Brazil

Predominantly agrarian until recently, Brazil underwent rapid industrial growth throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and by the 1980s possessed a fundamentally modern, diversified economy. This development went hand in hand with heavy exploitation of its natural resources, in particular coal and iron ore.

Nearly a quarter of the world's coffee comes from Brazil, with its plantations spread around the states of Sao Paulo, Parana, Espiríto Santo and Minas Gerais. Likewise, Brazil is one of the foremost producers of sugar cane, used not only to make sugar but also the alcohol that fuels 2.5 million specially-designed vehicles. Production levels of ricin, cocoa, corn and oranges are among the highest in the world as well, while soy, tobacco, potato, cotton, rice, wheat, manioc and bananas are also produced in large quantities. In addition, sheep and cattle are reared in almost every state.







The Brazilian rainforest is another source of natural riches, including tung oil, rubber, carnauba oil, caroa fibre, medicinal plants, vegetable oils, resins, timber for construction and various woods used in furniture-making. Brazil has also begun mining fairly recently, again taking advantage of its abundant natural resources.

Geography.
The largest country in South America, Brazil stretches over almost half of the continent. With the Atlantic Ocean on its eastern coastline, Brazil shares frontiers with Venezuela, Guyana, French Guyana and Surinam to the north. Its neighbours to the west are Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru, while Colombia is to the north-west and Uruguay directly south. Of all the countries in South America, only Chile and Ecuador do not border Brazil..

With a surface area of 8,547,404 km², Brazil is the fifth largest country on the planet behind Russia, Canada, the United States and China. It covers 4,345 km from north to south between its furthest points and 4,330 km from east to west. The highest population concentrations are along the Atlantic coastlines, most notably in the two largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The capital Brasilia has a population of 2,094,000, according to 2003 estimates, and it is situated over 1,000 km inland.

Facts and Figures
Brazil has roughly 190 million inhabitants, making it the fifth most populated country on Earth. Almost 75 per cent of them are Catholics, whilst another 26 million are Protestants. Brazil's Jewish community is very small by comparison.

The country is divided into five regions (Centre-West, North, Northeast, South and Southeast), which are themselves divided into 26 states plus the Federal District that houses Brazilian capital Brasília.
Known for its enormous hydroelectric potential, the Southeast region is the most heavily-populated in Brazil with almost 80 million inhabitants, roughly 40 per cent of the total. It is also the most densely-populated (84.21 inhabitants per km²) and has the highest urbanisation rate at 90 per cent.


The official language is Portuguese, however many Brazilians speak other languages according to their origins. German and Italian, for example, are fairly prevalent in the cities of the South.


National holidays
DateLocal nameNameObservation
1 JanuaryConfraternização MundialNew Year's DayBeginning of the calendar year
21 AprilTiradentesTiradentesIn honor of the martyr of the Minas Conspiracy
1 MayDia do TrabalhadorLabor DayTribute to all workers
7 SeptemberIndependênciaIndependence of BrazilProclamation of Independence against Portugal
12 OctoberNossa Senhora AparecidaNossa Senhora AparecidaPatroness of Brazil
2 NovemberFinadosSoulsDay of remembrance for the dead
15 NovemberProclamação da RepúblicaProclamation of the RepublicTransformation Empire in Republic
25 DecemberNatalChristmasTraditional Christmas celebration
Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil

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