Brazil’s current population is thought to be around 186,100,000 and the population growth rate has been rounded to about 1%. Brazil’s population is often characterized by its vast growth, youthful inhabitants, extremely diverse origins and easily geographic mobility. In the 1960 census, Brazil's population was growing rapidly (figure 2) with women having six children on average. Today, women are having less children (an average of three). The population is increasing in Brazil, but the rate has slowed down. The population in Brazil will grow because of its large # of young citizens. 62% of the people in Brazil are under the age of 29.
With 90% percent of the country within the tropical zone, the climate of Brazil tends to change considerably from the mainly tropic north to temperate zones below the Tropic of Capricorn which also happens to cross the city of Sao Paulo. There is a common idea that the further inland you are in Brazil, the more you are likely to be in a less-favorable area (Figure 3, Amazon). Reasons to support this include lack of materials, inconvenient climate, humid temperatures, and no real potential for any economic growth. The coastal climate however, which has hot but pleasing weather, is much more favored.
Brazil’s main problem is that although it has enough land to support all of its population, most of the population ends up crammed in rural villages and big cities near the coast. Too much of the western part of Brazil is disfavored and an inhabitable place for many. Job opportunities are diminutive, throwing many average citizens into poverty. 20% of Rio's population lives in the city's 600 favelas. In the past, favelas (figure 4) have made up images of dirty, dangerous places with a miserable quality of life, but today, many favela communities are working in partnership with the Rio city authorities to counteract these negative images and to combat poverty. Although a favela resident pays taxes like any other citizen in Rio, many have felt mistreated by the city authorities and their wealthier neighbors.
With young people making up a high percentage living in the country (figure 5), much of the youth is struggling to fend itself in the harsh and competitive major cities. Many children are forced to work on the street, and for some it is simply their home, day and night. Working hours are incredibly high for these children, and it becomes even harder when they are too poor to catch public transportation and are forced to walk to their jobs or sometimes only return on weekends. Older children turn out sometimes to become street dealers of drugs. Equally shocking, roughly 500,000 girls are forced into prostitution as a way of getting paid in several Brazilian cities. Sexual activity for street children is more often than not unprotected. The risk of catching sexually transmitted infections is growing. Specialists estimate that there may be 2000 street children who are HIV positive in cities like Rio De Janeiro alone.
For several years the government has been trying to improve the population problems of Brazil. First of all, the favelas obviously need support from the outside. Already many programs have started to improve the quality of life in those favelas. In a city called Vila Canoas, the 2,500 residents now enjoy a better life thanks to a program called “Favela Bairio.” A new underground sewage system has been built beneath the concrete steps and alleys. Waste bins are available for each alley, and are emptied on a regular basis. These improvements have reduced the risk of disease and illness, particularly amongst children. Villa Canoas now has a electricity supply. Previously, poorer residents would illegally tap into the mains because they couldn't afford the charges. This is just one example of how people are trying to deal with these problems.
Another government intended plan to improve the spread of people throughout Brazil, was to simply “make” a new capital, hoping it will encourage citizens to start over in a new city. The city was called Brasilia (figure 6) and it is located more or less to the center of Brazil. It has become famous for its urban planning and overpopulation. As the city is only 50 years old, only half of the inhabitants are locals, the others mave mostly migrated from surrounding states like Minas and Rio. The city was built for about 500,000 people, and now the majority of people live in satelite cities that house exceeding population making a grand total population of about 2.2 million (2002). Brasilia’s location should over time promote the development of Brazil's hinterland and improve the integration of the entire territory of Brazil. Others claim that the real reason was to move the government to a place far from the masses
As of the moment, Brazil is financialy and economically the most powerful country in South America. With a total G.D.P of $1.553 trillion (ranked 10th in the world) and a vast amount of natural resources and large labor pool, Brazil seems to be heading on the right path. Charities and organizations attempt to better the lives of the poor and the working children in Brazil, whilst government policies should better the distribution and the population control across the nation. With improved healthcare and medical care, the elderly are bound to experience a larger life expectancy and live longer. Also with sexual awareness programs and government funded teachings of pregnancy prevention, the birth rate should in turn drop over the coming years. Several predictions have even been established over Brazil’s possible population pyramid in 20 years or so (figure 7). Brazil will most likely continue to prosper and continue to attempt to disperse its population and control it.
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An excellent case study of population and the factors that affect it in Brazil. Use of data and figures is excellent and they are referred to well in the text. 5 stars.