Brazil’s physical features consist of narrow costal plains, highland areas, and lowland river valleys. Brazil is also home to the second longest river in the world, the Amazon River. At 4,000 miles it goes around the Andes and lets out at the Atlantic Ocean. It drains from the Amazon Basin. Some rivers like the Piranha and the Sao Francisco River lie in lowlands but 1/2 of the country is covered in highlands. The highlands drop off into the Atlantic Ocean and this is called the Great Escarpment.
Brazil’s People and Culture
With 176.5 million people, Brazil has the largest population of all Latin American nations. 1/5 of all Brazil’s people live in extreme poverty. Its culture is largely Portuguese but today Brazilians are European, African, Native American, Asian, or mixed ancestry. The Brazilians speak a dialect of Portuguese. Most Brazilians follow the Roman Catholic religion but some combine Catholicism with African or Native American religions.
Brazil’s Economic Activity
In Brazil, agriculture, mining, and forestry were important before the mid 1800’s because after that, the world’s demand for rubber from the Amazon Basin’s trees sky rocketed. Today Brazil’s mining companies mine for minerals like bauxite, iron ore, and tin. Logging companies harvest mahogany and other woods from the number of Brazil’s forests. Farmers use their cleared fields to grow tobacco and soybeans and also to graze their cattle. Brazil is also big in tourism. Tourists flock to the cities every year.
Though the Portuguese were the first and largest European group to colonize Brazil, the Native Americans were the first to live there. In the 1500’s the Portuguese colonists forced the Native Americans to work as slaves on their plantations that grew tobacco and later sugarcane. Many Native Americans died from disease or over work. To replace them, the early Portuguese brought over enslaved people from Africa. For Brazil, slavery was finally banned in 1888 but Africans still remain in Brazil. Over time African traditions have influenced Brazilian religion, music, dance, and food.
Brazil declared independence from Portugal in 1822. At first the new nation was an empire with emperors ruling until 1889. Then Brazil was ruled by Military Dictators. Today Brazil is a democratic republic where people elect a president and other leaders. In Brazil though, citizens do not have the right to choose not to vote. All people, 18-70 are required, by law, to vote. Brazil has no more than a dozen political parties. It doesn’t just two main ones likes the United States. The National government is much stronger then the 26 state governments. The Brazilian president has much more power than a president from the United States.