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Map of Brazil
Introduction Brazil
Following three centuries under the rule of Portugal, Brazil became an independent nation in 1822. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil has overcome more than half a century of military intervention in the governance of the country to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of the interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, Brazil is today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader. Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing problem.
Geography Brazil
Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean
Geographic coordinates:
10 00 S, 55 00 W
Map references:
South America
total: 8,511,965 sq km
land: 8,456,510 sq km
note: includes Arquipelago de Fernando de Noronha, Atol das Rocas, Ilha da Trindade, Ilhas Martin Vaz, and Penedos de Sao Pedro e Sao Paulo
water: 55,455 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than the US
Land boundaries:
total: 14,691 km
border countries: Argentina 1,224 km, Bolivia 3,400 km, Colombia 1,643 km, French Guiana 673 km, Guyana 1,119 km, Paraguay 1,290 km, Peru 1,560 km, Suriname 597 km, Uruguay 985 km, Venezuela 2,200 km
7,491 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
mostly tropical, but temperate in south
mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north; some plains, hills, mountains, and narrow coastal belt
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pico da Neblina 3,014 m
Natural resources:
bauxite, gold, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, platinum, tin, uranium, petroleum, hydropower, timber
Land use:
arable land: 6.3%
permanent crops: 1.42%
other: 92.28% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
26,560 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
recurring droughts in northeast; floods and occasional frost in south
Environment - current issues:
deforestation in Amazon Basin destroys the habitat and endangers a multitude of plant and animal species indigenous to the area; there is a lucrative illegal wildlife trade; air and water pollution in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and several other large cities; land degradation and water pollution caused by improper mining activities; wetland degradation; severe oil spills
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
largest country in South America; shares common boundaries with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador
People Brazil
note: Brazil took an intercensal count in August 1996 which reported a population of 157,079,573; that figure was about 5% lower than projections by the US Census Bureau, which is close to the implied underenumeration of 4.6% for the 1991 census; estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 28% (male 25,140,954; female 24,199,276)
15-64 years: 66.4% (male 57,424,151; female 59,409,928)
65 years and over: 5.6% (male 3,992,017; female 5,863,234) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.87% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
18.08 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
9.32 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
35.87 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 63.55 years
female: 67.91 years (2002 est.)
male: 59.4 years
Total fertility rate:
2.05 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.57% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
540,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
18,000 (1999 est.)
noun: Brazilian(s)
adjective: Brazilian
Ethnic groups:
white (includes Portuguese, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish) 55%, mixed white and black 38%, black 6%, other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian) 1%
Roman Catholic (nominal) 80%
Portuguese (official), Spanish, English, French
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.3%
male: 83.3%
female: 83.2% (1995 est.)
Government Brazil
Country name:
conventional long form: Federative Republic of Brazil
conventional short form: Brazil
local short form: Brasil
local long form: Republica Federativa do Brasil
Government type:
federative republic
Administrative divisions:
26 states (estados, singular - estado) and 1 federal district* (distrito federal); Acre, Alagoas, Amapa, Amazonas, Bahia, Ceara, Distrito Federal*, Espirito Santo, Goias, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Para, Paraiba, Parana, Pernambuco, Piaui, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Rondonia, Roraima, Santa Catarina, Sao Paulo, Sergipe, Tocantins
7 September 1822 (from Portugal)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 7 September (1822)
5 October 1988
Legal system:
based on Roman codes; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
voluntary between 16 and 18 years of age and over 70; compulsory over 18 and under 70 years of age
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Luiz Ignacio Lula DA SILVA (since 1 January 2003); Vice President Jose ALENCAR (since 1 January 2003); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
