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Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world. Stretching out over more than 8.5 million square kilometers (more than 3.2 million square miles), it covers nearly half of South America. About 195 million people (2012 est.) live in Brazil, making it the fifth most populous country in the world. The country’s capital is Brasilia, and the official language is Portuguese. The currency used is the real (R$).
Brazil’s fascinating diversity of wildlife species is amazing. The richness of the primates, amphibians and plant types is breathtaking. Particularly, its almost innumerable bird, butterfly and reptile species are overwhelming for those interested in these pursuits.
Brazilians are generally known as very proud and religious people who celebrate gladly, enjoy dancing and have fiery tempers. Especially during Brazil's famous carnival celebrations, you'll find samba rhythms, dazzling costumes and a contagious zeal everywhere in the street.
Brazil has 7,400 kilometers (4,600 miles) of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, and it borders every South American nation except Chile and Ecuador (specifically, it borders Uruguay to the south; Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia to the southwest; Peru to the west, Colombia to the northwest; and Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana to the north).
Brazil is divided into five large geographic regions: 1. the tropical North, which includes the Amazon rainforest and parts of the Guyana and Brazilian highlands; 2. the hot and dry Northeast; 3. the Central-West, which consists mainly of forested valleys, semi-arid highlands and vast wetlands (Brasilia is located in this region); 4. the Southeast, with its tremendous mineral wealth and the populous coastal states of Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro; and 5. the South, with its diversified economy, including hardy manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors. The famous Iguaçu Falls are also located in the South.
The climate in this impressive country depends on the geographical location. There are five major climatic sub-types: tropical, highland tropical, equatorial, semi-arid and temperate, though many regions also have microclimates. The most rain falls in the Amazon area, while the northeast also experiences very strong rainfall in some months, though in the following months this region becomes dry again due to a lack of rain. Most areas of Brazil have tropical rainfall at some point during the year.
When you travel to Rio de Janeiro, a must-see is the iconic Pão de Açúcar statue of Jesus, located on the peak of the 700-meter-high (2,300 feet) Corcovado Mountain. The statue is 39.6 meters (130 feet) tall and has become the symbol of Rio and Brazil. Another top attraction is located on the border between Brazil and Argentina, and is one of the greatest natural wonders in the world: Iguaçu Falls.
The Amazon River, extending approximately 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles), is the second longest river in the world. Half of the planet’s remaining rainforests are located in the Amazon Basin, and one tenth of the world’s estimated ten million living species are found here. A trip to the Amazon jungle is an unforgettable natural experience.
For those looking for some beach time, Salvador — the capital of the state of Bahia — possesses not only an attractive colonial town and a vibrant music scene, it also has beaches that invite you to relax, swim, dive or surf.
When Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral and his men stepped on Brazilian soil for the first time in 1500, there were probably between two and four million people in over 1,000 tribes living there. Most of them were farmers, while others were still nomadic hunter-gatherers.
During colonial times, sugar cane trade and slavery were the main source of income for the Portuguese in Brazil. People were brought from Africa to work in the sugar cane plantations as slaves, though indigenous people were enslaved as well. In the late 17th century gold was discovered. In 1822 Brazil declared independence, which was recognized by Portugal in 1825. At that time, Brazil was a monarchy.
In the mid-19th century a coffee boom started and the economy grew rapidly becuase of this as well as cacao and rubber production. In 1889 the army overthrew the monarchy and Brazil became a republic. Many European immigrants migrated to Brazil in the following decades.
Between 1964 and 1985, Brazil was under military rule, but in 1985 the new republic was founded and ever since that date Brazil has had a democratic government. In last several years especially, the country has been developing rapidly and has become the powerhouse of South America.