Federal Republic of Brazil

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Federal Republic of Brazil

República Federal do Brasil
Flag of Brazil
Federal Coat of Arms of Brazil
Coat of arms
Motto: "Justiça, Igualdade, Perseverança"
"Justice, Equality, Perseverance"
Anthem: Brazilian National Anthem
BRA orthographic.svg
Brazil, 2022
CapitalRio de Janeiro
Largest citySão Paulo
Official languagesPortuguese
Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRA)
Ethnic groups
46.5% White
41.2% Mixed
8.2% Black
3.8% Asian
0.3% Amerindian
56.7% Roman Catholic
14.5% Irreligious
7.9% Evangelical
6.3% Protestant
3.4% Spiritist
2.7% Other Christian
2.1% Afro-Brazilian Religions
6.4% Other Religions
Demonym(s)Brazilian, Brazilese
GovernmentFederal parliamentary republic
• Prime Minister
Giovanna Zanetti Gottschalk
• President
Alessandro Padovan Malvezzi
• President of the Supreme Federal Court
Sebastião Carvalho Arruda
• Minister of Defense
Aloísio Ferreira Gomes
LegislatureFederal Parliament
Federal Senate
Chamber of Deputies
Independence from the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves
• Declared
7 September 1822
• Recognized
29 August 1825
• Slavery Abolished
13 May 1888
• Republic Proclaimed
15 November 1889
• Brazilian Civil War
3 October 1927
• Current Constitution
19 December 1984
• Total
8,515,767 km2 (3,287,956 sq mi) (3rd)
• 2020 census
• Density
27.47/km2 (71.1/sq mi)
GDP (nominal)2021 estimate
• Total
$ 4.735 trillion (5th)
• Per capita
$20,239 (37th)
Gini (2019)44
medium · 40th
HDI (2021)Increase 0.819
very high · 38th
CurrencyBrazilian Real (R$) (BRL)
Time zoneUTC -4 to UTC -2
Date formatdd-mm-yyyy (CE)
Driving sideright
Calling code+55
Internet TLD.br

Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil), officially the Federal Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: República Federal do Brasil), is the largest country in the continents of Latin America and South America. Brazil is the third-largest country by area and the sixth-most populous in the world. Its capital is Rio de Janeiro, which also used to be the capital of the Portuguese Empire in exile during the Napoleonic Wars. The country is composed of a union of 29 states, two territories, and a Federal District. Brazil is the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world. The country is the only Portuguese-speaking territory in the Americas, as well as the country with the largest Roman Catholic population. With access to both the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, it borders all countries in South America with the exception of Ecuador. Brazil covers more than half of the continent's area.

Brazil is one of the 17 megadiverse countries and is home to most of the Amazon Rainorest. The Amazon Rainforest is home to a highly diverse wildlife and contains uncountable natural resources. These facts turned Brazil into a subject of global interest, especially due to environmental degradation processes such as deforestation. The government pursues an ambivalent policy towards the Forest. Although extensive areas of the Amazon are protected indigenous federations and natural reserves, companies are given permission to exploit areas that contain mineral resources. The government forbade deforestation for agriculture. According to specialists, this is not out of preoccupation due to environmental degradation, but due to concerns regarding deindustrialization.

The territory of Brazil was inhabited by several indigenous tribes when Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral arrived in 1500. Cabral claimed the area for Portugal, thus beginning the colonization of Brazil. The country was a Portuguese colony until 1808 when the capital of Portugal was transferred to Rio de Janeiro amidst the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal. In 1815 the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves was formed, and as a result Brazil no longer was a colony. Brazil achieved its independence in 1822. The Brazilian Independence War was motivated after a Portuguese attempt to transform Brazil into a colony once again. The country was a unitary constitutional monarchy for almost 70 years. In 1889 a military coup deposed emperor Dom Pedro II and established an oligarchic federal presidential republic. The First Brazilian Republic was plagued by crises, which culminated in the Brazilian Civil War of 1927. At the end of the war, the Rebels overthrewn the oligarchy and a democratic republic was put in place.

