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Brazil

720px-Flag_of_Brazil.svg

Brazil is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 190 million people. It is the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas and the largest lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) country in the world.Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of over 7,491 km (4,655 mi). It is bordered on the north by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the French overseas department of French Guiana; on the northwest by Colombia; on the west by Bolivia and Peru; on the southwest by Argentina and Paraguay and on the south by Uruguay. Numerous archipelagos form part of Brazilian territory, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz.It borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile.Brazil was a colony of Portugal from the landing of Pedro ֱlvares Cabral in 1500 until 1815, when it was elevated to United Kingdom with Portugal and Algarves. The colonial bond was in fact broken in 1808, when the capital of the Portuguese Kingdom was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, after Napoleon invaded Portugal.The independence from Portugal was achieved in 1822. Initially independent as the Empire of Brazil, the country has been a republic since 1889, although the bicameral legislature, now called Congress, dates back to 1824, when the first constitution was ratified.Its current Constitution defines Brazil as a Federal Republic.The Federation is formed by the union of the Federal District, the 26 States, and the 5,564 Municipalities.The Brazilian economy is the world's seventh largest economy by nominal GDP and the eighth largest by purchasing power parity.Brazil is one of the world's fastest growing major economies. Economic reforms have given the country new international recognition.Brazil is a founding member of the United Nations, the G20, CPLP, Latin Union, the Organization of Ibero-American States, Mercosul and the Union of South American Nations, and is one of the BRIC countries. Brazil is also home to a diversity of wildlife, natural environments, and extensive natural resources in a variety of protected habitats.

History

The land now called Brazil was claimed by Portugal in April 1500, on the arrival of the Portuguese fleet commanded by Pedro ֱlvares Cabral. The Portuguese encountered stone age natives divided into several tribes, most of whom spoke languages of the Tupi–Guarani family, and fought among themselves.Though the first settlement was founded in 1532, colonization was effectively begun in 1534, when Dom Joדo III divided the territory into twelve hereditary captaincies,but this arrangement proved problematic and in 1549 the king assigned a Governor-General to administer the entire colony.[ The Portuguese assimilated some of the native tribes while others were enslaved or exterminated in long wars or by European diseases to which they had no immunity. By the mid-16th century, sugar had become Brazil's most important export and the Portuguese imported African slavesto cope with the increasing international demand.Through wars against the French, the Portuguese slowly expanded their territory to the southeast, taking Rio de Janeiro in 1567, and to the northwest, taking Sדo Luםs in 1615.They sent military expeditions to the Amazon rainforest and conquered British and Dutch strongholds, founding villages and forts from 1669. In 1680 they reached the far south and founded Sacramento on the bank of the Rio de la Plata, in the Eastern Strip region (present-day Uruguay).At the end of the 17th century, sugar exports started to decline but beginning in the 1690s, the discovery of gold by explorers in the region that would later be called Minas Gerais (General Mines) in current Mato Grosso and Goiבs, saved the colony from imminent collapse.From all over Brazil, as well as from Portugal, thousands of immigrants came to the mines.The Spanish tried to prevent Portuguese expansion into the territory that belonged to them according to the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, and succeeded in conquering the Eastern Strip in 1777. However, this was in vain as the Treaty of San Ildefonso, signed in the same year, confirmed Portuguese sovereignty over all lands proceeding from its territorial expansion, thus creating most of the current Brazilian borders.In 1808, the Portuguese royal family, fleeing the troops of the French Emperor Napoleon I that were invading Portugal and most of Central Europe, established themselves in the city of Rio de Janeiro, which thus became the seat of the entire Portuguese Empire. In 1815 Dom Joדo VI, then regent on behalf of his incapacitated mother, elevated Brazil from colony to sovereign Kingdom united with Portugal.In 1809 the Portuguese invaded French Guiana (which was returned to France in 1817) and in 1816 the Eastern Strip, subsequently renamed Cisplatina (but Brazil lost it in 1828 when it became an independent nation known as Uruguay).
 

