All About Brazil
Brazil is the fifth largest country by geographical area in the world with 8,514,876 square kilometers (3,286,488 square miles) and the fifth most populous (183,9 million in 2007).
The country is located in eastern South America. It’s bordered on the north by Guyana, Venezuela, Suriname and French Guiana, on the northwest by Colombia, on the west by Peru and Bolivia, on the southwest by Paraguay and Argentina, on the south by Uruguay and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Its highest point is Neblina Peak with 2,994 m.
The topography is composed basically of plateaus and plains. Plateaus prevail and the Guiana Highlands, on the extreme north, and the Brazilian Highlands, on the central-west, are the most important.
The most significant plains are the Amazon Plain on the north, the Pantanal Plain on the southwest and the Coastal Plain. Brazil has the largest river in the world, the Amazon.
The Amazon Rainforest, which covers the hydrographic basin of the river, is the largest equatorial forest in the world. Brazil has different kinds of vegetation.
The most prominent vegetation includes: the Amazon Rainforest on the north, Cocais Forest on the mid-north, Atlantic Forest from the northeast to the south, Araucarias Forest on the south, Caatinga on the northeast, Cerrado in the center, the Pantanal Complex on the southwest, the fields on the extreme south with scarce spots in some states of the country and coastal vegetation on the east coast.
Brazil – officially the Federative Republic of Brazil – is a presidentialist federative republic formed by the union of 26 federal states, the Federal District and the municipalities.
The power is divided among the Executive Power, the Legislative Power and the Judiciary Power, which are totally independent from each other and carry equal political weight. It has a multi party political system.
The executive power is exerted by a President, who is both head of State and head of government, elected every 4 years.
The current president is Luis Inacio Lula da Silva who is on his second term after reelection in 2006. The legislative power is bicameral, with the Federal Senate, 81 members, and the Chamber of Deputies, 513 members, elected by direct vote for terms of 8 and 4 years, respectively.
The Constitution currently in place was promulgated in 1988. The official language is Portuguese, spoken in almost the entire territory.
Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America and the ninth in the world. The country has a free market and an exporting economy. Brazil has a solid economy, built in recent years. After a credibility crisis suffered by the country in 2002, inflation is under control, exports have risen, and the economy is following a moderate growth path.
The country’s currency, the Real, has become stronger against the dollar since 2004. Despite its macro-economic stability that reduced inflation and interest rates and raised the per capita income, there are still differences between the urban and rural population, the northern and southern states and the poor and the rich. Some challenges for the government include the need of promoting better infrastructure, modernizing the taxation system and the labor laws and reducing income inequality.
Brazil has a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of R$ 2,558 trillion (year of 2007), with a growth of 5.4% in 2007 (IMF). However, the great inequality and poverty affect wealth distribution, generating a per capita income of only R$ 13.515.
The economy has mixed industry and agriculture that are becoming increasingly more dominated by the services sector. Recent administrations expanded the competition in maritime ports, railways, telecommunications, generation of electricity, distribution of natural gas and airports (although the aviation crisis has tormented the country) with the aim of promoting infrastructure improvement.
Brazil began to move towards exports in 2004 and even with a strong Real it reached US$ 160,649 billions (+16,6%) in exports, US$ 120,610 billions (+32%) in imports and a net exports of merchandise of US$ 40,03 billions in 2007. The most important Brazilian products are coffee, oranges, bananas and alcohol production from sugar cane.
It’s a great exporter of vehicles and parts, textiles, minerals and metals. The cement and chemical industries are also very important.
One of Brazil’s positive aspects is its climate, which is almost always very pleasant. The climate is tropical in almost the entire territory, but it’s subtropical and temperate in the southern regions.
In the north and in the seacoast the climate is hotter and humid but in the inlands and higher places, as in cities like Sao Paulo, the climate is more moderate. The extreme south can be very cold. The highest temperatures are in Rio de Janeiro, where it’s colder in July.
Brazil is a religiously diverse country, inclined to tolerance and mobility among religions. The majority of the Brazilian population is Christian (89%), most of them Catholics. The slaves, who came mainly from Africa, brought with them their own religious practices that survived the oppression from the colonialists, giving birth to Afro-Brazilian religions. In the second half of the 19th century Spiritism began to be promoted in Brazil, and now Brazil is the country with the greatest number of spiritists in the world today.
In the last decades, the Protestant religions have grown rapidly in number of adherents, reaching a significant parcel of the population. Likewise, it’s increasing the percentage of those who declare that they are not affiliated with any religion, a group that is exceeded only by the number of nominal Catholics and evangelicals.
Many adherents of the Afro-Brazilian religions, as well as some sympathizers with Spiritism, are also denominated “Catholics” and follow the Catholic Church rituals. This kind of tolerance with syncretism is a historical trait that is peculiar to the religiosity in the country.
In order to be admitted into Brazilian territory, all foreign nationals must carry a passport valid for a minimum of six months from the date of their intended arrival in Brazil (except Argentinean, Chilean, Uruguayan and Paraguayan citizens entering Brazil by land, who need only a photo ID).
Upon arrival, all travelers must present to Customs the form Declaração de Bagagem Acompanhada – DBA (it translates as “Accompanied Baggage Declaration”) duly filled in; the flight attendants always distribute copies of the form during flight. In the Customs area, the foreign traveler must go to the “Goods to Declare” desk whenever his or her baggage includes:
– animals, plants, seeds, foodstuffs and medications subject to health inspection, weapons and ammunition;
– other goods, when the traveler wishes get proof of their admittance into Brazil;
– goods subject to the regime of temporary importation, when their listing on the DBA is required (for instance, goods worth over US$ 3,000.00);
– goods not considered by Brazilian law as baggage (such as goods brought for commercial or industrial purposes);
– valuables (cash, checks or traveler’s checks) worth over R$ 10,000.00 (or equivalent in foreign currency).
The foreign traveler may also be required to present an International Immunization Certificate upon arrival in Brazil. The National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) requires travelers to present a Yellow Fever International Immunization Certificate when they are coming from or have called at the following countries:
– Burkina Faso
– Democratic Rep. of Congo
– Sierra Leone
FROM SOUTH AMERICA
– French Guiana
Source: Consulate General of Brazil in New York