About Brazil



Native American peoples (by the millions) occupied this region of South America for eons.

Then in 1500, the Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral’s fleet, en route to India, landed along the northeastern coastline (near Recife), and he quickly claimed this land for Portugal – and the 300-year Portuguese era in Brazil began.

Over the next few decades more adventurers, explorers and treasure-seekers arrived; small settlements were established along the coastal areas, and when Portugal took control in 1580, it was now becoming a lucrative new land based on the growing profits of (slave labor) sugar plantations.

In the late 16th century, the Portuguese crown and colonies were inherited by Spain. After 60 years of contentious Spanish rule, and a small prosperous area of sugar businesses controlled by the Dutch, this now very valuable land was completely reverted to Portuguese sovereignty.

In the early 1800s, Napoleon’s aggressive push across Portugal and Spain, caused (forced) Portugal’s King to flee to Brazil. When he arrived, King Dom Joao VI established this huge slice of South America as the capital of his new (somewhat mobile) empire.

In 1821, he returned to Portugal , leaving his son Pedro I in charge, but when King Dom Joao attempted (once again) to treat Brazil as his own personal, taxable colony, his son said “No,” declared immediate independence from Portugal , and was appointed the new emperor of Brazil.

Soon coffee replaced sugar as the country’s most valuable export, and the strong aromatic scent of Brazil’s official drink, and the seductive lure of new lands and fresh starts brought a surge of immigrants from Europe – mostly Italian.

Beginning in the early 1890s, the prosperous coffee businesses (seeking change) funded a military coup that forced the emperor to flee. In short, the coffee powers were now in charge, and the country would soon experience a half-century of instability.

In 1985, the ruling regime in Brazil ceded its power to civilian rule, and the country finally overcame a series of unpopular coups, corrupt leaders, and the military’s constant intervention in the governance of this massive country.

Today Brazil is justifiably famous for the Amazon River; Carnival in Rio; the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema; its many champion soccer teams, and of course, for the amazing collection of organized diversity that makes it one of the most significant and important countries on the face of the planet.

Fast Facts


  • Name: Brazil
    (long form) Federative Republic of Brazil
  • Capital City: Brasilia (2,606,885 pop.)
    (3,451,549 metro)
  • Brazil Population: 193,364,000 (2010 est.)
    World Populations (all countries)
  • Currency: Brazil Real (BRL)
    (conversion rates)

One Hundred Brazil Reais

  • Ethnicity: White 53.7%, Mulatto (mixed white and black) 38.5%, Black 6.2%, other 0.9%, unspecified 0.7%
  • GDP total: $2.194 trillion (2010 est)
  • GDP per capita: $10,900 (2010 est)
  • Land Sizes
  • Language: Portuguese (official), and most widely spoken language. Less common languages include Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, English, and a large number of minor Amerindian languages.
  • Largest Cities: (by population) Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Curitiba, Manaus, Recife, Belem.
  • Name: The name Brazil comes from the Brazilwood tree which grows in Brazil. In Portuguese, this tree is call “pau-brasil” which means “red like an ember”.
  • National Day: September 7
  • Religion: Roman Catholic (nominal) 73.6%, Protestant 15.4%, Spiritualist 1.3%, Bantu/voodoo 0.3%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.2%, none 7.4%

Land Statistics


  • Coastline: 4,655 miles (7,491 km)
  • Land Area:
    (land) 3,265,075 sq miles (8,456,510 sq km)
    (water) 21,411 sq miles (55,455 sq km)
    (TOTAL) 3,286,486 sq miles (8,511,965 sq km)

    To convert sq km (kilometers) to sq mi (miles)
    use our converter

  • Land Area: (all countries)
  • Land Divisions: 26 states and 1 federal district; the states include: Acre, Alagoas, Amapa, Amazonas, Bahia, Ceara, Espirito Santo, Goias, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Para, Paraiba, Parana, Pernambuco, Piaui, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Rondonia, Roraima, Santa Catarina, Sao Paulo, Sergipe and Tocantins. The federal district is: Distrito Federal
  • Horizontal Width: 4190 km (2603 miles) straight west from Recife to the western border with Peru.
  • Vertical Length: 3670 km (2280 miles) from Porto Alegre straight north to the border with French Guina and the Atlantic Ocean.

    Note: Lengths and widths are point-to-point, straight-line measurements from a Mercator map projection, and will vary some using other map projections

  • Bordering Countries: (10) Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana
  • Geographic Center: 850 km (528 miles) SE from Manaus near the borders of the Matto Grasso and Para regions at coordinates 10 00 S, 55 00 W.
  • Highest Point:Pico da Neblina – 9,888 ft.
    (3,014 m)
  • Lowest Point:Atlantic Ocean – 0 ft. (0 m)
  • Latitude and Longitude
  • Relative Location