Brazil (/brəˈzɪl/ (Portuguese: Brasil, IPA: [bɾaˈziw]), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: República Federativa do Brasil, listen), is the largest country in both South America and the Latin America region. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population, with over 193 million people. It is the largest Lusophone country in the world, and the only one in the Americas.
Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 km (4,655 mi). It is bordered on the north by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the French overseas region of French Guiana; on the northwest by Colombia; on the west by Bolivia and Peru; on the southwest by Argentina and Paraguay and on the south by Uruguay. Numerous archipelagos form part of Brazilian territory, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz. It borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile.
Brazil was a colony of Portugal beginning from the landing of Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500, up until 1815, when it was elevated to the rank of kingdom upon the formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. The colonial bond was in fact broken several years earlier, in 1808, when the capital of the Portuguese colonial empire was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, after Napoleon invaded Portugal. Independence was achieved in 1822 with the formation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. The country became a presidential republic in 1889, when a military coup d'état proclaimed the Republic, although the bicameral legislature, now called Congress, dates back to the ratification of the first constitution in 1824. Its current Constitution, formulated in 1988, defines Brazil as a federal republic. The Federation is formed by the union of the Federal District, the 26 States, and the 5,564 Municipalities.
The Brazilian economy is the world's seventh largest by nominal GDP and the seventh largest by purchasing power parity, as of 2012. A member of the BRIC group, Brazil has one of the world's fastest growing major economies, and its economic reforms have given the country new international recognition and influence. Brazil is a founding member of the United Nations, the G20, CPLP, Latin Union, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the Organization of American States, Mercosul and the Union of South American Nations. Brazil is one of 17 megadiverse countries, home to a variety of wildlife, natural environments, and extensive natural resources in a variety of protected habitats. Brazil is considered a middle power in international affairs, and has been identified as an emerging power.
The word "Brazil" comes from brazilwood, a tree that once grew plentifully along the Brazilian coast. In Portuguese, brazilwood is called pau-brasil, with the word brasil commonly given the etymology "red like an ember", formed from Latin brasa ("ember") and the suffix -il (from -iculum or -ilium). As brazilwood produces a deep red dye, it was highly valued by the European cloth industry and was the earliest commercially exploited product from Brazil. Through the 16th century, massive amounts of brazilwood were harvested by indigenous peoples (mostly Tupi) along the Brazilian coast, who sold the timber to European traders (mostly Portuguese, but also French) in return for assorted European consumer goods.
The official name of the land, in original Portuguese records, was the "Land of the Holy Cross" (Terra da Santa Cruz), but European sailors and merchants commonly called it simply the "Land of Brazil" (Terra do Brasil) on account of the brazilwood trade. The popular appellation eclipsed and eventually supplanted the official name. Early sailors sometimes also called it the "Land of Parrots" (Terra di Papaga).
In the Guarani language, an official language of Paraguay, Brazil is called "Pindorama". This was the name the natives gave to the region, meaning "land of the palm trees".
The land now called Brazil was claimed by Portugal in April 1500, on the arrival of the Portuguese fleet commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral. The Portuguese encountered stone age natives divided into several tribes, most of whom spoke languages of the Tupi–Guarani family, and fought among themselves. Though the first settlement was founded in 1532, colonization was effectively begun in 1534, when King Dom João III of Portugal divided the territory into twelve hereditary captaincies.
This arrangement proved problematic, and in 1549 the king assigned a Governor-General to administer the entire colony. The Portuguese assimilated some of the native tribes while others were enslaved or exterminated in long wars or by European diseases to which they had no immunity. By the mid-16th century, sugar had become Brazil's most important export and the Portuguese imported African slaves to cope with the increasing international demand.
Through wars against the French, the Portuguese slowly expanded their territory to the southeast, taking Rio de Janeiro in 1567, and to the northwest, taking São Luís in 1615. They sent military expeditions to the Amazon rainforest and conquered British and Dutch strongholds, founding villages and forts from 1669. In 1680 they reached the far south and founded Sacramento on the bank of the Rio de la Plata, in the Eastern Bank region.
