Brazil is the biggest country in South
America and the fifth biggest one in the world, occupying an
area of 8.547.403,5 km², about half of South America. Its
population is estimated in 157.070.163 inhabitants. It has borders
with all countries in South America, except Chile and Ecuador.
It borders on Uruguay to the south; Argentina, Paraguay, and
Bolivia to the south-west; Peru to the west; Colombia to the
north-west; and Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana
to the north, making a total of 15.749 km of continental borders.
It also has a large Atlantic seaside (7.408 km if measured in
a straight line). The whole territory corresponds to 47% of South
America and Brazil represents 1/60 of the entire area of the
planet. Brazil is formed by 26 states and one Federal District,
where Brasília, the capital of the country is located.
and other statistical purposes, the government has divided the
country into five major regions: the North, which includes the
states of Acre, Rondônia, Amazonas, Pará, Roraima
and Amapá; the North-East, containing the states of Maranhão,
Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba,
Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, and Bahia, and the island territory
of Fernando de Noronha; the South-East, made up of the states
of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, and São
Paulo; the South, including the states of Paraná, Santa
Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul; and the Central-West, consisting
of the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul,
Tocantins and the Federal District, in which Brasília,
capital of the country, is located.
Region is the largest one (approximately 3.500.000 km²)
and corresponds to more than 42% of the whole national territory.
The South-East Region is the most important in relation to the
economy, with the largest number of inhabitants and a large industrial
production. Its main cities are São Paulo (leading industrial
and chief wholesale and retail commercial center; noted for libraries,
publishing houses and theaters) and Rio de Janeiro (major port
city; major financial, service and trading center, tourist center
and cultural capital of the country).
variations in the country calls attention to the large territory
that it occupies. The climate is mainly tropical, with exception
to the south, which presents a subtropical climate, and a semiarid
area in the north-east. Most of the rest of the country gets
a moderate amount of rainfall.
in Brazil are uniform during Summer, from November to April,
averaging about 26º C over most of the lowlands in January,
and a few degrees less in the highlands, depending upon elevation.
The coast of Rio Grande do Sul is also somewhat cooler, averaging
around 23º C. In the Brazilian highlands Winter temperatures
are about 20º C and are even lower towards the south. This
tropical characteristic constant along the year is due to the
fact that Brazil is located between the Equator line and the
Tropic of Capricorn. Above the Equator line, we find 598.656
km² (about 7% of the whole country) and, below the Tropic
of Capricorn, 600.731 km².
want to make conversions from Celsius to Fahrenheit, use the
Enter a number in either field, then click outside the text box.
can be described in terms of its highlands and lowlands, which
are separated from each other by an almost continuous series
of physical barriers. The lowlands are composed of three main
regions: the Amazon lowlands, the west-central Pantanal, and
the coastal lowlands. The largest of these regions is the Amazon
lowlands. The region called the Pantanal, is an area of swamps
and marshes in northwestern Mato Grosso do Sul and southern Mato
Grosso states. It is dissected by the upper Paraguay river system.
The Pantanal area is noted for its striking natural beauty and
its rich wildlife. During the rainy season the Paraguay river
overflows its banks, spreading great sheets of water that leave
only the tops of scattered levees and low hills dry.
and Animal Life
is the major producer of coffee, banana and sugarcane in the
whole world. It occupies the second position in the production
of potatoes and beans, third position in the production of corn,
and soy, fourth position in the production of peanuts, fifth
position in the production of tobacco and cotton and so on. Coffee
is cultivated mainly in the states of Minas Gerais, Espiríto
Santo, São Paulo and Paraná and the sugarcane plantations
are concentrated mainly in São Paulo, Pernambuco, Alagoas,
Minas Gerais and Paraná. Other important agricultural
products are: rice, beans, orange, grapes etc.
in the more remote and sections of Brazil's eastern highlands,
little of the original flora and fauna remain in the greatest
part of the country. The once luxuriant forests that dominated
the eastern seaboard and the valleys of the interior have been
parrots, and other exotic wildlife are found only in zoos or
small patches of relic habitats, where the original flora and
fauna remain. In the Pantanal, the many sloughs and watercourses
still support an abundance of wildlife, including the giant "pirarucu"
(Arapaima gigas), the largest fresh-water fish, measuring
on average 4 meters in length. Wildfowl also abound in the Pantanal.
There are numerous species of snakes, including the deadly "jararaca"
and the rattlesnake, a wide variety of lizards, armadillos, and
anteaters, which may stand more than six feet high. Until the
introduction of cattle, deer were the principal prey of the "onças",
a type of jaguar, and of the ocelots that inhabited the edges
of the galleries and neighboring forests. These predators have
been mercilessly hunted and are now endangered species.
of what is now Brazil began many thousands of years ago with
the arrival of the first tribes of Paleo-American "Indians",
migrants from North America who were probably of Asian origin.
