Brazil Facts

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Location: Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean

Map references: South America, Standard Time Zones of the World

total area 8,511,965 sq km
land area 8,456,510 sq km
comparative area slightly smaller than the US
note includes Arquipelago de Fernando de Noronha, Atol das Rocas, Ilha da Trindade, Ilhas Martin Vaz, and Penedos de Sao Pedro e Sao Paulo

More detailed territorial information from Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. IBGE

Land boundaries: total 14,691 km, Argentina 1,224 km, Bolivia 3,400 km, Colombia 1,643 km, French Guiana 673 km, Guyana 1,119 km, Paraguay 1,290 km, Peru 1,560 km, Suriname5 97 km, Uruguay 985 km, Venezuela 2,200 km

Coastline: 7,491 km

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone 24 nm
continental shelf 200-m depth or to depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone 200 nm
territorial sea 12 nm

International disputes: short section of the boundary with Paraguay, just west of Salto das Sete Quedas (Guaira Falls) on the Rio Parana, is in dispute; two short sections of boundary with Uruguay are in dispute - Arroio Invernada (Arroyo de la Invernada) area of the Rio Quarai (Rio Cuareim) and the islands at the confluence of the Rio Quarai and the Uruguay River

Climate: mostly tropical, but temperate in south

Terrain: mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north; some plains, hills, mountains, and narrow coastal belt

Natural resources: iron ore, manganese, bauxite, nickel, uranium, phosphates, tin, hydropower, gold, platinum, petroleum, ti mber

Land use:
arable land 7%
permanent crops 1%
meadows and pastures 19%
forest and woodland 67%
other 6%

Irrigated land: 27,000 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues deforestation in Amazon Basin; air and water pollution in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and several other large cities; land degradation and water pollution caused by improper mining activities
natural h azards recurring droughts in northeast; floods and occasional frost in south
international agreements party to - Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the S ea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling; signed, but not ratified - Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Tropical Timber

Note: largest country in South America; shares common boundaries with ever y South American country except Chile and Ecuador


Population: 158,739,257 (July 1994 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.28% (1994 est.)
Birth rate: 21.48 births/1,000 population (1994 est.)
Death rate: 8.63 deaths/1,000 population (1994 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1994 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 59.5 deaths/1,000 live births (1994 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population 62.25 years
male 57.41 years
female 67.32 years (1994 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.44 children born/woman (1994 est.)

More detailed population information from Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics

noun Brazilian(s)
adjective Brazilian

Ethnic divisions: Portuguese, Italian, German, Japanese, Amerindian, black 6%, white 55%, mixed 38%, other 1%
Religions: Roman Catholic (nominal) 70%
Languages: Portuguese (official), Spanish, English, French
Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population 81%
male 82%
female 80%

Labor force: 57 million (1989 est.)
by occupation services 42%, agriculture 31%, industry 27%

More Detailed Labor Information from Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics

General Outlook of the People

Brazilians are friendly, warm, and happy people. Above all they are free-spirited and resent being told what to do. Brazilians are gregarious, outgoing, and love to be around people. The hot climate allows them to spend a great deal of time outdoors, often just chatting with friends or watching people. Women should be aware that it is common for Brazilian men to stare at them or make comments as they walk by; women should not respond in any way to such actions. Brazilians can be very opinionated, and the vigor with which they argue for their convictions often leads foreigners to believe that they are angry. Visitors should not be offended by such behavior. Brazilians tend to view time more as a sequence of events rather than hours, minutes, and seconds. For this reason they may appear to have an extremely casual attitude about time.

Excerpt adapted from Jaime Sichman


Political Institutions

Foreign Policy

conventional long form Federative Republic of Brazil
conventional short form Brazil
local long form Republica Federativa do Brasil local short form Brasil

Digraph: BR

Type: federal republic

Capital: Brasilia

Administrative divisions: 26 states (estados, singular - estado) and 1 federal district* (distrito federal); Acre, Alagoas, Amapa, Amazonas, Bahia, Ceara, Distrito Federal*, Espirito Santo, Goias, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Para, Paraiba, Parana , Pernambuco , Piaui, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Rondonia, Roraima, Santa Catarina, Sao Paulo, Sergipe, Tocantins

(See the each of the State flags.)

