views updated May 23 2018


Basic Data
Official Country Name:Federative Republic of Brazil
Region:South America
Language(s):Portuguese, Spanish, English, French
Literacy Rate:83.3%
Academic Year:January-December
Number of Primary Schools:196,479
Compulsory Schooling:8 years
Public Expenditure on Education:5.1%
Educational Enrollment:Primary: 34,229,388
 Secondary: 6,405,057
 Higher: 1,716,263
Educational Enrollment Rate:Primary: 125%
 Secondary: 56%
 Higher: 14%
Teachers:Primary: 1,413,607
 Secondary: 352,894
 Higher: 141,482
Student-Teacher Ratio:Primary: 24:1

History & Background

The Federative Republic of Brazil is the only nation in South America whose language and culture derive from Portugal. The country was discovered by Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500. As the fifth largest country in the world, its territory covers an area of 3,300,171 square miles, which represents almost half of South America. With a population of almost 172 million people, Brazil is also the fifth most populated country.

Brazil is considered one of the world's most productive countries because of its great number of natural and mineral resources, metropolitan cities, developed industrial and hydroelectric complexes, and fertile soil. At the same time, Brazil is a country that historically has had to face many internal problems, such as the lack of political and economic stability, long periods of high inflation, and an unplanned population growth. These factors led Brazil to major educational problems.

The history of education in Brazil begins in the second half of the sixteenth century, when the Jesuits from the Companhia de Jesus (Company of Jesus) arrived in 1549. The Jesuits founded the first Brazilian elementary school in Salvador, in the state of Bahia. They followed the educational principles established in the Ratio Studiorum (a regulatory educational document written and promoted by Friar Inácio de Loyola). The Jesuits' work was driven not only by educational goals, but by a religious purpose as well: to spread the Christian faith among the indigenous population. For 210 years, the Jesuits were responsible for the entire educational system in Brazil. Their primary and secondary schools were of good quality, and some of the secondary schools even offered higher-level studies. The Jesuits also created many missions in Brazil to educate and catechize the indigenous people. These missions would help the people escape from slavery.

The first rupture in the history of the Brazilian educational system occurred in 1759 when the Jesuits were expelled from Portugal and its colonies by the Marquis of Pombal, King José I's minister. Pombal was trying to restore the Portuguese power in Europe. The Jesuit's religious educational system implemented in the colony conflicted with the Marquis's commercial interests. Pombal's idea was that education should serve the state, not the church. As an alternative to the Jesuit's system, Pombal created the subsídio literário (literary subsidy), a tax to finance elementary and secondary education, as well as the aulas régias, the teaching of Latin, Greek, and rhetoric. However, Pombal's new educational measures had no effect, and by the beginning of the nineteenth century, Brazil's educational system was stagnated.

Brazilian education and culture started to move forward in 1808, when the Portuguese royal family, escaping from the invasion of Napoleon's troops, transferred the Kingdom of Portugal to the colony. Although tailored to the Portuguese Court's immediate needs, King João VI's educational work started a period of undeniable achievements for education. He created a considerable number of schools and scientific institutions, the first public library, a number of technical teaching schools for professional training, and the first university courses in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. However, King João's educational policy, focusing on higher levels of education, neglected elementary schooling.

Brazil's educational policy was deeply affected by the country's independence in 1822. The Constitution of 1824 guaranteed free elementary education to all citizens, and the state created basic-level public schools in cities, towns, and villages. The state also decentralized the basic education system by promulgating the Additional Act in 1834. This act gave the provinces the power to determine legislation for elementary education, casting off the government's duty to grant free education for all.

In the first years of the newly formed Republic (1889), the decentralized educational policy was maintained, preventing the state from taking over the formulation and coordination of the elementary educational system. This lack of action by the government resulted in a greater social and educational gap between the popular classes and the elite. Since little attention was focused on public elementary education, only the favored members of the upper classes could afford to keep their children in private institutions.

The twentieth century was a period of transformation for education in Brazil. Influenced by European positivism, Brazilian educators adopted a series of reforms and laws that transferred the responsibility of administrating elementary schooling in the country back to the government. During the 1920s and 1930s, the first universities were created in Rio de Janeiro (1920), Minas Gerais (1927), Porto Alegre (1934), and São Paulo (1934). The first "real" Brazilian university was the University of São Paulo, created with the support and import of French and German scholars, following the French model for its structure.

A new constitution was promulgated in 1934, incorporating significant advances into the educational system. Both the government and the family were considered responsible for the elementary education of all citizens. In the 1940s, the educational system focused on the professional aspects of education. At this point, education in Brazil had the following structure: five years of elementary school, four years of secondary school, and three years of high school.

During the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, the educational system underwent some significant changes. Some of the important achievements of this period include the creation of CAPES or Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (Coordination of Improvement of Higher Learning Personnel) in 1951; the CFE or Conselho Federal de Educação (Federal Council of Education) in 1961; campaigns and movements for eradicating adult illiteracy; and the approval of National Law 4024 (Lei de Diretrizes e Bases ) in 1961.

From 1964 to 1980, a military dictatorship ruled Brazil during this period of social and political upheaval. However, it was during this time that two of the most significant events of the history of Brazilian education took place: the creation of MOBRAL (Movimento Brasileiro de Alfabetização ), or the Brazilian movement for eradication of adult illiteracy, in 1970, and the approval of Law 5,692 in 1971. This law significantly changed the structure of higher learning (students could choose between a general or professional curriculum) and of elementary and secondary education (basic mandatory education was extended from four to eight years).

Despite a number of updates and amendments, the basic text of Law 5,692/71 was still in force in the 1990s. Also during that decade, the government created the National Program of Literacy and Citizenship in an effort to reduce the number of illiterate people in Brazil by up to 70 percent. A new model of elementary school, the CIAC (Centro Integrado de Educação Popular ), was also created. These CIACs were integrated centers to support children from low income families with education and food.

In 1995, the Brazilian government created an experimental program to evaluate the performance of university students called the provão (National Course Evaluation). The provão is an exam given the last semester prior to graduation. After a period of adaptation, it has become permanent. Eighteen subjects are included in this exam. In the year 2000, more than 2,700 university courses (around 203,000 students) were examined by the provão.

In 1997, the same program was extended to the high school level, creating the ENEN (Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio ), or National Secondary Education Examination. ENEN has become an important instrument to evaluate the performance of secondary level students. It provides students the necessary credentials for either continuing their university studies or for entering the job market. At the elementary school level, the SAEB (Sistema de Avaliação da Educação Básica ), or Evaluation System for Basic Education, is recognized worldwide as one of the most sophisticated procedures used in the evaluation of primary school performance. In testing the efficiency of schools and universities, the government aims to control and improve the quality of education throughout Brazil.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The Constitution of 1824 established that basic education was a right of the citizen and an obligation of the state. Since then, all Brazilian constitutions have included free primary education as one of the basic needs the state must provide to the population. However, the Brazilian government became actively involved with educational constitutional rights only after the Revolution of 1930.

The Brazilian educational system was revolutionized by the promulgation of Law 5,692 on August 11, 1971. Unlike the preceding law (Law 4,024/61), Law 5,692/71 was very well received by the educational community for the amplitude of its articles and its promise of updating and expanding the teaching of primary and secondary education. The main changes implemented by Law 5,692/71 included: redefinition of the role of primary education (based on students' potentiality, citizenship consciousness, and working-skills development); free and mandatory primary education for children between the ages of 7 and 14; 8 years of schooling at the primary educational level; a national, unified primary level curriculum that would also take into consideration relevant individual and/or regional differences; ensino supletivo (primary and secondary educational opportunities for adult citizens), which is the equivalent of the GED in the United States; and rules for teaching and financing (on federal, state, and municipal levels).

Elementary education in Brazil is free in all state schools and compulsory for all citizens between the ages of 7 and 14. Secondary education is not compulsory, but it is still free. Nevertheless, the free and mandatory basic educational system has not prevented two serious educational problems derived from social and regional inequalities: illiteracy and child labor. Although the number of illiterate people has decreased over the last 20 years, the illiteracy rate in Brazil during the 1990s was still significant (approximately 16 percent in 1993). According to a U.S. Department of State report on human rights (February 2001), recent governmental figures from Brazil state that the number of children working has decreased since 1993, conversely increasing the number of children attending school. The Brazilian federal government administers 33 programs to combat child labor. The Ministry of Labor's program for the eradication of child labor provided supplemental income to 147,000 families in rural areas, who in return were required to send their children to school. Similar programs administered by municipalities benefit another 202,000 children living in the major urban cities.

The most recent educational objectives of the Brazilian educational system, started in the 1990s, are still based on the main changes established by Law 5,692/71. Nevertheless, there were some innovations and pledges included in the Constitution of 1988. Infantile education was seen as a preliminary step towards schooling. The state must provide day care for a variable number of hours and kindergarten (not mandatory) for the underprivileged. Public universities must offer free, high-level quality courses and promote research. The state must support poor students with food, books, transportation, and health care. Additionally, special attention must be paid to students who suffer any kind of physical or mental disability.