At the end of the 17th century, sugar exports started to decline but beginning in the 1690s, the discovery of gold by explorers in the region that would later be called Minas Gerais in current Mato Grosso and Goiás, saved the colony from imminent collapse. From all over Brazil, as well as from Portugal, thousands of immigrants went to the mines. The Spanish tried to prevent Portuguese expansion into the territory that belonged to them according to the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, and succeeded in conquering the Eastern Bank in 1777. However, this was in vain as the Treaty of San Ildefonso, signed in the same year, confirmed Portuguese sovereignty over all lands proceeding from its territorial expansion, thus creating most of the current Brazilian borders.
In 1808, the Portuguese royal family and the majority of the Portuguese nobility, fleeing the troops of the French Emperor Napoleon I that were invading Portugal and most of Central Europe, established themselves in the city of Rio de Janeiro, which thus became the seat of the entire Portuguese Empire. In 1815 Dom João VI, then regent on behalf of his incapacitated mother, elevated Brazil from colony to sovereign Kingdom united with Portugal. In 1809 the Portuguese invaded French Guiana (which was returned to France in 1817) and in 1816 the Eastern Bank, subsequently renamed Cisplatina.
Independence and empire
After the Portuguese military had successfully repelled Napoleon's invasion of Portugal, João VI returned to Europe in April 1821, leaving his elder son Prince Pedro de Alcântara as regent to rule Brazil. The Portuguese government, guided by the new political regime imposed by the Liberal Revolution of 1820, attempted to turn Brazil into a colony once again, thus depriving it of its achievements since 1808. The Brazilians refused to yield and Prince Pedro stood by them declaring the country's independence from Portugal on 7 September 1822.
On 12 October 1822, he was declared the first Emperor of Brazil and crowned Dom Pedro I on 1 December 1822. At that time most Brazilians were in favour of a monarchy and republicanism had little support. The subsequent Brazilian War of Independence spread through almost the entire territory, with battles in the northern, northeastern, and southern regions. The last Portuguese soldiers surrendered on 8 March 1824 and independence was recognized by Portugal on 29 August 1825.
Pedro I abdicated on 7 April 1831 and went to Europe to reclaim his daughter's crown which had been usurped by his brother, leaving behind his five-year-old son and heir, who became Dom Pedro II. As the new emperor could not exert his constitutional powers until he reached maturity, a regency was created. Disputes between political factions led to rebellions and an unstable, almost anarchical, regency. The rebellious factions, however, were not in revolt against the monarchy, even though some declared the secession of the provinces as independent republics, but only so long as Pedro II was a minor. Because of this, he was prematurely declared of age and "Brazil was to enjoy nearly half a century of internal peace and rapid material progress."
Despite the loss of Cisplatina in 1828 when it became an independent nation known as Uruguay, Brazil won three international wars during the 58-year reign of Pedro II (the Platine War, the Uruguayan War and the Paraguayan War) and witnessed the consolidation of representative democracy, mainly because of successive elections and unrestricted freedom of the press. Most importantly, slavery was extinguished after a slow but steady process that began with the end of the international traffic in slaves in 1850 and ended with the complete abolition of slavery in 1888. The slave population had been in decline since Brazil's independence: in 1823, 29% of the Brazilian population were slaves but by 1887 this had fallen to 5%.
When the monarchy was overthrown on 15 November 1889 there was little desire in Brazil to change the form of government and Pedro II was at the height of his popularity among his subjects. However, he "bore prime, perhaps sole, responsibility for his own overthrow." After the death of his two sons, the Emperor believed that "the imperial regime was destined to end with him." He cared little for the regime's fate and so neither did anything, nor allowed anyone else to do anything, to prevent the military coup, backed by former slave owners who resented the abolition of slavery.
The "early republican government was little more than a military dictatorship, with army dominating affairs both at Rio de Janeiro and in the states. Freedom of the press disappeared and elections were controlled by those in power". In 1894, following several military and economic crises, the republican civilians rose to power.
Little by little, a cycle of general instability sparked by these crises undermined the regime in a such extent, that by 1930 in the wake of the murder of his running mate, it was possible for the defeated opposition presidential candidate Getúlio Vargas supported by most of the military, led a successful revolt. Vargas was supposed to assume power temporarily, but instead closed the Congress, extinguished the Constitution, ruled with emergency powers and replaced the states' governors with his supporters. Between 1932 and 1938, 3 major attempts to remove Vargas from power occurred. The second one being the 1935 communist revolt which served as an excuse for the preclusion of elections, put into effect by a coup d'état in 1937, which made the Vargas regime a full dictatorship, noted for its brutality and censorship of the press.