Brazilian Independence and Empire of Brazil

King Joדo VI returned to Europe on 26 April 1821, leaving his elder son Prince Pedro de Alcגntara as regent to rule Brazil. The Portuguese government attempted to turn Brazil into a colony once again, thus depriving it of its achievements since 1808. The Brazilians refused to yield and Prince Pedro stood by them declaring the country's independence from Portugal on 7 September 1822. On 12 October 1822, Pedro was declared the first Emperor of Brazil and crowned Dom Pedro I on 1 December 1822. 
 

800px-Independncia_ou_Morte

Declaration of the Brazilian independence by Emperor Pedro I on 7 September 1822.

 
At that time most Brazilians were in favour of a monarchy and republicanism had little support. The subsequent Brazilian War of Independence spread through almost the entire territory, with battles in the northern, northeastern, and southern regions. The last Portuguese soldiers surrendered on 8 March 1824 and independence was recognized by Portugal on 29 August 1825.The first Brazilian constitution was promulgated on 25 March 1824, after its acceptance by the municipal councils across the country.Pedro I abdicated on 7 April 1831 and went to Europe to reclaim his daughter’s crown, leaving behind his five year old son and heir, who was to become Dom Pedro II. As the new emperor could not exert his constitutional prerogatives until he reached maturity, a regency was created.Disputes between political factions led to rebellions and an unstable, almost anarchical, regency. The rebellious factions, however, were not in revolt against the monarchy, even though some declared the secession of the provinces as independent republics, but only so long as Pedro II was a minor.Because of this, Pedro II was prematurely declared of age and "Brazil was to enjoy nearly half a century of internal peace and rapid material progress."Brazil won three international wars during the 58-year reign of Pedro II (the Platine War, the Uruguayan War and the War of the Triple Alliance, which left over 50,000 dead) and witnessed the consolidation of representative democracy, mainly due to successive elections and unrestricted freedom of the press. Most importantly, slavery was extinguished after a slow but steady process that began with the end of the international traffic in slaves in 1850 and ended with the complete abolition of slavery in 1888. The slave population had been in decline since Brazil's independence: in 1823, 29% of the Brazilian population were slaves but by 1887 this had fallen to 5%.When the monarchy was overthrown on 15 November 1889there was little desire in Brazil to change the form of government and Pedro II was at the height of his popularity among his subjects. However, he "bore prime, perhaps sole, responsibility for his own overthrow."After the death of his two sons, Pedro believed that "the imperial regime was destined to end with him."He cared little for the regime's fate and so neither did anything, nor allowed anyone else to do anything, to prevent the military coup, backed by former slave owners who resented the abolition of slavery.

Early republic

Although the beginning of the republican government has been little more than a military dictatorship, the then newly constitution despite its content still held severe restrictions as e.g. about voting rights, provided direct elections for 1894. However, already in 1891, from the unfoldings of the encilhamento bubble and of the 1st naval revolt, the country entered in a prolonged cycle of financial, social and polital instability, that would extend until the 1920s keeping the country plagued by several rebellions, both civilian as military, which little by little undermined the regime in a such extent, that by 1930 it was possible to the defeated presidential candidate Getתlio Vargas, supported by the majority of military, lead a coup d'יtat and assume the presidency.Vargas and the military, who were supposed to assume the government temporarily to implement democratic reforms related to 1891's Constitution, closed the Congress and ruled with emergency powers, replacing the states' governors with their supporters. Under the Claiming of the broken promises of changing, in 1932 the oligarchy of Sדo Paulo tried to regain the power and in 1935 the Communists rebelled, having both been defeated. However, the communist threat served as an excuse for Vargas to preclude elections launching another coup d'יtat in 1937, creating a full dictatorship In May 1938, there was another failed attempt to takeover the power by local fascists.In foreign policy, the success in resolving border disputes with neighboring countries in the early years of this period, was followed by a failed attempt to permanently exert a prominent role in the League of Nations after military involvement in World War I. Notwithstanding, Brazil remained neutral at the beginning of World War II until the Pan-American Conference of January 1942 when Brazil stood alongside the U.S.A. severing diplomatic relations with the Axis powers. In retaliation, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy extended their submarine warfare against Brazil, which led the country to enter the war on the allied side in August of that year.With the allied victory in 1945 and the end of the Nazi-fascist regimes in Europe, Vargas's position became unsustainable and he was swiftly overthrown in another military coup. Democracy was reinstated and General Eurico Gaspar Dutra was elected president taking office in 1946.[ Having returned to power democratically elected at the end of 1950, Vargas committed suicide in August 1954 amid a political crisis.
 