Other important legal tools for education are: Law 9,131 of 1995; constitutional amendment 14 of 1996; the National Educational Guidelines and Framework Law 9,393 of 1996 (Lei de Diretrizes e Bases-LDB ); and the FUNDEF (National Education Fund), Law 9,424/1996. Other legal tools include decrees and administrative rulings that regulate the LDB; in addition, recommendations and resolutions issued by the National Council of Education contain important legal information.

Educational SystemOverview

Brazil has 26 states and the Federal District. The educational system is a collaborative organization between federal, state, and municipal government organizations. The federal government, through the Ministry of Education (also known as the MECMinistério da Educação with the "C" appearing as an initial because the MEC was also previously in charge of Culture), is responsible for legislation and financial assistance. It is in charge of the federal universities, middle school technological education, and technical and agricultural high schools. Eight years of fundamental schooling is now compulsory.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preschool Education: Preschool is designed to provide physical, psychological, and intellectual development for children under the age of six. It complements family education. There are day care nurseries for children who are up to three-years-old, and kindergartens for those age four to six. This system started with the Constitution of 1988 and is fostered by the municipalities. Although emphasized by the government, its implementation reaches only 17.5 percent of the population. The enrollment was 5.9 percent in 1980 and rose to 17.4 percent in 1989.

Special Education: Special education is offered from preschool to secondary level. Support for special education is provided by the Ministry of Education, by the state, by some municipal secretariats, and by nongovernmental organizations. Depending on the kind of program, an institution might include rehabilitation centers, clinics, hospitals, and more. According to 1989 statistics, 63 percent of the special education students were mentally retarded, 14.4 percent had hearing problems, 9.3 percent were physically handicapped, and 4.4 percent had visual deficiencies. There is much interest in aiding blind students or those with subnormal vision at an early stage to increase academic performance.

Elementary Education: Elementary education is called escola de primeiro grau (first degree schooling). It is constitutionally mandatory for students aged 7 to 14. Its main objectives are to develop reading, writing, and calculating; to understand natural laws and social relations in contemporary society; and to develop the capacity of thinking and creating. State Councils of Education structure the elementary school curricula. The curriculum includes: communication and expression (Portuguese language); social studies (geography, history, and social and political organization); and sciences (mathematics and biological). In 2001, about 91 percent of students from seven to fourteen had access to schooling. Recent data indicates that about half of first graders fail, which causes about 2.3 percent of them to abandon school. This index reaches 32 percent by the end of the fourth grade.

A public educational policy for indigenous schools exists to prepare teachers to teach the native people, to produce didactic material, and to disseminate indigenous themes in schools. Indigenous education is part of the Constitution of 1988. Children go to school half a day, either in the mornings or in the afternoons. In 1984, the state government of Rio de Janeiro created the Centro Integrado de Educação Popular or CIEP (integrated center for popular education) for the poorer population. The purpose was to keep the students busy eight hours every day with instruction, sports, medical assistance, food, and cultural activities. These schools were especially built with a uniform architectonic project and were easily recognizable. This idea was followed by the government of President Fernando Collor de Melo under the name Centro Integrado de Atendimento à Criança (CIAC). Although the idea was excellent, its costs were too high and there were not enough qualified teachers and staff. The project slowly faded, with pieces of it being picked up by other programs.

At the turn of the millennium, the government was placing major emphasis on elementary education. In 1996, the Constitutional Amendment 4 created Fundo e Manutenção e Desenvolvimento do Ensino Fundamental e Valorização do Magistério or FUNDEF (Fund for Maintenance and Development of Basic Teaching and Valuation). One of the purposes of this fund was to train teachers and raise their salaries. The average national salary increase was 13 percent, 50 percent in the municipal systems.

The Programa Nacional do Livro Didático or PNLD (National Textbook Program) was broadened and renovated, and in 1999, about 110 million books that had been selected by the teachers themselves were distributed to elementary schools from the first to the fourth grade. Throughout the country, there is an ongoing pedagogical evaluation, which started in 1996. The Secretaria de Educação Fundamental (SEF) prepares the Guia de Livros Didáticos, a guide to help choose the right books and to ease the teacher's task.

Adult Education: Adult education is remedial schooling. The minimum age is 18 for the elementary level and 21 for the secondary level. The Ministry of Education and the state secretariats provide support for this kind education through special courses, equivalent to the American GED, that can be taken in schools or online. Supervision is handled by state boards of education and inspection services. For the students who successfully complete the course, a diploma is granted.

Popular Education: Popular education is a new concept of teaching created by the educator Paulo Freire. His method was successful in teaching literacy in 40 hours of classes without any didactic material. He conceived education within the existential reality. For him, reading and writing is a social praxis. Dialogue is the key for interaction between teacher and students.

Freire's model revolutionalized traditional schoolroom teaching, transforming adult education into a healthy approach for those students who come to class already knowing what they want and need to learn. His model is reflected in the work of adult educators in the United States and in other countries, principally in Africa. Paulo Freire's main books are Cultural Action for Freedom (1970), Education as the Practice of Freedom (1976), and Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1993). This model is called "educación popular" in Latin America, "andragogy" by Malcolm Knowles, or "action learning" by learner-centered education proponents. Jane Vella, an educator who adapted Friere's model, explains the characteristics of popular education as:

learner's participation in naming content via needs assessment, mutual respect, dialogue between learner and teacher and among learners, achievement-based learning objectives, small-group work to engage learners and to provide safety, visual support and psychomotor involvement, accountability of the teacher to do what he or she proposes, student participation in the evaluation of program results, a listening attitude on the part of teachers and resource people, and learning by doing. (Vella 1995)

Professional Education: Professional education treats the needs of local and regional markets. The curriculum is modularthat is, organized in units as short courses that can be taken by the student in between his or her working schedule at different times. The technical and professional schools issue diplomas are for the job market, mainly in industry and agriculture. The market has been giving clear signals that without a secondary diploma the candidate will not get a good job.

Across Brazil, 2.8 million students are enrolled in professional education; 24.1 percent are in industry courses, followed by agriculture, and commerce. There are 33,000 professional education courses, 83.5 percent are on the basic level. There are 5,000 technical and 433 technological courses. Computer science is the most requested course. In total, 3,948 institutions offer these courses, 2,216 of which are technical.

Professional education takes place on three different levels: Basic: courses for young and adult workers. They do not demand previous schooling and its goal is to qualify the student; Technical: for young and adult students who are taking or have already finished their secondary education. Receiving a diploma demands having finished 11 years of basic schooling; Technological: this provides higher education on the undergraduate and graduate level.

Secondary Education

According to Law 9,394 of December 20, 1996, secondary schooling is the final stage of basic education. From 1990 to 1998, the enrollment in secondary schools almost doubled, from 3.5 million to 6.9 million students. The yearly increase averaged 11.5 percent.

In 2001, a major reform was being undertaken by the government at the secondary level that focused on contextualization, curricular integration, and flexibility. The reform was established along three lines: it was based on the new federal law of Diretrizes e Bases (Directives and Bases); it focused on changing the curriculum in the secondary schools; and it placed an emphasis on the occupational content of the technical schools.

The basic secondary school's objectives are: to consolidate previous acquired knowledge; to prepare the student for high school or technical professions; and to teach the student how to relate theory to practice. The curriculum is organized by the Conselho Federal de Educac̨ão or CFE (Federal Council of Education) together with the Conselho Estadual de Educação or CEE (State Council of Education). Individual schools can select additional subjects.

The curriculum has the same basic subjects as in the elementary school: communication and expression, including a foreign language as well as Portuguese; social studies; and sciences. The curriculum includes five to six subjects, and Portuguese is obligatory. In addition, the curriculum has become more flexible over time75 percent is established by the government on a national basis, and 25 percent is left to each school's discretion.

There is still a low rate of students attending secondary schoolonly 16 percent of the population between the ages of 15 and 19 participates. There is an age variation-many youngsters in this age span are still attending elementary school. Many students arrive at the secondary level when they are young adults because they have to work and complement the family's salary. Therefore, secondary schools have become in large part evening schools; 55 percent of the secondary level students enrolled in 1998 attended classes at night.

Higher Education

Compared to other Latin American countries, Brazil has not only a respectable number of universities, but they are also better equipped than other countries. In the 1960s it launched a major program to award graduate degrees.

The university system is made up of public (federal or state), Catholic, and private institutions. The structure comprises universities, faculdades (colleges), and isolated institutions. The purpose of higher education in Brazil is to implement teaching, research, and extension, although research is principally done in federal institutions. Universities also offer short training courses in many different subjects, serving the university population as well as the community. Private higher education has increased excessively in the last 20 years, creating 300,000 new vacancies for students. As a result, there has been a decrease of quality in these institutions, especially because they are profit-oriented.

The main objective of higher education is to professionalize students. This differs from the American system in which the student goes to college to acquire a general education then opts for professionalization. In Brazil the student immediately selects law school (a five-year course) or medicine (six years).