In foreign policy, the success in resolving border disputes with neighboring countries in the early years of the republican period, was followed by a failed attempt to exert a prominent role in the League of Nations, after its involvement in World War I. In World War II Brazil remained neutral until August 1942, when the country entered in that war on the allied side, after suffer retaliations undertaken by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, due the country have severed diplomatic relations with them in the wake of Pan-American Conference.
With the allied victory in 1945 and the end of the Nazi-fascist regimes in Europe, Vargas's position became unsustainable and he was swiftly overthrown in another military coup, being the Democracy "reinstated" by the same army that had discontinued it 15 years before. Vargas committed suicide in August 1954 amid a political crisis, after having returned to power by election in 1950.
Several brief interim governments succeeded after Vargas's suicide. Juscelino Kubitscheck became president in 1956 and assumed a conciliatory posture towards the political opposition that allowed him to govern without major crises. The economy and industrial sector grew remarkably, but his greatest achievement was the construction of the new capital city of Brasília, inaugurated in 1960. His successor was Jânio Quadros, who resigned in 1961 less than a year after taking office. His vice-president, João Goulart, assumed the presidency, but aroused strong political opposition and was deposed in April 1964 by a coup that resulted in a military regime.
The new regime was intended to be transitory but it gradually closed in on itself and became a full dictatorship with the promulgation of the Fifth Institutional Act in 1968. The repression of the dictatorship's opponents, including urban guerrillas, was harsh, but not as brutal as in other Latin American countries. Because of the extraordinary economic growth, known as an "economic miracle", the regime reached its highest level of popularity in the years of repression.
General Ernesto Geisel became president in 1974 and began his project of re-democratization through a process that he said would be "slow, gradual and safe." Geisel ended the military indiscipline that had plagued the country since 1889, as well as the torture of political prisoners, censorship of the press, and finally, the dictatorship itself, after he extinguished the Fifth Institutional Act. However, the military regime continued, under his chosen successor General João Figueiredo, to complete the transition to full democracy.
The civilians fully returned to power in 1985 when José Sarney assumed the presidency but, by the end of his term, he had become extremely unpopular because of the uncontrollable economic crisis and unusually high inflation. Sarney's unsuccessful government allowed the election in 1989 of the almost unknown Fernando Collor, who was subsequently impeached by the National Congress in 1992. Collor was succeeded by his Vice-President Itamar Franco, who appointed Fernando Henrique Cardoso as Minister of Finance. Cardoso produced a highly successful Plano Real. that granted stability to the Brazilian economy and he was elected as president in 1994 and again in 1998. The peaceful transition of power to Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, who was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, proved that Brazil had finally succeeded in achieving its long-sought political stability. Lula was succeeded in 2011 by the current president, Dilma Rousseff, the country's first woman president and as such one of the most powerful women in the world.
Brazil occupies a large area along the eastern coast of South America and includes much of the continent's interior, sharing land borders with Uruguay to the south; Argentina and Paraguay to the southwest; Bolivia and Peru to the west; Colombia to the northwest; and Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and the French overseas department of French Guiana to the north. It shares a border with every country in South America except for Ecuador and Chile. It also encompasses a number of oceanic archipelagos, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz. Its size, relief, climate, and natural resources make Brazil geographically diverse. Including its Atlantic islands, Brazil lies between latitudes 6°N and 34°S, and longitudes 28° and 74°W.
Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, and third largest in the Americas, with a total area of 8,514,876.599 km2 (3,287,612 sq mi), including 55,455 km2 (21,411 sq mi) of water. It spans three time zones; from UTC-4 in the western states, to UTC-3 in the eastern states (and the official time of Brazil) and UTC-2 in the Atlantic islands. Brazil is the only country in the world that lies on the equator while having contiguous territory outside the tropics.
Brazilian topography is also diverse and includes hills, mountains, plains, highlands, and scrublands. Much of the terrain lies between 200 metres (660 ft) and 800 metres (2,600 ft) in elevation. The main upland area occupies most of the southern half of the country. The northwestern parts of the plateau consist of broad, rolling terrain broken by low, rounded hills.
The southeastern section is more rugged, with a complex mass of ridges and mountain ranges reaching elevations of up to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft). These ranges include the Mantiqueira and Espinhaço mountains and the Serra do Mar. In the north, the Guiana Highlands form a major drainage divide, separating rivers that flow south into the Amazon Basin from rivers that empty into the Orinoco River system, in Venezuela, to the north. The highest point in Brazil is the Pico da Neblina at 2,994 metres (9,823 ft), and the lowest is the Atlantic Ocean.
