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República Federativa do Brasil
Federative Republic of Brazil
Flag of Brazil Coat of arms of Brazil
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Ordem e Progresso (Portuguese)
"Order and Progress"
Anthem: Hino Nacional Brasileiro
Location of Brazil
Capital Brasília
15°45′S 47°57′W
Largest city São Paulo
Official languages Portuguese
Ethnic groups 48.43% White
43.80% Brown (Multiracial)
6.84% Black
0.58% Asian
0.28% Amerindian
Government Federal presidential constitutional republic
 - President Dilma Rousseff (PT)
 - Vice President Michel Temer (PMDB)
 - President of the Chamber of Deputies Marco Maia (PT)
 - President of the Senate José Sarney (PMDB)
 - Chief Justice Cezar Peluso
Independence from Kingdom of Portugal 
 - Declared 7 September 1822 
 - Recognized 29 August 1825 
 - Republic 15 November 1889 
 - Current constitution 5 October 1988 
 - Total km² (5th)
3287597 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 0.65
 - 2010 census 190,732,694 (5th)
 - Density 22/km²
57/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
 - Total $2.172 trillion
 - Per capita $11,239
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
 - Total $2.090 trillion
 - Per capita $10,816
HDI  (2010) 0.699 (high)
Currency Real (R$) (BRL)
Time zone BRT (UTC-2 to -4)
 - Summer (DST) BRST (UTC-2 to -4)
Internet TLD .br
Calling code +55

Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth-largest country by area, the fifth most populous, and the fourth most populous democracy in the world. The Brazilian population tends to concentrate along the Atlantic coastline in large urban centers. While Brazil has one of the largest populations in the world, its overall population density is low since the vast inland regions are sparsely populated.

Brazil is a racially diverse, multiracial country, and intermarriage among different ethnic groups has been part of the country's history. Some say that Brazil is a "post-racist" society, composed of an agglomeration of all the races in the world, with no respect to color or number, perhaps capable of laying the basis of a new civilization.

By far the most populous country in South America, Brazil overcame more than half a century of military intervention in the governance of the country when, in 1985, the military regime peacefully ceded power to civilian leaders. Brazil continues to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of its interior. Utilizing vast natural resources and a large labor pool, it is today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader. Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing problem.

The major theory for the source of its name states it was named after brazilwood, an abundant species in the new-found land that was valuable in Portuguese commerce. This plant has a strong red color, so "Brazil" is derived from the Portuguese word "brasa," meaning "ember."



Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of over 7,367 kilometers. It borders Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana to the north, Uruguay to the south, Argentina and Paraguay to the southwest, Bolivia and Peru to the west, and Colombia to the northwest. Numerous archipelagos are part of the Brazilian territory, such as Penedos de São Pedro e São Paulo, Fernando de Noronha, Trindade e Martim Vaz, and Atol das Rocas.

Brazil is traversed by the Equator and Tropic of Capricorn and is home to varied fauna and flora, as well as extensive natural resources.

The Amazon rainforest.

Brazilian topography is diverse, including hills, mountains, plains, highlands, scrublands, savannas, rainforests, and a long coastline. The extensive low-lying Amazon rainforest covers most of Brazil’s terrain in the north; small hills and low mountains occupy the south. Along the Atlantic coast there are several mountain ranges, with altitudes of roughly 9,500 feet (2,900 m). The highest peak is the 9,735 foot (3,014 m) Pico da Neblina (Misty Peak) in Guiana's highlands. Major rivers include the Amazon, the largest river in terms of volume of water and the second-longest in the world; the Paraná and its major tributary, the Iguaçu River, where the Iguaçu Falls are located; as well as the Negro, São Francisco, Xingu, Madeira, and Tapajós rivers.


The Iguazu Falls

Brazil's climate has little seasonal variation, since 90 percent of the country is located within the tropics. However, the climate varies considerably from the mostly tropical north (the equator traverses the mouth of the Amazon) to temperate zones below the Tropic of Capricorn, which crosses the country at the latitude of the city of São Paulo. Brazil has five climatic regions: Equatorial, tropical, semiarid, highland tropical, and subtropical.

Temperatures along the equator are high, but southern Brazil has subtropical temperate weather, normally experiencing frost in the winter (June-August), and occasional snow in the mountainous areas, such as Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. Temperatures in the cities of São Paulo and Brasília are moderate because of their altitude of approximately 3,000 feet (1,000 m). Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, located on the coast, have warm climates.

