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Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil, IPA: ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: República Federativa do Brasil, About this sound listen (help·info)), is the largest country in both South America and the Latin American region. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population. It is the largest Lusophone country in the world, and the only one in the Americas.

  • Geographical data

    • Brazil occupies a large area along the eastern coast of South America and includes much of the continent's interior, sharing land borders with Uruguay to the south; Argentina and Paraguay to the southwest; Bolivia and Peru to the west; Colombia to the northwest; and Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and the French overseas department of French Guiana to the north. It shares a border with every country in South America except for Ecuador and Chile. It also encompasses a number of oceanic archipelagos, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz. Its size, relief, climate, and natural resources make Brazil geographically diverse. Including its Atlantic islands, Brazil lies between latitudes 6°N and 34°S, and longitudes 28° and 74°W.

      Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, and third largest in the Americas, with a total area of 8,514,876.599 km2 (3,287,612 sq mi), including 55,455 km2 (21,411 sq mi) of water. It spans three time zones; from UTC-4 in the western states, to UTC-3 in the eastern states (and the official time of Brazil) and UTC-2 in the Atlantic islands. Brazil is the only country in the world that lies on the equator while having contiguous territory outside the tropics. Brazilian topography is also diverse and includes hills, mountains, plains, highlands, and scrublands. Much of the terrain lies between 200 metres (660 ft) and 800 metres (2,600 ft) in elevation. The main upland area occupies most of the southern half of the country. The northwestern parts of the plateau consist of broad, rolling terrain broken by low, rounded hills.

      The southeastern section is more rugged, with a complex mass of ridges and mountain ranges reaching elevations of up to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft). These ranges include the Mantiqueira and Espinhaço mountains and the Serra do Mar. In the north, the Guiana Highlands form a major drainage divide, separating rivers that flow south into the Amazon Basin from rivers that empty into the Orinoco River system, in Venezuela, to the north. The highest point in Brazil is the Pico da Neblina at 2,994 metres (9,823 ft), and the lowest is the Atlantic Ocean.

      Brazil has a dense and complex system of rivers, one of the world's most extensive, with eight major drainage basins, all of which drain into the Atlantic. Major rivers include the Amazon (the world's second-longest river and the largest in terms of volume of water), the Paraná and its major tributary the Iguaçu (which includes the Iguazu Falls), the Negro, São Francisco, Xingu, Madeira and Tapajós rivers.

  • Demographics

    • The population of Brazil, as recorded by the 2008 PNAD, was approximately 190 million (22.31 inhabitants per square kilometre or 57.8 /sq mi), with a ratio of men to women of 0.95:1 and 83.75% of the population defined as urban. The population is heavily concentrated in the Southeastern (79.8 million inhabitants) and Northeastern (53.5 million inhabitants) regions, while the two most extensive regions, the Center-West and the North, which together make up 64.12% of the Brazilian territory, have a total of only 29.1 million inhabitants.

      The first census in Brazil was carried out in 1872 and recorded a population of 9,930,478. From 1880 to 1930, 4 million Europeans arrived. Brazil's population increased significantly between 1940 and 1970, because of a decline in the mortality rate, even though the birth rate underwent a slight decline. In the 1940s the annual population growth rate was 2.4%, rising to 3.0% in the 1950s and remaining at 2.9% in the 1960s, as life expectancy rose from 44 to 54 years and to 72.6 years in 2007. It has been steadily falling since the 1960s, from 3.04% per year between 1950 and 1960 to 1.05% in 2008 and is expected to fall to a negative value of –0.29% by 2050 thus completing the demographic transition.

      In 2008, the illiteracy rate was 11.48% and among the youth (ages 15–19) 1.74%. It was highest (20.30%) in the Northeast, which had a large proportion of rural poor. Illiteracy was high (24.18%) among the rural population and lower (9.05%) among the urban population.

  • Administrative divisions

    • Brazil is a federation composed of 26 States, one Federal district (which contains the capital city, Brasília) and Municipalities. States have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a share of taxes collected by the Federal government. They have a governor and a unicameral legislative body elected directly by their voters. They also have independent Courts of Law for common justice. Despite this, states have much less autonomy to create their own laws than in the United States. For example, criminal and civil laws can only be voted by the federal bicameral Congress and are uniform throughout the country.