Brazil has a dense and complex system of rivers, one of the world's most extensive, with eight major drainage basins, all of which drain into the Atlantic. Major rivers include the Amazon (the world's second-longest river and the largest in terms of volume of water), the Paraná and its major tributary the Iguaçu (which includes the Iguazu Falls), the Negro, São Francisco, Xingu, Madeira and Tapajós rivers.
The climate of Brazil comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large area and varied topography, but most of the country is tropical. According to the Köppen system, Brazil hosts five major climatic subtypes: equatorial, tropical, semiarid, highland tropical, temperate, and subtropical. The different climatic conditions produce environments ranging from equatorial rainforests in the north and semiarid deserts in the northeast, to temperate coniferous forests in the south and tropical savannas in central Brazil. Many regions have starkly different microclimates.
An equatorial climate characterizes much of northern Brazil. There is no real dry season, but there are some variations in the period of the year when most rain falls. Temperatures average 25 °C (77 °F), with more significant temperature variation between night and day than between seasons.
Over central Brazil rainfall is more seasonal, characteristic of a savanna climate. This region is as extensive as the Amazon basin but has a very different climate as it lies farther south at a higher altitude. In the interior northeast, seasonal rainfall is even more extreme. The semiarid climatic region generally receives less than 800 millimetres (31.5 in) of rain, most of which generally falls in a period of three to five months of the year and occasionally less than this, creating long periods of drought. Brazil's 1877–78 Grande Seca (Great Drought), the most severe ever recorded in Brazil, caused approximately half a million deaths. The one from 1915 was devastating too.
South of Bahia, near the coasts, and more southerly most of the state of São Paulo, the distribution of rainfall changes, with rain falling throughout the year. The south enjoys temperate conditions, with cool winters and average annual temperatures not exceeding 18 °C (64.4 °F); winter frosts are quite common, with occasional snowfall in the highest areas.
Brazil's large territory comprises different ecosystems, such as the Amazon Rainforest, recognized as having the greatest biological diversity in the world, with the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado, sustaining the greatest biodiversity. In the south, the Araucaria pine forest grows under temperate conditions. The rich wildlife of Brazil reflects the variety of natural habitats. Scientists estimate that the total number of plant and animal species in Brazil could approach four million.
Larger mammals include pumas, jaguars, ocelots, rare bush dogs, and foxes; peccaries, tapirs, anteaters, sloths, opossums, and armadillos are abundant. Deer are plentiful in the south, and many species of New World monkeys are found in the northern rain forests. Concern for the environment has grown in response to global interest in environmental issues.
Biodiversity can contribute to agriculture, livestock, forestry and fisheries extraction. However, almost all economically exploited species of plants, such as soybeans and coffee, or animals, such as chicken, are imported from other countries, and the economic use of native species still crawls. In the Brazilian GDP, the forest sector represents just over 1% and fishing 0.4%.
A single drug for controlling hypertension, developed with the venom of the jararaca - a Brazilian species, would yield about $1.5 billion a year to a foreign laboratory that has patented. This is a value comparable to the national exports of beef and pork combined.
The natural heritage of Brazil is severely threatened by cattle ranching and agriculture, logging, mining, resettlement, oil and gas extraction, over-fishing, wildlife trade, dams and infrastructure, water pollution, climate change, fire, and invasive species. In many areas of the country, the natural environment is threatened by development. Construction of highways has opened up previously remote areas for agriculture and settlement; dams have flooded valleys and inundated wildlife habitats; and mines have scarred and polluted the landscape. At least 70 dams are said to be planned for the Amazon region, including controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric dam.
Government and politics
The Brazilian Federation is the "indissoluble union" of three distinct political entities: the States, the Municipalities and the Federal District. The Union, the states and the Federal District, and the municipalities, are the "spheres of government." The Federation is set on five fundamental principles: sovereignty, citizenship, dignity of human beings, the social values of labour and freedom of enterprise, and political pluralism. The classic tripartite branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial under a checks and balances system), is formally established by the Constitution. The executive and legislative are organized independently in all three spheres of government, while the judiciary is organized only at the federal and state/Federal District spheres.
