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Political, Geographical, and social Information about Brazil
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Brazil is the largest country in South America. Comprising almost half the South American continent (47.3%), Brazil’s territory spans over 8,547,403 sq. km, or approx. 3,286,000 sq. mi. (source: IBGE). Therefore, it is the fifth largest country in the world, after the Russian Federation, Canada, China and the United States. Except for a small number of islands, Brazil’s territory is a single and continuous land mass on the Eastern seaboard of South America.

The Equator line crosses Brazil at the Northern region; the Tropic of Capricorn crosses the country at the Southeastern region. The East-West and the North-South lengths of the Brazilian territory are similar (respectively, 4,319.4 km and 4,394.7 km, or 2,683.9 mi and 2,730.7346 mi).

  Brazil borders ten countries in South America: French Guyana (an overseas department of France), Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela and Colombia, to the North; Uruguay and Argentina, to the South; and Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru, to the West. Ecuador and Chile are the only countries in the continent which do not border Brazil. The Atlantic Ocean stretches along Brazil’s Eastern side, up to a total of 7,367 km (approx. 4,604 mi) of coastline.

  Brazil divides naturally into five large regions.
1. The North, which consists of the states of Pará, Amazonas, Acre, Rondônia, Amapá, Tocantins and Roraima, is the largest and least inhabited. It is almost entirely covered by the largest equatorial rain forest in the world, known as the Amazon. Some of its areas, called várzeas, are regularly covered by flood water and are among the most fertile in Brazil.
2. The Northeast consists of the states of Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe and Bahia. Its semi-arid area is covered with scrubby woodland, known as the caatinga. It is much more densely populated than the North, but income levels are low.
3. The Southeast consists of the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It is the richest and most densely populated region of the country, and the Rio/São Paulo axis includes the most important industrial and financial centers.
4. The South consists of the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. It is a subtropical region, consisting of plateaus which were developed as agricultural land by small colonies of European settlers. The vegetation is made up of forests and grassland.
5. The Center-West consists of the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul and the Federal District where Brasilia, the federal capital, is located. It is a plateau with parts covered by a woodland savanna known as cerrado. The region hosts vast areas as Indian reservations and the ecological wildlife paradise known as the Pantanal. "Pantanal" is a Portuguese word for marshland.

Main Cities
  Most of Brazil's population (81.2%) now lives in cities, which are responsible for generating about 85% of the GDP. Among the most important are:
- São Paulo has a population of 10,406,166 (IBGE, 2000) and it is the largest city in Brazil. It hosts the largest industrial base in the country and the most dynamic cultural activities.
- Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil for almost 200 years (1700's - 1960). Today, Rio is a cultural, financial and tourist metropolis that has not lost its resort character. Its population is 5,850,544 (IBGE, 2000).
- Belo Horizonte, designed and built in the 1890's as the capital of the state of Minas Gerais to replace Ouro Preto, the former colonial capital which was enclosed by mountains. An important transport and industrial center, its population is 2,229,697 (IBGE, 2000).
- Salvador was the capital of Brazil from the 1500's through the 1700's with an impressive colonial architecture. Today, several of its neighborhoods are considered UNESCO landmark. Salvador is a cultural and business center famous for its art, cuisine and a strong African culture influence. Its population is 2,440,886 (IBGE, 2000).
- Brasilia was designed and built as the capital city of Brazil in the geographical center of the country, Brasília was inaugurated in 1960. It is a showpiece of modern architecture. Its urban planning is unique, with a population of 1.6 million.
- Recife is one of the most interesting cities in the Northeast, Recife is known as the Brazilian Venice, with a history of Portuguese, Dutch and African settlers. It is a business center with a modern busy port. Its population is 1,421,947 (IBGE, 2000).

  Brazil has no mountains as high as the Andes, and the Brazilian Highlands do not exceed 1.9 mile high. Plateaus cover five-eighths of the territory, and plains cover the rest. The average altitude is about 0.3 mile. The highest mountain is the Pico da Neblina (3 km or 1.86 mile high) located in the state of Amazonas.

