Official Name: Republica Federativa do Brasil (Federative Republic of Brazil)
Capital:Brasília Population:191,908,598 (2008)
Size: Brazil is the world’s fifth biggest country. It covers an area much larger than Western Europe and is slightly bigger than the United States excluding Alaska
Language: Portuguese. Brazil was discovered by the Portuguese explorer Pedro Alves Cabral on April 22, 1500.
Religion: Roman Catholic (74%), Protestant 15%, Spiritualist 1%, none 7% (2000)
Life expectancy: 69 years (men), 76 years (women)
Economy: Brazil has the 9th biggest economy in the world in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) derived from purchasing power parity (PPP) calculations.
Leading exporter of iron, coffee, soy beans, orange, juice, beef, chicken, sugar and ethanol; 10th largest petroleum reserve.
Agro Power: Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of sugar, coffee, orange juice, soya, beef, tobacco and chicken. In terms of agriculture the Financial Times describes the country as “a powerhouse whose size and efficiency few competitors can match”.
Major trading partners: U.S., Argentina, China, Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria, Japan (2005).
People: Brazil is the world’s 5th most populous country after China, India, the United States and Indonesia. The population is growing by approximately 1% per year, a lower rate than in most other developing countries.
More than 80% of Brazilians live in urban areas. São Paulo is the biggest and most populous city in South America, with a population of 11 million, and the adjacent metropolitan area has a total population of around 18 million. According to the UN World Urbanization Prospects report (2007) the São Paulo metropolitan area is the fifth most populous urban agglomeration in the world, after Tokyo, New York, Mexico City and Mumbai.
Bio ressources: It is estimated that Brazil contains greater biodiversity than any other country on Earth. The rivers of the Amazon region, for example, are home to more than 1,500 different species of fish.
The Amazon river, most of which lies inside Brazil, could be the longest in the world. Some scientists argue that the true source of the Amazon is a place in southern Peru, not in the north as previously thought, in which case it would have a total length of 4,225 miles, about 90 miles longer than the Nile.
Brazil’s Aids programme is widely seen as a model for other developing countries. In the early 1990s the World Bank predicted that in 2000 the number of Brazilians with HIV would be 1.2 million and rising. The current number, however, is around 630,000. The government puts great emphasis on prevention, with education and publicity campaigns actively and openly promoting safe sex among high-risk and vulnerable groups. Brazil was also the first developing country to commit to providing free anti-retroviral medicines to people with HIV.
The first person to make an ‘unassisted’ flight in an aircraft (i.e. a heavier-than-air machine, not a balloon) was the Brazilian Albert Santos-Dumont, who piloted the 14 Bis over a distance of about 60 metres, at the modest altitude of 2-3 metres, in Paris on 23 October 1906. The Wright brothers had flown a similar distance in the United States in December 1903, but in order to become airborne their machine required launch rails and a catapult.