All members of the executive and legislative branches are directly elected. Judges and other judicial officials are appointed after passing entry exams. For most of its democratic history, Brazil has had a multi-party system, proportional representation. Voting is compulsory for the literate between 18 and 70 years old and optional for illiterates and those between 16 and 18 or beyond 70.
Together with several smaller parties, four political parties stand out: Workers' Party (PT), Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), and Democrats (DEM). Fifteen political parties are represented in Congress. It is common for politicians to switch parties, and thus the proportion of congressional seats held by particular parties changes regularly. Almost all governmental and administrative functions are exercised by authorities and agencies affiliated to the Executive.
The form of government is that of a democratic republic, with a presidential system. The president is both head of state and head of government of the Union and is elected for a four-year term, with the possibility of re-election for a second successive term. The current president is Dilma Rousseff who was inaugurated on 1 January 2011. The President appoints the Ministers of State, who assist in government. Legislative houses in each political entity are the main source of law in Brazil. The National Congress is the Federation's bicameral legislature, consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate. Judiciary authorities exercise jurisdictional duties almost exclusively.
Brazilian law is based on Roman-Germanic traditions and civil law concepts prevail over common law practice. Most of Brazilian law is codified, although non-codified statutes also represent a substantial part, playing a complementary role. Court decisions set out interpretive guidelines; however, they are seldom binding on other specific cases. Doctrinal works and the works of academic jurists have strong influence in law creation and in law cases.
The legal system is based on the Federal Constitution, which was promulgated on 5 October 1988, and is the fundamental law of Brazil. All other legislation and court decisions must conform to its rules. As of April 2007, there have been 53 amendments. States have their own constitutions, which must not contradict the Federal Constitution. Municipalities and the Federal District have "organic laws" (leis orgânicas), which act in a similar way to constitutions. Legislative entities are the main source of statutes, although in certain matters judiciary and executive bodies may enact legal norms. Jurisdiction is administered by the judiciary entities, although in rare situations the Federal Constitution allows the Federal Senate to pass on legal judgments. There are also specialized military, labor, and electoral courts. The highest court is the Supreme Federal Court.
This system has been criticised over the last few decades for the slow pace of decision making. Lawsuits on appeal may take several years to resolve, and in some cases more than a decade elapses before definitive rulings. Nevertheless, the Supreme Federal Tribunal was the first court in the world to transmit its sessions on television, and also via YouTube. More recently, in December 2009, the Supreme Court adopted Twitter to display items on the day planner of the ministers, to inform the daily actions of the Court and the most important decisions made by them.
Brazil continues to have high crime rates in a number of statistics, despite recent improvements. More than 500,000 people have been killed by firearms in Brazil between 1979 and 2003, according to a new report by the United Nations. In 2010, there were 473,600 people incarcerated in Brazilian prisons and jails.
Although some social and economic problems prevent Brazil from exercising effective global power, the country is now a political and economic leader in Latin America. This claim, however, is partially challenged by other countries, such as Argentina and Mexico, who oppose the Brazilian goal of obtaining a permanent seat as representative of the region in the Security Council of the United Nations. Between World War II and the 1990s, democratic and military governments sought to expand Brazil's influence in the world, pursuing a common foreign and independent industry. Currently the country has aimed to strengthen ties with other South American countries and pursue multilateral diplomacy through the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
The current Brazil's foreign policy is based on the country's position as a regional power in Latin America, a leader among developing countries and an emerging world superpower. Brazilian foreign policy has generally reflected multilateralism, resolving disputes peacefully and non-intervention in the affairs of other countries. The Brazilian Constitution also determines that the country shall seek an economic, political, social and cultural ties with the nations of Latin America.
An increasingly well-developed tool of Brazil's foreign policy is providing aid as a donor to other developing countries. Brazil does not just use its growing economic strength to provide financial aid, but it also provides high levels of expertise and most importantly of all, a quiet non-confrontational diplomacy to improve governance levels. Total aid is estimated to be around $1 billion per year that includes:
• technical cooperation of around $480 million ($30 million in 2010 provided directly by the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC))
• an estimated $450 million for in-kind expertise provided by Brazilian institutions specialising in technical cooperation
In addition, Brazil manages a peacekeeping mission in Haiti ($350 million) and makes in-kind contributions to the World Food Programme ($300 million). This is in addition to humanitarian assistance and contributions to multilateral development agencies. The scale of this aid places it on par with China and India and ahead of many western donors. The Brazilian South-South aid has been described as a "global model in waiting."