There are 127 universities in Brazil, 68 of which are public. Of the 894 institutions of higher education, 222 are public. Higher education careers are integrated in blocks (criteria used by CAPES) as follows: Ciências Biológicas e Saúde (Biological and Health Sciences), Ciências Exatas da Terra (Exact Sciences), Ciências Humanas e Sociais (Human and Social Sciences), Ciências Sociais Aplicadas (Applied Social Sciences), and Engenharias e Tecnologias (Engineering and Tecnologies).

In 1997, there were 1,945,000 students enrolled in higher education; in 2000 this number increased to 2,125,958. Women comprise 55 percent of the total number. It is estimated that 3 millions students will be enrolled by the year 2002. Once enrolled, 64.2 percent of the students who begin a course in higher education graduate. Most of these students study in private institutions, their average age is 25, and 53 percent of the students are 24 years old when they initiate their graduate studies.

As of 1998 the five largest universities in the country were: Universidade Paulista (state of São Paulo), 44,598 students; Universidade de São Paulo (city of São Paulo), 35.662; Unisinos (Rio Grande do Sul), 25,269; Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro), 24,971; and Pontifícia Universidade Católica (Minas Gerais), 22,434.

In order to be accepted in a university, students have to pass a competitive entrance exam called vestibular. As long as they have finished their secondary education and have a diploma, grades do not factor into university selection. This gives an advantage to socially privileged students who get extra help from private instruction or teachers and do not have to work while studying. This system actually creates a social discrepancy, because rich students end up in federal universities that are free, while lower-income students enter private universities that are paid. In 2001, governmental measures were being launched in order to transform the system. Some universities had started making their own individual vestibular, and others had begun taking grades into consideration.

The Federal Education Council (CFE) determines the minimum curriculum and time allotment for the different courses. Each institution has the freedom to include additional subjects. Under the presidency of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a new legislation to evaluate the performance of institutions was introduced that required students to take an examination at the end of their courses. Those exam results, together with the evaluation of committees of specialists designated by the Ministry of Education, were expected to show how well the institutions and courses were performing. That evaluation would provide the government with data that would help it know where and how to best allocate money and efforts. Additionally, undergraduate teaching was prioritized, as investments totaling 70 million dollars were made to upgrade libraries, computers, and information technology.

In the Constitution of 1988 it was determined that student loans, previously financed by the Fundo de Assistência Social (Social Assistance Fund), were to be allocated from the resources of the Ministry of Education and administered by the Caixa Econômica Federal. The loans are mainly used by students to pay for tuition through monthly installments.

A financing program called Financiamento Estudantil (FIES) was created in 1999. Approximately 700 higher education institutions throughout the country have participated. In 2001, some 102,000 students received aid from this program, with total resources approaching $225 million.

Graduate schools have always been the jewel of Brazilian education. In the 1950s, the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations gave grants to bring Brazilian students to the United States for their graduate studies. Since then, funds are given by several public agencies to finance graduate studies abroad and at home; these agencies include FINEP, FAPESP, CNPQ, and CAPES.

Many universities have their own master's and doctorate programs. Graduate programs are evaluated every two years and, according to their performance, receive public funds in larger or lesser amounts to promote research and pay fellowships for their students. In 1994, there were 18,900 students working on doctorate degrees; in 1999, that number jumped to 29,900an increase of 58 percent.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Administration: The Brazilian Constitution (1988) stated that education is the duty of the state and that its principle aim would be the total development of the individual, including his or her preparation to exercise citizenship and to qualify for work. The administration of the educational system by the federal government, the states, the Federal District, and the municipalities would follow a number of constitutional principles. For example, it is the responsibility of the Brazilian government to conduct a census of elementary school students, to publicize the enrollment process, and to be responsible, jointly with the parents or guardians, for students attending school.

Private teaching enterprise is allowed by the Brazilian constitution, provided it complies with the general rules of Brazilian education. The state must authorize and guarantee the quality of education provided by any private institution.

The different parts of the federal governmentincluding the Ministry of Education, the states, the Federal District, and the municipalitiescooperate in the organization of the Brazilian educational system. The federal government organizes and finances the federal educational system of the states and of the territories. It grants technical and financial assistance to the states, the Federal District, and the municipalities for the development of their educational systems and provides compulsory schooling on a priority basis. Municipalities act on a priority basis in elementary and preschool education. It is the responsibility of the federal government to manage federal universities, public higher learning institutions, federal centers for secondary technological education, and a number of agricultural and technical high schools. The states direct most of the day cares, kindergarten schools, some elementary and secondary schools, and the state universities. The municipalities act on a more basic level, controlling most of the primary schools, some day cares, and kindergarten schools.

Each educational system is managed by an executive body. In the federal sphere, the Conselho Nacional de Educação (Nacional Council of Education) establishes the working rules. The Ministry of Education handles political issues, such as planning and administrative decisions. On the state level and in the Federal District, regulatory functions belong to the Conselho Estadual de Educação (CEE). Administrative functions, as well as the control of private education at the primary and secondary levels, are managed by the Secretaria Estadual de Educação or SEE (State Secretariats of Education). In the municipalities, the Conselho Municipal de Educação or CME (Municipal Council of Education) and the local secretariats or departments of education are responsible for regulatory and administrative functions. Each system is autonomous and hires personnel by means of competitive public examinations, and each manages their resources within certain rules and principles. The federal government, the state, the Federal District, and the municipalities must organize a yearly national plan to integrate actions aimed at the coordination and development of education on various levels.

Finance: Each year the federal government is mandated to apply no less than 18 percent of public expenditures on education. In reality, about 5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) is applied. The Federal District, states, and municipalities must apply at least 25 percent of their tax revenues, including those resulting from transfers from the federal government. The federal government contributes 20 percent, the state contributes 50 percent, and the municipalities, 30 percent. Supplementary food and health assistance programs must be financed with funds derived from social contributions and other budgetary funds. An additional contribution called salário educação (education salary) is made by companies and constitutes another source of funds for public elementary education. Companies that maintain an in-house educational program for their own employees and dependents may deduct from this fund the amount of money invested in elementary education.

Public funds are allocated to public schools. They may also be allocated to community, religious, or philanthropic schools as long as they prove that they do not seek profit and that they invest their funds in education. These institutions must ensure that their equity is assigned to another community, philanthropic, or religious school, or to the government in case they cease their activities. Funds can also be allocated to elementary and secondary school scholarships for those who are needy, or for whenever a student must attend a private school because there are no vacancies or regular courses at the appropriate level in the public school system nearest to the student's residence. In such cases, the government is required to invest, on a priority basis, in the expansion of its network in that area.

Research & Technology: Brazilian universities are autonomous. They enjoy didactic, scientific, administrative, and financial autonomy, as well as fair management. However, they must follow the principles of coherent teaching, research, and advanced study, which makes them eligible to receive financial support from the government and/or private sponsors. In 2001, one of the problems that the federal universities facedand which was in the process of being reformedwas the lack of freedom the administrators had to reassign resources. Changing this system would increase flexibility and provide greater autonomy to the universities. However, the matter required a constitutional change, so in the meantime, other legal instruments were being used to ease this problem.

Although educational research in Brazil is conducted by different institutions (universities, institutes, research centers, etc.), research activities are concentrated at public universities. In 1993, some 99 institutions were officially involved in all areas of research. That number more than doubled in 2000 to over 200, and 80 percent of the almost 12,000 groups involved in academic research belonged to public universities.

According to the results of a census organized by the Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa or CNPq (National Council of Research) that polled all of the groups involved with academic research in Brazil in the year 2000: 57.0 percent of those groups conducted their work in the southeast region of Brazil, 31.0 percent in São Paulo, and 16.0 percent in Rio de Janeiro; 11.5 percent were affiliated with the Universidade de São Paulo (University of São Paulo); 27 percent of the studies concentrated on the humanities; the most studied fields were health (31 percent) and education (30 percent); 79.5 percent of the groups started their research between 1995 and 2000.

In total, 10 percent of the research conducted by these groups resulted in high quality work, according to international standards. Considering the fact that most of these research groups (almost 60 percent) were still in the formative stages in 2001, the Brazilian government considered the results satisfactory. The most traditional research institutions in Brazil are the independent public agencies CAPES, CNPq, FINEP, FAPESP, and FAPERJ, and two private foundationsFundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and Fundação Carlos Chagas (FCC) in São Paulo.

Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior or CAPES (Coordination of Improvement of Higher Learning Personnel) is a public entity linked to the Ministry of Education. It was created in 1951 as a program (campanha ) and transformed into a foundation (fundação ) in 1992. CAPES is responsible for the graduate policies and the coordination of education and research on this level by granting scholarships and aid. It is responsible for the formation of highly qualified human resources to teach at the university level, to perform research, and to fulfill professional demands and needs in public and private sectors. CAPES has a system of course evaluation that is highly respected by other national institutions.

