Brazil Country Facts

Capital city Brazil
Surface 8,514,877 km²
Population 210,147,000
Road network length 1,980,000 km
Length of highway network 11,408 km
First highway 1953
Motorway name Rodovia
Traffic drives Right
License plate code BR

Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil), formally the Federative Republic of Brazil (República Federativa do Brasil), is a large country in South America. The country covers almost half of the South American continent and has an area of ​​8,514,877 square kilometers, making it the fifth largest country in the world. The country has 210 million inhabitants and the capital is Brasília. The largest city is São Paulo.


Brazil occupies eastern and central South America, with land borders with France (French Guiana), Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. Brazil borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile. Brazil is a very large country, measuring 4,300 kilometers from east to west and nearly 4,400 kilometers from north to south. The country has a very long coastline with the Atlantic Ocean. Despite this, Brazil has few offshore islands, except along part of the north coast. The only notable Brazilian island further off the coast is Fernando de Noronha.

Brazil consists for a considerable part of plains and lowlands. The northern part is located in the basin of the Amazon River and consists largely of lowland, jungle and partly deforested jungle. The drop of the Amazon through Brazil is only 60 meters. Major tributaries flow into the Amazon in Brazil. The river has a large estuary and delta in northeastern Brazil. The river is a formidable obstacle, there is not a single bridge over the Amazon and few bridges over the larger tributaries. The largest river in southern Brazil is the Paraná, which flows south to Argentina. In Brazil, this river is largely dammed.

Southeastern Brazil consists of highlands, the Serra do Mar along the coast and barren cerrado elsewhere. The cerrado occupies one-fifth of Brazil’s land area and encompasses the interior of southeastern Brazil. This area is still relatively cultivated and has the character of a savanna. A large part is located at 300 to 1,000 meters above sea level. The highest point of the Brazilian highland is the 2,892 meter high Pico da Bandeira. However, this is not the highest point in Brazil, in the north of the Amazon jungle, several island mountain ranges rise far above the jungle. The 2,995 meter high Pico da Neblina is the highest point of this, and also in all of Brazil.


City Population
Sao Paulo 12,038,000
Rio de Janeiro 6,499,000
Brazil 2,977,000
Salvador 2,938,000
fortaleza 2,610,000
Belo Horizonte 2,513,000
Manaus 2,094,000
Curitiba 1,894,000

Brazil has more than 200 million inhabitants, it is the fifth most populous country in the world. The population is mainly concentrated in the east and south, the population density is low to extremely low in the middle, north and west. Large parts of the Amazon jungle are virtually uninhabited. The largest agglomerations of Brazil are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. Brazil has 17 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants. São Paulo is the largest metropolitan region in South America with more than 21 million inhabitants. It is also the second largest city in the Western Hemisphere.

Due to immigration from Europe, Brazil has a mixed population. The population is 48% white, 44% pardo (mixed) and 7% black. Due to population mixing, two-thirds to three-quarters of the population have European ancestry. In general, the southernmost states are the most white (in Santa Catarina 97%) and the northern and northeastern states the most pardo (45-55%). Most blacks are found in Bahia (16%) and Rio de Janeiro (13%). Most Asians live in the state of São Paulo.

Until 1968, immigrants came from all over Europe, including 2.5 million Portuguese, 1.6 million Italians, 700,000 Spaniards, 350,000 Japanese, 300,000 Russians and 300,000 Lebanese. The Dutch did not migrate to Brazil in large numbers, their number amounted to 45,000 in the period 1884-1968. Some Brazilian cities have a distinctly European culture, with European place names, made Portuguese or not, and European architecture.

Africans came to Brazil as slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries, more than 2 million in total. Slavery was abolished in 1888. Most Africans live in central eastern Brazil, especially in the state of Bahia. The group pardo is a mix of whites, blacks and Indians. Their share is highest in the north and lowest in the south of Brazil.


The BR-101 at Itamarajú in Bahia.

