Brazil is a giant both geographically and
economically. It covers most of the Amazon and holds
half of South America's population. The country is the
only Portuguese-speaking country on the continent. It
has evolved into a stable democracy after decades of
military dictatorship. Brazil is one of the so-called
Brics countries, one of the world's five largest
emerging economies. Many people still live in great
poverty in the countryside and in slums.
Brief profiles of Brazil, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Brazil covers almost half of South America
and spans three time zones. On the surface, it is the
world's fifth largest country, almost as large as Europe
from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains. It borders all
South American countries except Chile and Ecuador. The
equator cuts through northern Brazil. More than half of
the land area is wooded.
The world's largest rainforest area, the Amazon or
the Amazon basin, spreads across Brazil's northern half.
The vast Amazon covers nine countries, but about 60
percent of the rainforest is in Brazil. Through the
Amazon, a third of all river water flows on Earth. Here,
a huge water system is formed with over 10,000 streams
and rivers, with the Amazon River and its tributaries
Madeira and Negro as the largest.
In the Amazon tropical rainforest, every tenth known
species is found in the world - or more than 40,000
species of plants, over 2,000 species of fish and 1,300
bird species, and just over 400 species of mammals. But
the Amazon soil layer is thin and the forest vulnerable.
A downed rainforest never grows up again, and the cold
cutting that is going on is devastating for the Amazon
and is affecting the outside world as well, since one
fifth of the world's oxygen is produced here. There is a
growing awareness of the problem. But according to a
2020 report, one fifth of the Amazon now emits more
carbon dioxide than it absorbs, mainly due to
deforestation. The report was based on measurements
carried out by the Brazilian research institute Inpe for
a decade. The researchers fear it may go faster than
previously thought with the transformation of large
forest areas from carbon sinks, which bind carbon
dioxide,Agriculture and fisheries as well as Natural
resources, energy and environment).
South of the Amazon, the moist rainforest turns into
a savannah area on the Brazilian highlands. The richness
of the species is also huge on the savanna, Cerrado,
which occupies one fifth of Brazil's surface. Here too,
deforestation poses a threat to sensitive habitats.
Mineral-rich mountains, including gold and diamond
deposits, distinguish the highlands from the Atlantic
coast to the east.
In the southwest - mostly in the state of Mato Grosso
but also across the border with Bolivia and Paraguay -
lies Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland,
which floods every year. As in the Amazon, there is a
rich animal and plant life here. The floods make it
difficult to farm in the area. However, fertile soils
are found around the Paraná River at the far south and
here coffee plantations and livestock farms are
In the Amazon, there is a tropical climate with heat
and high humidity. It often rains and year round. The
high plateaus also get hot, but the climate there is
drier and the area is sometimes exposed to severe
drought. Even the long coastal strip (about 750 km) has
a largely tropical climate, but also it is drier than in
Further south, the climate is subtropical or
temperate and the rainfall is evenly distributed
throughout the year. The capital Brasília in the
highlands lies in the rain shadow of the mountains and
receives almost no rainfall at all from June to August.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
8 547 404 km2 (2018)
Swedish –4 hours in Brazil, –5 hours in the west
Adjacent country (s)
Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia,
Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay
Capital with number of inhabitants
Brazil 3 million (estimate 2019)
Other major cities
Sao Paulo 12.3 million, Rio de Janeiro 6.7 million,
Salvador de Bahía 2.9 million, Fortaleza 2.7 million,
Belo Horizonte 2.5 million, Manaus 2.2 million (estimate
Pico da Neblina (3 014 meters above sea level)
Amazon River, Paraná, São Francisco
Pathos, Mirim, Mangueira, Araruma
Average Precipitation / month
Brazil 319 mm (Feb), 0 mm (June)
Average / day
Brazil 22 °C (Jan), 18 °C (June)
Raid against the President
Police are carrying out a raid on President Eduardo Cunha's official
residence, in connection with suspicions of corruption against him. According to
the suspicions published in October, Cunha has received $ 5 million in bribes in
the Petrobras legacy and hid money in accounts in Switzerland. Cunha, who is a
driving force in the attempts to dismiss Rousseff, rejects all charges but now
demands are raised that he himself leaves his post (see also July 2015).
