Official Name: Federative Republic of Brazil
Area: 8,511,965 sq. km. (3,290,000 sq. mi.) Slightly smaller than the U.S.
Capital: Brasilia (pop. 1.8 million).
Other cities: Sao Paulo (11 million), Rio de Janeiro (6 million), Belo
Horizonte (2.3 million), Salvador (2 million), Fortaleza (1.8 million), Recife
(1.4 million), Porto
Alegre (1.4 million), Curitiba (1.4 million).
Terrain: Dense forests in northern regions including Amazon Basin; semiarid
along northeast coast; mountains, hills, and rolling plains in the southwest
Grosso; and coastal lowland.
Climate: Mostly tropical or semitropical with temperate zone in the south.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Brazilian(s).
Population (1995): 156 million.
Annual growth rate: 1.7%.
Ethnic groups: Portuguese, Italian, German, Japanese, African, indigenous
Religion: Roman Catholic (80%).
Education: Literacy--81% of adult population.
Health: Infant mortality rate--44/1,000. Life expectancy--67 years.
Work force (65 million): Services--40%; agriculture--35%; industry--25%.
Type: Federative Republic.
Independence: September 7, 1822.
Constitution: Promulgated October 5, 1988.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state and head of government popularly
elected to no more than two 4-year terms).
Legislative--Senate (81 members popularly elected to 8-year terms), Chamber of
Deputies (513 members popularly elected to 4-year terms).
Judicial--Supreme Federal Tribunal.
Political parties: Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), Brazilian Social
Democratic Party (PSDB), Liberal Front Party (PFL), Social Democratic Party
(PSD), Democratic Workers Party (PDT), Workers Party (PT), Brazilian Labor
Party (PTB), Liberal Party (PL), Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), Communist
of Brazil (PC do B), Brazilian Progressive Party (PPB), Popular Socialist Party
(PPS), Green Party (PV), The Social Liberal Party (PSL), The National
GDP: U.S.$600 billion.
Annual real growth rate: 3.9%.
Per capita GDP: U.S. $4,200.
Natural resources: Iron ore, manganese, bauxite, nickel, uranium, gemstones,
Agriculture (13% of GDP): Products--coffee, soybeans, sugarcane, cocoa, rice,
beef, corn, oranges, cotton, wheat.
Industry: Types--steel, chemicals, petrochemicals, machinery, motor vehicles,
consumer durables, cement, lumber.
Trade: Exports--$47 billion. Major markets--United States 19%, Argentina 10%,
Netherlands 8%, Japan 6%, Germany 4%, Italy 3%, France 2%. Imports--$50
billion. Major suppliers--United States 25%, Argentina 12%, Germany 9%, Italy
5%, Japan 4%.
Official exchange rate: 1.05 Reais = U.S. $1.
The United States was the first country to recognize Brazil's independence in
1822. The two countries have traditionally enjoyed friendly, active relations
encompassing a broad political and economic agenda.
With the inauguration of Brazil's internationally oriented, reformist President
Fernando Henrique Cardoso on January 1, 1995, U.S.-Brazil engagement and
cooperation have intensified. This is reflected in the unprecedented number of
high-level contacts between the two governments, including President Cardoso's
state visit to Washington in April 1995, visits to Brazil by First Lady Hillary
Clinton, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, the late Secretary of Commerce
Ronald Brown and many other exchanges between U.S. and Brazilian cabinet and
sub-cabinet officials. Important topics of discussion and cooperation have
included trade and finance, hemispheric economic integration, United Nations
reform and peacekeeping efforts, nonproliferation and arms control, follow-up
to the 1994 Miami Summit of the Americas, common efforts to help resolve the
Peru-Ecuador border conflict, support for Paraguay's democratic development,
human rights, counternarcotics, and environmental issues.
A new agreement for cooperation in counternarcotics was signed in March 1995,
and a national drug control plan has been drafted. During a visit of Under
Secretary of State Timothy Wirth to Brazil in October 1995, the two countries
signed a Common Agenda on the Environment, laying the foundation for
cooperative efforts in environmental protection. The two governments are
negotiating a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, which will assist in combating
Former U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor and Brazilian Foreign Minister
Lampreia submitted a joint report to Presidents Clinton and Cardoso on the
U.S.-Brazil Bilateral Trade Review, completed October 25, 1995. The Bilateral
Trade Review lays the groundwork for closer cooperation in resolving bilateral
trade issues as well as in joint efforts to advance progress toward a Free
Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and to develop closer ties between NAFTA and
Mercosul, the Common Market of the South. Brazil is a key player in hemispheric
efforts to negotiate an FTAA by 2005, and hosted the May 1997 FTAA Trade
Ministerial in Belo Horizonte.
