About Brazil

Fact Sheet

Name: Republica Federativa do Brasil (Federative Republic of Brazil)

Population: 194.2 million (2008)

Capital: Brasília
Area: 3.3 million sq miles
Currency: Real
GNI per capita (Atlas method): $7,350
GDP Per Capita (PPP): $10,296
Main exports: goods, iron ore, steel, coffee
Language: Portuguese
Religion: Roman Catholic (74%)
Life expectancy: 69 years (men), 76 years (women)

SME’s in Brazil: 5 mi. formal (99%) and 10 mi. informal
56,1% of the formal urban labor force
26% of aggregate wages
20% of Brazilian GDP
13% of govt. purchases
2% of Brazilian exports

Our Highlights

  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Brazil has the world’s second biggest black population after Nigeria, the largest number of people of Japanese ancestry outside Japan, and more people of Lebanese or Syrian extraction than the combined populations of Lebanon and Syria. Indigenous Indian population of around 450,000, comprising more than 200 peoples who speak more than 180 different languages.
    • 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.
  • In peace for 140 years.. Brazil shares a border with every other country in South America apart from Ecuador and Chile – ten in total – and has lived in peace with all of them for almost 140 years. (The last South American war involving Brazil was the conflict between the ‘Triple Alliance’ and Paraguay in the 1860s.)
  • 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.
  • Economy: Brazil has the 9th biggest economy in the world in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) derived from purchasing power parity (PPP) calculations.
  • The Brazilian company Embraer is the world’s third biggest aircraft-producer and exporter after Boeing and Airbus. It specialises in ‘regional’ jets, which is to say medium-sized planes that seat up to 110 passengers.
  • 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”.
  • Ecology and innovation: Against a backdrop of rising concerns about climate change and declining oil reserves, Brazil has become a pioneer in the production of ethanol (produced from sugarcane) and other biofuels. More than three-quarters of the automobiles sold in Brazil have flex-fuel engines, capable of running on petrol, ethanol, or a mixture of the two.
  • Brazil is participating in the biggest ever scientific project entailing cooperation between different countries – the International Space Station (ISS). In March 2006 the astronaut Marcos Pontes became the first Brazilian (and the first native Portuguese speaker) to go into space when he embarked on a mission to the ISS. He stayed there for a week, performing experiments involving nanotechnology and biotechnology.
  • Brazil has the only source of synchrotron light, which permits the study of atoms and molecules, in the Southern Hemisphere. The equipment – developed, built and operated entirely by Brazilians – belongs to the National Synchrotron Light Laboratory in Campinas, São Paulo state.
  • Brazil has become the world’s leading source of satellite images, due to the government’s policy of providing users in Brazil and neighbouring countries with free access to the images produced by the Sino-Brazilian Earth Resources Satellite.
  • In 2000, a team of scientists based in São Paulo achieved the first ever sequencing or ‘decoding’ of the genome of a plant pathogen. The bacterium in question was the insect-borne Xylella fastidiosa, which infects citrus fruit and other commercially important produce.
  • 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, and the government has put pressure on international pharmaceutical companies in order to reduce the prices at which it buys anti-retroviral drugs.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art in Niteroi

    Architecture: The Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer is universally considered one of the most important figures in international modern architecture. As well as being the major influence on the construction of Brasília, Brazil’s new capital, in the late 1950s, he has also designed numerous important buildings in other countries – including the United Nations headquarters in New York.

  • Since 2003, in the colonial town of Parati in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil has been hosting an annual international literary festival that attracts a large number of famous participants. Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens, Toni Morrisson and Eric Hobsbawm are among those who have attended.
  • The most famous of the gentle bossa nova melodies of the 1950s and 60s, The Girl from Ipanema by Antonio Carlos (‘Tom’) Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes is generally thought to be among the five most-played pieces of music (either live or on the radio) in the world.
  • The annual carnival in Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia, is the world’s biggest street party, attracting around 2 million people (including an average of 800,000 Brazilian and foreign tourists). The music is provided by mobile sound systems (trios elétricos) and over a hundred parade groups (blocos).
  • 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.
  • Reveillon: The city of Rio de Janeiro throws a New Year’s Eve party that is probably the biggest – and arguably the most spectacular – in the world. Around two million people, all of them dressed at least partly in white (a popular tradition adopted from Afro-Brazilian religion), congregate on the huge crescent-shaped expanse of Copacabana beach to watch a midnight firework display.

You can find links with more information about Brazil in Sources page.