The official name of Brazil is the Federative Republic of Brazil, and it is the fifth largest country in the world. The total area of Brazil is 8,514,877 sq. km., and it has an estimated population of 191,796,000. Brasilia is its capital city while 'Real' is the currency. Brazil was conquered by the Portuguese in the 1500s, and this huge landmass remained their colony till 1815.
Interesting Facts about Brazil
Earlier, the southeastern region of Brazil had a dense forest cover. Today, this region is the most populous in the country, and hosts major cities.
Dilma Rousseff was the first woman to become the president of Brazil; she assumed office on January 1, 2011.
Geography and Climate
Brazil shares its borders with every country in South America except for Ecuador and Chile. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the east of Brazil. The long coastline of Brazil is dotted with many beaches which attract tourists from across the world. Diverse climatic zones and topography is one of the specialties of this country. The different topographical features of Brazil include the mountains, plains, highlands and scrublands.
The varied topography of Brazil has led to the development of diverse climatic conditions. However, major portion of this country hosts a tropical climate. As per the Koppen Climate Classification system, Brazil has the following climatic subtypes: tropical, equatorial, subtropical, semiarid, temperate and highland tropical. More about Brazil can be understood through following paragraphs.
History of Brazil
It is said that human settlements of Brazil could be 30,000 years old. There is a consensus among scholars that cave paintings found in Brazil are at least 11,000 year old. One theory about the decimation of Brazil's large, indigenous population is that of the spread of diseases like smallpox brought by European settlers. The two population groups which survived these diseases were the Tupian-speaking agrarian society and the other who led a nomadic life. The Portuguese, led by Pedro Alvares Cabral arrived in what is today's Brazil on 22nd April, 1500. The population of native Americans at the time of arrival of the Portuguese was around 7 million.
Today's multi-ethnic society of Brazil has evolved through a long process of cultural mixing that started during the colonial era. The mestizos are people who belong to the race formed in the colonial era when Portuguese settlers married native American women. The Mulattoes are people who descended from African slaves and Portuguese settlers.
Portuguese, the official language of Brazil is widely spoken in this country; this language is therefore, an integrating factor in the diverse and multi-ethnic society of Brazil. Many words of Native American and African origin have been incorporated in the Portuguese language that is spoken in Brazil. Native American languages spoken in Brazil are the Tupi, Carib, Arawak and Ge.
Over 60% people of Brazilians practice Roman Catholicism. Other religions followed in this country are Protestantism and Spiritism. According to the beliefs held by followers of Spiritism, the spirit survives after death. The institution of family holds great importance in the culture of Brazil.
Mining activities conducted in an improper manner have led to the degradation of the environment; water pollution too has increased due to mining. Government reports of 2005, 20% of the Amazon rainforest has been cleared. Measures like banning the products obtained from illegally deforested areas are taken to preserve the wilderness. The different measures taken by the Brazilian government have helped reduce the rate of deforestation from 27,000 sq km/year in 2004 to 5000 sq km/year in 2010.
It is the most popular sport played in Brazil. This country has won the soccer World Cup 5 times -1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002. Today, soccer is not just a sport, but also an art through which Brazilians express themselves. In the words of Gilberto Freyre, "The Brazilians play football as if it were a dance...for [they] tend to reduce everything to dance, work, and play alike." It gives us an idea of how deeply this game is impressed in the culture of Brazil.
Pele's parents had named him after the famous inventor Thomas Edison. But, they had dropped the 'i' from 'Edison'. On Pele's birth certificate, however, his name incorrectly appeared as 'Edison Arantes do Nascimento' and not 'Edson Arantes do Nascimento'.
Flag of Brazil
The flag of Brazil has a green background with a yellow rhombus in the center. This rhomboid shape incorporates a blue disc which is embedded with 27 stars and a curved band. The 27 stars represent the 27 states of Brazil, while the curved band is inscribed with the words Ordem e Progresso, which means Order and Progress.
The huge land mass of Brazil, plenty of natural resources, and most importantly, the human resource of Brazil, all offer great scope for development.