Flag of Brazil
Coat of arms of Brazil
Coordinates: 10°S 52°W / 10°S 52°W / -10; -52

in South America  (grey)

Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: República Federativa do Brasil, About this sound listen ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the sixth most populous. The capital is Brasília, and the most populated city is São Paulo. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas, besides being one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to the strong immigration from various places in the world. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 kilometers (4,655 mi). It borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and covers 47.3% of the continent's land area. Its Amazon River basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. This unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, and is the subject of significant global interest and debate regarding deforestation and environmental protection.

Brazil was inhabited by numerous tribal nations prior to the landing in 1500 of explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed the area for the Portuguese Empire. Brazil remained a Portuguese colony until 1808, when the capital of the empire was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. In 1815, the colony was elevated to the rank of kingdom upon the formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Independence was achieved in 1822 with the creation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. The ratification of the first constitution in 1824 led to the formation of a bicameral legislature, now called the National Congress. The country became a presidential republic in 1889 following a military coup d'état. An authoritarian military junta came to power in 1964 and ruled until 1985, after which civilian governance resumed. Brazil's current constitution, formulated in 1988, defines it as a democratic federal republic. The federation is composed of the union of the Federal District, the 26 states, and the 5,570 municipalities.

Brazil's economy is the world's eighth-largest by both nominal GDP and GDP (PPP) as of 2017. A member of the BRICS group, Brazil until 2010 had one of the world's fastest growing major economies, with its economic reforms giving the country new international recognition and influence. Brazil's national development bank plays an important role for the country's economic growth. Brazil is a founding member of the United Nations, the G20, BRICS, Union of South American Nations, Mercosul, Organization of American States, Organization of Ibero-American States and the CPLP. Brazil is a regional power in Latin American and a middle power on international affairs with potential superpower status. One of the world's major breadbaskets, Brazil has also been the largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years.

It is likely that the word "Brazil" comes from the Portuguese word for brazilwood, a tree that once grew plentifully along the Brazilian coast. In Portuguese, brazilwood is called pau-brasil, with the word brasil commonly given the etymology "red like an ember", formed from Latin brasa ("ember") and the suffix -il (from -iculum or -ilium). As brazilwood produces a deep red dye, it was highly valued by the European textile industry and was the earliest commercially exploited product from Brazil. Throughout the 16th century, massive amounts of brazilwood were harvested by indigenous peoples (mostly Tupi) along the Brazilian coast, who sold the timber to European traders (mostly Portuguese, but also French) in return for assorted European consumer goods.

This page was last edited on 23 June 2018, at 00:30 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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