Contemporary era

Several brief interim governments succeeded after Vargas's suicide. Juscelino Kubitscheck became president in 1956 and assumed a conciliatory posture towards the political opposition that allowed him to govern without major crises. The economy and industrial sector grew remarkably but his greatest achievement was the construction of the new capital city of Brasםlia, inaugurated in 1960. His successor was Jגnio Quadros, who resigned in 1961 less than a year after taking office. His vice-president, Joדo Goulart, assumed the presidency, but aroused strong political opposition and was deposed in April 1964 by a coup that resulted in a military regime.The new regime was intended to be transitorybut it gradually closed in on itself and became a full dictatorship with the promulgation of the Fifth Institutional Act in 1968. The repression of the dictatorship's opponents, including urban guerrillas,was harsh, but not as brutal as in other Latin American countries.Due to the extraordinary economic growth, known as an "economic miracle", the regime reached its highest level of popularity in the years of repression.General Ernesto Geisel became president in 1974 and began his project of re-democratization through a process that he said would be "slow, gradual and safe."Geisel ended the military indiscipline that had plagued the country since 1889,as well as the torture of political prisoners, censorship of the press, and finally, the dictatorship itself, after he extinguished the Fifth Institutional Act. However, the military regime continued, under his chosen successor General Joדo Figueiredo, to complete the transition to full democracy.The civilians fully returned to power in 1985 when Josי Sarney assumed the presidencybut, by the end of his term, he had become extremely unpopular due to the uncontrollable economic crisis and unusually high inflation. Sarney's unsuccessful government allowed the election in 1989 of the almost unknown Fernando Collor, who was subsequently impeached by the National Congress in 1992.Collor was succeeded by his Vice-President Itamar Franco, who appointed Fernando Henrique Cardoso as Minister of Finance.Cardoso produced a highly successful Plano Real (Royal or Real Plan)that granted stability to the Brazilian economy and he was elected as president in 1994 and again in 1998. The peaceful transition of power to Luםs Inבcio Lula da Silva, who was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, proved that Brazil had finally succeeded in achieving its long-sought political stability.Lula was succeeded in 2011 by the current president, Dilma Rousseff.

Geography & Climate

Brazil occupies a large area along the eastern coast of South America and includes much of the continent's interior, sharing land borders with Uruguay to the south; Argentina and Paraguay to the southwest; Bolivia and Peru to the west; Colombia to the northwest; and Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and the French overseas department of French Guiana to the north. It shares a border with every country in South America except for Ecuador and Chile. It also encompasses a number of oceanic archipelagos, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz. Its size, relief, climate, and natural resources make Brazil geographically diverse. Including its Atlantic islands, Brazil lies between latitudes 6°N and 34°S, and longitudes 28° and 74°W.Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, after Russia, Canada, China and the United States, and third largest in the Americas; with a total area of 8,514,876.599 km2 (3,287,612 sq mi),including 55,455 km2 (21,411 sq mi) of water. It spans three time zones; from UTC-4 in the western states, to UTC-3 in the eastern states (and the official time of Brazil) and UTC-2 in the Atlantic islands.