Brazil aligned itself with the United Kingdom during the Second World War, an act that was motivated by the sinking of Brazilian merchant ships by German U-Boats. Despite siding with the Allies, the Brazilian president at the time, Getúlio Vargas, had sympathies for the Axis. Since the 1950s, the Brazilian state solidified itself as the most stable and developed political entity in South America. In the 1960s the country shifted its system from a presidential republic to a parliamentary republic as a result of a political crisis. The Brazilian Parliamentary System has since then remained in place. The system underwent significant changes under the government of Prime Minister Roberto Santos. These changes were aimed at turning the government more transparent and making the parliament less prone to corruption. Fairly successful at his objectives, Roberto Santos is responsible for the rise of the National Popular Front, which has ruled Brazil for the last 30 years, with brief years of interruption by the National Democratic Union and the Communist Party of Brazil. However, the 2022 Political Crisis caused by the Vincenzi Letter Scandal brought an end to the rule of the National Popular Front, leading to the triumph of the Technocratic and Nationalist Front in the 2022 Brazilian General Election.


Brazil comes from the Portuguese word for brazilwood, pau-brasil; brasil means "red like an ember" in Portuguese.

The standard way to refer to a citizen of Brazil is as a "Brazilian". More recently, under the 1990 Orthographic Reform, Brazilese also has been accepted as an alternate to Brazilian and is often used in a political context.


Around the time of the Portuguese arrival, the territory of current day Brazil had an estimated indigenous population of 7 million people, mostly semi-nomadic tribes, who subsisted on hunting, fishing, gathering, and migrant agriculture. The Amerindian population comprised several groups, such as the Tupis, the Guaranis, and the Gês. Before European arrival, boundaries between these groups were marked by wars that came from cultural, moral, and linguistic differences. These wars involved cannibalistic rituals on prisoners of war.

Brazil was claimed for the Portuguese Empire on 22 April 1500, with the arrival of a fleet led by Pedro Álvares Cabral. The Portuguese encountered indigenous people divided into many groups, but most of them spoke the languages of the Tupi-Guarani family. The first Portuguese settlement was founded in 1532, and colonization effectively began in 1534 when King John III of Portugal divided Brazil into fifteen private and autonomous captaincy colonies. However, the decentralized and unorganized administration of the colonies proved to be unsustainable, and in 1549 the Portuguese king restructured them into the Governorate General of Brazil. The Governorate's capital, Salvador, housed the government of a single and centralized Portuguese colony in South America.

In the first two centuries of colonization, indigenous peoples and European settlers lived in constant warfare, creating opportunistic alliances in order to gain advantages against each other. Cane sugar was Brazil's main export, and slaves purchased in Sub-Saharan Africa were the main Brazilian import. Brazil received almost three million slaves from Africa between 1500 and 1800. By the end of the 17th century, sugar exports began to decline, and the Bandeirantes, a group of slavers and adventurers of mixed indigenous and Portuguese origin, discovered gold in 1690, marking the beginning of the Brazilian Gold Rush. The Gold Rush attracted many new settlers, and this period of increased immigration caused conflicts between newcomers and old settlers. The Bandeirantes also expanded the Brazilian borders during the 17th century. In the same period, other European powers tried to colonize Brazil, such as the French in Maranhão and the Dutch in Pernambuco, although these attempts failed and never were tried again.

In 1807, the Napoleonic Empire invaded Portugal, causing Prince Regent João, in the name of Queen Maria I, to move the royal court from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, the latter city being the capital of Brazil. Once arriving in the colony, they established Brazil's first financial institutions, such as local stock exchanges and its National Bank. They also ended the Portuguese monopoly on Brazilian trade and opened Brazil to other nations. In 1809, in retaliation for being forced into exile, the Prince Regent ordered the Portuguese conquest of French Guiana, which was formally returned to France following the Congress of Vienna of 1815.