Precipitation levels also vary widely, being higher in the humid Amazon Basin and lower in the somewhat arid landscapes of the northeast. The majority of Brazil has moderate rainfall, with most of it falling in the summer (between December and April), south of the Equator. The Amazon region is notoriously humid, with rainfall of more than 2,000 millimeters per year, getting as high as 3,000 millimeters in parts of the western Amazon and near Belém. Despite high annual precipitation, the Amazon rainforest has a three-to-five month dry season.


The Toco Toucan is a typical animal of the Brazilian rainforest.

Brazil's large area comprises different ecosystems, which together sustain some of the world's greatest biodiversity. Because of the country's intense economic and demographic growth, Brazil's ability to protect its environmental habitats has increasingly come under threat. Extensive logging in the nation's forests, particularly the Amazon, destroys areas the size of a small country each year, and potentially a diverse variety of plants and animals. Between 2002 and 2006, an area of the Amazon rainforest equivalent in size to the U.S. state of South Carolina was completely decimated, for the purposes of raising cattle and logging. By 2020, it is estimated, at least 50 percent of the species in Brazil may become extinct.

The Pantanal area of Brazil is considered by many to be the world’s largest, freshwater, wetland system. It is one of the most pristine and biologically rich environments on the planet. It also provides many economic benefits, including offering a huge area for water purification and groundwater discharge and recharge, climate stabilization, water supply, flood abatement, and an extensive, transport system, among numerous other important functions.

There is a general consensus that Brazil has the highest number of both terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates of any single country in the world. Also, Brazil has the highest primate diversity, the highest number of mammals, the second highest number of amphibians and butterflies, the third highest number of birds, and fifth highest number of reptiles. There is a high number of endangered species, many of them living in threatened habitats such as the Atlantic forest.



Map of Brazil issued by the Portuguese explorers in 1519.

Most scholars agree that Brazil was first reached on April 22, 1500, by Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral. Initially Portugal had little interest in Brazil, mainly because of high profits gained elsewhere. But after 1530, the Portuguese Crown devised the hereditary captaincies system to effectively occupy its new colony and later took direct control of the failed captaincies. The Portuguese colonists adopted an economy based on producing agricultural goods for export to Europe. Sugar was by far the most important product until the early eighteenth century. Even though Brazilian sugar was reputed to be of high quality, the industry faced a crisis during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when the Dutch and the French started producing sugar in the Antilles, located much closer to Europe, causing sugar prices to fall.

During the eighteenth century, private explorers found gold and diamond deposits in the state of Minas Gerais. The exploration of these mines were mostly used to finance the Portuguese royal court's debts. The predatory way in which such deposits were explored, however, burdened colonial Brazil with excessive taxes. Some of the popular movements supporting independence came about to protest the abusive taxes established by the colonial government, but they were often dismissed with violence by Portugal. Gold production declined toward the end of the eighteenth century, starting a period of relative stagnation in the Brazilian hinterland. Both Amerindian and African slave manpower were largely used in Brazil's colonial economy.


Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil, in 1873.

In 1808, the Portuguese court, fleeing from Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops that had invaded Portugal, established themselves in the city of Rio de Janeiro. After João VI returned to Portugal in 1821, his heir-apparent Pedro became regent of the Kingdom of Brazil. Following a series of political incidents and disputes, Brazil achieved its independence in 1822, and Dom Pedro became the first emperor.

Pedro's government was considered economically and administratively inefficient, and political pressures eventually made him step down in 1831. He returned to Portugal, leaving behind his five-year-old son Pedro II. Until Pedro II reached maturity, Brazil was governed by regents. The regency period was turbulent and marked by numerous local revolts including the Male Revolt, the largest urban slave rebellion in the Americas, which took place in Bahia in 1835.

In 1840, Pedro II was crowned emperor. His government was highlighted by a substantial rise in coffee exports and the end of the slave trade from Africa in 1850, although slavery in Brazilian territory would only be abolished in 1888. When slavery was finally abolished, a large influx of European immigrants took place. By the 1870s, the emperor's grasp on domestic politics had started to deteriorate in the face of crises with the Roman Catholic Church, the army, and slaveholders. The Republican movement slowly gained strength. In the end, the empire fell because the dominant classes no longer needed it to protect their interests. Indeed, imperial centralization ran counter to their desire for local autonomy. By 1889, Pedro II had stepped down and the republican system had been adopted.


