Brazil (official name: the Federative Republic of Brazil) is the fifth largest country in the world, both in terms of population and geographic area. It is the seventh largest economy in the world, the largest country and economy in South America.
Brazil (official name: the Federative Republic of Brazil) is the fifth largest country in the world, both in terms of population and geographic area. It is the seventh largest economy in the world, the largest country and economy in South America, and a recognized regional leader in strategic, economic, and cultural terms. Brazil gained notoriety and prominence as one of the fast-growing BRICs emerging markets (originally Brazil, Russia, India, and China, but now also including South Africa).
Prior to gaining its independence in 1822, Brazil was under Portuguese rule for more than three centuries. Coffee exporters dominated the political landscape until 1930, when a populist leadership rose to power. For the next 50 years, populist and military governments ruled Brazil until the military peacefully handed power to civilian leaders in 1985.
Brazil consists of 26 states and 1 federal district, containing the capital, Brasilia. Brazil is a democratic republic with presidential system. The legislative body is known as the National Congress, and the president serves as both head of state and head of government. The president and the legislature are both directly elected.
The legal system is considered to be arcane and slow moving, and government bureaucracies are infamously inefficient and corrupt.
Sao Paulo is generally regarded as the business and finance capital of Brazil. Portuguese is the official language and is most widely spoken, both socially and for business, although English and Spanish are both common second languages.
Brazil is a “melting pot” of a variety of different cultures and ethnicities, with individuals of mixed race accounting for almost half of the population. Brazil will be thrust into the world spotlight over the next several years, as it will host both World Cup (2014) and the Summer Olympics (2016).
After a decade of high growth rates (generally in the 5% -7%) range, Brazil began to experience a sharp slowdown in 2011. While the government continued to spend billions of dollars on preparations for the World Cup and Olympics, social dissatisfaction and unrest have mounted, with widespread and sometime violent protests breaking out in recent months.
Crime and public safety issues persist in Brazil, and most major cities contain notoriously dangerous “favelas” (slums or shanty towns), frequently controlled by armed gangs and drug syndicates. In the run-up to the World Cup, the government has deployed specially trained police units and even the army in an attempt to improve security, although the results have been mixed.
Brazil faces a number of challenges moving forward, including extreme income inequality, crime, corruption, and a dilapidated and inadequate infrastructure.