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Topography map of Brazil

Brazilian topography is also diverse and includes hills, mountains, plains, highlands, and scrublands. Much of the terrain lies between 200 metres (660 ft) and 800 metres (2,600 ft) in elevation.The main upland area occupies most of the southern half of the country. The northwestern parts of the plateau consist of broad, rolling terrain broken by low, rounded hills.The southeastern section is more rugged, with a complex mass of ridges and mountain ranges reaching elevations of up to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft). These ranges include the Mantiqueira and Espinhaחo mountains and the Serra do Mar.In the north, the Guiana Highlands form a major drainage divide, separating rivers that flow south into the Amazon Basin from rivers that empty into the Orinoco River system, in Venezuela, to the north. The highest point in Brazil is the Pico da Neblina at800px-Anavilhanas1 2,994 metres (9,823 ft), and the lowest is the Atlantic Ocean.Brazil has a dense and complex system of rivers, one of the world's most extensive, with eight major drainage basins, all of which drain into the Atlantic. Major rivers include the Amazon (the world's second-longest river and the largest in terms of volume of water), the Paranב and its major tributary the Iguaחu (which includes the Iguazu Falls), the Negro, Sדo Francisco, Xingu, Madeira and Tapajףs rivers.The climate of Brazil comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large area and varied topography, but most of the country is tropical. According to the Kצppen system, Brazil hosts five major climatic subtypes: equatorial, tropical, semiarid, highland tropical, temperate, and subtropical. The different climatic conditions produce environments ranging from equatorial rainforests in the north and semiarid deserts in the northeast, to temperate coniferous forests in the south and tropical savannas in central Brazil. Many regions have starkly different microclimates.An equatorial climate characterizes much of northern Brazil. There is no real dry season, but there are some variations in the period of the year when most rain falls. Temperatures average 25 °C (77 °F), with more significant temperature variation between night and day than between seasons.Over central Brazil rainfall is more seasonal, characteristic of a savanna climate.This region is as extensive as the Amazon basin but has a very different climate as it lies farther south at a higher altitude. In the interior northeast, seasonal rainfall is even more extreme. The semiarid climatic region generally receives less than 800 millimetres (31.5 in) of rain, most of which generally falls in a period of three to five months of the year and occasionally less than this, creating long periods of drought. Brazil's 1877–78 Grande Seca (Great Drought), the most severe ever recorded in Brazil, caused approximately half a million deaths. The one from 1915 was devastating too.South of Bahia, near Sדo Paulo, the distribution of rainfall changes, with rain falling throughout the year . The south enjoys temperate conditions, with cool winters and average annual temperatures not exceeding 18 °C (64.4 °F); winter frosts are quite common, with occasional snowfall in the higher areas.

Biodiversity

Picock bass in the Amazonas

Brazil's large territory comprises different ecosystems, such as the Amazon Rainforest, recognized as having the greatest biological diversity in the world, with the AtlanticForest and the Cerrado, sustaining the greatest biodiversity. In the south, the Araucaria pine forest grows under temperate conditions.The rich wildlife of Brazil reflects the variety of natural habitats. Much of it, however, remains largely undocumented, and new species are regularly found.[citation needed] Scientists estimate that the total number of plant and animal species in Brazil could approach four million.Larger mammals include pumas, jaguars, ocelots, rare bush dogs, and foxes; peccaries, tapirs, anteaters, sloths, opossums, and armadillos are abundant. Deer are plentiful in the south, and many species of New World monkeys are found in the northern rain forests.Concern for the environment has grown in response to global interest in environmental issues.

