Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brazil: Portuguese-speaking, multi-ethnic land of amazing biodiversity

Flag of Brazil
Originally uploaded by Max Hendel
Basic national background from -

- the largest country in South America and the only Portuguese-speaking country on that continent.
- Brazil was a colony of Portugal from the landing of Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500 until its independence in 1822.
- Brazil is the world's eighth largest economy at market exchange rates[3] and the ninth largest by purchasing power parity.[15] Economic reforms have given the country new international recognition.
- It is a democracy.

- A predominantly Roman Catholic, Portuguese-speaking, and multiethnic society.
- The most accepted etymology of the name Brazil is that it was named after the tree brazilwood[17] which in Portuguese is pau-brasil, and the word brasil is commonly defined by the dictionaries of different languages as the color of red like ember, formed by the word brasa (ember).

- Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world—after Russia, Canada, China and the United States.
- The climate of Brazil comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale and varied topography, but the largest part of the country is tropical.

- The Macaw is a typical animal of Brazil. The country has one of the world's most diverse populations of birds and amphibians.
- Brazil's large territory comprises different ecosystems, such as the Amazon Rainforest, recognized as having the greatest biological diversity in the world;[33] the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado, which together sustain some of the world's greatest biodiversity.

- Scientists estimate that the total number of plant and animal species in Brazil could approach four million.[34] Larger mammals include pumas, jaguars, ocelots, rare bush dogs, and foxes. Peccaries, tapirs, anteaters, sloths, opossums, and armadillos are abundant. Deer are plentiful in the south, and monkeys of many species abound in the northern rain forests.[34][36] Concern for the environment in Brazil has grown in response to global interest in environmental issues.
- Its natural heritage is extremely threatened by cattle ranching and agriculture, logging, mining, resettlement, oil and gas extraction, over-fishing, expansion of urban centres, wildlife trade, fire, climate change, dams and infrastructure, water contamination, and invasive species.[33] In many areas of the country, the natural environment is threatened by development.

- Brazilians are very strong in agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors, as well as a large labor pool.[15] Brazilian exports are booming, creating a new generation of tycoons.[192] Major export products include aircraft, coffee, automobiles, soybean, iron ore, orange juice, steel, ethanol, textiles, footwear, corned beef and electrical equipment.
- Industry is highly concentrated geographically, with the leading concentrations in metropolitan São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Campinas, Porto Alegre, and Belo Horizonte. Technologically advanced industries are also highly concentrated in these locations.
- Brazil is expected to become a major oil producer and exporter, having recently made huge oil discoveries.

- 49.4% of the population self-declared White, about 93 million; 42.3% self-declared Pardo (brown), about 80 million; 7.4% self-declared Black, about 13 million; 0.5% self-declared Asian, about 1 million; and 0.4% self-declared Amerindian, about 519,000.
- Over three centuries of Portuguese colonization, Brazil received more than 700,000 Portuguese settlers and 4 million African slaves.[228] The country has the largest population of African descent outside of Africa.
- The largest metropolitan areas in Brazil are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte, with 19.7, 11.4, and 5.4 million inhabitants respectively.

- Brazilian Portuguese has had its own development, influenced by the Amerindian and African languages.[249] Due to this, the language is somewhat different from that spoken in Portugal and other Portuguese-speaking countries, mainly for phonological and orthographic differences. These differences are somewhat greater than those of American and British English.

- The festival of Carnival (Portuguese: Carnaval), with its spectacular street parades and vibrant music, has become one of the most potent images of Brazil;[254] an annual celebration held forty days before Easter and marks the beginning of Lent.
- Brazil's cultural tradition extends to its music styles which include samba, bossa nova, forró, frevo, pagode and many others.
- Football (Portuguese: futebol) is the most popular sport in Brazil.[254] Many famous Brazilian players such as Pele and Ronaldo are among the most well know players in the sport.The Brazilian national football team (Seleção) is currently ranked first in the world according to the FIFA World Rankings. They have been victorious in the World Cup tournament a record five times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002.[261] Basketball, volleyball, auto racing, and martial arts also attract large audiences.

- The constellations found in the skies of the Southern Hemisphere are seen in the famous and unusual flag of Brazil.