Brazil is the 8th largest economy in the world and the largest in Latin America. The GDP per capita is about $16,000, but it is unevenly distributed. Income inequality is very high in Brazil, with a sizeable middle class living at a European level of prosperity, but also a large underclass. The favelas (slums) in Rio de Janeiro are well known. Unemployment is relatively low and Brazil is an emerging economy. The economy is diverse and based on services, raw materials, industry and agriculture. The currency of Brazil is the real (pl. reais). Corruption is a major problem in Brazil, especially among large companies and local governments.

The landscape of Brazil is dominated by agriculture and the associated export of ethanol as a fuel. However, the agricultural sector has a low output in value and accounts for 5% of the Brazilian economy. Illegal forestry in the Amazon jungle is an ongoing problem. The industrial sector comprises about 31% of the economy. Due to the large internal market, Brazil has a large industrial sector, with a lot of manufacturing industry. The industry is mainly located around the major cities. Much energy in Brazil is renewable, such as hydropower and ethanol. The ethanol program was started in the 1970s and is the largest in the world. In Brazil there are no longer cars that only run on petrol, the proportion of ethanol is usually between 20 and 25%.


In 1500, the Portuguese fleet arrived off the coast of South America and Brazil was claimed by Portugal. Before that, it didn’t exist as an organized country, with Native American tribes controlling small areas. The colonization of Brazil started in 1534 and sugar cane became the main export product. To grow the sugar cane, slaves were taken from Africa en masse by the European settlers. The first European cities arose on and near the coast. The Bandeirantes were famousin the 17th century who moved inland from São Paulo. In the 17th century, other European powers also tried to colonize Brazil, including the Dutch in the northeast of Brazil in the period 1630-1654. In 1822 Brazil declared its independence from Portugal. This was followed by a war of independence that the Portuguese were unable to sustain and in 1825, Brazil’s independence was recognized by Portugal.

In the 19th century, Brazil was a monarchy, a continuation of the Portuguese crown. Pedro I and Pedro II were the emperors of Brazil between 1822 and 1889. In 1889 the monarchy was abolished and Brazil became a republic. The first period as a republic amounted to a military dictatorship, but Brazil was able to resolve border disputes with neighboring countries during this period. Brazil was initially neutral during World War I so that export markets could be preserved. After the sinking of several Brazilian ships by German submarines, Brazil declared war on Germany in 1917 and was the only Latin American country directly involved in the First World War.

The 1920s and 1930s saw continued political unrest in Brazil, with numerous coups d’état. Brazil was a dictatorship under the leadership of Getúlio Vargas from 1937 to 1945. Under his leadership, efforts were made to transform Brazil from an agricultural economy to an industrial power. This period was known as the Estado Novo and was modeled after Mussolini’s Italy. Under Vargas, Brazil took part in World War II on the side of the Allies and sent an expeditionary force to Italy. Vargas had some popularity in Brazil and was re-elected as president in 1951, after not being in power for 6 years. He committed suicide in 1954. After a series of interim governments, Juscelino Kubitschek came to power in 1956, during which the economy and industry grew strongly.Brasilia in the interior. His successor João Goulart was deposed in 1964, after which a military dictatorship was established.

Despite the military dictatorship, Brazil grew strongly in the 1960s and 1970s. As a result, the regime had some popularity in the early 1970s due to economic prosperity. Political repression remained a major problem and from 1979 onwards the country gradually started to democratize. The 1980s were marked by political instability and economic difficulties, which stabilized in the early 1990s. The peaceful transition of power to the new president and opposition leader Lula da Silva in 2002 showed that Brazil had finally achieved political stability. The economy grew strongly for several years, but Brazil had to deal with the financial crisis from 2010 and the ongoing corruption scandals. President Rousseff was impeached by Congress in 2016.


States of Brazil
Acre • Alagoas • Amapá • Amazonas • Bahia • Ceará • Distrito Federal • Espírito Santo • Goiás • Maranhão • Mato Grosso • Mato Grosso do Sul • Minas Gerais • Pará • Paraíba • Paraná • Pernambuco • Piauí • Rio de Janeiro • Rio Grande do Norte • Rio Grande do Sul • Rondonia •Roraima • Santa Catarina • São Paulo • Sergipe • Tocantins


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