Brazil is the largest country in South America and occupies about half of the area of the semi-continent. Only Ecuador and Chile do not have a common border with Brazil, otherwise all South American states are neighbors of the country. The Atlantic Ocean is located on the east coast of Brazil.
Brazil is located in the northeast of South America. It is the largest country on the continent and the fifth largest country in the world (after Russia, Canada, the USA and China). It borders almost all other countries in South America, except for Ecuador and Chile. Brazil has ten neighbouring countries. Also by population, Brazil occupies the fifth place (after China, India, the USA and Indonesia).
The name Brazil is derived from a tree. When cut open, the Brazil wood tree shows a red color reminiscent of embers. Glut means brasa in Portuguese. In the past, this wood was used for dyeing clothes. It was an important export product in the colonial period, especially in the 16th century, which was brought to Europe.
Brazil’s east is on the Atlantic Ocean. The coast measures around 7,400 kilometres. Some islands also belong to Brazil. The country stretches over several degrees of longitude, so there are four time zones in the country, one belongs to the islands, three belong to the land mass.
In the north of the country, the Amazon River flows from west to east and eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean. On both sides of the river there is a wide lowland, which is therefore also called the Amazon lowland. In the south and on the coast, on the contrary, there are mountains and plateaus.
Brazil is a democratic federal state with parliaments at the regional and federal levels. The President of the State is the head of the government and the head of state in one person and is directly elected by the people. This was not always the case: only in 1822 Brazil declared itself independent of the colonial power Portugal and before 1985 a military dictatorship ruled in Brazil for over 20 years. This means that officers ruled as dictators and oppressed the people.
New and old capitals
Brasilia is the capital of the country. It is a very modern city and is located inland. Brasilia is a planned capital, it was designed and built by architects in the 1950s. Before that, Rio de Janeiro was the capital of the country. The “Corcovado” towers over Rio de Janeiro. This is a mountain, on the top of which there is a huge statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched. Together with the rock, which is called the “Sugar Loaf”, they form the symbols of the city.
Brazil is characterized by strong contrasts. The south is economically highly developed and modern, the north is more traditional and poor. And even in the population, the differences between rich and poor are striking. In the big cities there are big slums where many very poor people live and have to fight against violence, drugs and crime.
Because of its history, people of the most diverse skin color and origin live in Brazil: Native Americans, descendants of European immigrants and African slaves, but also Asians. Brazil is a country of superlatives. There are rich mineral resources, the huge Amazon jungle with its incomparable variety of animals and plants, the Amazon, the longest river on Earth, large savannas and mountain areas in the south.
Brazil is the number one football nation. Many great players, such as Pelé, for example, have achieved world fame, and the professional desire of many children is to become professional footballers. In Rio de Janeiro, the most famous carnival in the world is celebrated. It is especially the samba dancers organized in clubs who shape the street carnival with their fantastic costumes. The “Capoeira” also comes from Brazil. Originally, this was a martial art of African farm workers. Because capoeira is very acrobatic and a kind of dance, it is now also taught in our gyms.
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