The Instituto Nacional de Estudos Pedagógicos or INEP (National Institute for Pedagogical Studies), a national institute for educational studies and research, is an independent entity responsible for obtaining, evaluating, and storing the country's education information. It created the Sistema Nacional de Avaliação da Educação Básica or SAEB (Evaluation System for Basic Education) to evaluate the performance of elementary and secondary schools. Another innovation is the Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio or ENEM (National Secondary Education Examination), which is used to evaluate, give credentials, and promote further studies on entry into the labor market. The exam for higher education (ENC) includes 18 higher-level subjects and 2,700 courses. In 1992, the state of Minas Gerais, took the initiative and created a comprehensive system, testing every school in the state.

INEP's major policies are designed to implement a new funding model for basic education (FUNDEF), to transfer funds directly to public schools (the "Money at School" Program), to expand and decentralize the National School Meal Program, to implement the Minimum Income Program (an education grant), to develop the Integrated System of Educational Information (SIEd), and to expand the Nordeste (Northeast) Project through the Basic Education and School Empowerment Fund (FUNDESCOLA).

Nonformal Education

The Brazilian educational system has faced many problems throughout its almost 500 years of existence. As a means of finding solutions in this crucial area, the government has developed a considerable number of nonformal and/or informal educational programs.

The federal government has industrial and agricultural technical schools throughout the country. Business associations operate other institutions, such as Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Industrial or SENAI (National Industrial Apprenticeship Service), and Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Comercial or SENAC (National Commercial Apprenticeship Service). They correspond to primary and secondary schools and are free of tuition. Training for managers and employers of small business is provided by Serviço de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas Empresas or SEBRAE (Service to Support Small Enterprises).

The international community considered the creation of SENAC and SENAI in the early 1940s as a pioneering model for Latin America's educational system. These successful Brazilian institutions offered commercial and industrial training programs, which were adopted by other countries due to their high quality.

Most of the nonformal systems of education in Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s were designed for adult education in an attempt to eradicate illiteracy. Paulo Freire's Movimento de Cultura Popular or MCP (Movement of Popular Culture), Projeto Minerva (a radio broadcast program), Movimento Brasileiro de Alfabetização or MOBRAL (Illiteracy Program), and Programa Nacional de Teleducação or PRONTEL (National Program of Television Education) are examples of programs developed during this period.

In the beginning of the 1990s, universities and technical schools started offering a number of short training courses on a diverse variety of subjects, from soccer to philosophy. Currently, in the major cities, both private and public institutions offer programs on secondary level administration and computer programming. There is also competition among private institutions to offer courses in foreign languages and preparation for international examinations like the GRE, the GMAT, and the TOEFL. Additional nonformal governmental projects held by the Secretaria de Educação Fundamental or SEF (Secretariat of Fundamental Education) include the establishment of a public educational policy for indigenous schools and the expansion of the curriculum of elementary and secondary schools to include environmental issues.

Contemporary technology has also affected the non-formal education sector in others ways. In the past decade, numerous online educational programs were launched in Brazil. These programs provide students with a demanding, creative, and interactive online learning environment. The UNB (University of Brasília) is one of the governmental institutions that offer a variety of online courses.

On an international level, the Ministry of Education maintains intense technical and financial cooperation to improve educational needs and human resources. It works in close contact with the Ministério das Relaço~es Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Productive results have been attained through contact with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), OEA (Organization of the American States), OEI (Organization of Iberian-American States), BID (Inter-American Development Bank), and BIRD (World Bank). The Ministry of Education also participates in the meetings of the Ministers of Education, in the meetings of Ministers of Education of the community of countries speaking the Portuguese language, in the meetings for Ministers of Education of the Inter-American Council of integral development of the OEA, and in the Conference of Iberian-American Education of OEI.

Distance Education: At the start of the twenty-first century, the Brazilian federal government created the Secretaria de Educação a Distância or SEED (Secretariat of Distance Education). This is an example of the government's commitment to modernizing education. SEED strategically applies new technologies and methodologies in order to diversify and raise the standard of education quality.

Television is a major vehicle for education. Distance learning is done with the help of the TV Escola (TV School), which reaches 60,000 schools. It is broadcast on a special channel by satellite and provides four hours of programs that are repeated four times a day. TV Escola is also a program designed for teachers and is updated by the Reforma do Ensino Médio or REM (Reform of Secondary Education). It was created in October of 1999 as an experimental program and proved to be one of the most efficient tools that the Ministry of Education had for updating the methods and resources of primary and secondary level teachers.

Both public and private TV stations offer courses and support programs for basic education. Telecurso 2001, for example, which is broadcast by TV Globo, is a program intended to prepare students for elementary and secondary school equivalency examinations.

The Programa Nacional de Informática na Educação or ProInfo (National Program for Information Technology in Education), created in 1977, was a program established to train teachers and improve learning through computer technology. Approximately 30,000 computers had been installed in more than 2,000 schools. In 2001, this program was expected to reach 6,000 schools, or 7.5 million students, with a total of 100,000 computers. The pedagogical use of technological equipment is assured by means of the proper training of the teachers of the benefited schools and by linking these computers to the Núcleo de Tecnologia Educacional or NTE (Nucleus of Educational Technology). Nearly 20,000 teachers have already been trained for this program and 223 NTEs have been created.

Recognizing the need for skilled educators, a national plan for the expansion of nonformal education was created in 2001 called Proformação-Programa de Formação de Professores em Exercício. It is an educational program designed for teachers. The program started in January of 2000 in the states of Amazonas and Bahia and provided training for teachers from the public network who did not meet the established minimum qualification standards required by law. The government plans to qualify 15,000 teachers from the public network.

Programa de Apoio à Pesquisa em Educação a Distância or PAPED (Program to Aid Research in Distance Education) is also an important program for the development of educational alternatives. It was created in 1997 to finance theses and dissertations on long-distance learning projects and/or on new information and communication technologies applied to education.

Teaching Profession

It was only in the second half of the nineteenth century that Brazilian federal legislation opened the first professional teaching schools (Curso Normal ). Male teachers tended to concentrate their training at the secondary level, with an emphasis on subject area specialties. Female teachers tended to be relegated to the primary level. This situation lasted until the mid-1930s, when new legislation created the Magistério, a well-defined teaching certification course. Entrance into this program required the completion of all eight grades of primary school. At that time, a primary level education was the minimum requirement for teaching primary school. Subsequently, in the 1950s, secondary level teachers were required to have a college degree.

Census figures from the 1970s and 1980s revealed that teaching, particularly in the early primary levels of education, was an underpaid occupation, although educators were required to invest considerable time in their professional training and credentials. Wage figures for the 1990s are not very different from previous decades. In the state of São Paulo, for instance, the average salary was 5.3 times the national minimum salary for male secondary level teachers and 1.9 times the national minimum salary for females.

Eighteen percent of the Brazilian gross national product is spent on education, with the greater part of this expenditure going to federal universities that do not charge tuition or fees. In 1997, the average beginning primary school teacher earned an average monthly salary of less than US$200 (this figure was US$223 for teachers in the state of São Paulo).

In addition to widespread undercompensation, teaching conditions are also difficult. Despite the low wages earned, many teachers work two shifts per day, usually at two different schools. This tight schedule barely provides the minimum salary necessary for survival, and it does so at tremendous cost to teachers and classrooms. Teaching double shifts generally means that teachers have to be prepared for teaching almost 10 classesor 350 studentsa day. Teaching under such conditions has compromised the quality of instruction and led teachers to long term union strikes over the last few decades.

Brazil has powerful teacher's unions. During the 1980s and 1990s, they leaned politically to the left, creating monopolies in forums and conferences and also creating the so-called "ideological patrols." The most active teacher's unions are the regional Sindicato dos Professores (SINPROs), Sindicato Nacional e Democrático dos Professores (SINDEP), and Associação Nacional de Docentes de Ensino Superior (ANDES).


In the 1960s, the so-called "Brazilian economic miracle" accelerated the development of the economy, but education was on a slow pace. This changed radically toward the end of the last century because government realized that growth and productivity are linked to education. Quality was a main concern due to regional disparities in the country. Technology and educational improvement needed to be made to meet the demands of the job market.

In 1999, the number of students in higher education in all of Latin America was 5.6 percent of the population. In Brazil, only half of the students finished elementary school, therefore only a small number of students went to middle and high school. Few students made it into higher education. In 1990, there was just over one vacancy in higher education for each student who finished high school.

Claudio de Moura Castro (2000) points out the advancements made in the 1990s and the necessary steps for the further development of the Brazilian educational system. Some of his considerations are as follows: of those aged seven to fourteen, 97 percent are enrolled in schools. This means that illiteracy is no longer a major issue; In 1998, 63 percent of the students finished elementary school; approximately eight million students attend secondary school, therefore, the number of students applying to higher education has risen at a considerable rate.

Brazil has advanced and has a balanced educational system. But, illiteracy must be reduced. Elementary school still has to improve in quality, consolidating universal access to primary education. Teachers have to be better prepared and paid to meet this challenge. The legislation of higher education has to meet contemporary needs: there have been only a few attempts to implement community colleges, and a country as large as Brazil needs to have more courses offered by distance education (à distância ) using modern technology. New legislation and decentralization would ease the burden imposed by too many inflexible rules. More money has to be allocated by the federal, state, and municipal governments for the advancement of education. Nevertheless, in comparison to the past, Brazil has taken gigantic steps.

