Discovering Brazil


With an area of 8,514,876 km2, Brazil is the largest South American country and the fifth-largest in the world. Bordered by the South Atlantic Ocean to the east, it stretches deep into South America and encompasses the entire Amazon Basin, and boasts beaches, wetlands, and mountainous regions as well. Brazil shares a border with every other South American country except Chile and Ecuador. The capital of Brazil is Brasilia, while Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo are the most popular destinations for those visiting Brazil.


Brazil is the fifth-most populated country in the world with more than 207 million inhabitants in 2016. The official language of Brazil is Portuguese. English, Spanish, German, and French are also spoken by many. Brazil is quite diverse racially and ethnically, and varies considerably by region, and Brazilians themselves are quite accepting of visitors and expats regardless of their ethnicity or country of origin. Since 2010, Brazil's constitution has prohibited discrimination for any reason, including sex, age, colour, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or national origin. In fact, under Article 140 of the 2010 law, it is illegal to refer to someone's race, colour, sexual orientation, etc. in a derogatory fashion.


After experiencing a boom from 2009 to about 2014, Brazil's economy has stumbled more recently. However, the country still has the eighth-largest economy in the world with a projected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US $ 2.1 trillion in 2017. There are signs of recovery, as the government is taking steps to control expenditures and reduce long-term obligations. Brazil's economy is mainly based on commercial agriculture, industry, mining, and oil resources. Brazil also exports naval and aviation products, electrical equipment, ethanol, and textiles. Real estate is a major economic component in some areas.


Brazil is a Federal Republic with a presidential system. The country is divided into 26 states and a federal district. The current constitution was inaugurated in 1988. The federal government structure in many ways mirrors that of the US. The Legislative Branch is composed of a lower house, the Camera dos Deputados (equivalent to the House of Representatives), with 513 seats, and an upper house, the Senado (Senate), with 81 members. The Executive Branch is led by a President and Vice-President who are elected for four-year terms. When Dilma Rousseff was removed from office in 2016, Vice-President Michel Temer succeeded her and is the current President, serving until the end of 2018.


Most of the country lies in the southern hemisphere. Hence its seasons are opposite to those in North America and Europe. While much of the country lies in tropical and subtropical latitudes, the climate varies considerably by latitude and altitude. North and northeastern regions are hot throughout the year but experience wet and dry seasons, while more southerly regions have four seasons, and occasionally see freezing temperatures in winter (June-August).

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