  Brazil’s vast territories, the different geographical areas, altitudes and air masses result in a wide variety of climates. The Equator crosses Brazil in its northern region and the Tropic of Capricorn, in the southeast, putting most of Brazil in the "inter-tropical zone", where the high and wet climates predominate. The average temperature for the country as a whole is 20o C (68o F), and the thermal amplitude (difference between the his and lows) is small. Brazil’s main climates are the Equatorial (in the Amazon Region), with all-year rain, high average temperatures between 77o and 80.6o F; and the Tropical (Central Brazil and part of the Northeastern Region), with high average temperatures between 64.4o and 82.4o F and well-defined dry (mid-year) and wet (early in the year) seasons. The south is colder than the rest of Brazil (average temperature of 64.4o F; during winter temperature may fall below freezing point).
Seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are the opposite of those in the Northern: roughly, January-March is summer, April-June is fall, July-September is winter and October-December is spring.

  Brazil has some of the most diverse vegetation on the planet, due to the many differences in weather, soil and landscape. Brazilian flora can be divided into 10 groups: the Amazon rainforest, the Atlantic rainforest, caatinga, pantanal, cerrado, campos, mata de araucária, mata de cocais, mangue and restinga.
The Amazon Tropical Rainforest spans approximately 7 million sq. km (approx. 4,375,000 sq. mi) in the north and central parts of South America. It is mostly within Brazilian territory, although parts of it are located in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. The Amazon represents 58.5% of the Brazilian territory. The Amazon rainforest holds the largest reserve of biological organisms in the world. The precise number of species in it is not known, but scientists estimate a figure between 800 thousand and 5 million species – 15 to 30% of all known species in the world. The banks of the rivers of the Amazon basin are covered by floodwater - the várzeas - and are among the most fertile soil in Brazil.
The Atlantic Rainforest was common in the Atlantic coast of Brazil. More than 50% of its species are only found there and in no other place. Among the tropical rainforests, scholars believe that this ecosystem has the largest biodiversity per hectare in the world. Nevertheless, it is the most threatened by the increasing urbanization and industrialization in Brazil. Today only 7% of its area remains, mostly in the south and southeast regions of Brazil.
The Northeast Region has a semi-arid area that is covered with scrubby woodland, known as the Caatinga. In some of its areas, semi-deciduous forests can be found.
The Pantanal, the wetlands, is considered the biggest swamp area of the world. It covers an area of 150 thousand sq. km in the states of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul and areas of Paraguay. It is considered by the UNESCO a World Heritage Area. About 650 different species of birds, 80 of mammals, 260 of fish, and 50 of reptiles live there. This region is similar to the U.S. Florida's Everglades.
The Cerrado is a savannah region. It covers the Central Brazil. It is characterized by a vegetation of bushes and short trees. Today the native vegetation of the cerrado is threatened by increasing agricultural production, specially maize, soybeans, grapes, mangos and other tropical fruits.
Campos is characterized by a vegetation of fields: big grasslands and bushes. It covers areas in the south and in the southeast of Brazil. Mata de Araucária is an open forest of a species of pines called Araucária (Araucária angustifolia) in Brazil, covering areas in the south of Brazil. Mata de Cocais is situated between the Amazon and the caatinga region. It is seen in the states of Maranhão, Piauí and Tocantins. In the area close to the Amazon, this ecosystem is very wet and palm trees are common. Mangue is an ecosystem composed of bushes and trees and covers areas of lakes and swamps along the coast. Restinga is a vegetation of bushes, herbs and short trees typical in the sandbanks along the coast of Brazil.

  The huge size of the country and the wet climate produce great river systems. Brazil hosts the largest body of fluvial water in the planet. There are eight river systems in Brazil, the most important being the Amazon in the north, the São Francisco in the center and the Paraguay, the Uruguay and the Paraná systems in the south.
The Amazon river basin is the world's largest, comprising an area of 5,800,000 sq. km (or 2,239,383 sq. miles), of which 3,904,392 sq. km (or 1,507,488 sq. miles) are in Brazilian territory. Its main river has its source in Peru, where it is initially called Vilcanota, then Ucaiali, then Urubamba and Marañon. When it enters Brazil, it is renamed Solimões as far as the confluence with the Negro river, near the city of Manaus; after that, and up until the ocean, it is known as the Amazon river. From source to ocean, it flows for 6,440 km (4,001 miles) and is the world's largest in water flow; some consider the Amazon also the world's longest river, as it extends well into the ocean during the flooding season. On average, the river is 5 km (3.1 miles) wide and at some points can be as wide as 50 km (31 miles). It inputs 20% of the fresh water poured annually into the oceans by all the rivers in the world. The Amazon river basin has the world's largest diversity of fish, between 2,500 and 3,000 species.

