Official name: Federal Republic of Brazil
- Government: Federal Republic composed of 26 states and a federal sector
- Head of State: His Excellency Michel Tamer, since 31 August 2016
- Area: 8.516.000 km2
- Capital: Brasilia
- Main cities: Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre and Salvador
- Official language: Portuguese
- Currency: Brazilian Real
- National Day: 7th September
- Population: 207.7 million people
- Religion(s): Roman Catholics (68%); Evangelicals (20%)
- Human Development Index: 0.75 (79th)
- Internet Code: .br
- International calling code: +55
Brazil occupies the eastern part of South America and is the fifth biggest country in the world. It covers almost half of South America and shares its borders with all countries except Chile and Ecuador, bordering the east and northeast of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Portuguese first arrived in Brazil in 1500, when the fleet commanded by diplomat Pedro Álvares Cabral, said to be originally on its way to India, landed in Santa Cruz Cabrália, located in the modern state of Bahia. Although it is officially said that Cabral was the first Portuguese in the Americas, there is strong evidence that other Portuguese adventurers preceded him. Moreover, it is also believed that Cabral arrived in Brazil intentionally.
Portugal´s original goal in Brazil were to make use of the lucrative trade of the brazilwood (pau-brasil), high-valued for making red dye, which gave Brazil its name. As the population of the new colony grew so did the demand for labour. the Portuguese first used indigenous labour, but then turned to African slave trade as a source for the workforce. The 17th century was marked by the discovery of precious minerals in Minas Gerais ushered in the Brazilian gold rush. In 1763, the capital was moved from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro due to administrative and political reasons.
In 1808, Portugal´s royal family was chased out of Portugal by the Napoleon's armies and moved to Rio de Janeiro. Following the fall of Napoelon, Dom João VI, the Prince Regent of Portugal, left his son, Pedro I, to govern Brazil. In 1822, Pedro I proclaimed the Independence of Brazil, establishing the Brazilian empire. Pedro I stepped aside years later in favour of his older son, Pedro II, who ruled until 1889. Pedro II´s daughter, Princess Isabel, officially ended slavery in 1888.
In 1898, the Military proclaimed the Republic, forcing the royal family back to Europe. This initiated the Old Republic, which was marked by strong coffee and rubber economies responsible for some industrial and urban development at the time.
In 1930, presidential candidate Getúlio Vargas led a military coup to seize power. In 1945, his dictatorship came to an end with another coup. Years later, in 1951, he was again elected president in 1951, but committed suicide halfway through his term.
In 1955, Juscelino Kubitschek became president, deciding to replace Rio de Janeiro as capital by a grand and modern city in the Brazilian hinterland. Following the motto "fifty years in five", JK opened the country to foreign capital and increased the credit to businesses. Brasília was inaugurated in 1960.
JK was succeed by Jânio Quadros, an eccentric figure who resigned after 7 months in office. Quadros' Vice-president, João Goulart, attempted to impose socialist reforms, but was overthrown by a military coup in 1964. Brazil remained under a military dictatorship for 20 years. The grand projects that marked the 1970 "economic miracle" were never fully completed and caused inflation to soar. It was only in that an electoral college chose a new president, Tancredo Neves, who was hospitalized and died soon after, never taking office. Vice-President José Sarney oversaw the promulgation of the new 1988 constitution and Brazil´s first free election in 30 years. In 1990, Fernando Collor de Mello was elected. Two years later a widespread corruption scheme was discovered and Collor was ousted in 1992, following an impeachment process. Vice-President Itamar Franco took office and launched "Plano Real", creating a new a currency and finally bringing inflation under control.
In 1994, Fernando Henrique Cardoso was elected president and was re-elected in 1998. The left-wing candidate Lula was then elected in 2002. One of Lula´s main agendas was the fight against poverty and hunger. In 2006 Lula was re-elected and the economy continued to grown under his administration. In 2010, Lula supported his Dilma Roussef, his former Chief of Staff, as candidate.
