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Brazil (in Portuguese, Brasil), officially Federative Republic of Brazil, federal republic, the largest country in South America, occupying nearly one half of the entire area of the continent.

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Brazil (in Portuguese, Brasil), officially Federative Republic of Brazil, federal republic, the largest country in South America, occupying nearly one half of the entire area of the continent. It is bordered on the north by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and the Atlantic Ocean; on the east by the Atlantic Ocean; on the south by Uruguay; on the west by Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru; and on the north-west by Colombia. The republic has a common frontier with every country of South America except Chile and Ecuador. Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world (after Russia, China, Canada, and the United States). The total area of Brazil is 8,511,996 sq km (3,286,500 sq mi); its maximum north-south distance is about 4,345 km (2,700 mi), and its maximum east-west distance is about 4,330 km (2,690 mi). Most of the people of Brazil live near the Atlantic Ocean, notably in the great cities of S�o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but the capital is inland, at Bras�lia (1993 estimate 1,673,151). The country, which was once a Portuguese dependency, is the world's leading producer of coffee, and it also contains great mineral resources; exploitation of many of these resources intensified during the 1980s and 1990s. A vast region of highlands, known as the Brazilian highlands or Brazilian plateau, and the basin of the River Amazon are the dominant geographical features of Brazil. The plateau is an eroded tableland occupying most of the south-eastern half of the country. With a general elevation of about 305 to 915 m (1,000 to 3,000 ft), this tableland is irregularly divided by mountain ranges and numerous river valleys. Its south-eastern edge, which is generally parallel to the coast, rises abruptly from the ocean in various areas, particularly north of latitude 10� south and south of latitude 20� south. ...read more.


Many varieties of birds are indigenous to the country. The reptilian fauna includes several species of alligator and numerous species of snake, notably the bushmaster, fer-de-lance, and boa. Fish and turtle abound in the rivers, lakes, and coastal waters of Brazil. The issue of deforestation in the Amazon Basin is an international environmental issue. The country's rainforest is one of the most complex ecosystems in the world, containing much of the world's biodiversity. During the early 1990s the forest was being destroyed, to make way for agriculture, at a rate of 35,000 sq km (13,500 sq mi) a year. A rainforest protection programme, funded by the Brazilian government, the EU, and the G-7 group, was agreed in 1996. The soil is primarily tropical and subtropical terra rosa (red earth). Amazonia, the valley of the Amazon and its tributaries, is a vast alluvial plain in which flooding continually washes away and replenishes topsoil. A number of low alluvial plateaux, however, can be found above normal floor levels. Some inland regions of the north-east are semi-arid. In lowland areas, the soil supports dense rainforests. The state of S�o Paulo is marked by fertile, almost purple, terra rosa, because of basalt decomposition accelerated by heat and humidity. Approximately 22 per cent of the population of Brazil is composed of mulattoes. People of Portuguese descent are the second-largest group (15 per cent), followed by mestizos (people of mixed European and Native American stock, 12 per cent), Italian (11 per cent), black (11 per cent), and Spanish (10 per cent), with the remaining 19 per cent made up of other groups, including Germans, Japanese, and Native Americans. The population of Brazil (1996 estimate) is 157,872,000. The overall population density is about 19 per sq km (48 per sq mi). ...read more.


in 1995. Brazil's manufacturing industries produce a vast array of products and contributed almost 25 per cent of GDP in 1995. Large amounts of such goods as processed food (particularly orange juice), iron and steel, cement, textiles, clothing, motor vehicles, chemicals, and machinery. S�o Paulo is the leading industrial state, with factories producing about one third of the total amount of manufactures of Brazil; the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, and Fortaleza also are major manufacturing centres. Tourism in Brazil centres around the country's many beaches and the city of Rio de Janeiro. Ecotourism in the Amazon Basin is being encouraged by the government. In 1994 some 1,700,464 tourists visited Brazil (over one third of which were from Argentina), spending over US$1.9 million. The monetary unit of Brazil is the real, of 100 centavos (2.005 reals equal US$1; 1999), introduced in July 1994 to replace the cruzado. The Central Bank of Brazil (1965), which is based in Bras�lia, issues the country's currency. Other major banking institutions include the Bank of Brazil, a state-owned commercial bank with more than 3,044 branches; the National Bank of Economic and Social Development, based in Rio de Janeiro; and the Brazilian Discount Bank, with over 1,700 branches. Brazilians are also served by many other private and state banks. The Native Americans who were the original inhabitants of what is now Brazil included the Arawak and Carib groups in the north, the Tup�-Guaran� of the east coast and the Amazon river valley, the Ge of eastern and southern Brazil, and the Pano in the west. For the most part these groups were essentially semi-nomadic peoples, who subsisted by hunting and gathering and simple agriculture. Those groups in the more remote areas of the interior maintained their traditional way of life until the late 20th century, when their existence was threatened by the advancing frontier. ...read more.

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