Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil or República Federativa do Brasil, listen (help·info) ), is the largest and most populous country in Latin America, and the fifth largest in the world in both area and population. Its territory covers 8,514,876.599 km² between central South America and the Atlantic Ocean and it is the easternmost country of the Americas. It borders Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and the département of 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. The only South American countries not bordered by Brazil are Ecuador and Chile. The Brazilian coastline covers 7,367 km to the east. 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.
Possessing large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, as well as a large labor pool, Brazil's GDP (PPP) outweighs that of any other Latin American country, being the core economy of Mercosul. The country has been expanding its presence in world markets. Major export products include aircraft, coffee, vehicles, soybean, iron ore, orange juice, steel, 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 at Purchasing Power Parity and tenth largest at market exchange rates. Brazil has a diversified middle income economy with wide variations in development levels. Most large industry is agglomerated in the South and South-East. The North-East is the poorest region of Brazil, but it is beginning to attract new investment.
Brazil's diverse industries range from automobiles, steel and petrochemicals to computers, aircraft, and consumer goods and amount to one-third of the GDP. With the increased economic stability provided by the Plano Real, Brazilian and multinational businesses have invested heavily in new equipment and technology, a large proportion of which has been purchased from North American enterprises.
Brazil has a diverse and sophisticated services industry as well. During the early 1990s, the banking sector amounted to as much as 16% of GDP. Although undergoing a major overhaul, Brazilian financial services industry provides local businesses with a wide range of products and is attracting numerous new entrants, including U.S. financial firms. The São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro stock exchanges are undergoing a consolidation.
According to international standards, Brazil has the ninth biggest economy in the world (see List of countries by GDP) and is among those countries constructing sophisticated technologies such as aircraft (see Embraer). As a core G20 country, Brazil has been expanding its influence in global economic negotiations. Although Brazil's economy is progressive and regionally important, the problems of widespread state bureaucracy, corruption, poverty and illiteracy are still major barriers to furthering its development.
Tropical climate is predominant. In the south of the country, subtropical climate prevails. Brazil is traversed by the Equator and Tropic of Capricorn lines. It is home to varied fauna and flora and extensive natural resources.
Brazil was colonized by Portugal in 1500 and has been a sovereign nation since 1822. The republican system has been adopted since 1889. Its current Constitution defines Brazil as a Federal Republic. The Federation is formed by the indissoluble association of the States, the Federal District, and the Municipalities. There are currently 26 States and 5,564 Municipalities.
The Brazilian population tends to concentrate along the coastline in large urban centers. While Brazil has one of the largest populations in the world, population density is low and the inner continental land has large demographical empty spaces. It is a multiracial country composed of European, Amerindian, African and Asian elements, more often combined in the same individual than separated into different communities. The official language is Portuguese, and it is the only Portuguese-speaking country in all the Americas. Catholicism is the predominant religion, though Protestant communities have experienced significant growth in the last decades. Brazil has the largest Roman Catholic population in the world. (more) (