Nation at a Glance - Brazil

History

Following more than three centuries under Portuguese rule, Brazil gained its independence in 1822, maintaining a monarchical system of government until the abolition of slavery in 1888 and the subsequent proclamation of a republic by the military in 1889. Brazilian coffee exporters politically dominated the country until populist leader Getulio VARGAS rose to power in 1930. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil underwent more than a half century of populist and military government until 1985, when the military regime peacefully ceded power to civilian rulers. Brazil continues to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of its interior. Having successfully weathered a period of global financial difficulty in the late 20th century, Brazil was seen as one of the world’s strongest emerging markets and a contributor to global growth. The awarding of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the first ever to be held in South America, was seen as symbolic of the country’s rise. However, since about 2013, Brazil has been plagued by a shrinking economy, growing unemployment, and rising inflation. Political scandal resulted in the impeachment of President Dilma ROUSSEFF in May 2016, a conviction that was upheld by the Senate in August 2016; her vice president, Michel TEMER, will serve as president until 2018, completing her second term.

Location: Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean

Border Countries: Argentina 1,263 km, Bolivia 3,403 km, Colombia 1,790 km, French Guiana 649 km, Guyana 1,308 km, Paraguay 1,371 km, Peru 2,659 km, Suriname 515 km, Uruguay 1,050 km, Venezuela 2,137 km

Total Area: 8,515,770 sq km Land: 8,358,140 sq km Water: 157,630 sq km

Climate: Mostly tropical, but temperate in south

Terrain: Mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north; some plains, hills, mountains, and narrow coastal belt

Natural resources: Bauxite, gold, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, platinum, tin, rare earth elements, uranium, petroleum, hydropower, timber

Land use: Agricultural land: 32.9% arable land 8.6%; permanent crops 0.8%; permanent pasture 23.5% Forest: 61.9% Other: 5.2% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: White 47.7%, Mulatto (mixed white and black) 43.1%, Black 7.6%, Asian 1.1%, Indigenous 0.4% (2010 est.)

Languages: Portuguese (official and most widely spoken language)

Religions: Roman Catholic 64.6%, other Catholic 0.4%, Protestant 22.2% (includes Adventist 6.5%, Assembly of God 2.0%, Christian Congregation of Brazil 1.2%, Universal Kingdom of God 1.0%, other Protestant 11.5%), other Christian 0.7%, Spiritist 2.2%, Other 1.4%, None 8%, Unspecified 0.4% (2010 est.)

Population: 205,823,665 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 92.6%; Male: 92.2%; Female: 92.9% (2015 est.)

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

Economy: Brazil is the eighth-largest economy in the world, but is recovering from a recession in 2015 and 2016 that ranks as the worst in the country’s history. In 2017, Brazil`s GDP grew 1%, inflation fell to historic lows of 2.9%, and the Central Bank lowered benchmark interest rates from 13,75% in 2016 to 7% in 2017. Economic reforms, proposed in 2016, aim to slow the growth of government spending and reduce barriers to foreign investment. Government spending growth pushed public debt to 73.7% of GDP at the end of 2017, up from over 50% in 2012. Policies to strengthen Brazil’s workforce and industrial sector, such as local content requirements, have boosted employment at the expense of investment. Former President Dilma ROUSSEFF was impeached and convicted in August 2016 for moving funds among government budgets; the economy has also been affected by multiple corruption scandals involving private companies and government officials. Sanctions against the firms involved — some of the largest in Brazil — have limited their business opportunities, producing a ripple effect on associated businesses and contractors but creating opportunities for foreign companies to step into what had been a closed market. The following TEMER administration implemented a series of fiscal and structural reforms to restore credibility to government finances. Congress approved legislation in December 2016 to cap public spending, and in mid-2017 passed labor reforms. The government also boosted infrastructure projects, such as oil and natural gas auctions, in part to raise revenues. Brazil is a member of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur), a trade bloc that includes Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay - Venezuela’s membership in the organization was suspended In August 2017. After the Asian and Russian financial crises, Mercosur adopted a protectionist stance to guard against exposure to volatile foreign markets and it currently is negotiating Free Trade Agreements with the European Union and Canada.

Agriculture - products: Coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus; beef

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

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