Brazil — An overview
A country of continental dimensions, Brazil covers an area of over 8.5 million km2 and is the fifth largest country in the world, occupying almost half of South America's landmass. Its climate ranges widely from region to region. In most of the country there is a pleasant tropical weather all over the year. The lowest average temperature in the South during the winter is +5 degrees Celsius and the highest average in the Eastern coast and in the North Region during the summer is +35.
Discovered by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral in the year 1500, Brazil remained a colony of Portugal for more than three centuries until 1822 when independence was declared and the country became an Empire. The monarchy fell down in 1889, when the political system was turned into a Federative Republic. Brazil counts at present 26 States plus the Federal District which contains the Capital, Brasília. The President of the Republic is Ms. Dilma Rousseff and the National Congress is divided into two Houses: the Chamber of Deputies and Federal Senate.
Immigrants came from several countries (mainly from Italy, Spain, Germany, Lebanon, Russia, Poland, Japan, China) and added their own contribution to the Portuguese, Amerindian and African who composed the population of the country. This melting pot of people from different ethnic origins and nationalities resulted in an authentic and harmonious Brazilian multi-ethnic culture, full of rhythm, colors and flavors. Brazil counts by now 192 million inhabitants.
The country’s economy has a highly productive agricultural sector side by side with modern industries covering a wide range of products from consumer goods, sophisticated fashion, leather, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles and airplanes. Brazilian nominal GDP is US$ 2.1 trillion, with a per capita income of US$ 10,800 (IMF, 04/2011), which makes the country the 8th biggest economy in the world.
Brazil boasts many natural wonders: the Amazon forest, the wetlands of Pantanal, waterfalls like Iguassu, countless beaches on its 7,000 km coastline, and a gorgeous fauna and flora, forming one of the richest biodiversities of the planet. Preserved towns from the gold mining age (XVIIIth Century) compete in beauty and appeal with modern cities like outstanding Rio de Janeiro, gigantic São Paulo, picturesque Salvador and futuristic Brasília.
Portuguese is the only language of Brazil, spoken throughout the whole country.