In 1814, after the end of the Peninsular War, the European courts demanded the return of the Portuguese court to Lisbon. In 1815, as a justification to continue living in Brazil, the Crown created the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves, thus establishing a pluricontinental transatlantic monarchic state. In 1821, acceding to the demands of revolutionaries, who declared independence from Brazil, Dom João VI left for Lisbon, leaving his son Prince Pedro de Alcântara as Regent of the Kingdom of Brazil.

Independence and the Empire of Brazil

In 1822 the Portuguese Cortes tried to demote Brazil back to the status of colony. The Brazilians refused to yield, and Prince Pedro supported the Brazilians, declaring independence from Portugal on 7 September 1822. The Brazilian War of Independence was fought from 1822 to 1824, as the Portuguese garrisons in Brazil refused to recognize independence. Brazilian independence was recognized by Portugal on 29 August 1825, after Brazil paid a sum of money to Portugal as reparation for the loss of the colony. The sum paid to Portugal was the first international debt of Brazil. Such debt affected the Brazilian economy for a long period.

Soon after having its independence recognized by its former master, Brazil had to face an invasion from Argentina. The Cisplatine War can be considered a disaster for Brazil, which lost the important province of Cisplatina (modern-day Uruguay). However, due to British intervention, the Argentine plans of annexing Cisplatina didn't come to fruition, and the province became the independent Republic of Uruguay. At the same time, the Equador Confederation was established in Northeastern Brazil. The republican separatists were defeated, but the revolt contributed to the decay of the reign of Dom Pedro I. On 7 April 1831, the Brazilian emperor abdicated and sailed off to Portugal, with the goal of assisting his daughter in the Portuguese Civil War. Dom Pedro I's heir, Pedro II, was too young to rule and as such a regency was put in charge of the country.

The Regency Period was plagued by political crises and rebellions, starting with the Cabanagem in 1835. Upon Brazilian independence, authorities of the central government relegated the province of Grão-Pará to a marginal status. Its population lived in absolute poverty. The majority of the revolters were either Mestiços (mixed race) or Amerindians. The central government successfully dealt with the Cabanos, killing 40% of Grão-Pará's population in the process. In the same year, the longest conflict of the Regency Period, the Ragamuffin War, began. Led by discontent cattle raisers and landowners, who were disgruntled with the taxation policies of the central government, the war lasted for ten years, until the Treaty of Poncho Verde in 1845. The revolt had a republican and separatist inspiration but failed to achieve its objectives. In late 1837 the Sabinada, a revolt that sought to implement more autonomy for the province of Bahia, began. Led by physician Francisco Sabino and lawyer João Carneiro da Silva, the revolt failed and only lasted for a few months.

In 1838, amidst the ongoing conflicts in Southern Brazil and Grão-Pará, yet another rebellion began. The Balaiada, in the province of Maranhão, was a popular revolt led by the poor strata, slaves, and Mestiços who were angry at the oppressive policies of the Conservative government of the province. The Balaiada lasted for three years and was marked by the ascension of Luís Alves de Lima e Silva, the Duke of Caxias, who is considered the best Brazilian military leader and theorist of the 19th century. Another revolt also happened in Bahia, the Malê Revolt, a rebellion led by Muslim slaves who sought to implement a Muslim state in Bahia, slaving non-Muslims and whites in the process. The revolt was utterly crushed and its participants executed.

Due to these revolts and political turmoil, Dom Pedro II was declared emperor on 23 July 1840, at the age of 14. However, only at the end of the decade the wave of revolts would come to an end, with the Praiera Revolt, a liberal rebellion that aimed to implement federalism in Brazil. Nonetheless, the rule of Dom Pedro II was a prestigious period for Brazil, which solidified its borders and became a regional power in South America. Brazil won three international conflicts: the La Plata War, the Uruguay War, and the Paraguay War. However, the Brazilian image was tainted by the maintenance of slavery: until 1850 Brazil took part in the international slave trade. Only in 1888, after a long and exhausting process of mobilization and debate, slavery was abolished in all provinces of Brazil.

On 15 November 1889, worn off by years of economic stagnation, internal conflicts in the army, and disputes with the rural elites, the monarchy was overthrown in a military coup.