The government is working on current targets and future perspectives. It created a Ten-Year Plan (1993-2003) and redefined the Political Strategic Plan (1955-98) to improve the quality of teaching and to better institutional performance. As the Minister of Education, Paulo Renato Souza (April 11, 2000) states:

Education today can no longer be carried out only in the stages of infancy and youth. Professional updating must be permanent, given the speed of technological evolution. As professional careers are less rigid and clear-cut, they require a very high degree of interdisciplinarity and flexibility in the curricular structure of courses. Incorporating the new technologies of information and communication is crucial and should stimulate the growing use of distance learning as a means of guaranteeing access to professional training and updating.

The Brazilian education system has made important advances since 1995. In educational terms, the government seems to be falling into step with the rest of the world. Since 1995, there has been an expansion in access to elementary education. The proportion of children enrolled in school considerably increased in 1999, as four million new students were added to the system.

Age and grade distortion rates continue to be high in Brazil47 percent of students could be in higher grades. Nevertheless, Brazil is trying to improve its performance at the elementary education level. The promotion rate, which measures the number of students who are promoted to a higher grade, also increased from 65 percent in 1995 to 73 percent in 1997. During this same period, the number of students repeating a grade fell from 30 percent to 23 percent. The dropout rate also decreased, from 5.3 percent to 3.9 percent.

The expectation of finishing the first level of education has risen to 63 percent, and the average time taken to pass through the eight grades has fallen from 12 to 10 years. Secondary educational level enrollment rose to 57 percent between 1994 and 1999. In 1999 alone, the growth rate was of 11.5 percent. This increase in secondary school enrollments may be explained by the improvements in fundamental education and the increasing demand for better-educated people in the job market.

Regional inequalities are diminishing as well. In the northeast region, enrollment in elementary education has grown by about 27 percent, as compared to 13 percent countrywide. In secondary education, it has increased 62 percent compared to a previous national figure of 57 percent. In the last four years, higher education enrollment has grown in absolute terms more than in the previous 14 years. In 1998, the growth rate was 28 percent more than in 1994.

There has also been marked growth at the graduate level in Brazil. Between 1994 and 1999 the number of students at the master's level increased by 27 percent. The rate at the doctorate's level was even more impressivearound 60 percent. Brazil is producing 14,500 graduates at master's level and 4,600 doctorates per year.

Considering all enrollments at all levels of education, Brazil had approximately 54.3 million students in 2001. One third of Brazil's population was attending school. Public schools were meeting the learning needs of 45.8 million students at the basic educational level, which represents 87.8 percent of all students.


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Monica Rector and Marco Silva


views updated May 14 2018



Federative Republic of Brazil

República Federativa do Brasil

CAPITAL: Brasília

FLAG: The national flag consists of a green field upon which is a large yellow diamond twice as wide as it is high. Centered within the diamond is a blue globe showing constellations of the southern skies dominated by the Southern Cross. Encircling the globe is a white banner bearing the words Ordem e Progresso.

ANTHEM: Hino Nacional Brasileiro, beginning "Ouviram do Ipiranga" ("Listen to the cry of Ipiranga").

MONETARY UNIT: On 1 July 1994, the real (r$), a paper currency of 100 centavos, replaced the cruzeiro real (cr$). r$1 = us$0.40161 (or us$1 = r$2.49) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some local units also are used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Tiradentes, 21 April; Labor Day, 1 May; Independence Day, 7 September; Our Lady of Aparecida (Patroness of Brazil), 12 October; All Souls' Day, 2 November; Proclamation of the Republic, 15 November; Christmas, 25 December. Movable holidays include the pre-Lenten carnival, usually in February, Good Friday, and Corpus Christi.

TIME: At noon GMT, the time in Fernando de Noronha is 10 am; Río de Janeiro, 9 am; Manaus, 8 am; Río Branco, 7 am.


Situated on the east-central coast of the continent, Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fourth-largest in the world in coterminous area, ranking after Russia, Canada, and China (the United States is larger with Alaska, Hawaii, and the dependencies included). Occupying nearly half of the South American continent, it covers an area of 8,511,965 sq km (3,286,488 sq mi), extending 4,395 km (2,731 mi) ns and 4,320 km (2,684 mi) ew. Contiguous with all continental South American countries except Ecuador and Chile, Brazil is bounded on the n by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana, on the ne, e, and se by the Atlantic Ocean, on the s by Uruguay, on the sw by Argentina and Paraguay, on the w by Bolivia and Peru, and on the nw by Colombia, with a total boundary length of 14,691 km (9,128 mi). Brazil is divided into 26 states and one federal district. The federal district, including the capital of Brasília, inaugurated on 21 April 1960, is surrounded on three sides by the state of Goiás and on the fourth by Minas Gerais.

Brazil's capital city, Brasília, is located in the southeastern part of the country.


The northern part of Brazil is dominated by the basin of the Amazon River and its many tributaries, which occupies two-fifths of the country. The Amazon Basin itself occupies 7,049,975 sq km (2,722,000 sq mi), or about 40% of South America's total area. The Amazon River (Río Amazonas) is, at 6,436 km (4,000 mi), the world's second-longest river after the Nile, although the Amazon ranks first in volume of water carried; rising in the Peruvian Andes, the Amazon eventually empties into the Atlantic Ocean at an average rate of about 198,000 cu m (7 million cu ft) per second. The Amazon lowlands east of the Andes constitute the world's largest tropical rain forest. In the northernmost part of the Amazon Basin lies a series of mountain ranges, known as the Guiana Highlands, where Brazil's highest mountain, Pico da Neblina (3,014 m/9,888 ft), is located. South of the Amazon Basin is a large plateau called the Brazilian Highlands, ranging in elevation from 300 to 910 m (1,000 to 3,000 ft) above sea level. From the city of Salvador (Bahia) southward to Pôrto Alegre, the highlands meet the Atlantic Ocean in a steep, wall-like slope, the Great Escarpment, which in southeastern Brazil is surmounted by mountain ranges with elevations from 2,100 to 2,400 m (7,000 to 8,000 ft) above sea level.

The Atlantic coast of Brazil has no real coastal plain, but there are stretches of lowlands along the northeast coast, and there are many bay-like indentations, where Brazil's principal cities are located. Along the southwest border is a small portion of the upper Paraguay lowlands. The Paraná, Paraguay, and Uruguay rivers flow through southern Brazil; the São Francisco flows 3,199 km (1,988 mi) through northeastern and central Brazil; and the Tocantins (2,698 km/1,677 mi) empties into the Pará and from there into the Atlantic Ocean at an estuary south of the Amazon proper.


Brazil is a tropical country but extends well into the temperate zone. The Amazon Basin has a typically hot, tropical climate, with annual rainfall exceeding 300 cm (117 in) in some areas; the Brazilian Highlands, which include roughly half of the total area, are subtropical. The narrow coastal lowland area ranges from tropical in the north to temperate in the south. The cool upland plains of the south have a temperate climate and an occasional snowfall. The coolest period is from May to September, and the hottest is from December to March. October to May is the rainy season. Rainfall is excessive in the lowlands and in the upper Amazon Basin, along the northern coast, at certain points on the east coast, and in the southern interior, while there are periodic droughts in the northeast. The average high temperature in Río de Janeiro in February is 29°c (84°f); the average low in July is 17°c (63°f).


As of 2002, there were at least 394 species of mammals, 686 species of birds, and over 56,000 species of plants. About one-fourth of the world's known plant species are found in Brazil. The Amazon Basin, the world's largest tropical rain forest, includes tall Brazil nut trees, brazilwood, myriad palms, kapok-bearing ceiba trees enlaced with vines and creepers, rosewood, orchids, water lilies, and the wild rubber tree.

South of the vast Amazonian forest is a mixture of semideciduous forest (mata) and scrub forests. The characteristic flora of the northeast interior is the carnauba wax-yielding palm in the states of Ceará and Piauí. To the east there are big areas of thorn scrub, the result of generally poor soils and periodic devastating droughts. Along the humid coast are many mango, cajú, guava, coconut, and jack-fruit trees, as well as large sugar and cotton plantations, the latter indigenous. Within the savanna, sparse forests, and "campos cerrados" (enclosed fields of badly deforested, populous Minas Gerais), there are various woody shrubs, lianas, and epiphytes, the staghorn fern, and an abundance of herbs, especially grasses. Brazil has many fair to good pasturage grasses, on which millions of beef cattle, not always of high grade, and some dairy cattle in the favored southern states graze.

In the southern states are exotic flowers, such as papagaias; flowering trees, such as the quaresma, which blossoms during Lent; and the popular ipê tree with its yellow petals, planted on some São Paulo streets. In the southernmost part of the Brazilian plateau forests, where temperate climate prevails, is found a mixture of araucarias (umbrella pines) and broadleaf species. The pampas of Río Grande do Sul are extensive grasslands. Maté, of economic importance as a beverage, is made from the roasted, powdered leaves of a tree harvested extensively in the southern states.

