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Brazil Country Guide

Explore Brazil in South America

Brazil with the capital city Brasília is located in South America (Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean). It covers some 8,511,965 square kilometres (slightly smaller than the US) with 191,908,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Brazil

The topography includes mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north with some plains, hills, mountains, and narrow coastal belt. The average density of population is approximately 23 per km². The notable climate conditions in Brazil can be described as mostly tropical, but temperate in south. Possible natural disasters include recurring droughts in northeast or floods and occasional frost in south.

To reach someone in Brazil dial +55 prior to a number. There are 41,497,000 installed telephones. And there are 173,959,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900/1800 MHz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".br". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 110/220V - 60Hz.

About the flag and history of Brazil

Brazil Flag Icon

Green with a large yellow diamond in the center bearing a blue celestial globe with 27 white five-pointed stars; the globe has a white equatorial band with the motto ORDEM E PROGRESSO (Order and Progress); the current flag was inspired by the banner of the former Empire of Brazil (1822-1889); on the imperial flag, the green represented the House of Braganza of Pedro I, the first Emperor of Brazil, while the yellow stood for the Habsburg Family of his wife; on the modern flag the green represents the forests of the country and the yellow rhombus its mineral wealth; the blue circle and stars, which replaced the coat of arms of the original flag, depict the sky over Rio de Janeiro on the morning of 15 November 1889 - the day the Republic of Brazil was declared; the number of stars has changed with the creation of new states and has risen from an original 21 to the current 27 (one for each state and the Federal District).

Following more than three centuries under Portuguese rule, Brazil gained its independence in 1822, maintaining a monarchical system of government until the abolition of slavery in 1888 and the subsequent proclamation of a republic by the military in 1889. Brazilian coffee exporters politically dominated the country until populist leader Getulio VARGAS rose to power in 1930. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil underwent more than a half century of populist and military government until 1985, when the military regime peacefully ceded power to civilian rulers. Brazil continues to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of its interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, it is today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader, one of the first in the area to begin an economic recovery. Highly unequal income distribution and crime remain pressing problems.

Geography Quick-Facts

SummaryContinent: South America
Neighbours: Suriname, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Guyana, Paraguay, French Guiana, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina
Capital: Brasília
Size8,511,965 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 3,286,488 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than the US
CurrencyName Real, Currency Code:BRL
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD).br
Telephone Country Prefix+55
Mobile Phone Connections173,959,000
Landline Phone Connections41,497,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Area8,514,877 (sq km)5

People and Society

Value nameValueWorld Rank
Population201,009,622 5
Population growth rate0.83 (%)132
Birth rate14.97 (births/1,000 population)132
Death rate6.51 (deaths/1,000 population)150
Net migration rate-0.17 (migrant(s)/1,000 population)115
Maternal mortality rate56.00 (deaths/100,000 live births)104
Infant mortality rate19.83 (deaths/1,000 live births)93
Life expectancy at birth73.02 (years)127
Total fertility rate1.81 (children born/woman)153
Health expenditures9.00 (% of GDP)44
Obesity - adult prevalence rate18.80 (%)102
Children under the age of 5 years underweight2.20 (%)116
Education expenditures5.60 (% of GDP)53
Unemployment, youth ages 15-2417.80 (%)70


Value nameValueWorld Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity)2,394,000,000,000 8
GDP - real growth rate0.90 (%)164
GDP - per capita (PPP)12,100 106
Labor force107,100,000 6
Unemployment rate6.20 (%)62
Distribution of family income - Gini index51.90 17
Investment (gross fixed)18.90 (% of GDP)111
Taxes and other revenues38.00 (% of GDP)52
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)2.70 (% of GDP)20
Public debt54.90 (% of GDP)51
Inflation rate (consumer prices)5.50 (%)149
Central bank discount rate11.00 (%)22
Commercial bank prime lending rate43.88 (%)2
Stock of narrow money158,300,000,000 24
Stock of broad money1,878,000,000,000 10
Stock of domestic credit2,537,000,000,000 11
Market value of publicly traded shares1,546,000,000,000 10
Industrial production growth rate-0.30 (%)150
Current account balance-65,130,000,000 191
Exports242,000,000,000 25
Imports238,800,000,000 22
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold371,100,000,000 7
Debt - external440,600,000,000 27
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home595,900,000,000 13
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad176,700,000,000 24


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Electricity - production489,500,000,000 (kWh)11
Electricity - consumption438,300,000,000 (kWh)12
Electricity - exports1,257,000,000 (kWh)52
Electricity - imports36,630,000,000 (kWh)7
Electricity - installed generating capacity106,200,000 (kW)11
Electricity - from fossil fuels17.10 (% of total installed capacity)193
Electricity - from nuclear fuels1.90 (% of total installed capacity)31
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants74.70 (% of total installed capacity)19
Electricity - from other renewable sources6.30 (% of total installed capacity)33
Crude oil - production2,633,000 (bbl/day)12
Crude oil - exports533,200 (bbl/day)21
Crude oil - imports412,500 (bbl/day)21
Crude oil - proved reserves26,000,000,000 (bbl)13
Refined petroleum products - production2,008,000 (bbl/day)10
Refined petroleum products - consumption2,594,000 (bbl/day)9
Refined petroleum products - exports164,300 (bbl/day)35
Refined petroleum products - imports325,400 (bbl/day)21
Natural gas - production24,070,000,000 (cu m)32
Natural gas - consumption26,700,000,000 (cu m)32
Natural gas - imports12,600,000,000 (cu m)23
Natural gas - proved reserves416,900,000,000 (cu m)34
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy453,900,000 (Mt)14