Old Republic and Brazilian Civil War

The Old Republic was nothing short of a proto-dictatorial republic, led by oligarchs. Power was rotated among the elites of each state, who used several artifices in order to stay in power, such as fraud and violence. Although voting was no longer restricted to those with a minimum income, several groups such as the illiterate were forbidden from voting. There were no secret ballots, which allowed the local elites to force people to vote for the oligarchical candidates. During the period, Brazil maintained a foreign policy of neutrality, with the exception of the Acrian Revolution, in which Brazil annexed the Bolivian region of Acre, an important rubber-producing area in the Amazon Rainforest.

Internally, due to the Encilhamento Economic Bubble and the 1st Revolt of the Armada in 1891, Brazil entered a period of prolonged financial, social, and political instability. Such instability would last until the decade of 1920, keeping Brazil devastated by several rebellions, be them civil, be them of military origin. Following the end of the Weltkrieg, the economic crisis of Brazil aggravated. After the murder of former president Nilo Peçanha in the wake of the 1926 presidential elections, the opposition began organizing a resistance movement against the government. On 3 October 1927, the Tenetistas, a group of young and angry army officers, declared a state of war against the government of President Fernando de Melo Viana.


Cambirela, morro, neve, vista do morro da cruz - Daniel Queiroz - 23julho2013-IMG 6746.jpg
Snow in mountains near Florianópolis,
Santa Catarina

Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and the second-largest in the Americas, only behind Canada. It occupies 9,973,513 km2, more than half of South America. It shares land borders with Uruguay to the south; Argentina and Paraguay to the Southwest; Peru and Chile to the East; Colombia to the Northwest; and Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and Germany (German overseas region of Guyana) to the north. Ecuador is the only South American country Brazil does not share a border with. Brazil also encompasses many archipelagos, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz. These archipelagos are territories of Brazil. Its size, climate, and availability of natural resources make Brazil a geographically diverse country.

The Federal Republic of Brazil spans four time zones; from UTC−5 comprising the states of Acre, Antofagasta, and Petrônia, to UTC-4 in the western states, to UTC-3 in the eastern states (also the national time), and UTC-2 in the Atlantic Territories. Brazil is the longest country in the world, spanning 4,395 km from its northernmost point (Oiapoque) to its southernmost point (Chuí). Most of the terrain lies between 200 metres and 800 metres in elevation, although to the west, in the States of Antofagasta and Petrônia, the elevation is significantly higher.

Brazil has a dense and complex system of rivers. There are eight major drainage basins, and each single one of them drains into the Atlantic Ocean. Major rivers include the Amazon (the world's second-longest river and the largest in terms of volume of water), the Paraná and its major tributary the Iguaçu (which includes the Iguazu Falls), the São Francisco, Xingu, and Tapajós.


Although most of the country is tropical, Brazil comprises a varied range of weather conditions. According to the Köppen system, Brazil is home to six major climatic subtypes: desert, equatorial, tropical, semiarid, oceanic, and subtropical. The different climatic conditions produce diverse environments, ranging from equatorial rainforests in the northern region, semiarid deserts in the northeast and west, temperate coniferous forests in the south and tropical savannas in the center-west.

An equatorial climate characterizes much of northern Brazil. There is no real dry season, but there are some variations in the period of the year when most rain falls. Temperatures average 25 °C. with more significant temperature variation between night and day than between seasons. Over central Brazil rainfall is more seasonal, characteristic of a savanna climate. This region is as extensive as the Amazon basin but has a very different climate as it lies farther south at a higher altitude. In the interior northeast, seasonal rainfall is even more extreme. The semiarid climatic region generally receives less than 800 millimetres (31.5 in) of rain, most of which generally falls in a period of three to five months of the year and occasionally less than this, creating long periods of drought. South of Bahia, near the coasts, and on most of the state of São Paulo, the distribution of rainfall changes, with rain falling throughout the year. The south enjoys subtropical conditions, with cool winters and average annual temperatures not exceeding 18 °C; winter frosts and snowfall are not rare in the highest areas.