The House of Representatives at the National Congress in Brasília, the capital of Brazil.

Pedro II was deposed on November 15, 1889, by a republican military coup led by General Deodoro da Fonseca, who became the country’s first de facto president through military ascension. The country’s name became the Republic of the United States of Brazil (changed in 1967 to the Federative Republic of Brazil). From 1889 to 1930, the dominant states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais alternated control of the presidency.

A military ]junta took control in 1930. Getúlio Vargas took office soon after and would remain as dictatorial ruler (with a brief democratic period in between) until 1945. He was re-elected in 1951 and stayed in office until his suicide in 1954. The successive governments continued industrial and agriculture growth and development of the vast interior of Brazil.

The military took office in Brazil in a coup d'état in 1964 and remained in power until March 1985, when it fell from grace because of political struggles between the regime and the Brazilian elites. Just as the Brazilian regime changes of 1889, 1930, and 1945 unleashed competing political forces and caused divisions within the military, so too did the 1964 regime change. Tancredo Neves was elected president in an indirect election in 1985, as Brazil returned to a civil government. He died before taking office, and the vice-president, José Sarney, was sworn in as president in his place.

Democracy was re-established in 1988 when the current Federal Constitution was enacted. Fernando Collor de Mello was the first president truly elected by popular vote after the military regime. Collor took office in March 1990. In September 1992, the National Congress voted for Collor's impeachment after a sequence of scandals were uncovered by the media. The vice president, Itamar Franco, assumed the presidency. Assisted by the minister of finance, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Itamar Franco's administration implemented the Plano Real economic package, which included a new currency temporarily pegged to the U.S. dollar, the real. In the elections held on October 3, 1994, Cardoso ran for president and won, and was reelected in 1998.

Government and politics

Brazil's current president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The Brazilian Federation is based on the indissoluble association of three autonomous political entities: the states, the municipalities and the Federal District. There is no hierarchy among the political entities. The federation is based on six fundamental principles: sovereignty, citizenship, dignity of the people, the social value of labor, freedom of enterprise, and political pluralism. The classic tripartite division of power, encompassing the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches under the checks and balances system, is formally established by the constitution. The executive and legislative branches are organized independently in all four political entities, while the judiciary is organized only in the federal and state levels.

All members of the executive and legislative branches are elected by direct suffrage. Judges and other judicial authorities are appointed after passing entry exams. Voting is compulsory for those aged 18 or older.

Four political parties stand out among several small ones: Workers' Party (PT), Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), and Democrats (formerly Liberal Front Party—PFL).

Practically all governmental and administrative functions are exercised by authorities and agencies affiliated with the executive. The form of government is republican and democratic, and the system of government is presidential. The president is head of state and head of government and elected for a four-year term, with the possibility of re-election for a second successive term. The president appoints the ministers of state, who assist in governing. The current president is Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was elected on October 27, 2002, and re-elected on October 29, 2006.

Legislative houses in each political entity are the main source of laws. The National Congress is a bicameral house formed by the House of Representatives and the Federal Senate.

Foreign relations

Brazilian army troops before boarding for MINUSTAH peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

Brazil is a political and economic leader in Latin America. However, social and economic problems prevent it from becoming an effective global power. Between World War II and 1990, both democratic and military governments sought to expand Brazil's influence in the world by pursuing a state-led industrial policy and an independent foreign policy. More recently, the country has aimed to strengthen ties with other South American countries and engage in multilateral diplomacy through the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

Brazil's current foreign policy is based on the country's position as a regional power in Latin America, a leader among developing countries, and an emerging world power. Brazilian foreign policy has generally reflected multilateralism, peaceful dispute settlement, and nonintervention in the affairs of other countries. The Brazilian constitution also states that the country shall seek the economic, political, social, and cultural integration of the nations of Latin America.


The armed forces of Brazil comprise the Brazilian army, the Brazilian navy, and the Brazilian air force. The Military Police is described as an ancillary force of the army but is under the control of each state's governor. The Brazilian armed forces are the largest in Latin America. The Brazilian air force is the largest air force in Latin America, with about 700 manned aircraft in service. The Brazilian navy is responsible for guarding Brazilian territorial waters. It is the oldest of the Brazilian armed forces and the only navy in Latin America that operates an aircraft carrier. With a strength of approximately 190,000 soldiers, the Brazilian army is responsible for land-based military operations.

