What Should I Know About Brazil?

Rebecca Partington

The Federative Republic of Brazil, referred to simply as Brazil, is a country in the north eastern portion of South America. It is the fifth-largest country in the world, contains the fifth-largest population (over 190 million as of 2007), and is the fourth-largest democracy. It borders the Atlantic Ocean on the east and shares borders with Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. Its capital is Brasília, and its largest city is São Paulo. The official language is Portuguese.

Soccer is the most popular sport in Brazil.
Soccer is the most popular sport in Brazil.


Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world.
Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world.

Brazil was first colonized by the Portuguese in the early 1500s who developed an economy based on the exportation of agricultural products such as sugar. In the 1700s, gold and diamond deposits were discovered and mined to pay off the Portuguese Royal Court's debts. In 1822, the Brazilians declared independence and Dom Pedro was crowned as the first Emperor of Brazil. Pedro ruled using a constitution that was modeled on those of Portugal and France, with legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government moderated by a fourth branch that was controlled by the Emperor.

Diamond mines found in Brazil helped pay off Portugal's debt in the 1700s.
Diamond mines found in Brazil helped pay off Portugal's debt in the 1700s.

In 1889, Pedro's son stepped down as Emperor and the country was then declared a republic. The government remained generally stable, although the military took power from 1930-1954 and again from 1964-1985. Democracy was reestablished in 1988, when the now-current Federal Constitution was enacted, and Fernando Collor de Mello became president in 1990. The current president is Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Geography and Climate

The geography of Brazil is diverse, with parts of the Amazon Rainforest in the north and small hills and low mountains in the south. More mountain ranges lie along the Atlantic coast. Most of the nation is contained within the tropics because the Equator crosses the northern part of the country, but the southern area of Brazil is temperate.


Major export products include aircraft, coffee, ethanol, soybeans, and textiles. The agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors are large and developed, and Brazil also commands a large labor pool.


The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics classifies the population in five categories: black, white, pardo (brown), yellow (Asian) and Indigenous. There are currently an estimated 93.1 million Whites (49.7%), 79.8 million Browns (42.6%), 12.9 million Blacks (6.9%), 919,000 Asians (0.5%) and 519,000 Amerindians (0.3%). Portuguese is the official language, and is spoken by nearly all inhabitants.


Brazil's culture has been heavily influenced by its Portuguese colonization. The musical genres of Bossa Nova and Música Popular Brasileira have been important contributions to the worldwide musical stage. The most popular religion is Roman Catholicism, with Protestantism following as second the second largest, but a few citizens are Muslims or Buddhists. Soccer is the most popular sport, and the Brazilian soccer team has won the World Cup tournament five times.

Brazil regularly produces the best soccer players in the world.
Brazil regularly produces the best soccer players in the world.

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Discussion Comments


I'm Brazilian, and there are much more things here in Brazil than people dancing in the streets and beaches. Actually, I live in a city without a beach, and we have normal lives here, and despite all the problems we have much more here than in developed countries as USA or in Europe, for example. We have corruption on a big scale, and unfortunately, we have poverty, but are trying to get better as time passes. Society in Brazil is developing, and I hope this country can be much better in future. Natural beauties we already have!


Here's an interesting fact about Brazil. In the 1930s, the Germans sent an expedition force into the Amazon jungle in the country for the purpose of establishing an outpost. If I remember correctly, all of the members of the group died, and the outpost was never built. I think the members of the group died from some type of fever.

Even though the Germans never established an outpost, a number of German military members did go to Brazil. A number of Nazis fled to Brazil after World War II. They were running to escape trial for war crimes, and they chose Brazil as their hiding place.


@Drentel - You are right that there is much to see and do in Brazil. However, Brazil at carnival time is a must see. And there is so much more to the activities surrounding this event than simply dancing and drinking and all of the other activities that come under the heading of partying.

The country has a very interesting history and the people are so proud and mindful of their heritage and culture. If I had to use one word to describe the country and the people of Brazil I would choose the word vibrant. The country is alive. There is so much energy and color there.


I remember studying Brazil in school, but for some reason I thought the capital was Rio de Janeiro, which is the second largest city in the country by the way. I wasn't even aware there was a city called Basilia.

Probably like most people, whenever I think of Brazil I think of beaches and people dancing in the streets, but I think this image is one that I remember from the movies. I'm sure there would be much more to see in the country than beaches and people partying in the streets.

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