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Following three centuries under the rule of Portugal, Brazil became an independent nation in 1822 and a republic in 1889. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil overcame more than half a century of military intervention in the governance of the country when in 1985 the military regime peacefully ceded power to civilian rulers. Brazil continues to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of its interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, it is today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader. Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing problem.


Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean

Geographic coordinates:

10 00 S, 55 00 W


total: 8,511,965 sq km
land: 8,456,510 sq km
water: 55,455 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

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:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin


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: 6.93%
permanent crops: 0.89%
other: 92.18% (2005)

Irrigated land:

29,200 sq km (2003)

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

Geography - note:

largest country in South America; shares common boundaries with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador


note: Brazil conducted a census in August 2000, which reported a population of 169,799,170; that figure was about 3.3% lower than projections by the US Census Bureau, and 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 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 25.8% (male 24,687,656/female 23,742,998)
15-64 years: 68.1% (male 63,548,331/female 64,617,539)
65 years and over: 6.1% (male 4,712,675/female 6,769,028) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 28.2 years
male: 27.5 years
female: 29 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.04% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

16.56 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

6.17 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-0.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 28.6 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 32.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 24.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 71.97 years
male: 68.02 years
female: 76.12 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.91 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.7% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

660,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

15,000 (2003 est.)


noun: Brazilian(s)
adjective: Brazilian

Ethnic groups:

white 53.7%, mulatto (mixed white and black) 38.5%, black 6.2%, other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian) 0.9%, unspecified 0.7% (2000 census)


Roman Catholic (nominal) 73.6%, Protestant 15.4%, Spiritualist 1.3%, Bantu/voodoo 0.3%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.2%, none 7.4% (2000 census)


Portuguese (official), Spanish, English, French


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.4%
male: 86.1%
female: 86.6% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Federative Republic of Brazil
conventional short form: Brazil
local long form: Republica Federativa do Brasil
local short form: 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; note - military conscripts do not vote

Legislative branch:

bicameral National Congress or Congresso Nacional consists of the Federal Senate or Senado Federal (81 seats; 3 members from each state and 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)
elections: Federal Senate - last held 6 October 2002 for two-thirds of the Senate (next to be held October 2006 for one-third of the Senate); Chamber of Deputies - last held 6 October 2002 (next to be held October 2006)
election results: Federal Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PMDB 19, PFL 19, PT 14, PSDB 11, PDT 5, PSB 4, PL 3, PTB 3, PPS 1, PSD 1, PP 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PT 91, PFL 84, PMDB 74, PSDB 71, PP 49, PL 26, PTB 26, PSB 22, PDT 21, PPS 15, PCdoB 12, PRONA 6, PV 5, other 11; note - many congressmen have changed party affiliation since the most recent election

Judicial branch:

Supreme Federal Tribunal (11 ministers are appointed for life by the president and confirmed by the Senate); Higher Tribunal of Justice; Regional Federal Tribunals (judges are appointed for life); note - though appointed "for life," judges, like all federal employees, have a mandatory retirement age of 70

Economy - overview:

Characterized by 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. From 2001-03 real wages fell and Brazil's economy grew, on average only 2.2% per year, as the country absorbed a series of domestic and international economic shocks. That Brazil absorbed these shocks without financial collapse is a tribute to the resiliency of the Brazilian economy and the economic program put in place by former President CARDOSO and strengthened by President LULA DA SILVA. In 2004, Brazil enjoyed more robust growth that yielded increases in employment and real wages. The three pillars of the economic program are a floating exchange rate, an inflation-targeting regime, and tight fiscal policy, all reinforced by a series of IMF programs. The currency depreciated sharply in 2001 and 2002, which contributed to a dramatic current account adjustment; in 2003 to 2005, Brazil ran record trade surpluses and recorded its first current account surpluses since 1992. Productivity gains - particularly in agriculture - also contributed to the surge in exports, and Brazil in 2005 surpassed the previous year's record export level. While economic management has been good, there remain important economic vulnerabilities. The most significant are debt-related: the government's largely domestic debt increased steadily from 1994 to 2003 - straining government finances - before falling as a percentage of GDP in 2005, while Brazil's foreign debt (a mix of private and public debt) is large in relation to Brazil's small (but growing) export base. Another challenge is maintaining economic growth over a period of time to generate employment and make the government debt burden more manageable.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$1.556 trillion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$619.7 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

2.4% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$8,400 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 10%
industry: 39.4%
services: 50.6% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

90.41 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 20%
industry: 14%
services: 66% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate:

9.9% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

22% (1998 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 0.7%
highest 10%: 31.27% (2002)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

59.7 (2004)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

5.7% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

19.8% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $140.6 billion
expenditures: $172.4 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2004)

Public debt:

50.2% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus; beef


textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, other machinery and equipment

Industrial production growth rate:

4.7% (2005 est.)