  The huge size of the country and the wet climate produce great river systems. Brazil hosts the largest body of fluvial water in the planet. There are eight river systems in Brazil, the most important being the Amazon in the north, the São Francisco in the center and the Paraguay, the Uruguay and the Paraná systems in the south.
The Amazon river basin is the world's largest, comprising an area of 5,800,000 sq. km (or 2,239,383 sq. miles), of which 3,904,392 sq. km (or 1,507,488 sq. miles) are in Brazilian territory. Its main river has its source in Peru, where it is initially called Vilcanota, then Ucaiali, then Urubamba and Marañon. When it enters Brazil, it is renamed Solimões as far as the confluence with the Negro river, near the city of Manaus; after that, and up until the ocean, it is known as the Amazon river. From source to ocean, it flows for 6,440 km (4,001 miles) and is the world's largest in water flow; some consider the Amazon also the world's longest river, as it extends well into the ocean during the flooding season. On average, the river is 5 km (3.1 miles) wide and at some points can be as wide as 50 km (31 miles). It inputs 20% of the fresh water poured annually into the oceans by all the rivers in the world. The Amazon river basin has the world's largest diversity of fish, between 2,500 and 3,000 species.

  The official language in Brazil is Portuguese, a Latin-originated (or "romance") language. Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking country in Latin America. Portuguese is related to other European languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, Rumanian and others, but its vocabulary is influenced by Arabic (reminiscent of the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages) and, in the case of Brazilian Portuguese, by African and Indian languages.

Political Aspects/Government
  Brazil (official name: Federative Republic of Brazil or, in Portuguese, República Federativa do Brasil) is a federation comprising 26 states and a federal district (where the federal capital, Brasília, is located), which are granted self-administration within limits set by the Federal Constitution.
The Federal Constitution was enacted in October 5, 1988 and establishes a democratic political system with periodic elections for public offices. It instituted a presidential republic (that is, a form of government where the public offices are held for a determined period of time and the Public Administration is directed by a President of the Republic, such as in the U.S.). The three branches of Government are the President (aided by ministers), in charge of the Public Administration; the National Congress, consisting of a Senate and a Lower House; and the Judiciary organizations, the topmost being the Federal Supreme Court with 11 justices (currently, 10 men and a woman).
The President is elected for a 4-year term and the incumbent may be re-elected for one additional term; the Vice President is elected in the same ticket. The President is responsible for directing the federal Administration, approving or vetoing legislation, maintaining relations with foreign governments, celebrating treaties, being commander-in-chief of the armed forces, declaring war and peace (in both cases when authorized by Congress) and proposing to Congress the annual federal budget. In the National Congress, the Representatives are elected for 4-year terms; the Senators are elected for 8-year terms (the Senate is renewed at each election at the rate of one-third or two-thirds, alternately). Congress can legislate on all matters pertaining to the federal government. Congress, its houses or any of its committees may summon ministers and other public servants to hearings. The federal judicial system comprises courts and appeals courts; specialized electoral, labor and military court systems; the High Court of Justice, responsible for the uniformity of all judicial decisions; and the Federal Supreme Court, in charge of the constitutionality of judicial, legislative and administrative decisions.
According to the Brazilian Federal Constitution, voting is compulsory for men and women between 18 and 70 years of age, and optional for those 16-18 years old, above 70 or the illiterate. Women conquered the right to vote in 1932; the illiterate, in 1988. In elections for executive posts, in case no candidate gets the absolute majority of valid votes the Constitution requires that a runoff be held between the two most voted candidates. Currently votes for all public posts and in all levels of Government are counted flawlessly by electronic machines, in elections supervised by a special Electoral Court System.
The Federal Constitution provides for a democratic system with a bill of rights (article 5) which grants every person freedom of movement, of thought, of religion, of conscience, of expression, of reunion, and the rights to the due process of law, to ownership, to petition, as well as the guaranties of habeas corpus and others.
The states have their own Constitutions and laws. The branches of Government in each state are similar to the federal level: the Governor, in charge of Administration; the Legislative Assembly; and the judiciary, headed by the state’s Tribunal of Justice.

