|General background: Following three centuries
under the rule of Portugal, Brazil became an independent
nation in 1822. By far the largest and most populous
country in South America, Brazil has overcome more than
half a century of military intervention in the governance
of the country to pursue industrial and agricultural
growth and development of the interior. Exploiting vast
natural resources and a large labor pool, Brazil became
South America's leading economic power by the 1970s.
Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing
Area comparative: Slightly
smaller than the US.
Climate: Mostly tropical, but temperate in south.
Terrain: Mostly flat to rolling lowlands
in north; some plains, hills, mountains, and narrow
Ethnic groups: White (includes Portuguese,
German, Italian, Spanish, Polish) 55%, mixed White
and Black 38%, Black 6%, other (includes Japanese,
Arab, Amerindian) 1%.
Religions: Roman Catholic (nominal) 80%
Language: Portuguese (official), Spanish,
Government type: Federative republic
Legal system: Based on Roman codes; has not
accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Economic overview: Possessing large and well-developed
agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors,
Brazil's economy outweighs that of all other South
American countries and is expanding its presence in
world markets. The maintenance of large current account
deficits via capital account surpluses became problematic
as investors became more risk averse to emerging market
exposure as a consequence of the Asian financial crisis
in 1997 and the Russian bond default in August 1998.
After crafting a fiscal adjustment program and pledging
progress on structural reform, Brazil received a $41.5
billion IMF-led international support program in November
1998. In January 1999, the Brazilian Central Bank
announced that the real would no longer be pegged
to the US dollar. This devaluation helped moderate
the downturn in economic growth in 1999 that investors
had expressed concerns about over the summer of 1998,
and the country posted moderate GDP growth. Economic
growth slowed considerably in 2001 - to less than
2% - because of a slowdown in major markets and the
hiking of interest rates by the Central Bank to combat
inflationary pressures. Investor confidence was strong
at yearend 2001, in part because of the strong recovery
in the trade balance.
Communication/Telephone system: Good working
system, extensive microwave radio relay system and
a domestic satellite system with 64 earth stations,
3 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth stations
- 3 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic
Ocean region east), connected by microwave relay system
to Mercosur Brazilsat B3 satellite earth station.
Places of interest: From the mad passion of
Carnaval to the immensity of the dark Amazon, Brazil
is a country of mythic proportions. All the while,
the people of Brazil delight visitors with their energy,
fantasy and joy.
Travel Tips: Remember to be inoculated against