Economy

Brazil is the largest national economy in Latin America, the world's seventh largest economy at market exchange rates and the eighth largest in purchasing power parity (PPP), according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Brazil has a Mixed economy with abundant natural resources. The Brazilian economy has been predicted to become one of the five largest in the world in the decades to come, the GDP per capita following and growing. Its current GDP (PPP) per capita is $10,200, putting Brazil in the 64th position according to World Bank data. It has large and developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors, as well as a large labor pool.Brazilian exports are booming, creating a new generation of tycoons. Major export products include aircraft, electrical equipment, automobiles, ethanol, textiles, footwear, iron ore, steel, coffee, orange juice, soybeans and corned beef. The country has been expanding its presence in international financial and commodities markets, and is one of a group of four emerging economies called the BRIC countries.Brazil pegged its currency, the real, to the U.S. dollar in 1994. However, after the East Asian financial crisis, the Russian default in 1998 and the series of adverse financial events that followed it, the Central Bank of Brazil temporarily changed its monetary policy to a managed-float scheme while undergoing a currency crisis, until definitively changing the exchange regime to free-float in January 1999.Brazil received an International Monetary Fund rescue package in mid-2002 of $30.4 billion, then a record sum. Brazil's central bank paid back the IMF loan in 2005, although it was not due to be repaid until 2006. One of the issues the Central Bank of Brazil recently dealt with was an excess of speculative short-term capital inflows to the country, which may have contributed to a fall in the value of the U.S. dollar against the real during that period. Nonetheless, foreign direct investment (FDI), related to long-term, less speculative investment in production, is estimated to be $193.8 billion for 2007. Inflation monitoring and control currently plays a major part in the Central bank's role of setting out short-term interest rates as a monetary policy measure.Between 1993 and 2010, 7'012 mergers & acquisitions with a total known value of $707 billion with the involvement of Brazlian firms have been announced. The year 2010 was a new record in terms of value with 115 bil. USD of transactions. The largest transaction with involvement of Brazilian companies has been: Cia Vale do Rio Doce acquired Inco in a tender offer valued at $18.9 billion USD.

Transportation

Brazil has a large and diverse transport network. Roads are the primary carriers of freight and passenger traffic. The road system totaled 1.98 million km (1.23 million mi) in 2002. The total of paved roads increased from 35,496 km (22,056 mi) in 1967 to 184,140 km (114,425 mi) in 2002.Brazil's railway system has been declining since 1945, when emphasis shifted to highway construction. The total length of railway track was 30,875 km (19,186 mi) in 2002, as compared with 31,848 km (19,789 mi) in 1970. Most of the railway system belongs to the Federal Railroad Corp., with a majority government interest. The government also privatized seven lines in 1997. The Sדo Paulo Metro was the first underground transit system in Brazil. The other metro systems are in Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Recife, Belo Horizonte, Brasםlia, Teresina, Fortaleza, and Salvador.There are about 2,500 airports in Brazil, including landing fields: the second largest number in the world, after the United States. Sדo Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport, near Sדo Paulo, is the largest and busiest airport, handling the vast majority of popular and commercial traffic of the country and connecting the city with virtually all major cities across the world.Coastal shipping links widely separated parts of the country. Bolivia and Paraguay have been given free ports at Santos. Of the 36 deep-water ports, Santos, Itajaם, Rio Grande, Paranaguב, Rio de Janeiro, Sepetiba, Vitףria, Suape, Manaus and Sדo Francisco do Sul are some of the most important.