Nomadic hunters and gatherers, they inhabited the less hospitable
parts of the country away from the larger rivers. By the time
of the European arrival, a second group had evolved, known collectively
as the tropical forest "Indians". Outnumbering the
nomadic "Indians", they were skilled farmers and fishermen
who occupied the best lands of the Amazon and Paraguay river
systems and most of the coastal plains, making up the bulk of
more than 4.000.000 native inhabitants of Brazil at the time
of the European arrival.
indigenous population of Brazil was estimated in 4 to 5 million
in the beginning of the Portuguese colonization. Today, this
number has reduced to 220 thousand, concentrated mostly in the
North Region of Brazil. They live in different tribes, in houses
made of wood and palm tree leaves. Each tribe has its own chieftain,
who is in charge of everything in the community. These people
were very important to the formation of the Brazilian culture.
They contributed with food, plantation techniques and some words
from their language. The Africans, who began to be brought to
the country in 1550 as substitutes for the Indian slave labor,
also added their music, cooking and religious practices. Although
the Africans brought their own religions and rituals with them,
they were prohibited and Roman Catholic practices were enforced.
But a strange mix of the two faiths developed and some people
still follow the two faiths. European immigrants, such as Portuguese,
German, Italian, Japanese, and others, also contributed to enlarge
the variety of ethnic groups which form Brazil.
the population of Brazil was estimated in 146.917.459 inhabitants
and maybe around 200.000.000 at the end of the year 2000. According
to the first census, realized in 1872, the population of Brazil
was estimated in 9.930.478 inhabitants. The results of the censes
that followed were: 14.333.915 (in 1890), 17.944.397 (in 1910),
70.967.185 (in 1960), 94.508.554 (in 1970), 119.098.992 (in 1980)
and 146.917.459 (in 1991).
is unique among the nations of the Americas: this former colony
of Portugal did not become fragmented into separate countries,
as did the British and Spanish possessions, but retained its
identity throughout the centuries and a variety of forms of government.
The Portuguese language is spoken throughout the whole country,
except among a few thousand native "Indians" in the
most remote reaches of the Amazon River system and a few immigrants,
especially in the interior of the South, who still speak their
native languages and know little about the Portuguese language.
This is due to the governments of their homelands that supported
them with teachers and school books in their native languagefor
language has undergone many changes, both in the mother country
and in Brazil, since it has been introduced to the country after
the colonization. Although the two countries have, from time
to time, standardized their spelling so that the written word
remains mutually intelligible, pronunciations, vocabularies and
the meanings of some words have diverged. New words and expressions
in Brazilian Portuguese have been introduced by Italians, Germans,
Japanese, and other immigrants and from across the borders with
Spanish-speaking countries. One notable example, is the universal
use in Brazil of "tchau" (good-bye), adopted from the
Italian "ciao" (the written form is different, but
the pronunciation is the same). Other words have entered through
contact with foreign products and technologies. Some authorities,
however, suggest that the greatest divergence of the Brazilian
language from the Portuguese goes back to contact with the "Indians".
The main language spoken by the tropical forest peoples of Brazil,
Tupian, or "Tupí-Guaraní", became the
lingua franca between the natives and the Portuguese traders,
missionaries, adventurers, and administrators; it continued to
be used similarly in the Amazon and western Brazil until the
19th century. The Tupian influence in Brazilian place names is
overwhelming, a large numer of districts, cities, states, rivers
etc, originated from the "Tupi-Guaraní", such
as Ipanema (y-panema = bad river); Tijuca (tujuco = place wehere
there is a lot of mud); Ipiranga (y-piranga = red river); Pernambuco
(para-nã-mbuca = sea with holes, this name is due to the
large number of reefs on its coast); and many others. More generally,
as a result of the Tupian influence, Brazilian Portuguese became
more nasal than that of the homeland, and Brazilians generally
speak more slowly, pronouncing all the vowels.
Feasts and Sports
all manifestations in the whole country, the parade that takes
place in the city of Rio de Janeiro is the most popular. The
first samba schools were created in the 30's and originated from
the poorest communities of the city. Today, each samba school
is composed by 3.000 to 4.000 people and its opened to everyone
who wants to join. The carnival of Rio de Janeiro attracts people
from all over the country as well as foreign tourists who come
from different parts of the world. Its date varies from year
to year, but it usually ranges from late February to early March.
It officially begins on a Saturday and ends on a Tuesday. The
following Wednesday is called "Quarta-feira de Cinzas"
(Ash Wednesday). In 2000, carnival took place from March 4th
to March 7th; in 2001, from February 23rd to February 26th and
in 2002 it happened from February 9th to February 12th.
in Rio are social gathering spots for people, where they play
football and various racket games. But soccer is the nation's
most popular sport, and Brazilians are highly enthusiastic fans.
It is played everywhere by young and old. Soccer draws huge crowds
to international matches at stadia in the major cities. The largest
of these, the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, inaugurated
in 1950 (the world's largest stadium), has a capacity of 200.000
people. Brazilian teams are consistently among the top contenders
for the World Cup, and from Brazil came the world-renowned Pelé,
one of the greatest players of all time, as well as the famous
contemporary soccer player Ronaldo, known in Brazil as Ronaldinho.
are also numerous public parks, both within the cities and at
nearby areas, that are used for recreation and by family or group
picnics. Among the most popular parks are the Tijuca National
Park, in Rio de Janeiro, Itatiaia National Park, Iguaçu
National Park and Serra dos Órgãos National Park.