led by Pedro Álvares Cabral disembarked in 1500. Over the next three centuries it was re-settled by the Portuguese and exploited mainly for brazilwood at first, and later for sugarcane agriculture and gold mining. Work in the colony was based on slavery. In 1808 Queen Maria I of Portugal and her son and regent, the future João VI of Portugal, fleeing from Napoleon, relocated to Brazil with the royal family, nobles and government. Though they returned to Portugal in 1821, the interlude led to the opening of commercial ports to the United Kingdom — at the time isolated from most European ports by Napoleon — and the elevation of Brazil to the status of a Kingdom united to Portugal's Crown. Then prince-regent Dom Pedro I of Brazil and IV of Portugal declared independence on 7 September 1822, establishing the independent Empire of Brazil. As the crown remained in the hands of the house of Bragança, this was more the severance of the Portuguese empire in two than an independence movement as seen elsewhere in the Americas.

The Brazilian Empire was theoretically a democracy in the British style, though in practice the emperor-premier-parliament balance of power more closely resembled the autocratic Austrian Empire. Slavery was abolished in 1888, and intensive European immigration created the basis for industrialization. Pedro I was succeeded by his son, Pedro II who at old age was caught by a political dispute between the Army and the Cabinet, due to crisis arising as a consequence to the Paraguay War, and not hesitating to sacrifice his crown to avoid a civil war between Army and Navy renounced on 15 November 1889 when a federal republic was established by Field Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Brazil attracted over 5 million European and Japanese immigrants. That period also saw Brazil industrialise, further colonize and develop its interior. Brazilian democracy was replaced by dictatorship three times — 19301934 and 19371945 under Getúlio Vargas, and 19641985 under a succession of generals appointed by the military. Today Brazil is internationally considered a democracy since 1985.

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: he appoints the Cabinet, and he is also both head of state and head of government.

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.

See also:

  • Cangaço (criminal hinterland bands in the first years of the 20th century)
  • Café com leite (reference to Brazil's domination by the "coffee oligarchs" in the first years of the 20th century)
  • Coronelismo (reference to machine politics in the first years of the 20th century, still present on a lesser scale in modern days)
  • Integralismo (influential Brazilian fascist movement in the 1930s)

States

Main article: States of Brazil Template:States of Brazil

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

Brazil and its 26 states and Federal District are divided by IBGE into 5 distinctive regions: North, Northeast, Center-West, Southeast and South (Division by Regions).

See also:

Geography

File:Br-map.png
Map of Brazil

Main article: Geography of Brazil

Brazil is characterized 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, which can reach roughly 2,900m high. However, the highest peak is the Pico da Neblina at 3,014 m, in Guiana's highlands. Major rivers include the Amazon, the largest river in the world by volume, and considered by many specialists also the longest of the world; the Paraná and its major tributary, the Iguaçu River, where the impressive Iguaçu falls are located; 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.

A number of islands in the Atlantic Ocean are part of Brazil:

See also:

Economy

Main article: Economy of Brazil

Possessing large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, as well as a large labor pool, Brazil's GDP(PPP) outweighs that of any other Latin American country and the economy is expanding its presence in world markets. Major export products include airplanes, coffee, vehicles, soybean, iron ore, orange juice, steel, textiles, footwear and electrical equipment. 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. [1] 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, the hiking of interest rates by the Central Bank to combat inflationary pressures, and fears over the economic policies of the new government to be elected. Investor confidence was strong at the end of 2001, in part because of the strong recovery in the trade balance. Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing problem.

After Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva inauguration on 1 January 2003, there was some fear that his party radicals might provoke an economic aboutface and Brazil would undergo a financial crisis. However, Brazilian economy seems to have detached itself from politics and after a GDP increase of 0.5% in 2003, Brazil has enjoyed a robust growth in 2004 and prospects for 2005 and 2006 indicate moderate growth.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Brazil.
See also: Indigenous peoples in Brazil.

The main ethnic group of Brazil are the Portuguese, who colonized the country since 1500. Untill the independence, in 1822, the Portuguese were the only European nation that colonised Brazil, and most of Brazil's ethnic make up and culture are based on the ones of Portugal. The Dutch and the French also colonised Brazil during the 17th century but their presence lasted only a few decades.

The Amerindian population of Brazil has in large part been exterminated or assimilated into the Portuguese population. Since the beggining of Brazil's colonization, inter-marriage between the Portuguese and Native Brazilians was common.

Brazil has a large black population, descended from African slaves brought to the country from the XVI century untill the XIX century. The African population in Brazil has largely mixed with the Portuguese, making a large mixed-race population in Brazil.

In the XIX century, the Brazilian governament stimulated European immigration to substitute the slaves's man power. The first non-Portuguese immigrants to seattle in Brazil were the Germans, in 1824. Although, strong European immigration to Brazil just started in the 1870s, when immigration from Italy has increased. Brazil has the largest Italian diaspora outside Italy, with 25 million Italians and Italian-descended Brazilians, or 15% of Brazil's population. Another important influx of immigrants came from Spain. During the XIX century and early XX century, Brazil receved immigrants from several other European countries, such as Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Austria, etc. These immigrants seattled mostly in the Southern states.

Starting in the early XX century, Brazil also receved a large number of Japanese immigrants, who seattled mostly in São Paulo. They are the largest Asian minority in Brazil, and Japanese-Brazilians are the largest Japanese population outside Japan (1.5 million). Immigration from the Middle-East (Lebanon and Syria) was also important.

Brazil is populous along the coast, less in the interior. The population of the southern states is mainly of European descent, on the other hand, the majority of the north and northeastern inhabitants are of mixed ancestry (Natives, Africans and Europeans).

Poverty, lack of literacy and income concentration

Brazil has currently 25 million people living in conditions of poverty [2] [3]. This is a chronic problem without easy solutions.

Two very relevant phenomenons to the discussion of poverty and income concentration in Brazil are directly related to each other: the mechanization of agricultural techniques and the Brazilian agribusiness focus, which is currently directed almost solely to exportation.

Poverty in Brazil can be seen in the large metropolitan areas (capitals) and in the "poverty bags" (upcountry regions with low rates of economic and social development). The Northeast has chronic problems as a result of its dry climate, with millions of people suffering hunger during the dry seasons. Mr. Da Silva's proposed a program (Fome Zero) to mitigate this problem but it has had no tangible results.

About 8% of the Brazilian population is technically considered illiterate (analfabetos in Portuguese), although a growing percentage show some writing and computing abilities.[4]

Culture

Main article: Culture of Brazil

Sports

Main Article: Sports in Brazil

Some fight sports with Brazilian origins have become popular around the world:

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

Template:Wikinews

  • Wagley, Charles (1963). An Introduction to Brazil, New York, New York: Columbia University Press.
Government, administration, economy & politics
Information, media, statistics
Brazilian television
  • Globo- The first network in Brazil
  • SBT- The second network in Brazil
  • Record- Important brazilian channel
  • Band- Important brazilian channel
Society, social movements, etc.
Art, cooking, culture, history, travel

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