Updated: 2009-06-12 10:51


Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is a country in South America. It is the fifth largest country by geographical area, extending over 8.5 million sq km, occupying just under half (47 percent) of the area of Latin America. It is the fifth most populous country, with a population of over 180 million as of 2004, according to government figures. The Brazilian capital is Brasilia and the currency is Real.

Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of over 7,491 kilometers. It is bordered on the north by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the French Guiana; on the northwest by Colombia; on the west by Bolivia and Peru; on the southwest by Argentina and Paraguay and on the south by Uruguay.

The Federative Republic of Brazil is a democratic State, with a Presidential system of government. The President of the Republic (currently Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva) is both Head of State and Head of the Federal Government and is elected efor a four-year term, with the possibility of re-election for a second successive term.

Brazil is under a classic checks and balances system of government (executive, legislative, and judicial), formally established by the Constitution. Four political parties stand out among several small ones: Workers' Party (PT), Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), and Democrats (formerly Liberal Front Party - PFL).

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese and Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas.

Brazil accounts for three fifths of the South American economy's industrial production, trades regularly with over 100 nations, with 74 percent of exports represented by manufactured or semimanufactured goods. Brazil is also a member of various economic groups, such as Mercosur, G-22 and the Cairns Group. The country’s scientific and technological development, together with a dynamic and diversified industrial sector, is attractive to foreign enterprise: direct investment was in the region of $20 billion a year on average, compared to $2 billion a year last decade.

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