election results: in runoff election 27 October 2002, Luiz Ignacio Lula DA SILVA (PT) was elected with 61.3% of the vote; Jose SERRA (PSDB) 38.7%
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held 6 October 2002 (next to be held NA October 2006); runoff election held 27 October 2002
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
head of government: President Luiz Ignacio Lula DA SILVA (since 1 January 2003); Vice President Jose ALENCAR (since 1 January 2003); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Legislative branch:
bicameral National Congress or Congresso Nacional consists of the Federal Senate or Senado Federal (81 seats; three members from each state or federal district 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) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camara dos Deputados (513 seats; members are elected by proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
election results: Federal Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party PMBD 19, PFL 19, PT 14, PSDB 11, PDT 5, PSB 4, PL 3, PTB 3, PPS 1, PSD 1, PPB 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PT 91, PFL 84, PMDB 74, PSDB 71, PPB 49, PL 26, PTB 26, PSB 22, PDT 21, PPS 15, PCdoB 12, PRONA 6, PV 5, other 11
elections: Federal Senate - last held 6 October 2002 for two-thirds of the Senate (next to be held NA October 2006 for one-third of the Senate); Chamber of Deputies - last held 6 October 2002 (next to be held NA October 2006)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Federal Tribunal (11 ministers are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate); Higher Tribunal of Justice; Regional Federal Tribunals (judges are appointed for life)
Political parties and leaders:
Brazilian Democratic Movement Party or PMDB [Michel TEMER, president]; Brazilian Labor Party or PTB [Jose Carlos MARTINEZ, president]; Brazilian Social Democracy Party or PSDB [Senator Jose ANIBAL, president]; Brazilian Socialist Party or PSB [Miguel ARRAES, president]; Brazilian Progressive Party or PPB [Paulo Salim MALUF]; Communist Party of Brazil or PCdoB [Renato RABELLO, chairman]; Democratic Labor Party or PDT [Leonel BRIZOLA, president]; Green Party or PV [leader NA]; Liberal Front Party or PFL [Jorge BORNHAUSEN, president]; Liberal Party or PL [Deputy Valdemar COSTA Neto, president]; National Order Reconstruction Party or PRONA [Dr. Eneas CARNEIRO]; Popular Socialist Party or PPS [Senator Roberto FREIRE, president]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [leader NA]; Worker's Party or PT [Jose GENOINO, president]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
left wing of the Catholic Church; Landless Worker's Movement; labor unions allied to leftist Worker's Party
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Rubens Antonio BARBOSA
FAX: [1] (202) 238-2827
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco
chancery: 3006 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 238-2700
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Donna J. HRINAK
embassy: Avenida das Nacoes, Quadra 801, Lote 3, Distrito Federal Cep 70403-900, Brasilia
mailing address: Unit 3500, APO AA 34030
telephone: [55] (61) 312-7000
FAX: [55] (61) 225-9136
consulate(s) general: Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo
consulate(s): Recife
Flag description:
green with a large yellow diamond in the center bearing a blue celestial globe with 27 white five-pointed stars (one for each state and the Federal District) arranged in the same pattern as the night sky over Brazil; the globe has a white equatorial band with the motto ORDEM E PROGRESSO (Order and Progress)
Economy Brazil
Economy - overview:
Possessing large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, Brazil's economy outweighs that of all other South American countries and is expanding its presence in world markets. The maintenance of large current account deficits via capital account surpluses became problematic as investors became more risk averse to emerging market exposure as a consequence of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the Russian bond default in August 1998. After crafting a fiscal adjustment program and pledging progress on structural reform, Brazil received a $41.5 billion IMF-led international support program in November 1998. 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 and the hiking of interest rates by the Central Bank to combat inflationary pressures. Investor confidence was strong at yearend 2001, in part because of the strong recovery in the trade balance.
purchasing power parity - $1.34 trillion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.9% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $7,400 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 9%
industry: 32%
services: 59% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
22% (1998 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 47% (1997) (1997)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
59 (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7.7% (2001) (2001)
Labor force:
79 million (1999 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 53%, agriculture 23%, industry 24%
Unemployment rate:
6.4% (2001 est.)