The judicial procedure against the president begins
Deputy Chamber Speaker Eduardo Cunha formally opens a national court
proceeding against the president (see October 2015).
PT's leader in the Senate is arrested in the Petrobras herd
The Labor Party leader in the Senate, Delcídio Amaral, is arrested on
suspicion of obstructing justice. Senator André Esteves, who is also head of
Latin America's largest independent investment bank and one of Brazil's richest
men, is simultaneously arrested for the same. The seizure of Esteves leads to
the shares plunging into the bank BTG Pactual, which at one point loses a fifth
of its value. The currency falls by 2 percent. In total, more than 100 people
have now been arrested.
Dust collapse causes poisonous emissions
Two dams in Mariana in Minas Gerai's flaws and toxic earthen water flow into
the Rio Doce River. Nineteen people die when a village is buried by clay. Large
forest areas are being destroyed due to the mining accident which is the worst
so far in Brazil's history. Damages for billions amount occur. Authorities are
introducing emergency permits in just over 200 communities along the Rio Doce.
The toxic sludge destroys crops and kills large numbers of aquatic animals.
Hundreds of thousands of people have problems with access to serviced water.
After just over two weeks, contaminated water with poison mud reaches the
Atlantic coast, 50 miles from the ponds. Eventually, federal prosecutors sue the
mining company Samarco, as well as the company's owners BHP Billiton and Vale,
at $ 43.5 billion because of the accident.
Court says Rousseff violated the law
A court finds that President Rousseff violated the law in his handling of the
2014 budget. The government is accused of having borrowed money from state banks
in breach of the law to cover the budget deficit. According to the opposition,
the court's ruling means that Rousseff can be brought before the national court.
Such a request was formally submitted to the President in September. There are
no suspicions about the president of the Petrobras legacy.
Currency exchange causes stock markets to collapse
Concerns about the deeper economic crisis are rising as the real reaches a
historic bottom listing and falls below the symbolically charged border 4
against the dollar. The currency has lost more than 33 percent against the
dollar so far this year. The fall of the currency is causing the race on the
stock exchanges in São Paulo and Buenos Aires.
Long prison sentence in the Petrobrass scandal
The longest sentences to date fall in the corruption revolution surrounding
the oil company Petrobras: João Vaccari Neto (see March 2015) is sentenced to 15
years and 4 months in prison for corruption and money laundering. He is the
closest person to President Rousseff who has so far been sentenced in the
corruption scandal. A former Petrobras boss, Renato Duque, is sentenced to 20
years and 8 months in prison.
The government presents savings packages
The government presents a savings package of $ 7 billion, which includes a
reduction in the number of government departments from 39 to 29 and salary cuts
for public employees. Plans are also underway to reintroduce a tax on financial
transactions that were abolished eight years ago, which would provide an
additional $ 8 billion. Growth for the year is now forecast to be minus 3
Reduced credit rating
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's lowers Brazil to rubbish status, after
reducing its rating from stable to negative in July. The reason is the political
turmoil and the government's difficulties in managing the growing government
debt. Thus, the austerity measures that have been implemented to counter the
decline have not helped. The budget deficit approaches 8 percent of GDP. New
reports indicate that Brazil is entering the deepest crisis since 1931.
Inflation is approaching 10 percent.
International law claims are directed at Rousseff
Hundreds of thousands of people take part in demonstrations around Brazil,
demanding national law against President Rousseff. The anger against her is due
to both the Petrobras scandal and the economic crisis. Demonstrations in support
of Rousseff have also taken place and some of her supporters call the demands of
national law for coup attempts.