      The states and the federal district may be grouped into regions: Northern, Northeast, Central-West, Southeast and Southern. The Brazilian regions are merely geographical, not political or administrative divisions, and they do not have any specific form of government. Although defined by law, Brazilian regions are useful mainly for statistical purposes, and also to define the distribution of federal funds in development projects.

      Municipalities, as the states, have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a share of taxes collected by the Union and state government. Each has a mayor and an elected legislative body, but no separate Court of Law. Indeed, a Court of Law organized by the state can encompass many municipalities in a single justice administrative division called comarca (county).

  • Economy

    • Brazil is the largest national economy in Latin America, the world's seventh largest economy at market exchange rates and the seventh largest in purchasing power parity (PPP), according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Brazil has a mixed economy with abundant natural resources. The Brazilian economy has been predicted to become one of the five largest in the world in the decades to come, the GDP per capita following and growing, provided that large investments in productivity gains are made to substitute the GDP growth of the last decade that is attributable to the increase in the number of people working. Its current GDP (PPP) per capita is $11,875 in 2012 putting Brazil in the 77th position according to IMF data. Active in agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors Brazil has a labor force of over a 107 million (ranking 6th worldwide) and unemployment of 6.2% (ranking 64th worldwide).

      The country has been expanding its presence in international financial and commodities markets, and is one of a group of four emerging economies called the BRIC countries. Major export products include aircraft, electrical equipment, automobiles, ethanol, textiles, footwear, iron ore, steel, coffee, orange juice, soybeans and corned beef., and has the fourth largest car market in the world. Adding up, Brazil ranks 23rd worldwide in value of exports.

      Brazil pegged its currency, the real, to the U.S. dollar in 1994. However, after the East Asian financial crisis, the Russian default in 1998 and the series of adverse financial events that followed it, the Central Bank of Brazil temporarily changed its monetary policy to a managed-float scheme while undergoing a currency crisis, until definitively changing the exchange regime to free-float in January 1999.

      Brazil received an International Monetary Fund rescue package in mid-2002 of $30.4 billion, then a record sum. Brazil's central bank paid back the IMF loan in 2005, although it was not due to be repaid until 2006. One of the issues the Central Bank of Brazil recently dealt with was an excess of speculative short-term capital inflows to the country, which may have contributed to a fall in the value of the U.S. dollar against the real during that period. Nonetheless, foreign direct investment (FDI), related to long-term, less speculative investment in production, is estimated to be $193.8 billion for 2007. Inflation monitoring and control currently plays a major part in the Central bank's role of setting out short-term interest rates as a monetary policy measure.

      Between 1993 and 2010, 7012 mergers & acquisitions with a total known value of $707 billion with the involvement of Brazlian firms have been announced. The year 2010 was a new record in terms of value with 115 billion USD of transactions. The largest transaction with involvement of Brazilian companies has been: Cia Vale do Rio Doce acquired Inco in a tender offer valued at US$18.9 billion.

      Corruption costs Brazil almost $41 billion a year alone, with 69.9% of the country's firms identifying the issue as a major constraint in successfully penetrating the global market. Local government corruption is so prevalent that voters only perceive it as a problem if it surpasses certain levels, and only if a local media e.g. a radio station is present to divulge the findings of corruption charges. Initiatives, like this exposure, strengthen awareness which is indicated by the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index; ranking Brazil 69th out of 178 countries in 2012. The purchasing power in Brazil is eroded by the so-called Brazil cost.

  • Culture

    • The core culture of Brazil is derived from Portuguese culture, because of its strong colonial ties with the Portuguese empire. Among other influences, the Portuguese introduced the Portuguese language, Roman Catholicism and colonial architectural styles. The culture was, however, also strongly influenced by African, indigenous and non-Portuguese European cultures and traditions.

      Some aspects of Brazilian culture were influenced by the contributions of Italian, German and other European as well Japanese and Arab immigrants who arrived in large numbers in the South and Southeast of Brazil. The indigenous Amerindians influenced Brazil's language and cuisine; and the Africans influenced language, cuisine, music, dance and religion.

      Brazilian art has developed since the 16th century into different styles that range from Baroque (the dominant style in Brazil until the early 19th century) to Romanticism, Modernism, Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and Abstractionism. Brazilian cinema dates back to the birth of the medium in the late 19th century and has gained a new level of international acclaim since the 1960s.

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