revenues: $100.6 billion
expenditures: $91.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000) (2000)
textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, other machinery and equipment
Industrial production growth rate:
1% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
342.3 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 6%
other: 4% (2000)
hydro: 89%
nuclear: 1%
Electricity - consumption:
360.64 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
42.3 billion kWh
note: supplied by Paraguay (2000)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus; beef
$57.8 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
manufactures, iron ore, soybeans, footwear, coffee, autos
Exports - partners:
US 24.4%, Argentina 11.2%, Germany 8.7%, Japan 5.5%, Italy 3.9%, Netherlands (2001)
$57.7 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, chemical products, oil, electricity, autos and auto parts
Imports - partners:
US 23.2%, Argentina 11.2%, Germany 8.7%, Japan 5.5%, Italy 3.9% (2001)
Debt - external:
$251 billion (2001) (2001)
Economic aid - recipient:
real (BRL)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
reals per US dollar - 2.378 (January 2002), 2.358 (2001), 1.830 (2000), 1.815 (1999), 1.161 (1998), 1.078 (1997)
note: from October 1994 through 14 January 1999, the official rate was determined by a managed float; since 15 January 1999, the official rate floats independently with respect to the US dollar
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Brazil
Telephones - main lines in use:
17.039 million (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
4.4 million (1997)
Telephone system:
general assessment: good working system
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay system and a domestic satellite system with 64 earth stations
international: 3 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean region east), connected by microwave relay system to Mercosur Brazilsat B3 satellite earth station
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1,365, FM 296, shortwave 161 (of which 91 are collocated with AM stations) (1999)
71 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
138 (1997)
36.5 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
50 (2000)
Internet users:
13.98 million (2002)
Transportation Brazil
broad gauge: 5,679 km 1.600-m gauge (1,199 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 24,666 km 1.000-m gauge (930 km electrified)
dual gauge: 336 km 1.000-m and 1.600-m gauges (three rails)
standard gauge: 194 km 1.440-m gauge
note: in addition to the interurban routes itemized above, Brazil has 247.8 km of suburban railway consisting of 170.8 km of 1.600-m gauge (75 km electrified) and 77 km of 1.000-m gauge (1999 est.)
total: 1.98 million km
paved: 184,140 km
unpaved: 1,795,860 km (1996)
50,000 km
crude oil 2,980 km; petroleum products 4,762 km; natural gas 4,246 km (1998)
Ports and harbors:
Belem, Fortaleza, Ilheus, Imbituba, Manaus, Paranagua, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande, Salvador, Santos, Vitoria
Merchant marine:
total: 165 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 3,662,570 GRT/5,875,933 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Chile 2, Germany 6, Greece 1, Monaco 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 32, cargo 25, chemical tanker 5, combination ore/oil 9, container 12, liquefied gas 11, multi-functional large-load carrier 1, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 54, roll on/roll off 10, short-sea passenger 1
3,365 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 665
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 23
1,524 to 2,437 m: 155
914 to 1,523 m: 435
under 914 m: 45 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 2,925 2,738
1,524 to 2,437 m: 72
914 to 1,523 m: 1,316
under 914 m: 70 1,350 (2002)
Military Brazil
Military branches:
Brazilian Army, Brazilian Navy (includes naval air and marines), Brazilian Air Force, Federal Police (paramilitary)
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 48,859,610 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 32,743,504 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 1,762,740 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$13.408 billion (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.9% (FY99)
Transnational Issues Brazil
Disputes - international:
uncontested dispute with Uruguay over islands in the Rio Quarai (Rio Cuareim) and the Arroio Invernada (Arroyo de la Invernada)
Illicit drugs:
illicit producer of cannabis; minor coca cultivation in the Amazon region, used for domestic consumption; government has a large-scale eradication program to control cannabis; important transshipment country for Colombian and Peruvian cocaine headed for the US and Europe; also used by traffickers as a way station for narcotics air transshipments between Peru and Colombia; upsurge in drug-related violence and weapons smuggling; important market for Colombian, Bolivian, and Peruvian cocaine; illicit narcotics proceeds earned in Brazil are often laundered through the financial system; significant illicit financial activity in the Tri-Border Area

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003