  The Brazilian currency is the "Real" (noted as R$).
The Brazilian economy is one of the eighth largest in the world, with a GNP of US$ 1,148 billion (source: The World Bank, 1999, PPP method) and a per capita income of US$ 6,840. Being dynamic and diversified, the Brazilian economy includes an industrial sector responsible for 38.1% of the economic output, an agricultural sector with 10% and a services sector with 51.9%. Brazil’s economy represents 39% of Latin America’s GDP and is the world's fourth largest recipient of foreign direct investment (US$ 29.8 billion in 2000).
The Common Market of the Southern Cone (Mercosul) was established on March 26, 1991, the date on which the Treaty of Asuncion was signed by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. As of January 1, 1995, the regional block became a customs union and a free trade area, with the future goal of allowing the free movement of capital, labor and services among the four countries. Since 1991, the trade flows among the member states of Mercosul more than tripled. Brazil’s trade flow with the member states of Mercosul reached US$ 18.7 billion in 1997, up from US$ 3.6 billion in 1990. Chile and Bolivia are associated states to Mercosul.

Agriculture and Cattle
  Brazil is the world's largest producer of coffee, sugar cane, oranges, bananas and manioc and the second largest producer of soy bean and cocoa. It is the fourth largest producer of tobacco and beef cattle. Brazil has the world's largest commercial herd of cattle.

  Brazil's main industries are shipbuilding, motor cars, aircraft, metals (including steel), foodstuffs, textiles and chemicals. The state of São Paulo is the most industrialized and the metropolitan area of greater São Paulo is the biggest industrial center in Latin America.

  Brazil's foreign trade is the largest in volume and value of all the Latin American countries combined. The major Brazilian exports fall into three categories:
- Raw materials: coffee beans, iron ore, soy bran, poultry meat, soybeans, tobacco leaves, fresh beef, maize, sisal, jute, etc
- Semi-finished goods: raw sugar, aluminum, cellulose, semi-manufactured of iron and steel, hides and skins, castor oil, cocoa butter, pine-wood, iron alloys, rolling stock, electrical machines, instant coffee, processed beef, crude soybean oil, etc
- Manufactured products: orange juice, shoes, aircraft, cars, auto parts, piston engines, refined sugar, pumps and compressors, rolled products, cargo vehicles, tires, transmission and reception equipment, chassis with motors, machines and equipment for agricultural use, motors, generators and transformers, buses, etc
The Brazilian foreign trade figures attest to the dynamic nature of Brazil. In 2000, Brazil exported a total of US$55.1 billion and imported US$55.7, with total trade flows of US$110.8 billion (source Secex). Our top export markets are the European Community, absorbing slightly over 27% of Brazilian exports, Latin America (over 22%), North America (around 21%), Asia (16%) and the Middle East (2.4%); the remaining exports are distributed over a variety of smaller markets. The United States is Brazil’s largest single country export market, absorbing 19% of Brazilian exports, resulting in a long-term partnership between the two countries. The U.S. is also Brazil's main supplier (imports of US$ 12.8 billion in 2000; source: Secex).