The Amazon rain forest is host to a great variety of tropical fauna, including hundreds of types of macaws, toucans, parrots, and other brightly colored birds; brilliant butterflies; many species of small monkeys; anacondas, boas, and other large tropical snakes; crocodiles and alligators; and such distinctive animals as the Brazilian "tiger" (onca), armadillo, sloth, and tapir. The rivers in that region abound with turtles and exotic tropical fish, and the infamous "cannibal fish" (piranha) is common; in all, more than 2,000 fish species have been identified.


A 20-year US-Brazilian project, initiated by the World Wildlife Fund, in Washington, D.C., and the National Institute for Research on Amazonia, in Manaus, studied the Amazon forest since 1978 in order to recommend appropriate measures for its protection. In 1986, it was estimated that the forests of the Amazon were being cleared for colonization, pasturage, timber development, and other commercial purposes at a rate of up to 20 million hectares (50 million acres) a year. From 1990 to 2000, the average annual rate of deforestation was 0.4% per year. A Brazilian law requiring that developers leave 50% of each Amazon land parcel untouched is erratically enforced.

Other environmental problems in Brazil include water pollution and land damage. Rivers near urban industrial centers are polluted by mercury, toxic industrial wastes, and untreated waste. Brazil lacks fertile soil for agriculture, and the existing soils are threatened by erosion from the clearing of the forests.

Federal agencies with environmental responsibilities include the National Environment Council of the Ministry of the Interior, the Brazilian Institute of Forest Development, and the Ministry of Planning.

Only 6.7% of Brazil's natural areas were protected in 2003, including seven natural UNSECO World Heritage Sites and eight Ramsar wetland sites.

The damage to the rain forest environment is reflected in the number of endangered species which inhabit the region. Between 1900 and 1950, 60 species of birds and mammals became extinct. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 74 types of mammals, 120 species of birds, 22 types of reptiles, 24 species of amphibian, 42 species of fish, 21 types of mollusks, 13 other invertebrates, and 381 species of plants. The list of endangered species includes Lutz's coastal frog, the Lear's macaw, the guayaquil great green macaw, the American crocodile, two species of marmoset (buffy-headed and white-eared), three species of tamarin (golden lion, golden-headed lion, and golden-rumped lion), the black saki, the woolly spider monkey, and the maned sloth. At least 13 species have become extinct, including the Glaucous macaw.


The population of Brazil in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 184,184,000, which placed it at number 5 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 6% of the population were over 65 years of age, with another 29% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 97 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 1.4%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 228,874,000. The population density was 22 per sq km (56 per sq mi).

The population is concentrated in the Atlantic coastal region, especially in the southeast, with the states of Río de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais containing approximately 41% of the total; the states of Bahia, Río Grande do Sul, Pernambuco, and Ceará have about 23%, and the remaining units about 36%.

The UN estimated that 81% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.63%. The capital city, Brasília, had a population of 3,099,000 in that year. Other major metropolitan areas and their estimated populations are: São Paulo, 18,333,000; Río de Janeiro, 11,469,000; Belo Horizonte, 5,304,000; Porto Alegre, 3,795,000; Recife, 3,527,000; Salvador, 3,331,000; Fortaleza, 3,261,000; Curitiba, 2,871,000; Campinas, 2,640,000; Belém 2,097,000; Manaus, 1,673,000; Santos, 1,600,000; Goiânia, 1,878,000; São Luís, 978,824; and São José dos Campos, 949,000. The vast interior of the country is sparsely populated, with the indigenous population somewhat concentrated near the Amazon River Basin.


Between 1821 and 1945, approximately 5.2 million European immigrants entered Brazil, most of them settling in the south. Brazil has the largest expatriate Japanese colony in the world, numbering more than one million. In recent years, because of the increasing prosperity of Europe and Japan, there has been less desire to migrate to underdeveloped rural Brazil or its inflation-harassed industrial cities. Moreover, immigration is controlled by laws limiting the annual entry of persons of any national group to 2% of the total number of that nationality that had entered in the preceding 50 years. The total number of migrants in 2000 was 546,000. As of 2004, Brazil was hosting some 3,833 refugees, 80% of whom came from Africa. In 2004, 1.5 to 3 million Brazilians were abroad, most in the United States. Remittances in 2004 were estimated at $6 billion, equivalent to earnings from soybean exports. In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as -0.03 per 1,000 population.


The indigenous inhabitants were Amerindians, chiefly of Tupi-Guaraní stock, and other small groups in the Amazon Basin and the lowlands of the Paraguay and Paraná rivers. The Portuguese settlers had few taboos against race mixture, and centuries of large-scale intermarriage have produced a tolerant and distinctly Brazilian culture. Within the Brazilian nationality are blended the various aboriginal Indian cultures; the Portuguese heritage, with its diverse strains; the traditions of millions of persons of African descent; and European elements resulting from sizable immigration since 1888 from Italy, Spain, Germany, and Poland. The influx of Japanese and some Arabs during the 20th century has contributed to the complex Brazilian melting pot.

According to the 2000 census, 53.7% of Brazil's population are white; 38.5% are mixed white and black; and 6.2% are black. The remainder are comprised of Japanese, Arab, and Amerindian groups.


The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, which is spoken by virtually all inhabitants except some isolated Indian groups. Substantial variations in pronunciation and word meaning, however, distinguish it from the language as it is spoken in Portugal. Spanish is also spoken. A large percentage of the educated have learned either French or English. German, Italian, and Japanese are used in immigrant communities.


The 2000 census indicated that about 74% of the population were affiliated with the Roman Catholic church. Protestants constituted roughly 15% of the population, the majority of whom (about 85%) were Pentecostal/Evangelical; Lutherans and Baptists accounted for most of the remaining Protestants. Other denominations included the Assemblies of God, the Christian Congregation of Brazil, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Baptist. About 374,000 respondents to the census were members of "oriental religions," which include several branches of Buddhism, Messianism, Seicho No-le, Perfect Liberty, Hare Krishna, Oshoo Disciples, Tenrykyo, Mahicari, Baha'i, Shintoism, and Taoism. There were about 27,239 Muslims, primarily of the Sunni and Shia branches. About 2,905 Brazilians were Hindus. About 7% of the population did not claim any religious affiliation. Muslim leaders estimated that about 3 million citizens were nominally Muslims; however, only about 700,000 were active participants in religious practices. About 100,000 Brazilians are Jewish.

Followers of traditional African and syncretic religions make up about 4% of the populace. Candomble, which focuses on traditional African deities, is a predominant religion among Afro-Brazilians. Xango and Macumba include practices of animism as well as the veneration of Catholic saints and African deities. About 1.3% of the population adhere to a spiritism doctrine known as Kardecism, which was introduced in the 19th century by Allan Kardec of France.

The constitution provides for freedom of religion and the right is generally respected in practice. There is no official state religion; however, the government of Brazil maintains a Concordat with the Vatican. Several Roman Catholic holidays are celebrated as public holidays.


Roads are the primary carriers of freight and passenger traffic. Brazil's road system totaled 1.98 million km (1.23 million mi) in 2002. The total of paved roads increased from 35,496 km (22,056 mi) in 1967 to 184,140 km (114,425 mi) in 2002. Motor vehicles registered as of 2003 included 16,650,000 passenger cars, and 4,200,000 commercial vehicles. Although the bulk of highway traffic is concentrated in the southern and central regions, important roads have been constructed to link the northeastern and northern areas with the industrialized south. Roads of all types have been built with federal aid, the most important being the network of more than 14,000 km (8,700 mi) of paved roads south of Brasília; aid is also supplied for their maintenance. In September 1970, construction began on the 5,000-km (3,100-mi) Trans-Amazon Highway, possibly the most ambitious overland road project undertaken in this century, linking Brazil's Atlantic coast with the Peruvian border; when completed, a 4,138-km (2,571-mi) north-south section will link Santarém, on the Amazon River, with Cuiabá. The project has had a profound effect on the Amazon Basin, among the world's last great wildernesses. However, a World Bank study in the early 1990s showed that 28% of the country's existing highways were in bad condition, up from only 10% in 1979. Lack of proper road maintenance possibly adds 1015% to total transportation costs in Brazil. As of 2002, the government had privatized or turned over to the states most of the federal highway system.

Brazil's railway system has been declining since 1945, when emphasis shifted to highway construction. The total extent of railway trackage was 29,412 km (18,294 mi) of broad, standard, and narrow gauge right of way in 2004, as compared with 31,848 km (19,789 mi) in 1970. Of that total, 1.000-m narrow gauge track accounts for the largest portion at 23,915 km (14,875 mi), followed by broad gauge track (1.6 m) at 4,907 km (3,052 mi). Standard gauge track (194 km/121 mi) and a dual broad/narrow gauge track system (396 km/246 mi) make up the remainder. Most of the railway system belongs to the Federal Railroad Corp., with a majority government interest. There are also seven lines that the government privatized in 1997.