Electricity - production:

387.5 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity - consumption:

359.6 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity - exports:

6 million kWh (2004)

Electricity - imports:

37.4 billion kWh; note - supplied by Paraguay (2004)

Oil - production:

2.01 million bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

1.61 million bbl/day (2004)

Oil - proved reserves:

15.12 billion bbl (2005 est.)

Natural gas - production:

15.79 billion cu m (2005 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

21.74 billion cu m (2005 est.)

Natural gas - imports:

5.947 billion cu m (2005 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

240 billion cu m (2005)

Current account balance:

$10.42 billion (2005 est.)


$115.1 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

transport equipment, iron ore, soybeans, footwear, coffee, autos

Exports - partners:

US 20.8%, Argentina 7.5%, Netherlands 6.1%, China 5.6%, Germany 4.1%, Mexico 4% (2004)


$78.02 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery, electrical and transport equipment, chemical products, oil

Imports - partners:

US 18.3%, Argentina 8.9%, Germany 8.1%, China 5.9%, Nigeria 5.6%, Japan 4.6% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$69.28 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$211.4 billion (30 June 2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$30 billion (2002)

Currency (code):

real (BRL)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

42,382,200 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

65.605 million (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: good working system
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay system and a domestic satellite system with 64 earth stations
international: country code - 55; 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)

Television broadcast stations:

138 (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

4,392,693 (2005)

Internet users:

25.9 million (2005)


4,223 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 709
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 24
1,524 to 2,437 m: 162
914 to 1,523 m: 463
under 914 m: 52 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 3,514
over 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 79
914 to 1,523 m: 1,609
under 914 m: 1,824 (2005)


417 (2005)


condensate/gas 244 km; gas 10,739 km; liquid petroleum gas 341 km; oil 5,212 km; refined products 4,755 km (2004)


total: 29,412 km (1,567 km electrified)
broad gauge: 4,907 km 1.600-m gauge (908 km electrified)
standard gauge: 194 km 1.440-m gauge
narrow gauge: 23,915 km 1.000-m gauge (581 km electrified)
dual gauge: 396 km 1.000 m and 1.600-m gauges (three rails) (78 km electrified) (2004)


total: 1,724,929 km
paved: 94,871 km
unpaved: 1,630,058 km (2000)


50,000 km (most in areas remote from industry and population) (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 140 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,253,902 GRT/3,473,166 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 23, cargo 23, chemical tanker 8, container 8, liquefied gas 12, passenger/cargo 12, petroleum tanker 46, roll on/roll off 8
foreign-owned: 17 (Chile 1, Germany 7, Norway 2, Spain 6, UK 1)
registered in other countries: 7 (Ghana 1, Liberia 4, Panama 2) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Gebig, Itaqui, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande, San Sebasttiao, Santos, Sepetiba Terminal, Tubarao, Vitoria

Military branches:

Brazilian Army, Brazilian Navy (Marinha do Brasil (MB), includes Naval Air and Marine Corps (Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais)), Brazilian Air Force (Forca Aerea Brasileira, FAB) (2006)

Disputes - international:

unruly region at convergence of Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay borders is locus of money laundering, smuggling, arms and illegal narcotics trafficking, and fundraising for extremist organizations; uncontested dispute with Uruguay over certain islands in the Quarai/Cuareim and Invernada boundary streams and the resulting tripoint with Argentina; in 2004 Brazil submitted its claims to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to extend its maritime continental margin

Illicit drugs:

illicit producer of cannabis; trace amounts of coca cultivation in the Amazon region, used for domestic consumption; government has a large-scale eradication program to control cannabis; important transshipment country for Bolivian, Colombian, and Peruvian cocaine headed for 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