Administrative divisions

Politically, Brazil is a federation of twenty-six states and one federal district.

The national territory was divided in 1969, into five main regions: North, Northeast, Central-West, Southeast, and South.

The North covers 45.27 percent of the surface of Brazil and has the lowest number of inhabitants. With the exception of Manaus, which hosts a tax-free industrial zone, and Belém, the biggest metropolitan area of the region, it is fairly unindustrialized and undeveloped. It accommodates most of the rainforest vegetation of the world and many indigenous tribes.

The Northeast, inhabited by about 30 percent of Brazil's population, is culturally diverse, with roots set in the Portuguese colonial period and in Amerindian and Afro-Brazilian elements. It is also the poorest region of Brazil and suffers from long periods of dry climate. The largest cities are Salvador, Recife, and Fortaleza.

The Central-West region has low demographic density when compared to the other regions, mostly because part of its territory is covered by the world's largest marshlands area, the Pantanal, as well as a small part of the Amazon rainforest in the northwest. Much of the region is covered by Cerrado, the largest savanna in the world. The Central-West region contributes significantly toward agriculture. The largest cities of this region are: Brasília (the capital), Goiânia, Campo Grande, Cuiabá, Anápolis, Dourados, Rondonópolis, and Corumbá.

The Southeast region is the richest and most densely populated. It has more inhabitants than any other South American country and hosts one of the largest megalopolises of the world. The main cities are the country's two largest: São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The region is very diverse, including the major business center of São Paulo, the historical cities of Minas Gerais and its capital Belo Horizonte, the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, and the coast of Espírito Santo.

The South is the wealthiest by GDP per capita and has the highest standard of living in the country. It is also the coldest region of Brazil, with occasional occurrences of frost and snow in some of the higher altitude areas. It has been settled by European immigrants, mainly of Italian, German, Portuguese, and Slavic ancestry, and has clearly been influenced by these cultures. The largest cities in this region are Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Florianópolis, Londrina, Caxias do Sul, and Joinville.


Rio de Janeiro is the second largest financial center of the country.

Brazil's GDP (PPP) is the highest of Latin America, with large and developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, as well as a large labor pool. The country has been expanding its presence in international financial and commodities markets and is regarded as one of the group of four emerging economies. Major export products include aircraft, coffee, automobiles, soybeans, iron ore, orange juice, steel, ethanol, textiles, footwear, corned beef, and electrical equipment.

According to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Brazil has the ninth largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity (PPP) and the tenth largest at market exchange rates. It has a diversified middle-income economy with wide variations in development levels. Most large industry is agglomerated in the South and Southeast states. The Northeast, though the poorest region, has attracted new investments in infrastructure for the tourism sector and intensive agricultural schemes.

Brazil had pegged its currency, the real, to the U.S. dollar in 1994. However, after the East Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998, the Russian default in 1998, and the series of adverse financial events that followed it, the Brazilian central bank temporarily changed its monetary policy to a managed-float scheme while undergoing a currency crisis, until definitively changing the exchange regime to free-float in January 1999. Brazil received an IMF rescue package in mid-2002 in the amount of US$30.4 billion, a record sum at that time. The IMF loan was paid off early by Brazil's central bank in 2005.

Brazil has a diverse and sophisticated service industry. During the early 1990s, the banking sector amounted to as much as 16 percent of GDP and has attracted foreign financial institutions and firms by issuing and trading Brazilian Depositary Receipts (BDRs). One of the issues the Brazilian central bank was dealing with in 2007 was an excess of speculative short-term capital inflows to the country, which might explain in part the downfall of the U.S. dollar against the real in the period. Nonetheless, foreign direct investment (FDI), related to long-term, less speculative investment in production, was estimated to be US$193.8 billion for 2007. Inflation monitoring and control currently plays a major role in Brazil's central bank activity in setting out short-term interest rates as a monetary policy measure.

Energy policy

Itaipu Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric plant.

Brazil is the tenth largest energy consumer in the world and the largest in Latin America. At the same time it is also a large oil and gas producer in the region and the world's largest ethanol producer. Because of its ethanol fuel production Brazil has sometimes been described as a bio-energy superpower. Brazil's ethanol fuel is produced from sugar cane, the world's largest crop in both production and export tonnage.