Coastal shipping links widely separated parts of the country. Of the 36 deep-water ports, Santos and Río de Janeiro are the most important, followed by Paranaguá, Recife, Vitória, Tubarao, Maceió, and Ilhéus. Bolivia and Paraguay have been given free ports at Santos. Although there are 50,000 km (31,070 mi) of navigable inland waterways, most as of 2004, were remote from the country's population and industry. In 2005, the merchant shipping fleet, which included 150 vessels (1,000 GRT or over), had a total GRT of 2,961,431.

Air transportation is highly developed. In 2003, local and international airlines transported about 32.372 million passengers. In 2004 there were an estimated 4,136 airports, of which 709 had paved runways as of 2005. There were also 417 heliports (as of 2005). Of the 48 principal airports, 21 are international; of these, Río de Janeiro's Galeao international airport and São Paulo's Guarulhos International Airport are by far the most active. The main international airline is Empresa de Viaçao Aérea Río Grandense (VARIG). Other Brazilian airlines are Transbrasil Linhas Aéreas, Cruzeiro do Sul, (associated with VARIG since 1983), and Viaçao Aérea São Paulo (VASP), which handles only domestic traffic and is run by the state of São Paulo. All except VASP are privately owned.


The original inhabitants of Brazil were hunter-gatherers, except in the lower Amazon, where sedentary agriculture developed. There are no reliable population estimates from pre-European times, but probably there were no more than one million.

After the European discovery of the New World, Spain and Portugal became immediate rivals for the vast new lands. Portugal's claim was established by a papal bull of Pope Alexander VI (1493) and by the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), which awarded to Portugal all territory 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. On Easter Sunday in 1500, the Portuguese admiral Pedro Álvares Cabral formally claimed the land for the Portuguese crown. Cabral's ship returned to Portugal with a cargo of red dyewood, which had been gathered along the shore, and from the name of the wood, paubrasil, the new land acquired the name Brazil.

In 1532, the first Portuguese colonists arrived, bringing cattle, seed, and the first slaves from Africa. In 1549, the Portuguese governor-general, Tomé da Souza, founded the city of São Salvador, and established the first Portuguese government in the New World. The same year marked the arrival of the missionary Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) to begin their work among the Indians.

Other Europeans began to move in on the Portuguese colony. In 1555, the French established a settlement in the Bay of Río de Janeiro. In 1624, the Dutch attacked Bahia and began to extend throughout northeastern Brazil. Under the Dutch, who remained until ousted in 1654, the area flourished economically. Colonists planted sugarcane, and during the 17th century, the large sugar plantations of northeastern Brazil were the world's major source of sugar.

In 1640, Portugal appointed a viceroy for Brazil, with his seat first in Bahia and after 1763 in Río de Janeiro. The discovery of gold in 1693 and of diamonds about 1720 opened up new lands for colonization in what are now the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Goiás, and Mato Grosso. From their base in São Paulo, Brazilian pioneers (Bandeirantes) pushed inland, along with their herds of cattle and pigs, in search of Indian slaves and mineral riches. By the 1790s, when the primitive surface gold and diamond mines were largely exhausted, the Brazilian plateau became thinly populated.

Brazil's first attempt at independence came in 1789 in the mining state of Minas Gerais. A plot, known as the Miners' Conspiracy (Conjuração Mineira) was led by Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, a healer known as Tiradentes ("tooth-puller"). The plot was betrayed and crushed, and Tiradentes was captured and eventually executed, but Tiradentes remains a national hero. In 1807, the invading armies of Napoleon forced the Portuguese royal family and 15,000 Portuguese subjects to flee to Brazil. Río de Janeiro became the seat of the Portuguese royal family until 1821, when King John (João) VI returned home, leaving his son Pedro to rule Brazil as regent. Meanwhile, Portugal's monopolistic trade practices, the suppression of domestic industry, and oppressive taxation had brought about a strong movement for independence, which Pedro supported.

Pedro proclaimed Brazil's independence on 7 September 1822, and later that year was crowned Emperor Pedro I. In 1831, a military revolt forced him to abdicate. The throne passed to his five-year-old son, Pedro. In 1840, Pedro was crowned Emperor. Under Pedro II, Brazil enjoyed half a century of peaceful progress. New frontiers were opened, many immigrants arrived from Europe, railroads were built, and the gathering of rubber in the Amazon Basin stimulated the growth of cities, such as Belém and Manaus. The abolition of slavery in 1888 brought about an economic crisis that disrupted the Brazilian Empire. In 1889, a bloodless revolution deposed Pedro II and established the Republic of the United States of Brazil. A new constitution modeled after the US federal constitution, was promulgated by the Brazilian government in 1891. At first, the republic was ruled by military regimes, but by 1894 constitutional stability was achieved.

Meanwhile, empty areas of good soil were settled in the southern plateau by over 2.5 million Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, and Levantine immigrants. The rapid spread of coffee cultivation in the state of São Paulo transformed Brazil into the world's largest coffee-producing country. By the end of the 19th century, coffee had become the nation's principal source of wealth. Brazil soon entered a period of economic and political turmoil. Malayan and Indonesian rubber plantations had overwhelmed the Brazilian rubber market, while coffee revenues were reduced by falling world prices of coffee. Regionalism and military rivalries contributed to instability, and by 1930, the nation was in a state of unrest. In that year, a military coup with widespread civilian support placed into power Getúlio Vargas, the governor of Río Grande do Sul.

Vargas' ideology was a blend of populism and corporatism. He sought reforms for Brazil's middle and lower classes, but discouraged dissent and was often repressive. Between 1930 and 1937 Vargas brought a minimum wage and social security to Brazil, but also crushed a leftist uprising in 1935. Vargas formalized his system in 1937, calling it the New State (Estado Novo). For eight years, Vargas attempted to industrialize Brazil, while organizing both workers and their employers into state-run syndicates. Vargas was nationalist in foreign policy, although he encouraged foreign investment. He exploited the US-German rivalry over Latin America to get large amounts of aid until joining the allies in 1942.

Conservative elements of the military, convinced that Vargas was a dangerous force, removed him from office, and promulgated a new constitution in 1946. The "Second Republic" was initiated with the presidency of Eurico Dutra. Vargas was returned to the presidency in the election of 1950 and did not attempt to rejuvenate the New State. He did continue to press for industrialization under state control, establishing a National Development Bank and a state petroleum company. Eventually he ran afoul of the military, which demanded his resignation. He committed suicide in August 1954, a few months before his term of office was due to expire.

He was succeeded from 1955 to 1961 by Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira. Kubitschek embarked on an ambitious program of development, spending huge amounts of money and attracting large foreign investments in Brazil. Kubitschek's most ambitious program was the building of a new federal capital, Brasília, in the highlands of central Brazil. Inflation and a burdensome national debt proved to be his undoing, and in January 1961 Jânio da Silva Quadros was inaugurated after a campaign promising an end to corruption and economic stability. The situation proved too difficult for Quadros, and he resigned after only seven months. João Goulart, who had been vice president under both Kubitschek and Quadros, became president only after the conservative Congress combined with the military to reduce his powers and institute an unwieldy form of parliamentary government. In January 1963, in a national plebiscite, Brazil chose to restore presidential powers. But Goulart was caught between pressures from the left, demanding the acceleration of social programs, and the right, increasingly alarmed by trends toward populism.

On 1 April 1964 the military deposed Goulart and arrested 40,000 people, including 80 members of Congress. In the same month, Congress appointed Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco to the presidency, and in July it approved a constitutional amendment extending Castelo Branco's term of office to March 1967. National elections were postponed, and Brazil entered an era of military supremacy.

In March 1967 Arthur da Costa e Silva, a former army marshal, took office under a new constitution. That constitution was suspended in December 1968, and military hard-liners took the upper hand. Costa e Silva suffered a stroke in September 1969 and died in December. Gen. Emilio Garrastazú Médici, former head of the secret police was chosen to replace him. In March 1974, Gen. Ernesto Geisel, a high official in the Castelo Branco government, became president.

The military governments of the previous 10 years had brought Brazil rapid economic expansion, but there was a dramatic reversal during the oil crisis of 197374. Opposition began to mount, encouraged by religious and trade union leaders. President Geisel gradually instituted some degree of political liberalization (abertura ), but the military split on the wisdom of this policy.

During the late 1970s, continuing economic difficulties led to labor unrest and numerous strikes, including a strike of 300,000 metalworkers in metropolitan São Paulo in April and May of 1980 that ended only after troops in tanks and trucks occupied the region. Meanwhile, Gen. João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo became president in March 1979. That August, Figueiredo continued Geisel's policy of liberalization by signing a political amnesty law that allowed many political exiles to return home. Also in 1979, censorship of the press and the controlled two-party system were abolished. In November 1982, Brazil had its first democratic elections since 1964. Opposition parties won the governorships of 10 populous states and a majority in the lower house of Congress, but the ruling party remained in control of the upper house and the electoral college, which was to choose the next president. Moreover, the military retained broad powers to intervene in political affairs under national security laws.

