Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: República Federativa do Brasil), is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people. It is the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas and the largest lusophone country in the world.
Following more than three centuries under Portuguese rule, Brazil gained its independence in 1822, maintaining a monarchical system of government until the abolition of slavery in 1888 and the subsequent proclamation of a republic by the military in 1889. Brazilian coffee exporters politically dominated the country until populist leader Getulio VARGAS rose to power in 1930. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil underwent more than half a century of populist and military government until 1985, when the military regime peacefully ceded power to civilian rulers. Brazil continues to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of its interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, it is today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader, one of the first in the area to begin an economic recovery. Highly unequal income distribution and crime remain pressing problems.
- Roman Catholic (nominal) 73.6%
- Protestant 15.4%
- Spiritualist 1.3%
- Bantu/voodoo 0.3%
- other 1.8%
- unspecified 0.2%
- none 7.4% (2000 census)
|Sociedade Criacionista Brasileira||Brasília||National||Young earth||Cultural Center of SCB (Centro cultural da SCB)|
Characterized by large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, Brazil's economy outweighs that of all other South American countries, and Brazil is expanding its presence in world markets. Since 2003, Brazil has steadily improved its macroeconomic stability, building up foreign reserves, and reducing its debt profile by shifting its debt burden toward real denominated and domestically held instruments. In 2008, Brazil became a net external creditor and two ratings agencies awarded investment grade status to its debt. After strong growth in 2007 and 2008, the onset of the global financial crisis hit Brazil in 2008. Brazil experienced two quarters of recession, as global demand for Brazil's commodity-based exports dwindled and external credit dried up. However, Brazil was one of the first emerging markets to begin a recovery. In 2010, consumer and investor confidence revived and GDP growth reached 7.5%, the highest growth rate in the past 25 years. Rising inflation led the authorities to take measures to cool the economy; these actions and the deteriorating international economic situation slowed growth to 2.7% for 2011 as a whole, though forecasts for 2012 growth are somewhat higher. Despite slower growth in 2011, Brazil overtook the United Kingdom as the world's seventh largest economy in terms of GDP. Urban unemployment is at the historic low of 4.7% (December 2011), and Brazil's traditionally high level of income equality has declined for each of the last 12 years. Brazil's high interest rates make it an attractive destination for foreign investors. Large capital inflows over the past several years have contributed to the appreciation of the currency, hurting the competitiveness of Brazilian manufacturing and leading the government to intervene in foreign exchanges markets and raise taxes on some foreign capital inflows. President Dilma Rousseff has retained the previous administration's commitment to inflation targeting by the central bank, a floating exchange rate, and fiscal restraint.
- Brazil World Factbook. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed April 10, 2012.
- Brazil by Wikipedia