In 2011, the Brazilian economy started to cool down due to the global economy and policies in the industrial sector. In 2013, Brazilians all across the country took to the streets to protest government corruption and expenditures with the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. Despite her low popularity, Dilma was re-elected for a second term in 2014. In 2015, the Brazilian economy continued to deteriorate and inflation was on the rise. The President´s efforts to combat these issues were complicated due the ongoing investigation of arguably the biggest corruption scheme in Brazilian history, operation "car wash", which involved President Lula for money laundering, among other politicians and businessmen. The scandal culminated in Dilma´s impeachment in August 2016. Vice-President then took office and will serve as President until January 2019.
Brazil`s economy is the largest in Latin America, the second largest in the Americas (only after the United States) and the seventh largest in the world.
Brazil is one of the world's leading food producers and the third largest source of food after the United States and the European Union. The agricultural sector represents 5.9% of GDP and 15.7% of the labor force. The country has the largest commercial herd of cattle in the world (about 200 million heads and large natural pastures).
Brazil also has a variety of energy sources, including nuclear power, and is one of the few countries in the world that has huge sources of clean and renewable energy, which produces 79.8% of the country's total energy. Brazil is also one of the world's leading producers of ethanol that is produced from sugar cane.
The industrial sector is one of the main pillars of the Brazilian economy, accounting for 22.2% of GDP and 13.3% of the labor force. The automotive, mining, petrochemicals, aircraft and food industries are the most important industrial activities in Brazil. The services sector (trade, tourism, banking, telecommunications and public sector) accounts for 71.9% of GDP and employs 71% of the labor force.
Although Brazil is asserting its strength through the wealth of natural resources and its ownership of vital industries, the country is currently facing significant economic and financial difficulties due to the poor economic and financial management in the previous government, according to experts.
Brazil is a vast country with a very diverse cultural formation, which makes it a unique nation. The cultures of the indigenous peoples, Africans, and the Portuguese have together formed the modern Brazilian culture and lifestyle.
The Portuguese culture is arguably the most dominant of influences, having provided the language, main religion, and customs of Brazilians. Tupi-Guarani, the language of many indigenous groups, has greatly contributed to the Brazilian Portuguese dialect. Other indigenous influences are more easily observable in the Amazon basin. In turn, the African influences are stronger along northeast region´s coast, particularly in the state of Bahia, and also in Rio de Janeiro. Such influences include religion, food, music, and dance, which is the case of the samba. Other European influences, such as Italian and German, are mostly seen in the southern and southeastern regions and manifested through the language, food, and customs.
Rate of immigrants:
Italians: 15% - Spanish: 8% - Germans: 6% - Lebanese: 4% - Syrians: 2% - Palestinians: 0.4 - Poles: 0.7% - Japanese: 0.7%
The official language in Brazil is Portuguese and there are native languages that Indian tribes still use to communicate. Besides the Portuguese language, European minorities in the south of the country use their original languages to communicate as a way of preserving their culture and traditions as well as teaching them to new generations.
Brazil's transportation system is limited to land roads that reach the north and south of the country. The country is also characterized by poor use of rail transport, with most of goods and products being transported by truck via road. The Brazilian citizen also depends on air transport across the country's wide geographical area.
Football is the most important sport in Brazil. The Brazilian national team is one of the strongest teams in the world and has been crowned world champion on five occasions. Other sports are of great interest in Brazil such as volleyball, basketball, athletics, indoor football and others.
Brazil has hosted numerous international sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup in 1950 and 2014 and also hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, 2016.
Brazilian States and capitals:
Acre – Rio Branco
Amapá – Macapá
Amazonas – Manaus
Pará – Belém
Rondônia – Porto Velho
Roraima – Boa Vista
Tocantins – Palmas
Alagoas – Maceió
Bahia – Salvador
Ceará – Fortaleza
Maranhão – São Luís
Paraíba – João Pessoa
Pernambuco – Recife
Piauí – Teresina
Rio Grande do Norte – Natal
Sergipe – Aracaju
Distrito Federal – Brasília
Goiás – Goiânia
Mato Grosso – Cuiabá
Mato Grosso do Sul – Campo Grande
Espírito Santo – Vitória
Minas Gerais – Belo Horizonte
Rio de Janeiro – Rio de Janeiro
São Paulo – São Paulo
Paraná – Curitiba
Rio Grande do Sul – Porto Alegre
Santa Catarina – Florianópolis