Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fifth largest in the world. It covers 8,514,877 sq km (3,287,597 sq mi) of the eastern part of the South American continent, and has a population of 191 million (2011 estimate). The capital of Brazil is Brasilia while the largest city is Sa~o Paulo.

More on Brazil

Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas as well as the most populous Portuguese-speaking country in the world. It shares a border with almost all the countries of South America including, in counter-clockwise direction, French_Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay. Also within Brazilian territory are numerous archipelagos in the South Atlantic Ocean. The only South American countries not having a shared border with Brazil are Ecuador and Chile.

Due to the large expanse of the country, Brazil has three time zones namely Brasilia Official Time (3 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time) observed by Brasilia and the big cities of southeastern Brazil; Brasilia Time + 1 (UTC-02) observed by a few Atlantic islands on the east coast of Brasil; and Brasilia Tim – 1 (UTC-04) observed by states of Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Rondo^nia and Roraima.

In Brazil, vehicles drive on the right side. The phone IDD code is +55. The official currency is the Real (R$). Brazil in 2010 has a nominal GDP of $2.023 trillion, equivalent to a per capita nominal GDP of $10,471. The per capita GDP at purchasing power parity is $11,289.

History of Brazil

Brazil was claimed by Portuguese explorer Pedro A’lvares Cabral for Portugal in April 1500. The land was already inhabited by a number of primitive tribes who are often at war with one another. The natives speak a tongue of the Tupi-Guarani linguistic family.

Although Brazil was a colony of Portugal since 1500, the first settlement was only established in 1532. The early years of contact with the natives brought wars, diseases, extermination and enslavement which decimated the indigenous tribes. Throughout the 16th century, the Portuguese continued to expand their territorial coverage of Brazil, ousting the French, the British and the Dutch from their respective outposts.

In 1808 the Portuguese royal family, in fleeing advancing troops of Napoleon Bonaparte, reestablished themselves in Rio_de_Janeiro, making it the seat of the Portuguese Empire. In 1815, the regent Dom Joa~o VI elevated Brazil to Kingdom united with Portugal.

When King Joa~o VI returned to Europe on 26 April, 1821, he left his eldest son Prince Pedro de Alca^ntara behind as regent to rule Brazil. The Portuguese attempted to return Brazil to colonial status again, but the Brazilians refused. Prince Pedro supported the movement for Brazilian independence, and was later crowned the Emperor of Brazil on 1 December, 1822.

The Brazilian monarchy was overthrown on 15 November 1889, despite the emperor being at the height of its popularity. The coup was backed by slave owners who opposed the abolition of slavery brought on in 1888. A military dictatorship took over the government, and the country was plagued by a series of rebellions, civil unrest and revolt. In 1930, the defeated presidential candidate Getu’lio Vargas even successfully led a coup d’e’tat and took over presidency.

The new capital city of Brasilia was inaugurated in 1960. Through much of the 20th century, the political landscape of Brasil was tumultuous. A military dictatorship ruled the country from 1964 until 1985, when Jose’ Sarney became president. However the unsuccessful civilian government of Jose’ Sarney is remembered for unbridled inflation and severe economic crisis.

Long term stability only came about for Brazil when Fernando Henrique Cardoso was appointed Minister of Finance. As architect of the Plano Real (Royal Plan), he brought stability to the Brazilian economy. Cardoso was elected president in 1994, and again in 1998. The presidency has since transitioned peacefully to Lui’s Ina’cio Lula da Silva in 2002, re-elected in 2006, and succeeded in 2011 by current president Dilma Rousseff.

Planning your trip to Brazil

Visitors who are allowed into Brazil for up to 90 days with just an ID card include citizens of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Zambia. Visitors who do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days include citizens of Andorra, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Costa_Rica, Croatia, Czech_Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong_Kong_SAR_passport, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, South_Korea, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New_Zealand, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San_Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, South_Africa, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, , Turkey, United_Kingdom (Including British National (Overseas) passport holders), Venezuela (60 days) and Vatican_City.

The Sa~o Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) is the biggest airport in Brazil with numerous direct flights with major cities in North America and Europe. The second biggest airport is the Rio de Janeiro-Galea~o International Airport (GIG). Both airports offer good connections with cities throughout Brazil.

Preparing Money for your trip to Brazil

The currency used in Brazil is the Brazilian Real (BRL). The following are the latest rates for Brazilian Real in the last 24-hours.

Major Cities in Brazil

1. Brasi’lia – capital
2. Sa~o_Paulo – biggest city
3. Belo_Horizonte
4. Floriano’polis
5. Fortaleza
6. Manaus
7. Porto_Alegre
8. Recife
9. Rio_de_Janeiro
10. Salvador

States of Brazil

1. Northern Region
2. Acre
3. Amapa’
4. Amazonas
5. Para’
6. Rondo^nia
7. Roraima
8. Tocantins

9. Northeastern Region
10. Alagoas
11. Bahia
12. Ceara’
13. Maranha~o
14. Parai’ba
15. Pernambuco
16. Piaui’
17. Rio Grande do Norte
18. Sergipe

19. Central Western Region
20. Goia’s
21. Mato Grosso
22. Mato Grosso do Sul

23. Southeastern Region
24. Espirito Santo
25. Minas Gerais
26. Rio de Janeiro
27. Sa~o Paulo

28. Southern Region
29. Rio Grande do Sul
30. Parana’
31. Santa Catarina

Major Attractions of Brazil

1. Chapada dos Veadeiros
2. Christ_the_Redeemer_Statue
3. Iguac,u_Falls
4. Itaipu_Dam
5. Itatiaia National Park
6. Pantanal

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Brazil

1. Cultural
2. Historic_Town_of_Ouro_Preto (1980)
3. Historic_Centre_of_the_Town_of_Olinda (1982)
4. Jesuit_Missions_of_the_Guaranis: San_Ignacio_Mini, Nuestra_Sen~ora_de_Santa_Ana, Nuestra_Sen~ora_de_Loreto and Santa_Mari’a_La_Mayor, all in Argentina, and Sa~o_Miguel_das_Misso~es in Brazil (1983)
5. Historic_Centre_of_Salvador_de_Bahia (1985)
6. Sanctuary_of_Bom_Jesus_do_Congonhas (1985)
7. Brasilia (1987)
8. Serra_da_Capivara_National_Park (1991)
9. Historic_Centre_of_Sa~o_Lui’s (1997)
10. Historic_Centre_of_the_Town_of_Diamantina (1999)
11. Historic_Centre_of_the_Town_of_Goia’s (2001)
12. Sa~o Francisco Square in the Town of Sa~o Cristova~o (2010)

14. Iguac,u_National_Park (1986)
15. Atlantic_Forest_South-East_Reserves (1999)
16. Discovery_Coast_Atlantic_Forest_Reserves (1999)
17. Central_Amazon_Conservation_Complex (2000)
18. Pantanal_Conservation_Area (2000)
19. Brazilian_Atlantic_Islands: Fernando de Noronha and Atol das Rocas Reserves (2001)
20. Cerrado_Protected_Areas: Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas National Parks (2001)

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