Brasil -- Geography
Official Name: Federative Republic of Brasil
Capital City: Brazilia
Languages: Portugese,Spanish, English, French
Official Currency: Real
Religions: Catholicism, Protenstantism, other
Population: 186 112 800 people
Land Area: 8 511 965 sq. km
Landforms: Almost half of Brazil's territory is covered by the basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries, a region that is one of the world's largest rainforest ecologies. Unfortunately, a substantial proportion of this area has suffered the effects of modernization in recent years. From the Amazon's mouth on the Pacific to Manaus, the region's bustling main city, the river is heavily traveled, and wildlife is scarce. Away from the cities and the main course of the Amazon, however, smaller tributaries lead past unspoiled habitat and traditional villages.
South of the Amazon region, the country's interior is dominated by the Brazilian Shield, an expansive bedrock flat that is slowly falling victim to the elements. The Mato Grosso, a smooth, grassy plain in Brazil's center, slowly gives way to the Planalto, a low-rise plateau that extends across the central and western regions. In the far west, along the border with Paraguay and Bolivia, is the Pantanal, one of the most extensive swamplands in the world.
Brasil -- History
The Portuguese were the first European settlers to arrive in the area, led by adventurous Pedro Cabral, who began the colonial period in 1500. The Portuguese reportedly found native Indians numbering around seven million. Most tribes were peripatetic, with only limited agriculture and temporary dwellings, although villages often had as many as 5000 inhabitants. Cultural life appears to have been richly developed, although both tribal warfare and cannibalism were ubiquitous. The few remaining traces of Brazil's Indian tribes reveal little of their lifestyle, unlike the evidence from other Andean tribes. Today, fewer than 200,000 of Brazil's indigenous people survive, most of whom inhabit the jungle areas.
Other Portuguese explorers followed Cabral, in search of valuable goods for European trade but also for unsettled land and the opportunity to escape poverty in Portugal itself. The only item of value they discovered was the pau do brasil (brazil wood tree) from which they created red dye. Unlike the colonizing philosophy of the Spanish, the Portuguese in Brazil were much less focused at first on conquering, controlling, and developing the country. Most were impoverished sailors, who were far more interested in profitable trade and subsistence agriculture than in territorial expansion. The country's interior remained unexplored.
Nonetheless, sugar soon came to Brazil, and with it came imported slaves. To a degree unequaled in most of the American colonies, the Portuguese settlers frequently intermarried with both the Indians and the African slaves, and there were also mixed marriages between the Africans and Indians. As a result, Brazil's population is intermingled to a degree that is unseen elsewhere. Most Brazilians possess some combination of European, African, Amerindian, Asian, and Middle Eastern lineage,and this multiplicity of cultural legacies is a notable feature of current Brazilian culture.
The move to open the country's interior coincided with the discovery in the 1690s of gold in the south-central part of the country. The country's gold deposits didn't pan out, however, and by the close of the 18th century the country's focus had returned to the coastal agricultural regions. In 1807, as Napoleon Bonaparte closed in on Portugal's capital city of Lisbon, the Prince Regent shipped himself off to Brazil. Once there, Dom Joao established the colony as the capital of his empire. By 1821 things in Europe had cooled down sufficiently that Dom Joao could return to Lisbon, and he left his son Dom Pedro I in charge of Brazil. When the king attempted the following year to return Brazil to subordinate status as a colony, Dom Pedro flourished his sword and declared the country's independence from Portugal (and his own independence from his father).
In the 19th century coffee took the place of sugar as Brazil's most important product. The boom in coffee production brought a wave of almost one million European immigrants, mostly Italians, and also brought about the Brazilian republic. In 1889, the wealthy coffee magnates backed a military coup, the emperor fled, and Brazil was no more an imperial country. The coffee planters virtually owned the country and the government for the next thirty years, until the worldwide depression evaporated coffee demand. For the next half century Brazil struggled with governmental instability, military coups, and a fragile economy. In 1989, the country enjoyed its first democratic election in almost three decades. Unfortunately, the Brazilians made the mistake of electing Fernando Collor de Mello. Mello's corruption did nothing to help the economy, but his peaceful removal from office indicated at least that the country's political and governmental structures are stable.
Brasil -- Economy
The Brazil Economy completely depends upon the market. Major part of it depends upon the export of goods to other countries. It acquires ninth place in the world and first place in Latin America. Brazilian economy also is dependent upon the industries and agriculture. Brazil is the highest producing country in the Latin America in the field. The excessive production has also led to the export of agricultural goods to other countries and thus, earning good amount of money. There has also been a great development in the field of science and technology due to the foreign investment in the country.
The economy of Brazil is supported by diverse economics institutions like SACN, Mercosur and Cairns Group. The technological area of Brazil consists of the making of airplanes and submarines. The country also plays a major role in the field of space research. Brazil is famous for the ethanol that is produced in large amounts in the country. Brazil is the largest country that has car assembling companies within itself. It has also excelled in the field of water oil research and scientific developments in various other fields.