Independence: 7 September 1822 (from Portugal)
National holiday: Independence Day, 7 September (1822)
Constitution: 5 October 1988
Legal system: based on Roman codes; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: voluntary between 16 and 18 years of age and over 70; compulsory over 18 and under 70 years of age

Executive branch:
chief of state and head of government President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (since 1 January 1995); election last held October 1994; results - Fernando Henrique Cardoso 54%, Luis Inacio LULA da Silva 24%; Others 22%; Itamar Franco was the previous President
cabinet Cabinet; appointed by the president

Legislative branch: bicameral National Congress (Congresso Nacional)

  • Federal Senate (Senado Federal) Results of the 1994 Elections will be posted at a later date. Prior to that elections were last held 3 October 1990 ; results 1990 - percent of vote by party PMBD 33%, PFL 16%, PSDB 12%, PDS 4%, PDT 6%, PT 1%, other 28%; seats - (81 total as of 3 February 1991) PMDB 27, PFL 15, PSDB 10, PTB 8, PDT 5, other 16
    Chamber of Deputies (Camara dos Deputados) election last held 3 October 1990 (next to be held October 1994); results - PMDB 21%, PFL 17%, PDT 9%, PDS 8%, PRN 7.9%, PTB 7%, PT 7%, other 23.1%; seats - (503 total as of 3 February 1991) PMDB 108, PFL 87, PDT 46, PDS 43, PRN 40, PTB 35, PT 35, other 109

    Judicial branch: Supreme Federal Tribunal

    Political parties and leaders: National Reconstruction Party (PRN), Daniel TOURINHO, president; Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), Luiz HENRIQUE da Silveira, preside nt; Liberal Front Party (PFL), Jorge BORNHAUSEN, president; Workers' Party (PT), Luis Inacio LULA da Silva, president; Brazilian Workers' Party (PTB), Rodrigues PALMA, president; Democratic Workers' Party (PDT), Leonel BRIZOLA, president; Progressive Rene wal Party (PPR), Paulo MALUF, president; Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), Tasso JEREISSATI, president; Popular Socialist Party (PPS), Roberto FREIRE, president; Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), Joao AMAZONAS, secretary general; Liberal Party (PL ), Flavio ROCHA, president

    Other political or pressure groups: left wing of the Catholic Church and labor unions allied to leftist Workers' Party are critical of government's social and economic policies


    Diplomatic representation in US:
    chief of mission Ambassador Paulo Tarso FLECHA de LIMA
    ch ancery 3006 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone (202) 745-2700
    FAX (202) 745-2827
    consulate(s) general Boston, Chicago, Hong Kong (Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands), Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Juan (Puerto Rico)
    consulate(s) Houston and San Francisco

    US diplomatic representation:
    chief of mission Ambassador Melvyn LEVITSKY
    embassy Avenida das Nacoes, Lote 3, Bra si lia, Distrito Federal
    mailing address APO AA 34030
    telephone [55] (61) 321-7272
    FAX [55] (61) 225-9136
    consulate(s) general Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo
    consulate(s) Porto Alegre, Recife

    Flag: green with a large yellow diamond in the center bearing a blue celestial globe with 27 white five-pointed stars (one for each state and district) arranged in the same pattern as the night sky over Brazil; the globe has a white equatorial band with the motto ORDEM E PROGRESSO (Order and Progress)


    Overview: The economy, with large agrarian, mining, and manufacturing sectors, entered the 1990s with declining real growth, runaway inflation, an unserviceable foreign debt of $122 billion, and a lack of policy direction. In addition, the economy remained highly regulated, inward-looking, and protected by substantial trade and investment barriers. Ownership of major industrial and mining facilities is divided among private interests - including several multinationals - and the government. Most large agricultural holdings are private, with the government channeling financing to this sector. Conflicts between large landholders and landless peasants have produced intermittent violence. The COLLOR government, which assumed office in March 1990, launched an ambitious reform program that sought to modernize and reinvigorate the economy by stabilizing prices, deregulating the economy, and opening it to i n creased foreign competition. The government also obtained an IMF standby loan in January 1992 and reached agreements with commercial bankers on the repayment of interest arrears and on the reduction of debt and debt service payments. Galloping inflation ( the rate doubled in 1992 and by March 1994 had risen to 42% per month) continues to undermine economic stability. Itamar FRANCO, who assumed the presidency following President COLLOR'S resignation in December 1992, was out of step with COLLOR'S reform age nda; initiatives to redress fiscal problems, privatize state enterprises, and liberalize trade and investment policies are gaining momentum under the new administration of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Brazil's natural resources remain a major, long-term economic strength. Inflation in 1995 is forecasted to be around 30%.