Petrobrush heritage continues to grow
Police arrest José Dirceu, who has already been sentenced to prison but is
now under house arrest (see December 2012), for suspicions related to the
Petrobras scandal. He is one of the highest ranking members of the Labor Party
so far arrested. According to the prosecutor, he has played a central role in
the bribe and continued to receive money even after he was jailed. There are
still no formal suspicions against Lula or Rousseff, but the prosecutor
emphasizes that anyone can come under investigation for what is now called
Operation Car Wash. About $ 2.1 billion in bribes is estimated to have been paid
out in this, mainly as heavy overpricing for building contracts. A couple of
former Petrobras managers have been sentenced to prison, including Paulo Roberto
Costa (see March 2014).
The President moves to the opposition
Deputy Chamber Speaker Eduardo Cunha has accused the government and state
prosecutor of planning to appoint him in the Petrobras scandal, and now
announces that he is joining the opposition. He threatens to take his party of
PMDB with him from the government coalition, which would mean a severe setback
President's popularity at the bottom
Only 10 percent of those surveyed think President Dilma Rousseff is doing a
good job, while 65 percent think it is bad or unhealthy.
Quotation within the judicial system is introduced
The Supreme Court Chief Judge announces that 20 percent of future judges in
the judiciary should be black or of mixed origin. A survey has shown that only
1.4 percent of the judges identify themselves as belonging to that group today,
despite being half the country's population (see Population and Languages). The
decision follows a law in 2014 that 20 percent of employees in state-owned
companies and companies should have African abusive rights.
Budget tightening is announced
The government announces planned cuts of approximately SEK 180 billion in the
2015 budget, to restore confidence in the Brazilian economy among foreign
investors and reach the budget target.
The Labor Party treasurer is accused in the bribe
Formal accusations are being made against the Labor Party treasurer João
Vaccari Neto and 26 other suspects in the Petrobras succession. A former head of
Petrobras, just before a congressional hearing, claimed that the Labor Party
received up to $ 200 million from oil contracts.
Mass protest against President Rousseff
Over a million people take part in demonstrations around the country against
President Dilma Rousseff since the opposition demanded that she be brought
before national law. In Sao Paulo alone, half a million protesters are
participating. Opponents say she must have known about the corruption scandal in
Petrobras, as it largely took place when she was head of the oil company. The
government promises measures to fight corruption and impunity.
HD approves investigation of politicians in the Petrobras legacy
The Petrobrass scandal rolls on and the Supreme Court (HD) approves an
investigation by 54 politicians for possible bribery. Among them are former
President Fernando Collor de Mello and former Speaker of both Senate and Chamber
of Deputies. Under Brazilian law, high politicians and government members can
only be judged by HD.
The central bank raises the interest rate
The interest rate is set at 12.75 percent when the central bank makes an
attempt to halt inflation, which has risen to 7.4 percent. Economists predict
that growth for the year will be negative.
Petrobras management resigns in growing corruption scandal
Petrobras CEO Maria das Graças Foster and five other high-ranking people in
the oil company are leaving because of the ever-growing corruption scandal (see
March 2014). Prosecutors say they have found evidence that $ 800 million was
paid in bribes and other illegal payments. Former Petrobras Governor Paulo
Roberto Costa has singled out a large number of politicians for involvement,
including ministers, governors and congressmen. According to Costa, politicians
received 3 percent of the value of the contracts signed with Petrobras between
2004 and 2012. Petrobras was reported in December 2014 to have lost 85 percent
of its market value since 2009.
New Presidents in Congress
The lower house appoints Eduardo Cunha as president, which is seen as a boon
to Rousseff: Cunha is known as an opponent of the president. He wins the vote
against PT's candidate. The Senate elects Renan Calheiros, who was also
President during Lula but was forced to resign (see December 2007).
Rousseff takes up a new term in office
When Dilma Rousseff formally begins her second term as president, she
promises to move forward with the welfare efforts that have helped millions of
Brazilians out of poverty. According to the president, education should now be