Culture & Cuisine

The core culture of Brazil is derived from Portuguese culture, because of its strong colonial ties with the Portuguese empire. Among other influences, the Portuguese introduced the Portuguese language, Roman Catholicism and colonial architectural styles. The culture was, however, also strongly influenced by African, indigenous and non-Portuguese European cultures and traditions. Some aspects of Brazilian culture were influenced by the contributions of Italian, German and other European immigrants who arrived in large numbers in the South and Southeast of Brazil. The indigenous Amerindians influenced Brazil's language and cuisine; and the Africans influenced language, cuisine, music, dance and religion.Brazilian art has developed since the 16th century into different styles that range from Baroque (the dominant style in Brazil until the early 19th century)to Romanticism, Modernism, Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and Abstractionism.Brazilian cinema dates back to the birth of the medium in the late 19th century and has gained a new level of international acclaim in recent years.Brazilian music encompasses various regional styles influenced by African, European and Amerindian forms. It developed distinctive styles, among them samba, MPB, choro, Sertanejo, brega, forrף, frevo, maracatu, bossa nova, and axי.Brazilian cuisine varies greatly by region, reflecting the country's mix of native and immigrant populations. This has created a national cuisine marked by the preservation of regional differences.Examples are Feijoada, considered the country's national dish; and regional foods such as vatapב, moqueca, polenta and acarajי.Brazil has a variety of candies such as brigadeiros (chocolate fudge balls), cocada (a coconut sweet), beijinhos (coconut truffles and clove) and romeu e julieta (cheese with a guava jam known as goiabada). Peanut is used to make paחoca, rapadura and pי-de-moleque. Local common fruits like aחaם, cupuaחu, mango, papaya, cocoa, cashew, guava, orange, passionfruit, pineapple, and hog plum are turned in juices and used to make chocolates, popsicles and ice cream.Popular snacks are pastel (a pastry), coxinha (chicken croquete), pדo de queijo (cheese bread and cassava flour / tapioca), pamonha (corn and milk paste), esfirra (Lebanese pastry), kibbeh (from Arabic cuisine), empanada (pastry) and empada little salt pies filled with shrimps or hearth of palm.

Feijoada_01

Feijoada, a dish made with black beans, pork, rice, collard greens, cassava flour and orange

But the everyday meal consist mosty of rice and beans with beef and salad. Its common to mix it with cassava flour (farofa). Fried potatoes, fried cassava, fried banana, fried meat and fried cheese are very often eaten in lunch and served in most typical restaurants.The national beverage is coffee and cachaחa is Brazil's native liquor. Cachaחa is distilled from sugar cane and is the main ingredient in the national cocktail, Caipirinha.

The Brazilian Carnival

brazilian_carnival1

The Carnival of Brazil is an annual festival held forty-six days before Easter. On certain days of Lent, Roman Catholics and some other Christians traditionally abstainedfrom the consumption of meat and poultry, hence the term "carnival," from carnelevare, "to remove (literally, "raise") meat". Carnival celebrations are believed to have rootsin the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which, adapted to Christianity, became a farewell to bad things in a season of religious discipline to practice repentance and prepare for Christ's death and resurrection.Rhythm, participation, and costumes vary from one region of Brazil to another. In the southeastern cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, huge organized parades are led by samba schools. Those official parades are meant to be watched by the public, while minor parades ("blocos") allowing public participation can be found in other cities. The northeastern cities of Salvador, Porto Seguro and Recife have organized groups parading through streets, and public interacts directly with them. This carnival is heavily influenced by African-Brazilian culture. Crowds follow the trio elétricos floats through the city streets. Also in northeast, Olinda carnival features unique characteristics, part influenced by Venice Carnival mixed with cultural depictions of local folklore.Carnival is the most famous holiday in Brazil and has become an event of huge proportions. The country stops completely for almost a week and festivities are intense, day and night, mainly in coastal cities. The consumption of beer accounts for 80% of annual consumption and tourism receives 70% of annual visitors. The government distributes condoms and launches awareness campaigns at this time to prevent the spread of AIDS. 

Currency

The Real is the present-day currency of Brazil. Its sign is R$ and its ISO code is BRL. It is subdivided into 100 centavos. In Brazil, the decimal separator is a comma, and a period may be used as thousands separator, as in "R$ 123.456,78". On February 3, 2010, the Central Bank of Brazil announced a new series of the real banknotes which would begin to be released in April 2010. The new design will add security enhancements to avoid counterfeiting. The notes will have different sizes according to their values to help vision-impaired people. The changes were made reflecting the growth of the Brazilian economy and the need for a stronger and safer currency. The new banknotes have begun to enter circulation in December 2010, coexisting with the older ones.1 US Dollar = 1.56 Brazilian Real (July 2011).

The new Real series

Newreal

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