Country profile: Brazil
Brazil is South America's most influential country, an economic giant and one of the world's biggest democracies.
But like some of its South American neighbours, it has a history of
economic boom and bust and its development has been hampered by high
inflation and foreign debt.
The exploitation of the Amazon rainforest, much of which is in Brazil, has become a major worry.
A drive to move settlers to the Amazon region during military rule
in the 1970s caused considerable damage to vast areas of rainforest.
by loggers and cattle ranchers remains controversial, but
government-sponsored migration programmes have been halted.
Brazil's left-leaning president, is popular among the poor but his
party has been beset by corruption claims; he won a second term in 2006
Economy: Brazil has Latin America's largest economy; there has been steady growth under Lula but millions live in poverty
International: Brazil wants a permanent seat at the UN Security Council; relations with Bolivia suffered in 2006 over access to Bolivian gas
In 2005 the government reported that one fifth of the Amazon forests had been cleared by deforestation.
then, it has made efforts to control illegal logging and introduce
better certification of land ownership, but environmental reports
suggest the reforms have made little difference.
natural resources, particularly iron ore, are highly prized by major
manufacturing nations, including China. Thanks to the development of
offshore fields, the nation has become self-sufficient in oil, ending
decades of dependence on foreign producers.
Brazil has had to
be bailed out in times of economic crisis, but reforms in the 1990s,
including privatisations, brought some financial stability.
There is a wide gap between rich and poor.
of the arable land is controlled by a handful of wealthy families, a
situation which the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) seeks to
redress by demanding land redistribution. It uses direct protest action
and land occupation in its quest.
Social conditions can be
harsh in the big cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where a third
of the population lives in favelas, or slums.
programme has become a model for other developing countries. It has
stabilised the rate of HIV infection and the number of Aids-related
deaths has fallen. Brazil has bypassed the major drugs firms to produce
cheaper, generic Aids medicines.
Brazil is revered for its
football prowess. Its cultural contributions include the music of
classical composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and Bossa Nova icon Antonio
- Full name: Federative Republic of Brazil
- Population: 193.7 million (UN, 2009)
- Capital: Brasilia
- Largest city: Sao Paulo
- Area: 8.55 million sq km (3.3 million sq miles)
- Major language: Portuguese
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 69 years (men), 76 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 real = 100 centavos
- Main exports: Manufactured goods, iron ore, coffee, oranges, other agricultural produce
- GNI per capita: US $7,350 (World Bank, 2008)
- Internet domain: .br
- International dialling code: +55
President: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula, secured a second term in a landslide election victory in October 2006.
promised to boost economic growth and to narrow the gap between rich
and poor. In January 2007, Lula marked the start of his second term in
office by announcing an ambitious investment programme.
But with a weakened presence in congress, his left-wing Workers'
Party may have to rely on political alliances to pursue planned tax,
social security and political reforms.
Lula implemented tough
fiscal policies in his first term, overseeing economic stabilisation
and falling levels of inflation and foreign debt.
the pension system and pushed through a modest increase in the minumum
wage. Welfare programmes targeted millions of poor families. But he had
to contend with a surge of land invasions by activists frustrated at
what they saw as the slow pace of agrarian reform.
In 2005 his
popularity was dented by claims of corruption in the ruling party,
focusing on a cash-for-votes scheme in Congress. The president
apologised and said he had known nothing about the alleged corruption.
is a major commodities exporter and Lula has argued strongly that
countries should not put up protectionist barriers in response to the
current global economic crisis.
Lula was born in 1945 in the
impoverished north-east. His family moved to Sao Paulo when he was
seven and he left school at 14 to become a metal worker.
1970s, he honed his political skills as a fiery union leader in the
industrial suburbs of Sao Paulo. He went on to help found the Workers'
South America's biggest media market is home to thousands of radio stations and hundreds of TV channels.
ownership is highly concentrated. Home-grown conglomerates such as
Globo, Brazil's most-successful broadcaster, dominate the market and
run TV and radio networks, newspapers and pay-TV operations.
Brazilian-made dramas and soaps are aired around the world. Game shows and reality TV attract huge audiences.
constitution guarantees a free press; vigorous media debate about
controversial political and social matters is commonplace.
Brazil is rolling out digital TV services; it aims to switch off analogue TV transmissions from 2016.
- Radio Nacional - FM and mediumwave (AM) network operated by state-run Radiobras
- Globo Radio - commercial networks operated by Globo
- Radio Eldorado - affiliated to O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, operates mediumwave (AM) news station and FM music station
- Radio Bandeirantes - network operated by Grupo Bandeirantes
- Radio Cultura - public, cultural programmes