  1400-1500 In the course of the Portuguese discoveries during the 15th and 16th Centuries, the Portuguese navigators were aware of the existence of land across the Atlantic, West of the Portuguese route to the Indies (down the West African coast).
The Treaty of Tordesilhas (1494) settled the issue of the possession of these new lands between Spain and Portugal. An agreement was reached according to which the territories East of the meridian located 370 leagues West of the Cape Verde Islands should belong to Portugal, whereas the lands found West of that meridian should belong to Spain. This imaginary line, from pole to pole, crossed the Eastern portion of South America and constituted the first border of Brazil, although the formal discovery, by Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral commanding a 12-vessel fleet, occurred only six years later, in 1500.
Central and South America, by Pierre Descelliers 1500-1700 The new colony was named after the Holy Cross (Terra de Santa Cruz) and, later, due to the abundance of Brazil wood in its coast, it was called "Brazil". A period of exploitation of Brazil wood was followed by an organized program of settlements, starting in 1530, when Portugal sent the first permanent settlers. The territory was inhabited by indigenous tribes, some friendly, some hostile to the Europeans. In the Northeastern coast of Brazil, harbors and sugarcane plantations were established, with a triangular trade evolving among Brazil (sugar), Portugal (supplies) and Africa (slaves). During the first years of the colonization, the French founded a colony on the coast of Brazil, in the area of the present-day city of Rio de Janeiro, only to be subsequently expelled by Portuguese forces. With the union of the crowns of Spain and Portugal under Felipe II of Spain (1580-1640), the Portuguese colony was incorporated into the Hispanic New World for a period of 60 years.
No longer bound by the 1494 Treaty borders, the Brazilian settlers started to explore and to exploit the hinterland, an area that so far had not been occupied by either Spain or Portugal, in a movement called bandeiras. In 1640, when the Portuguese recovered their independence, the Brazilian settlers refused to abandon the lands they had occupied and colonized West of the former Treaty line. Claiming the legal principle of uti possidetis, or "possession granted by the use" in Latin, the Portuguese emerged as the legal sovereigns over large portions of the lands West of the Tordesilhas line.
During the period of union between Spain and Portugal, enemy countries of Spain also became enemies of Portugal, leading to invasion attempts by the Dutch and the French in the coast of Brazil. The Dutch managed to conquer and maintain large areas of the Northeastern coast for a period of 20 years, making the city of Recife their capital. After that period, joint Portuguese and Brazilian-colonial forces managed to expel them. The French founded the city of São Luis, in what is today the state of Maranhão, but were quickly expelled by the Portuguese. The British also launched raids against many coastal towns in Brazil.
1700-1800 The gold rush to the area of Minas Gerais, in Southeastern Brazil, attracted thousands of people from the plantations along the coast and from Portugal. Approximately 1,000 metric tons of gold and 3 million karats of diamond were extracted from Minas Gerais between 1700 and 1800, causing the establishment of new towns in that area (nowadays called the "historical towns" of Minas Gerais due to their preserved baroque colonial architecture and artwork). All this wealth in gold and diamonds brought repercussions to Brazil as well as to Europe. In Brazil, an important economic cycle was sustained; in Europe, the gold sent to Portugal was forwarded to England as payment for the textiles the Portuguese imported – the Brazilian gold thus helped finance the English Industrial Revolution. During this period, rebellions against Portuguese rule occurred in Minas Gerais ("Inconfidência Mineira", in 1789) and in Bahia ("Conjuração Baiana", in 1798); both were failed attempts to overthrow the Portuguese rule and replace it with a republic in Brazil, and were suppressed by the Portuguese crown. Tiradentes, one of the leaders of the Inconfidência Mineira, was sentenced to death and hanged in 1793. He later became a national hero and one of the most important symbols of the Brazilian republic.
Starting in the 19th Century, a new economic cycle was developed, that of coffee. Coffee plantations were established in the region of what is currently the state of Rio de Janeiro and then moved southwards, to São Paulo and the southern region of Brazil.
1800-1900 With the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal, in 1808 the Portuguese royal family moved to Rio de Janeiro, which had become the capital of the colony in the mid-18th Century. The presence of the royal court turned Brazil into a United Kingdom with Portugal, a status the Brazilians were reluctant to abandon when the court finally had to move back to Portugal, after Napoleon’s defeat. The ideals of nationalism and independence were fast growing stronger.
Therefore, when the Portuguese court returned to Lisbon, D. Pedro de Bragança, the heir to the throne of Portugal, who had spent most of his life in Brazil and had been left in Rio de Janeiro as the Brazil's regent, backed by his Brazilian counselors (especially José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva), declared independence from Portugal on September 7, 1822. He was subsequently crowned D. Pedro I, Emperor of Brazil. In 1826 his father, D. João VI, king of Portugal, died leaving the Portuguese crown to D. Pedro I. The threat of reunification with Portugal was unacceptable and led to D. Pedro I abdicating the Portuguese crown in favor of his eldest daughter Da. Maria da Gloria (Da. Maria II of Portugal). D. Pedro I's brother, D. Miguel (a confessed absolutist), usurped the Portuguese throne, causing D. Pedro I to intervene in Portuguese politics in favor of his daughter. Without managing to detach himself from the Portuguese problems, D. Pedro attracted considerable opposition in Brazil; he was also accused of favoring many Portuguese citizens in detriment of Brazilians. In 1831, he abdicated the throne in favor of his son, then 5 years old, and went to Portugal where he died in 1834 after having secured the throne for his daughter. In Brazil, following a ten-year regency period, Pedro I's son was crowned D. Pedro II (imp. 1831-1889).