    National product: GDP - purchasing power equivalent - $1.04 trillion (1997 est.)
    National product real growth rate: 2-3% (1998)
    National product per capita: $6,300 (1997 est.)
    Inflation rate (consumer prices):5% (1997 est)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 13%
    industry: 38%
    services: 49% (1995)

    Inflation rate—consumer price index: 4.8% (1997)

    Labor force:
    total: 57 million (1989 est.)
    by occupation: services 42%, agriculture 31%, industry 27%

    Unemployment rate: 7% (1997 est.)

    revenues: $87.5 billion
    expenditures: $96 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1996)

    Industries: textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, other machinery and equipment

    Industrial production growth rate: 4.5% (1997 est.)

    Electricity—capacity: 57.64 million kW (1995)

    Electricity—production: 264.895 billion kWh (1995)
    note: imported about 36.95 billion kWh of electricity from Paraguay

    Electricity—consumption per capita: 1,878 kWh (1995)

    Agriculture—products: coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus; beef

    total value: $53 billion (f.o.b., 1997)
    commodities: iron ore, soybean bran, orange juice, footwear, coffee, motor vehicle parts
    partners: EU 28%, Latin America 23%, US 20%, Argentina 12% (1996)

    total value: $61.4 billion (f.o.b., 1997)
    commodities: crude oil, capital goods, chemical products, foodstuffs, coal
    partners: EU 26%, US 22%, Argentina 13%, Japan 5% (1996)

    Debt—external: $192.9 billion (December 1997) crude oil, capital goods, chemical products, foodstuffs, coal
    partners US 23.3%, EC 22.5%, Middle East 13.0%, Latin America 11.8%, Japan 6.5% (1993)

    External debt: $119 billion (1993)

    Industrial production: growth rate 9.5% (1993); accounts for 39% of GDP

    capacity 63,765,000 kW
    production 242.184 billion kWh
    consumption per capita 1,531 kWh (1992)

    Industries: textiles and o ther consumer goods, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, steel, motor vehicles and auto parts, metalworking, capital goods, tin

    Agriculture: accounts for 11% of GDP; world's largest producer and exporter of coffee and orange juice conc entrate and second-largest exporter of soybeans; other products - rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, beef; self-sufficient in food, except for wheat

    Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis and coca, mostly for domestic consumption; governm ent has a modest eradication program to control cannabis and coca cultivation; important transshipment country for Bolivian and Colombian cocaine headed for the US and Europe

    Economic aid:
    recipient US commitments, including E x-Im (FY70-89), $2.5 billion; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $10.2 million; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $284 million; former Communist countries (1970-89), $1.3 billion

    Currency: 1 real (R$) = 100 centavos
    Exchange rates: CR$ per US$1 - 0.90 (May 95)


    Railroads: 30,133 km total; 24,690 km 1.000-meter gauge, 5,120 km 1.600-meter gauge, 310 km mixed 1.600-1.000-meter gauge, 13 km 0.760-meter gauge; 2,150 km electrified

    total 1,670,148 km
    paved 161,503 km
    unpaved gravel/earth 1,508,645 km (1990)

    Inland waterwa ys: 50,000 km navigable

    Pipelines: crude oil 2,000 km; petroleum products 3,804 km; natural gas 1,095 km

    Ports: Belem, Fortaleza, Ilheus, Manaus, Paranagua, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande,Salvador, Santos

    Merchant marine: 220 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 5,139,176 GRT/8,695,682 DWT, bulk 53, cargo 40, chemical tanker 14, combination ore/oil 12, container 11, liquified gas 11, oil tanker 62, passenger-cargo 5, refrigerated car go 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 11
    note in addition, 1 naval tanker is sometimes used commercially

    total 3,581
    usable 3,024
    with permanent-surface runways 436
    with runw ays over 3,659 m 2
    with runways 2,440-3,659 m 22
    with runways 1,220-2,439 m 598

    Telecommunications: good system; extensive microwave radio relay facilities; 9.86 million telephones; broadcast stations - THousands of AM/FM and TV stations, shortwave; 3 coaxial submarine cables, 3 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth stations and 64 domestic satellite earth stations

    Defense Forces

    Branches: Brazilian Army, Navy of Brazil (including Marines), Brazilian Air Force, Military Police (paramilitary)

    Manpower availability: males age 15-49 43,489,704; fit for military service 29,286,530; reach military age (18) annually 1,674,930 (1994 est.)

    Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $1.1 billion, 3% of GDP (1990)

    Source: CIA Factbook 1994 with modifications.

    [Count] accesses October 10, 1995.