Relations are advancing well in various aspects of scientific and technical
work as well. During his 1996 visit, former Secretary of State Christopher
signed a Space Cooperation agreement and initialed an agreement on Peaceful
Uses of Nuclear Energy.
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
With an estimated 156 million inhabitants, Brazil has the largest population in
Latin America and ranks sixth in the world. The majority live in the
south-central area, which includes the industrial cities of Sao Paulo, Rio de
Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte. Urban growth has been rapid: by 1991, 75% of the
total population were living in urban areas. Rapid growth has aided economic
development but has also created serious social, environmental, and political
problems for major cities.
Four major groups make up the Brazilian population: the Portuguese, who
colonized in the 16th century; Africans brought to Brazil as slaves; various
other European, Middle Eastern, and Asian immigrant groups who have settled in
Brazil since the mid-19th century; and indigenous people of Tupi and Guarani
language stock. Intermarriage between the Portuguese and indigenous people or
slaves was common. Although the major European ethnic stock of Brazil was once
Portuguese, subsequent waves of immigration have contributed to a diverse
ethnic and cultural heritage.
From 1875 until 1960, about 5 million Europeans emigrated to Brazil, settling
mainly in the four southern states of Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina, and
Rio Grande do Sul. Immigrants have come mainly from Italy, Germany, Spain,
Japan, Poland, and the Middle East. The largest Japanese community outside
Japan is in Sao Paulo. Despite class distinctions, national identity is strong,
and racial friction is a relatively new phenomenon.
Indigenous full-blooded Indians, located mainly in the northern and western
border regions and in the upper Amazon Basin, constitute less than one percent
of the population. Their numbers are declining as contact with the outside
world and commercial expansion into the interior increase. Brazilian Government
programs to establish reservations and to provide other forms of assistance
have existed for years but are controversial and often ineffective.
Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. Approximately
80% of all Brazilians belong to the Roman Catholic Church; most others are
Protestant or follow practices derived from African religions.
Brazil was claimed for Portugal in 1500 by Pedro Alvares Cabral. It was ruled
from Lisbon as a colony until 1808, when the royal family, having fled from
Napoleon's army, established the seat of Portuguese government in Rio de
Janeiro. Brazil became a kingdom under Dom Joao VI, who returned to Portugal in
1821. His son declared Brazil's independence on September 7, 1822, and became
emperor with the title of Dom Pedro I. His son, Dom Pedro II, ruled from 1831
to 1889, when a federal republic was established in a coup by Deodoro da
Fonseca, marshal of the army. Slavery had been abolished a year earlier by the
Regent Princess Isabel while Dom Pedro II was in Europe.
From 1889 to 1930, the government was a constitutional democracy, with the
presidency alternating between the dominant states of Sao Paulo and Minas
Gerais. This period ended with a military coup that placed Getulio Vargas, a
civilian, in the presidency; Vargas remained as dictator until 1945. From 1945
to 1961, Eurico Dutra, Vargas, Juscelino Kubitschek, and Janio Quadros were
elected presidents. When Quadros resigned in 1961, he was succeeded by Vice
President Joao Goulart.
Goulart's years in office were marked by high inflation, economic stagnation,
and the increasing influence of radical political elements. The armed forces,
alarmed by these developments, staged a coup on March 31, 1964. The coup
leaders chose as president Humberto Castello Branco, followed by Arthur da
Costa e Silva (1967-69), Emilio Garrastazu Medici (1968-74), and Ernesto Geisel
(1974-79) all of whom were senior army officers. Geisel began a liberalization
carried further by his successor, Gen. JoĈo Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo
(1979-85). Figueiredo not only permitted the return of politicians exiled or
banned from political activity during the 1960s and 1970s but also allowed them
to run for state and federal offices in 1982.
At the same time, an electoral college consisting of all members of congress
and six delegates chosen from each state, continued to choose the president. In
January 1985, the electoral college voted Tancredo Neves from the opposition
Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) into office as President. However,
Tancredo Neves became ill in March and died a month later. His Vice President,
former Senator Jose Sarney, became President upon Neves' death.
Brazil completed its transition to a popularly elected government in 1989, when
Fernando Collor de Mello won 53% of the vote in the first direct presidential
election in 29 years. In 1992 a major corruption scandal led to the impeachment
and ultimate resignation of President Collor. Vice President Itamar Franco took
his place and governed for the remainder of Collor's term culminating in the
October 3, 1994 presidential elections, when Fernando Henrique Cardoso was
elected President with 54% of the vote. He took office January 1, 1995.
President Cardoso has sought to establish the basis for long-term stability and
growth and to reduce Brazil's extreme socioeconomic imbalances. His proposals
to Congress include constitutional amendments to open the Brazilian economy to
greater foreign participation and to implement sweeping reforms--including
social security, government administration, and taxation--to reduce excessive
public sector spending and improve government efficiency.
For more information, visit the
State Department's home page.