D. Pedro II grew to become a respected and prepared sovereign, who ruled for half a century and brought Brazil to political and cultural maturity and to territorial integrity. European immigration and progressive suppression of slavery (finally suppressed in 1888, when the Lei Áurea, or "Golden Law", was signed) were introduced. During the latter part of his reign, Brazil was involved in regional disputes along the La Plata river basin, including the war of the Triple Alliance. Facing challenges that included, among others, dissatisfaction among the military, the former slave owners and the clergy, the Monarchy came to an end in November 15, 1889, to be replaced by a republican form of government.
The Republic adopted a federal system of Government (Federal Constitution of 1891). The former provinces under the Empire became states and the parliamentary system of Government was replaced with the presidential system. This framework can be found in today’s Brazilian political system.
1900's The political structure of the beginning of the 1900's was based on the agricultural oligarchy. Political power was controlled especially by landowners (coffee and dairy producers) located in the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. Urban middle classes emerged after the World War I economic boom.
The 1930 Revolution led by Getúlio Vargas implanted a new political regime. The Government under Vargas took important measures, especially the introduction of welfare legislation. Industrialization was also given a substantial boost. After a failed revolution in 1932 that demanded more democratic measures from the government, a new constitution was democratically enacted in 1934, granting women the right to vote. The 1930's were a time of change for Brazilian politics and society. Vargas in 1930 was a democratic leader, offering new perspectives for a growing Brazilian population who was anxious to have more participation in the government. Very soon, however, due to political turmoil with growing communist and fascist threats to his government, Vargas introduced a new constitution, in 1937, with a strong authoritarian tone. During Vargas' government, Brazil participated in World War II on the side of the allies, sending an expeditionary force of 25,000 men and a fighter aircraft group to the Italian front. Vargas renounced in 1945 and a constitutional assembly prepared a new federal constitution, enacted in 1946.
One of the presidents under the 1946 Constitution, Juscelino Kubitschek’s government (1956-1961) decidedly fostered development and industrialization and moved the capital from Rio de Janeiro to a new city, Brasília, designed by architects Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer and built in the Brazilian Highlands. In 1964, the polarization between leftist and rightist tendencies in Brazil brought the military to the political arena. The military took power in March 31, 1964 and ruled until 1985. During that period Brazil experienced one of the fastest growing industrialization processes in the whole hemisphere. Nevertheless, authoritarian rule brought political repression Brazilian troops in Italy, WWII and violent measures. The regime started to gradually democratize in the 1970's (general amnesty in 1979, elections for state governors in 1982), but it took more than a decade for Brazilians to be able to elect a civilian for the Presidency again through direct elections (1989).
The two oil crises in the 70s and 80s had a direct impact in the Brazilian economy, then largely dependent on foreign oil, with serious economic repercussions which were to last, in one way or another, for the better part of the 80s.
In 1988, a new democratic Federal Constitution was enacted. In 1989, after 29 years without general direct elections for President, Brazilians elected Fernando Collor de Mello as president. Preaching austerity and modernization, Collor inspired great hope. Nevertheless, involved in a political scandal and accused of corruption, Collor was impeached in 1992; Vice President Itamar Franco was subsequently sworn in to finish Collor's term. In 1994, Mr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who had held the offices of Minister of Foreign Relations and of Finance Minister during Franco's administration, was elected President. He was re-elected in 1998. During the 90's, strong emphasis was given to inflation control (through the so-called "Plano Real"), foreign investment was invited and well received and trade barriers started to come down.
The 21st Century: Perspectives During the 20th Century, Brazil underwent a strong process of industrialization, developed an open, complex society and witnessed a trend towards urbanization which intensified in the second half of the century. A considerable middle class emerged. This urban society gave birth to a powerful popular culture which resulted in movements such as the Modern Art Week of 1922 (marked by a search for exclusively Brazilian artistic expressions), the Bossa Nova and the Tropicalismo musical movements in the 60s and 70s, and the increased importance of national and regional musical elements in the 90s.
Brazil thus enters the 21st Century as the world's third largest democracy, the world's eighth largest economy, one of the trend-setters in world culture (especially in the domain of popular music), a global trader with trade flows to virtually every economic block in the planet. Among the items of Brazil's domestic agenda for the new century are the pursuit of economic development, the reduction of income and regional disparities, wider access to fundamental public social services such as education and health, and the struggle against discrimination based on origin, race, gender and age.
As to its foreign agenda, Brazil continues to approach international relations from the standpoint of national independence, prevalence of human rights, self determination of all peoples, non intervention, equality among nations, defense of peace and international security, peaceful solution of disputes, repudiation of terrorism and of racial prejudice, international cooperation, free and fair international trade, regulation of financial flows and respect to the environment. Trade negotiations are expected to continue in the framework of the World Trade organization, the Free Trade Area of the Americas and the Southern Common Market (Mercosul), as well as with regional spaces such as the European Union.
Suggested Reading
* A Concise History of Brazil, by Boris Fausto
* Brazil: Five Centuries of Change, by Thomas Skidmore
* The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964-1985, by Thomas Skidmore
* Politics in Brazil 1930-1964: An Experiment in Democracy, by Thomas Skidmore
* A History of Brazil, by E. Bradford Burns

