Brazil

The Salvation Army starting working in Brazil in 1922.

General

Capital: Brasilia
Surface area: 8.515.770 km²
Number of inhabitants: 202 million
Language: Portuguese
Religion: Protestant
Currency: Brazilian real
Form of Government: federal republic 

Development

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world. It has a score of 0.754 on the Human Development Index (HDI). This is a composite number that includes numbers related to life expectancy, education and per capita income. This number is used to rank countries in four levels of human development. The higher these factors, the higher the index number. Brazil ranks number 79 out of the 186 countries worldwide. (source: UNDP

History and Politics

In 1500, the time of the arrival of the Portuguese, several native American tribes lived in the area that is now Brazil. The country was named after the brazilwood, the 'pau brasil' which was an important colonial product at the time.  Its capital became Salvador da Bahia. In 1580 Spain took over Portugal and thus also its colonies and in 1624 the Dutch concurred Salvador under the leadership of Piet Hein. This occupation only lasted for a year, after which the country was concurred by the Portuguese again. Soon, the Portuguese started with expeditions, which they called bandeiras, in search of precious metals and slaves. At the end of the 17th century, gold was found in the mountains of Minas Gerais, after which a gold rush started and thousands of people travelled to the city of Ouro Preto (Portuguese for black gold). In the 18th century, more than 300.000 Portuguese emigrated to Brazil. Indians and slaves from Africa were forced to work in the mines. When Napoleon concurred Lisbon in 1807, the Portuguese Prince Regent João VI and his government fled and sailed to Brazil. The country became semi-independent and Rio de Janeiro became the royal capital. Because of continuous conflicts between the Portuguese and the Indians the parliament lost control of Rio de Janeiro. The son of João VI, Dom Pedro, joined the side of the Brazilians and consequently was sent to Portugal by his father only to return in 1822. When Brazil gained independence, Dom Pedro crowned himself emperor. Meanwhile, the population of Brazil, especially industrialists, traders and soldiers wanted to put an end to the monarchy. In 1889, Marshal Da Fonseca led a revolt, forcing Pedro II to leave the country. Brazil became a republic and was named Da Fonseca. That same year General Gétulio Dornelles Vargas led a military coup. He remained the most powerful man in Brazil for 25 years. The dictatorship of the Estado Novo lasted from 1930 to 1945, then the country became a democracy again. The second democratic period lasted until Juscelino Kubitschek became president and decided to build a new capital in the center of the country, Brasilia. In 1964 a second coup followed for fear of the rising communism and the country was taken over by military rule. In 1984 the military decided that Brazil should become a democracy again so elections were held and a new constitution was drawn up. Dilma Rousseff became the first female head of state of Brazil in 2011. (source: landenweb

Economy

Brazil has the largest economy in Latin America and is expected to become one of the largest economies in the world in the future. After the 2002 recession, the economy is increasing once again. Brazil is a major exporter of coffee, sugar and aircraft. The electricity in Brazil is mainly sourced from hydropower. The Amazon region is a large source of hydroelectric power and has the potential to be a beneficial renewable natural resource in the future. (source: landenweb

Culture

The culture of Brazil is strongly influenced by the Portuguese whom also introduced the Roman Catholic church and the Manuel architecture style. Throughout history, Brazil welcomed home a mix of immigrants which is why dance, music, food and language are interwoven with Western as well as African and Indian aspects.