The armed forces of Brazil, largest in Latin America, consist of the Brazilian Army, the Brazilian Navy, and the Brazilian Air Force with a total of 371,199 active personnel. The Army has 235,978 active personnel. The Military Police (States' Military Police) is described as an ancillary force of the Army by the constitution, but is under the control of each state's governor. The Navy is the oldest of the Brazilian armed forces and operates an aircraft carrier, the NAe São Paulo (formerly FS Foch of the French Navy). The Air Force has about 700 manned aircraft in service.
Brazil is a federation composed of 26 States, one Federal district (which contains the capital city, Brasília) and Municipalities. States have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a share of taxes collected by the Federal government. They have a governor and a unicameral legislative body elected directly by their voters. They also have independent Courts of Law for common justice. Despite this, states have much less autonomy to create their own laws than in the United States. For example, criminal and civil laws can only be voted by the federal bicameral Congress and are uniform throughout the country.
The states and the federal district may be grouped into regions: Northern, Northeast, Central-West, Southeast and Southern. The Brazilian regions are merely geographical, not political or administrative divisions, and they do not have any specific form of government. Although defined by law, Brazilian regions are useful mainly for statistical purposes, and also to define the distribution of federal funds in development projects.
Municipalities, as the states, have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a share of taxes collected by the Union and state government. Each has a mayor and an elected legislative body, but no separate Court of Law. Indeed, a Court of Law organized by the state can encompass many municipalities in a single justice administrative division called comarca (county).
Brazil is the largest national economy in Latin America, the world's seventh largest economy at market exchange rates and the seventh largest in purchasing power parity (PPP), according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Brazil has a mixed economy with abundant natural resources. The Brazilian economy has been predicted to become one of the five largest in the world in the decades to come, the GDP per capita following and growing, provided that large investments in productivity gains are made to substitute the GDP growth of the last decade that is attributable to the increase in the number of people working. Its current GDP (PPP) per capita is $10,200, putting Brazil in the 64th position according to World Bank data. Active in agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors Brazil has a labor force of over a 107 million (ranking 6th worldwide) and unemployment of 6.2% (ranking 64th worldwide).
The country has been expanding its presence in international financial and commodities markets, and is one of a group of four emerging economies called the BRIC countries. Major export products include aircraft, electrical equipment, automobiles, ethanol, textiles, footwear, iron ore, steel, coffee, orange juice, soybeans and corned beef., and has the fourth largest car market in the world. Adding up, Brazil ranks 23rd worldwide in value of exports.
Brazil pegged its currency, the real, to the U.S. dollar in 1994. However, after the East Asian financial crisis, the Russian default in 1998 and the series of adverse financial events that followed it, the Central Bank of Brazil temporarily changed its monetary policy to a managed-float scheme while undergoing a currency crisis, until definitively changing the exchange regime to free-float in January 1999.
Brazil received an International Monetary Fund rescue package in mid-2002 of $30.4 billion, then a record sum. Brazil's central bank paid back the IMF loan in 2005, although it was not due to be repaid until 2006. One of the issues the Central Bank of Brazil recently dealt with was an excess of speculative short-term capital inflows to the country, which may have contributed to a fall in the value of the U.S. dollar against the real during that period. Nonetheless, foreign direct investment (FDI), related to long-term, less speculative investment in production, is estimated to be $193.8 billion for 2007. Inflation monitoring and control currently plays a major part in the Central bank's role of setting out short-term interest rates as a monetary policy measure.
Between 1993 and 2010, 7012 mergers & acquisitions with a total known value of $707 billion with the involvement of Brazlian firms have been announced. The year 2010 was a new record in terms of value with 115 billion USD of transactions. The largest transaction with involvement of Brazilian companies has been: Cia Vale do Rio Doce acquired Inco in a tender offer valued at US$18.9 billion.
Corruption costs Brazil almost $41 billion a year alone, with 69.9% of the country's firms identifying the issue as a major constraint in successfully penetrating the global market. Local government corruption is so prevalent that voters only perceive it as a problem if it surpasses certain levels, and only if a local media e.g. a radio station is present to divulge the findings of corruption charges. Initiatives, like this exposure, strengthen awareness which is indicated by the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index; ranking Brazil 69th out of 178 countries in 2012.