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Telephones - main lines in use43,026,000 6
Telephones - mobile cellular244,358,000 5
Internet hosts26,577,000 3
Internet users75,982,000 4


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Airports4,105 2
Railways28,538 (km)10
Roadways1,580,964 (km)4
Waterways50,000 (km)3
Merchant marine109 49


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Military expenditures1.30 (% of GDP)110

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves
The Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves, in the states of Paraná and São Paulo, contain some of the best and most extensive examples of Atlantic forest in Brazil. The 25 protected areas that make up the site (some 470,000 ha in total) display the bio ...
Brasilia, a capital created ex nihilo in the centre of the country in 1956, was a landmark in the history of town planning. Urban planner Lucio Costa and architect Oscar Niemeyer intended that every element – from the layout of the residential and ad ...
Brazilian Atlantic Islands: Fernando de Noronha and Atol das Rocas Reserves
Peaks of the Southern Atlantic submarine ridge form the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago and Rocas Atoll off the coast of Brazil. They represent a large proportion of the island surface of the South Atlantic and their rich waters are extremely importa ...
Central Amazon Conservation Complex
The Central Amazon Conservation Complex makes up the largest protected area in the Amazon Basin (over 6 million hectares) and is one of the planet’s richest regions in terms of biodiversity. It also includes an important sample of varzea ecosystems, ...
Cerrado Protected Areas: Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas National Parks
The two sites included in the designation contain flora and fauna and key habitats that characterize the Cerrado – one of the world’s oldest and most diverse tropical ecosystems. For millennia, these sites have served as refuge for several species du ...
Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves
The Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves, in the states of Bahia and Espírito Santo, consist of eight separate protected areas containing 112,000 ha of Atlantic forest and associated shrub (restingas). The rainforests of Brazil’s Atlantic coast a ...
Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia
As the first capital of Brazil, from 1549 to 1763, Salvador de Bahia witnessed the blending of European, African and Amerindian cultures. It was also, from 1558, the first slave market in the New World, with slaves arriving to work on the sugar plant ...
Historic Centre of São Luís
The late 17th-century core of this historic town, founded by the French and occupied by the Dutch before coming under Portuguese rule, has preserved the original rectangular street plan in its entirety. Thanks to a period of economic stagnation in th ...
Historic Centre of the Town of Diamantina
Diamantina, a colonial village set like a jewel in a necklace of inhospitable rocky mountains, recalls the exploits of diamond prospectors in the 18th century and testifies to the triumph of human cultural and artistic endeavour over the environment. ...
Historic Centre of the Town of Goiás
Goiás testifies to the occupation and colonization of the lands of central Brazil in the 18th and 19th centuries. The urban layout is an example of the organic development of a mining town, adapted to the conditions of the site. Although modest, both ...
Historic Centre of the Town of Olinda
Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, the town’s history is linked to the sugar-cane industry. Rebuilt after being looted by the Dutch, its basic urban fabric dates from the 18th century. The harmonious balance between the buildings, gardens ...
Historic Town of Ouro Preto
Founded at the end of the 17th century, Ouro Preto (Black Gold) was the focal point of the gold rush and Brazil’s golden age in the 18th century. With the exhaustion of the gold mines in the 19th century, the city’s influence declined but many church ...
Iguaçu National Park
The park shares with Iguazú National Park in Argentina one of the world’s largest and most impressive waterfalls, extending over some 2,700 m. It is home to many rare and endangered species of flora and fauna, among them the giant otter and the giant ...
Pantanal Conservation Area
The Pantanal Conservation Complex consists of a cluster of four protected areas with a total area of 187,818 ha. Located in western central Brazil at the south-west corner of the State of Mato Grosso, the site represents 1.3% of Brazil's Pantanal reg ...
Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea
The site consists of an exceptional urban setting encompassing the key natural elements that have shaped and inspired the development of the city: from the highest points of the Tijuca National Park’s mountains down to the sea. They also include the ...
Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas
This sanctuary in Minais Gerais, south of Belo Horizonte was built in the second half of the 18th century. It consists of a church with a magnificent Rococo interior of Italian inspiration; an outdoor stairway decorated with statues of the prophets; ...
São Francisco Square in the Town of São Cristóvão
São Francisco Square, in the town of São Cristovão, is a quadrilateral open space surrounded by substantial early buildings such as São Francisco Church and convent, the Church and Santa Casa da Misericórdia, the Provincial Palace and the associated ...
Serra da Capivara National Park
Many of the numerous rock shelters in the Serra da Capivara National Park are decorated with cave paintings, some more than 25,000 years old. They are an outstanding testimony to one of the oldest human communities of South America. ...