After the 1973 oil crisis, the Brazilian government initiated in 1975 the National Alcohol Program to replace automobile fuels derived from fossil fuels with ethanol. The program successfully reduced the number of cars running on gasoline in Brazil by ten million, thereby reducing the country's dependence on oil imports.

Brazil is the third largest hydroelectricity producer in the world, after China and Canada. In 2004 hydropower accounted for 83 percent of Brazil's power production. Brazil co-owns the Itaipu hydroelectric power plant on the Paraná River, which is the world largest operational hydroelectric power plant.

Science and technology

An Embraer E-175 jet airliner, produced in Brazil and used around the world.

Technological research in Brazil is largely carried out in public universities and research institutes. Despite governmental regulations and incentives, investment in research and development has been growing in private universities and companies as well since the 1990s. Nonetheless, more than 73 percent of funding for basic research still comes from governmental sources. Some of Brazil's most notable technological hubs are the Oswaldo Cruz Institute, the Butantan Institute, the air force's Aerospace Technical Center, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, and the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), a research unit of the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology.

Brazilian information technology is comparable in quality and positioning to those of India and China, though because of Brazil's larger internal market, software exports are limited. Catering to the internal market, Brazilian IT is particularly efficient in providing solutions to financial services, defense, CRM, eGovernment, and healthcare.


São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the second largest in Latin America, and the fourth largest in the world.

Brazil's population comprises many races and ethnic groups. The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) classifies the Brazilian population into five categories: black, white, pardo (brown), yellow (Asian), or indigenous, based on skin color or race. The last census revealed the following proportions: 49.7 percent white people, 42.6 percent brown, 6.9 percent black, 0.5 percent Asian, and 0.3 percent Amerindian.

The ethnic composition of Brazilians is not uniform across the country. Because of its large influx of European immigrants in the nineteenth century, the South has a white majority, consisting of 79.6 percent of its population. The Northeast, as a result of the large numbers of African slaves working in the sugar cane plantations, has a majority of brown and black peoples, 62.5 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively. The North, largely covered by rainforest, is 69.2 percent brown, because of its strong Amerindian component. Southeastern Brazil and Central-Western Brazil have a more balanced ratio among different ethnic groups.

The largest Brazilian cities are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador, with 11.0, 6.1, and 2.7 million inhabitants, respectively. Almost all capitals are the largest city in their corresponding state.


Portuguese is the only official language of Brazil. It is spoken by nearly the entire population and is virtually the only language used in schools, newspapers, radio, TV, and for all business and administrative purposes. Moreover, Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas, making the language an important part of Brazilian national identity. In addition, 180 Amerindian languages are spoken in remote areas. There are important communities of speakers of German and Italian in the South, both largely influenced by Portuguese.

Education and health

Federal University of Paraná, in Curitiba.

The federal government, states, Federal District, and municipalities each manage their respective education system. The new constitution reserves 25 percent of state and municipal taxes and 18 percent of federal taxes for education. Private school programs are available to complement the public school system. In 2003, the literacy rate was at 88 percent of the population, and the youth literacy rate (ages 15–19) was 93.2 percent. However, according to UNESCO Brazil's education still shows very low levels of efficiency by 15 year old students, particularly in the public school network.

Higher education starts with undergraduate or sequential courses, which may offer different specialization choices such as academic or vocational paths. Depending on the choice, students may improve their educational background with postgraduate courses.

The public health system is managed and provided by all levels of government, while private health care fulfills a complementary role. Several problems hamper the Brazilian system. In 2006, the most notable health issues were infant mortality, child mortality, maternal mortality, mortality by non-transmissible illness, and mortality caused by external causes (transportation, violence, and suicide).

Social issues

In Rio de Janeiro, the Vidigal favela is testimony to high economic inequality within Brazil.

Brazil has been unable to reflect its recent economic achievements into social development. Poverty, urban violence, growing social security debts, inefficient public services, and the low value of the minimum wage are some of the main social issues that currently challenge the Brazilian government.

The poverty rate is in part attributed to the country's economic inequality. Brazil has one of the world's highest rankings for inequality. In 2006, nearly one-fifth of the populated lived below the poverty line based on labor income, though that was 33 percent reduction from the previous three years.

Poverty in Brazil is most visually represented by the various favelas, slums in the metropolitan areas and remote upcountry regions that suffer from economic underdevelopment and below-par standards of living. There are also great differences in wealth and welfare between regions. While the Northeast has the worst economic indicators nationwide, many cities in the South and Southeast enjoy First World socioeconomic standards.