The country has a large service sector that comprises 66% of the economy. The industrial sector comprises 20% of the total economy of Brazil. Agriculture represents 14%. The labor force comprises the majority of the Brazil economy.
Brasil -- Culture
The ethic mix of cultures of all the three races - American, European and Brazil gives the country a unique cultural heritage. However, Portuguese culture still manages to influence Brazil. The country also has a strong folk-art tradition, a mixture of the art of Native Americans, Africans, and Portuguese. Brazil also has an affiliation towards poetry and has seen the birth of many poets. Besides this, painting and pottery also form part of Brazil's artistic culture. Music has always been a part of every Brazilian's life, the most popular being Samba which is a result of the blending of rhythm and vocal styles of the Native Americans, Portuguese, and Africans.
Under the influence of the many cultures of the immigrants that settled in Brazil, the variety of rhythms and dances that have been born in this country is more than one can count. Starting with the native ritual music that later the Portuguese Jesuits made suitable to their liturgies, to the percussive beats of the Africans, Brazil received many great cultural influences that helped shape it's unique fusion.
Here is a list of some of those rhythms/music styles and dances:
BATUQUE: Originated in a ritual of procreation that came with the African slaves from Congo and Angola. Dancing to the sounds of the drums, a man and a woman improvise moves in the center of circle. When they want to pass a chance to another couple they do that with an umbigada. (navel to navel)
CARIMBO: Folkloric dance which originated in the state of Para in the area of the Brazilian Amazon. Danced to the accompaniment of drums and sometimes strings. The carimbo takes it's name from the large African drum. Man and woman dance and when the woman throws her handkerchief on the floor her companion picks it up using only his mouth.
CONGADA: Danced in circles in honor of Saint Benedict and our lady of Rosary.
CHORO: A style of music that became popular in the sixth decade of the ninth century. The name Choro is related to the melancholy characteristic of the music. It was named Seresta when there was a singer as a soloist and Choro when it was all instrumental.
MARACATU: Performed out doors at the Carnaval and Christmas time in Pernambuco it involves man and woman in a procession that mixes theater and music elements. The principal figure of the procession is the "Queen" who is protected by a canopy and surrounded by costumed consorts.
MODINHA: Arias about love or lament. Music that expresses sentiment of nativism and nationalism. Usually done in binary or ternary compass.
PASTORIS: Theatrical representations in front of the Nativity scene at Christmas time. The dramatic dances and songs performed praise and commemorate Jesus' birth.
SAMBA ENREDO: a samba composed to be sang at carnival time by the schools of samba. The theme of the samba always celebrates a patriotic or historical event or person.
FREVO: Dance and style of music preeminent in Recife (capital of the state of Pernambuco). Happy rhythm with fast melodies performed especially at carnaval times in street parades. The frevo ensembles bring to mind a big band with saxophones, trombones, trumpets, shakers and the pandeiros.
Brasil -- Political system, law and government
The Federative Republic of Brazil is a democratic State by rights, with a Presidential system of government. The President of the Republic performs two functions: those of Head of State and Head of the Federal Government.
The Presidency of the Republic and the Vice-presidency are in the foremost position of federal public administration, assisted by the ministers, with the subordination of the government bureaus, autarchies, foundations, public companies and other directly or indirectly controlled entities.
In accordance with the 1988 National Constitution, the Federal Government acts decisively in the life of the Brazilian people, be it by establishing rules, implementing programs or rendering services to the population.
For the execution of programs, the Federal Government establishes priorities for the application of public resources, planned over a four-year period. Such priorities are described in the Pluri-Annual Plan (PPA), which must be submitted by the President to National Congress. The Plan establishes, furthermore, the liaison between the long term programs and the Annual Budgetary Law.
Direct free vote
Only native-born Brazilians with a minimum 35 years of age may occupy the Presidency of the Republic. In addition, they must be democratically chosen, by way of direct elections, and obtain an absolute majority of votes. Elections are direct and to be carried out, simultaneously, throughout the country, on the first Sunday in October of the year prior to the end of the presidential term. The duration for each term is four years, with a single possibility for re-election, and starting date of January 1st of the year following the electoral polls.
Since 1822, the year in which Brazil achieved its independence from Portugal, up to the present day, the Executive Power has been exercised practically without interruption. The first Constitution, of 1824, conferred the leadership of the Executive Branch upon Emperor D. Pedro I. Following the proclamation of the Republic in 1889, the president was elected by the people.
Between the years of 1961 and 1963, Brazil experienced a brief period of a parliamentary government system. With the military coup in 1964, indirect elections were adopted in which the President was elected by an electoral House, at a public session and by means of a nominal voting system. With the country’s return to democracy, presidential elections were once again carried out by means of a direct and secret voting system, in 1985.