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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 - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to edge of the continental margin
contiguous zone: 24 NM
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, 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 a count 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 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.6% (male 24,915,902; female 23,966,713)
15-64 years: 67.6% (male 61,739,012; female 62,770,480)
65 years and over: 5.8% (male 4,389,659; female 6,319,343) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 27.4 years
male: 26.7 years
female: 28.2 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.11% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
17.25 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
6.14 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 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 (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 30.66 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 26.65 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 34.47 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.41 years
male: 67.45 years
female: 75.57 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.97 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.7% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
610,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
8,400 (2001 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: 86.4%
male: 86.1%
female: 86.6% (2003 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 Inacio "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 Inacio "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 Inacio "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, 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 election
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]; Brazilian Labor Party or PTB [Roberto JEFFERSON]; Brazilian Social Democracy Party or PSDB [Senator Jose SERRA]; Brazilian Socialist Party or PSB [Miguel ARRAES]; Brazilian Progressive Party or PP [Paulo Salim MALUF]; Communist Party of Brazil or PCdoB [Renato RABELO]; Democratic Labor Party or PDT [Leonel BRIZOLA]; Green Party or PV [Jose Luiz DE FRANCA Penna]; Liberal Front Party or PFL [Jorge BORNHAUSEN]; Liberal Party or PL [Deputy Valdemar COSTA Neto]; National Order Reconstruction Party or PRONA [Dr. Eneas CARNEIRO]; Popular Socialist Party or PPS [Senator Roberto FREIRE]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [leader NA]; Worker's Party or PT [Jose GENOINO]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
left wing of the Catholic Church; Landless Worker's Movement; labor unions allied to leftist Workers' Party
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Roberto ABDENUR
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. From 2001-03 real wages fell and Brazil's economy grew, on average, only 1.1% 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. The three pillars of the economic program are a floating exchange rate, an inflation-targeting regime, and tight fiscal policy, which have been 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, Brazil ran a record trade surplus and recorded the first current account surplus since 1992. 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, while Brazil's foreign debt (a mix of private and public debt) is large in relation to Brazil's modest (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.
purchasing power parity - $1.379 trillion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
0.1% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $7,600 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 8.2%
industry: 37.8%
services: 53.9% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
22% (1998 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 0.7%
highest 10%: 48% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
60.7 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
9.3% (2003)
Labor force:
79 million (1999 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 53%, agriculture 23%, industry 24%
Unemployment rate:
12.2% (2003 est.)
revenues: $100.6 billion
expenditures: $91.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000)
textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, other machinery and equipment
Industrial production growth rate:
3.4% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production:
321.2 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 8.3%
hydro: 82.7%
other: 4.6% (2001)
nuclear: 4.4%
Electricity - consumption:
335.9 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
37.19 billion kWh; note - supplied by Paraguay (2001)
Oil - production:
1.561 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
2.199 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Oil - proved reserves:
8.507 billion bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
5.95 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
9.59 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
3.64 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
221.7 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus; beef
$73.28 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
transport equipment, iron ore, soybeans, footwear, coffee, autos
Exports - partners:
US 25.8%, Netherlands 5.3%, Germany 4.2%, China 4.2% (2002)
$48.25 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery, electrical and transport equipment, chemical products, oil
Imports - partners:
US 22.1%, Argentina 10.1%, Germany 9.3%, Japan 5% (2002)
Debt - external:
$223.6 billion (2003)
Economic aid - recipient:
$30 billion IMF disbursement (2002)
real (BRL)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
reals per US dollar - 3.08 (2003), 2.92 (2002), 2.36 (2001), 1.83 (2000), 1.81 (1999)
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:
38.81 million (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
34.881 million (2002)
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)
71 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
138 (1997)
36.5 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
2,237,527 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
50 (2000)
Internet users:
14.3 million (2002)
Transportation Brazil
total: 29,412 km (1,610 km electrified)
broad gauge: 4,907 km 1.600-m gauge (942 km electrified)
standard gauge: 194 km 1.440-m gauge
dual gauge: 396 km 1.000-m and 1.600-m gauges (three rails) (78 km electrified) (2003)
narrow gauge: 23,915 km 1.000-m gauge (581 km electrified)
total: 1,724,929 km
paved: 94,871 km
unpaved: 1,630,058 km (2000)
50,000 km
condensate/gas 243 km; gas 10,984 km; liquid petroleum gas 341 km; oil 5,113 km; refined products 4,800 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Belem, Fortaleza, Ilheus, Imbituba, Manaus, Paranagua, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande, Salvador, Santos, Vitoria
Merchant marine:
total: 151 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 2,961,431 GRT/4,725,267 DWT
by type: bulk 29, cargo 22, chemical tanker 7, combination ore/oil 6, container 12, liquefied gas 12, multi-functional large load carrier 1, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 48, roll on/roll off 8, short-sea/passenger 1
registered in other countries: 11 (2003 est.)
foreign-owned: Chile 2, Germany 7, Monaco 9, Panama 1, Spain 7
3,803 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 677
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 445
under 914 m: 45 (2003 est.)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 157
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 3,126
1,524 to 2,437 m: 75
914 to 1,523 m: 1,434
under 914 m: 1,617 (2003 est.)
417 (2003 est.)
Military Brazil
Military branches:
Brazilian Army, Brazilian Navy (including Naval Air and Marines), Brazilian Air Force (FAB)
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 52,100,042 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 34,799,098 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 1,788,495 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$10,439.4 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.1% (2003)
Transnational Issues Brazil
Disputes - international:
unruly region at convergence of Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay borders is locus of money laundering, smuggling, arms and drug 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
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 Bolivian, Colombian and Peruvian cocaine headed for Europe and the US; 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