The purchasing power in Brazil is eroded by the so-called Brazil cost.
Tourism is an important economic activity in various regions of the country. With five million foreign visitors in 2008, Brazil is the main destination for international tourism market in South America, and ranks second in Latin America in terms of flow of international tourists.
Spending by foreign tourists visiting Brazil reached 6.8 billion dollars in 2011, 14.5% more than in 2010. In 2005, tourism contributed 3.2% of national income arising from the export of goods and services, responsible for the creation of 7% of direct and indirect jobs in the economy. In 2006, an estimated 1.87 million people were employed in the sector, with 768 thousand formal jobs (41%) and 1.1 million informal occupations (59%).
The Domestic tourism represents a vital part of the industry, accounting for over 50 million trips annually, the direct revenues generated by domestic tourism in 2010 was $33 billion - nearly six times more than is captured by the country in relation to foreign tourism.
Components and energy
Brazil's economy is diverse, encompassing agriculture, industry, and many services. The recent economic strength has been due in part to a global boom in commodities prices with exports from beef to soybeans soaring. Agriculture and allied sectors like forestry, logging and fishing accounted for 5.1% of the gross domestic product in 2007, a performance that puts agribusiness in a position of distinction in terms of Brazil's trade balance.
The industry — from automobiles, steel and petrochemicals to computers, aircraft, and consumer durables— accounted for 30.8% of the gross domestic product. Industry, which is often technologically advanced, is highly concentrated in metropolitan São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Campinas, Porto Alegre, and Belo Horizonte.
Brazil is the world's tenth largest energy consumer with much of its energy coming from renewable sources, particularly hydroelectricity and ethanol; the Itaipu Dam is one of the world's largest hydroelectric dams en the first car with an ethanol engine was produced in 1978, the first airplane engine running on ethanol in 2005. It is expected to become a major oil producer and exporter, having recently made huge oil discoveries. The governmental agencies responsible for the energy policy are the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the National Council for Energy Policy, the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels, and the National Agency of Electricity.
Science and technology
Technological research in Brazil is largely carried out in public universities and research institutes, and more than 73% of funding for basic research comes from government sources. Some of Brazil's most notable technological hubs are the Oswaldo Cruz Institute, the Butantan Institute, the Air Force's Aerospace Technical Center, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation and the INPE. The Brazilian Space Agency has the most advanced space program in Latin America.
Uranium is enriched at the Resende Nuclear Fuel Factory, mostly for research purposes (as Brazil obtains 88% from its electricity from hydroelectricity) and the country's first nuclear submarine will be delivered in 2015 (by France). Brazil is one of the three countries in Latin America with an operational Synchrotron Laboratory, a research facility on physics, chemistry, material science and life sciences. And Brazil is the only Latin American country to have a semiconductor company with its own fabrication plant, the CEITEC.
Brazilian roads are the primary carriers of freight and passenger traffic. The road system totalled 1.98 million km (1.23 million mi) in 2002. The total of paved roads increased from 35,496 km (22,056 mi) in 1967 to 184,140 km (114,425 mi) in 2002.
Brazil's railway system has been declining since 1945, when emphasis shifted to highway construction. The total length of railway track was 30,875 km (19,186 mi) in 2002, as compared with 31,848 km (19,789 mi) in 1970. Most of the railway system belonged to the Federal Railroad Corporation RFFSA, which was privatized in 2007. The São Paulo Metro was the first underground transit system in Brazil. The other metro systems are in Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Recife, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Teresina and Fortaleza.
There are about 2,500 airports in Brazil, including landing fields: the second largest number in the world, after the United States. São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport, near São Paulo, is the largest and busiest airport, handling the vast majority of popular and commercial traffic of the country and connecting the city with virtually all major cities across the world. With 13,728,000 passengers annually it ranks 80th worldwide
For freight transport waterways are of importance, e.g. the industrial zones of Manaus can only be reached by means of the Solimões- Amazonas waterway (3250 km with 6 meters minimum depth).
Coastal shipping links widely separated parts of the country. Bolivia and Paraguay have been given free ports at Santos. Of the 36 deep-water ports, Santos, Itajaí, Rio Grande, Paranaguá, Rio de Janeiro, Sepetiba, Vitória, Suape, Manaus and São Francisco do Sul are the most important. Bulk carriers have to wait up to 18 days before being serviced, container ships 36,3 hours on average.