U.S.-Brazil Relations
  (The following text does not necessarily constitute the official position of the Ministry of External Relations and is provided here simply as a study aid)
The United States was the first country to recognize Brazil as an independent country (independence was declared in 1822). In 1824, Brazil sent its first envoy to the U.S., Mr. José Silvestre Rebello, as a minister plenipotentiary. During most of the 19th Century, relations between Brazil and the U.S. were basically defined on trade terms. Brazil's main commodity at that time, coffee, had in the U.S. one of its largest consumer markets. The contribution of the American people to the Brazilian society is noteworthy, as from 1867 to 1871 at least 3,000 Southern confederate families migrated to Brazil, fleeing from the hardship of the Southern reconstruction in the aftermath of the American Civil War. They founded the city of Americana, in the state of São Paulo, and introduced many new agricultural methods in Brazil.
In 1889, as Brazil became a republic, the U.S. government was the first to recognize the new regime, which was strongly influenced by the American constitution. Under the guidance of the Baron of Rio Branco, Foreign Minister of Brazil in the beginning of the 20th Century, Brazilian foreign relations shifted from the traditional alliance with the European nations to closer relations with the U.S.; according to his view, the cooperation between the two countries would be vital for the future of Brazil in South America.
The 1940's were a turning point in the strengthening of political and cultural links between Brazil and the U.S. During World War II, the U.S. government used military bases in the Northeastern coast of Brazil in order to support the allied forces in North Africa; a Brazilian expeditionary force was incorporated into the U.S. V Army fighting in Italy. In 1943, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first American president to visit Brazil. Under the influence of the Good Neighborhood policy, established by Roosevelt, many American artists visit Brazil and Brazilian artists visited the U.S.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Brazil allied itself with the U.S in the capitalist bloc during the Cold War. During this period, American investment in Brazil reached high levels. American car industries, such as Ford and General Motors opened plants in Brazil, as well as pharmaceutical industries. During the Juscelino Kubistchek's years the fast industrialization of Brazil attracted large sums of American money. Nevertheless, the Cold War dialectic between left and right wing ideals dominated the dialogue between Brazil and the U.S.. Policies to improve socio-economic conditions in Latin American countries were seen as leftist ideas sponsored by communist regimes such as Cuba, something that alienated the sympathy for U.S ideals among many Brazilian intellectuals. During the Kennedy years, a new program the so-called Alliance for Progress tried to help change this mentality. The U.S would support social changes in Latin American without the fear of political turmoil.
During the 1970's and 1980's, the relations between Brazil and the U.S. saw trade disputes, human rights arguments and divergences on political interests. Brazil's re-democratization in the mid-1980's, the opening of the Brazilian markets and a renewed interest from the U.S. government on Latin America established an climate of understanding and cooperation with positive results, which endure to this day. Today the main items of the bilateral agenda can be highlighted as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), drug control and the continuous opening of the Brazilian economy to foreign investment.
(Source: The Brazilian Consulate in New York)

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