The level of violence in some large urban centers is comparable to that of a war zone. Analysts generally suggest that social inequality is the major cause. Muggings, robberies, kidnappings, and gang violence are common in the largest cities. Police brutality and corruption are widespread. Inefficient public services, especially those related to security, education, and health, severely affect the quality of life. Minimum wages fail to fulfill their constitutional requirements regarding living standards. Brazil currently ranks 69th on the Unitd Nations Human Development Index.


Brazilian Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro.

A wide variety of elements influenced Brazilian culture. Its major early influence derived from Portuguese culture. Among other inheritances, the Portuguese introduced the Portuguese language, the Roman-Germanic legal system, and colonial architectural styles. Other aspects of Brazilian culture are contributions of European and Asian immigrants, native South American people (such as the Tupi), and African slaves. Thus, Brazil is a multicultural and multiethnic society. Italian, German, and other European immigrants came in large numbers and their influences are felt closer to the Southeast and South of Brazil. Amerindian peoples influenced Brazil's language and cuisine, and the Africans, brought to Brazil as slaves, influenced Brazil's music, dance, cuisine, religion, and language.

In the 1950s, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes, Baden Powell de Aquino, and João Gilberto popularized the Bossa Nova style in music. Later Elis Regina, Milton Nascimento, Chico Buarque, and Nara Leão had an important role in shaping Música Popular Brasileira (literally translated as "Brazilian Popular Music," often abbreviated to MPB). In the late 1960s, tropicalismo was popularized by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil.

Brazilian Carnival is an annual celebration held 40 days before Easter that marks the beginning of Lent. Brazilian Carnival has distinct regional characteristics. Other regional festivals include the Boi Bumbá and Festa Junina (June Festivals).


Christ the Redeemer, on Corcovado mountain.

The predominant religion in Brazil is Roman Catholicism and the country has the largest Roman Catholic population in the world. Adherents of Protestantism are rising in number. Until 1970, the majority of Brazilian Protestants were members of traditional denominations, mostly Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Baptists. Since then, membership in Pentecostal and Neo-pentecostal churches has increased significantly. Islam was first practiced by African slaves. Today, the Muslim population in Brazil is made up mostly of Arab immigrants. A recent trend has been an increase in conversions to Islam among non-Arab citizens. The largest population of Buddhists in Latin America lives in Brazil, mostly because the country has the largest Japanese population outside Japan.

The latest census cites the following figures: 74 percent of the population is Roman Catholic (about 139 million); 15.4 percent is Protestant (about 28 million), including Jehovah's Witnesses; 7.4 percent considers itself agnostics or atheists or without a religion (about 12 million); 1.3 percent follows Spiritism (about 2.2 million); 0.3 percent follows African traditional religions such as Candomblé and Umbanda; and 1.7 percent are members of other religions. Some of these are Buddhists (215,000), Jews, Muslims, or a mixture of different religions.


Maracanã Stadium at the 2007 Pan American Games.

Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Brazil. The Brazilian national football team (Seleção) has been victorious in the World Cup tournament a record five times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002. As of July 2007, it was ranked the best in the world by FIFA.

Basketball, volleyball, auto racing, and martial arts also attract large audiences. Tennis, handball, swimming, and gymnastics have found a growing number of enthusiasts in recent decades. In auto racing, Brazilian drivers have won the Formula 1 world championship eight times.

Some sport variations have their origins in Brazil. Beach soccer and footvolley emerged in the country as variations of soccer. In martial arts, Brazilians have developed Capoeira, Vale tudo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The Brazilian athletes at the 2007 Pan American Games


Brazil has had disappointing results in the Olympic Summer Games, considering the size of its population and economy. It ranked 39th in the all-time medal table, having won only 17 gold medals in all events. Brazil’s poor Olympic record relates to a lack of heavy governmental investment in sport and to a general overemphasis on team sports. The Ministry of Sport has established a number of programs to try to reverse the situation. Due to its tropical climate, Brazil usually does not take part in the Olympic Winter Games, although ten athletes were sent to the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Brazil has undertaken the organization of large-scale sporting events: It is organizing a bid to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup event. São Paulo organized the IV Pan American Games in 1963, and Rio de Janeiro hosted the XV Pan American Games in 2007. Brazil is also trying for the fourth time to host the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.


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External links

All links retrieved March 2, 2013.


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