Monday, January 20, 2014

Geography of Brazil

article from January 11, 2011
by Julie R Butler

Dominating the map of South America, the world’s fifth largest nation by geographical size is also the fifth largest by population. Brasília, the capital of Brazil, is centrally located, the original, highly planned city having been built in just 41 months beginning in November 1956. While Brazil’s human population of 190,732,694 tends to stick to the more than 7,491 km (4,655 mi) of coastline, the vast interior is home to the world’s richest biodiversity.

The country is made up of five regions. Northern Brazil is dominated by the Amazon River, the second longest in the world after the Nile, along with its extensive equatorial rainforest system.

The area that extends farthest east is known as the Northeast Region, even though it is south of the mouth of the Amazon. This is the heart of colonial Brazil and is known for its rich culture as much as for its hot weather and lovely beaches. Inland, the term sertão refers to the semi-arid highlands, and a sertajeno is a Brazilian cowboy.

The Central-West Region holds Brazil’s immense reaches of tropical savannah, as well as tropical wetlands and more Amazonian rainforest in the north.

The Southeast Region is where all the human action is, concentrated along the coast where São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are located. With mountain ranges and plains, forests and savannahs, the tropical and the subtropical, caves and dunes, this region is known for its high level of biodiversity as well as for its industry and world-renowned cities.

Southern Brazil has subtropical as well as temperate zones, where it can get surprisingly cold in July, even snowy in the mountains. The region is characterized as having the highest living standards in all of Brazil. It is distinctive due to a large amount of agricultural immigration from Italy and Germany as well as Portugal during the 19th century.

Today, Brazil is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is expected to become among the five largest within a matter of decades. According to Wikipedia’s article on the economy of Brazil:

“The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 66.8 percent, followed by the industrial sector at 29.7 percent (2007 est.). Agriculture represents 3.5 percent of GDP (2008 est.). Brazilian labor force is estimated at 100.77 million of which 10 percent is occupied in agriculture, 19 percent in the industry sector and 71 percent in the service sector.”

Innovation and a focus on the reduction of economic disparities, along with careful measures taken to balance the economy and instill consistency, have brought experts to proclaim that Brazil will come through the current economic crisis with flying colors. Perhaps Brazil’s Green Party, which was strong enough to have cost Dilma Rousseff the first-round win in the recent elections, can point to these successes in making the case that the time is ripe for introducing more environmental considerations into the great balancing act that is today’s Brazil.

[Image via Wikipedia]

Julie R Butler is a writer, journalist, editor, and author of several books, including Nine Months in Uruguay and No Stranger To Strange Lands (click here for more info). She is a contributor to Speakout at, and her current blog is Connectively Speaking.
email: julierbutler [at] yahoo [dot] com, Twitter: @JulieRButler

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