Government and Politics

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Palácio Ipiranga, official house
of the Prime Minister

Brazil is a democratic federal republic under a parliamentary system. The Prime Minister is the head of government and the President is the head of state. The president can rule for just a four-year term - after the term ends, the president will be ineligible for eight years. The president's ineligibility does not extend to other offices. There is no term limit for a prime minister, who usually rules until the ruling party loses the parliamentary election. The current prime minister is Giovanna Gottschal, who was appointed by president Malvezzi following the resignation of Ingrid Santos' cabinet. The president is Alessandro Malvezzi, who was directly elected by the people in the 2020 General Election. The government can be dissolved either through a vote of no confidence from the parliament or through a presidential decree. In 2018 the government was dissolved by president Juarez Antônio dos Passos following a gridlock over the issue of intervention in the Bolivarian War. In 2022 the government of Ingrid Winckler Santos resigned over the Vincenzi Letter Scandal.

Members of the Parliament cannot hold the same office for four consecutive terms.

Voting used to be compulsory until 2003 when it was made voluntary. Since 2010 the minimum voting age is 16. Most Brazilian citizens are allowed to vote upon reaching the minimum voting age, except for those living abroad. The Federal Parliament is composed of two houses: the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house) and the Federal Senate (the upper house). Deputies and senators are elected through proportional representation.

Brazil is composed of 26 states, one federal district, and two territories. The Federal Republic is often referred to as the "Union". The three branches of government - the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary - are clearly defined by the constitution. The Union, the states, the Federal District, and the municipalities composes what is called the "spheres of government". The Federal Republic is built upon five fundamental principles: pluralism, sovereignity, justice, liberty, and equality. The executive and legislative branches of government are organized in all spheres of government, while the judicial branch is organized only at the Federal, State, and Federal District levels. Municipalities and territories does not have courts.

Law and Justice

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Palácio do Riachuelo, seat of the
Supreme Federal Court

Brazilian law is based on the civil law system. The entirety of Brazilian law is codified. The legal system is based on the Federal Constitution, which was promulgated in 1984. As of December 2021, there have been eight amendments to the Constitution, with many other amendment proposals rejected. Each state (and the Federal District) has its own constitution, which must not contradict federal law. Since each federal unit has its own constitution, many states preserved he presidential form of government, while others adhere to a parliamentary system. Municipalities have "organic laws", whose function is similar to a constitution. Legislative entities are the main source of statutes, although the judiciary and executive bodies can enact norms on special occasions. There also are specialized labor, military, sports, and electoral courts. The highest court is the Supreme Federal Court. After passing entry exams, the Judicial Committee appoints judges and other officials. The Judicial Committee is an independent body, created in 1983 by Prime Minister Roberto Santos in an attempt to curb corruption and nepotism. The Brazilian judicial system has been praised for its quick-paced rulings and efficiency. Nonetheless, the population and specialists criticize the system for the privileges that public servants and politicians receive, which can be considered one of the main factors behind corruption in Brazil.

Foreign policy

The International Relations of Brazil are based on Article 3 of the Brazilian Constitution of 1984. According to Article 3, Brazil's official foreign policy if one of neutrality, peaceful settlement of conflicts, international cooperation, and reciprocity. On the matter of reciprocity, the article allows military intervention if a country violates Brazilian neutrality or threatens its territorial integrity, such as seen in the Bolivarian War. According to the Constitution, the president has complete control over the armed forces, although the Federal Parliament is tasked with diplomatic nominations and legislation relating to foreign policy.

Considered a hegemon in South America, Brazil has competed with the Socialist States of America for influence over Central America. The Brazilian development plans for undeveloped countries is widely regarded as a model to be followed. Brazil donates an estimated $20 billion as foreign aid to other countries. The receivers usually are Latin American countries or Portuguese-speaking territories, although other countries do receive aid in the form of expertise and diplomacy.

On December 2021, the Federal Republic of Brazil joined the World Assembly. The Brazilian prime minister, Ingrid Santos, stated the government's intention to be more active in international affairs, thus joining the World Assembly.