The 1985 election was indirect, yet the opposition managed to turn the campaign in 1984 into a reflection of popular choice and capture the presidency. The ruling party chose São Paulo governor Paulo Maluf, who proved unable to distance himself from the unpopularity of the military-controlled regime. The opposition capitalized on the groundswell of hostility and coalesced behind the paternal figure of Tancredo Neves, a senator from Minas Gerais who had held office under Vargas and who campaigned as if the ballot were direct. The election went against the government, and in January 1985, the electoral college duly chose Neves as Brazil's first civilian president in a generation. In March, however, just before his inauguration, Neves fell gravely ill, and he died in April without having been formally sworn in. Brazilians feared another military strike, but Vice President José Sarney was allowed to take office as president. Sarney, who represented a small center-right party allied with Neves's party, consolidated his position after an impressive showing in regional and legislative elections in November 1986.

A new constitution, passed in 1988, was followed by elections a year later. Brazil's first direct presidential elections in 29 years resulted in the victory of Fernando Collor de Mello. Collor received 53% of the vote in the runoff elections. Collor took office in March 1990 and launched an ambitious liberalization program that attempted to stabilize prices and deregulate the economy. Collor was in the process of renegotiating Brazil's huge debt with foreign creditors and the IMF when massive corruption was revealed inside the Collor administration. Allegations implicated Collor himself, who was forced to resign in December 1992. Itamar Franco took over, promising to continue Collor's programs, but long-standing structural problems continued. The nation's chronic inflation was finally brought under control through the Real Plan launched in 1994 by finance minister Fernando Enrique Cardoso (and named for the new currency, linked to the US dollar, which was introduced under the plan).

On the strength of the plan's success, Cardoso, a leading social scientist, was elected to the presidency in October 1994. His policies, which continued to keep inflation under control, reduced tariffs, and included major privatization measures, earned him sufficient support for the passage in January 1997 of a constitutional amendment by the lower house of Congress overturning the nation's ban on consecutive presidential terms and making it possible for Cardoso to seek reelection in 1998. He won reelection in October of 1998 with 53% of the vote in the first round. Worker's Party candidate Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva came second with 31.7%. Cardoso also commanded the support of a loose center-right coalition of parties. One of the major challenges tackled by the Cardoso administration was the privatization of the stateowned mining company, Vale de Río Doce, which drew strong opposition from nationalist, leftist, and religious forces. In May 1997 a $3.2 billion controlling stake in the mining and transport conglomerate was sold to private investors. Cardoso's parties also won a majority of the state governor races. Shortly after the election, as a result of the economic crisis, Brazil was forced to devalue its currency, the real. Previously pegged to the US dollar, the real lost more than 60% of its value within days, sending the country into a deeper crisis. Some recovery was observed starting in 1999, but social discontent resulting from high unemployment and growing poverty also flourished. Cardoso was constitutionally prevented from seeking a third consecutive presidential term in 2002.

In the 2002 election, Lula da Silva, the runner-up in the previous two elections and the founder of the Worker's Party, finally succeeded in winning the presidency. After placing first in the first-round election, Lula went on to win more than 61% of the vote to defeat José Serra, Cardoso's candidate, and become the first factory worker ever to be elected president of Brazil. Although many observers feared that Lula would adopt policies detrimental to sound fiscal management and would favor redistribution of wealth over fiscal discipline, during his first months in office Lula demonstrated his ability to be a clever, reliable, trustworthy leader who sought to balance sound macroeconomic policies with an active but responsible commitment to reduce poverty and use government resources to help those most in need. The economy recovered after the 1998 crisis, but poverty and inequality remained widespread and fighting them was Lula's first priority as president. Lula's Zero Hunger plan, aimed at devoting state resources to help the most impoverished Brazilians, received enthusiastic support from political actors and international observers.

In 2004, Brazilalong with Germany, India, and Japanlaunched an application for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Those in favor of expanding the Security Council from its current five permanent members (the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China) argued such expansion would remedy the democratic and representative deficit from which the Council suffers. African leaders also wanted permanent African representation in the Council.

During the summer of 2005, corruption allegations plagued the governing Workers' Party (PT). The PT was accused of paying monthly bribes of $12,000 to lawmakers from other parties, and of manipulating the system of appointments to state-run companies. A wave of resignations ensued. President Lula da Silva made a televised apology and claimed he knew nothing about the corruption. His popularity, however, suffered a blow as a result of the corruption scandal.


The Federative Republic of Brazil is a constitutional republic composed of 26 states and the Federal District. This district surrounds the federal capital, Brasília. The constitution of October 1988 established a strong presidential system.

The president and vice president are elected to four-year terms and can be reelected once. In 1985, the previous constitution was amended to allow for direct popular election as opposed to an electoral college system. Between 1964 and 1978, presidents were pre-selected by the military. The president is the head of the armed forces and is in charge of the executive branch, assisted in that task by a cabinet of ministers. He also appoints justices to the Supreme Federal Tribunal, the highest court in Brazil.

The Congress consists of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The Senate has 81 members, 3 for each state plus the Federal District. Senators serve for eight-year terms, with half the members retiring every four years. The 513 deputies are elected for four-year terms by a system of proportional representation in the states, territories, and Federal District. The constitution stipulates that Congress meet every year from 15 March to 15 December. In practice, from 1964 to 1985, the military used the office of the president to dominate the Congress and the state legislatures, suspending them from time to time.

Voting is compulsory between the ages of 18 and 70 and optional for persons over 70, and those between 16 and 18 years of age. Illiterates were permitted to vote in 1985. Military conscripts may not vote.


During the last days of the Brazilian Empire, a group of positivists advocating abolition of the monarchy organized the Republican Party (Partido RepublicanoPR) along military lines. After the fall of the empire in 1889, the government was controlled by PR-supported military regimes and opposed locally by the established Conservative and Liberal parties. An opposition group, the Civilian Party (Partido Civilista), organized by Ruy Barbosa, overcame the military regime but was soon absorbed into the Conservative and Liberal groups from Minas Gerais and São Paulo, which instituted a system of alternating the presidency between the two states.

Getúlio Vargas was responsible for the success of three successive parties, one of which survives to this day. In 1930, Vargas formed the Liberal Alliance Movement (Aliança Nacional LiberalANL). After Vargas resigned the presidency in 1945 his supporters formed the Social Democratic Party (Partido Social DemocráticoPSD). Eurico Dutra, who succeeded Vargas, ran under this party. In 1950, Vargas was elected under the banner of the Brazilian Labor Party (Partido Trabalhista BrasileiroPTB). Finally, Vargas inspired the National Democratic Union (União Democrática NacionalUDN) to put up candidates against him. The UDN won the presidency in 1961 for Quadros.

The PSD continued on without Vargas, but formed a coalition with the PTB in 1955. The PSD candidate, Kubitschek, became president, while the PTB's leader, Goulart, became vice president. In the 1958 congressional elections, however, the PTB broke with the PSD. The PTB survives as a small party, having lost many of its members to other laborite parties.

After the military takeover in 1964, parties disappeared. In 1966, the military allowed the formation of two official parties: the Alliance for National Renewal (Aliança Renovadora NacionalARENA) and the Brazilian Democratic Movement (Movimento Democrático BrasileiroMDB). ARENA was created as the ruling party, with the MDB playing the role of "loyal opposition." ARENA began with two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress and increased its majorities in the elections of 1970, while also maintaining control of nearly all state legislatures. ARENA scored further gains in the 1972 municipal elections. However, beginning in November 1974, the MDB began to score legislative gains. Moreover, in the 1974 election the MDB was able to raise issues of social justice and civil liberties.

In November 1979, in accordance with the government's liberalization policy, Congress passed a law abolishing ARENA and the MDB and permitting the formation of new parties. Over the next decade, a number of groups emerged. The government created the conservative Social Democratic Party (Partido Democrático SocialPDS) to replace ARENA. The Democratic Workers' Party (Partido Democrático TrabalhistaPDT) is headed by Leonel Brizola, a frequent critic of the military regime and leader of a similar party before 1964. The Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (Partido de Movimento Democrático BrasileiroPMDB) is a moderate successor to the MDB. The Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) was founded in 1988 by former PMDB members, including future president Fernando Enrique Cardoso. The Workers' Party (Partido dos TrabalhadoresPT) is led by Luis Inácio da Silva, also known as "Lula," the popular leader of the metalworkers' union. In 1989, Lula placed second in the presidential race, running under a coalition of laborite parties called the Popular Front. Lula lost the runoff election to Collor, receiving 47% of the vote. He ran again unsuccessfully in 1994 and 1998 before winning the 2002 presidential election. The Brazilian Workers' Party (Partido Trabalnista BrasileiroPTB) is a populist party with working-class appeal, but is conservative on a variety of economic issues. The PT is currently the party with most legislators in congress and its ability to govern will be tested during Lula's presidential term (200307).

In 1985, the Liberal Front Party (PFL) was organized by dissident PDS members. It formed the National Alliance with the PMDB, an alliance that won the 1985 elections. Although the PFL lost the 1989 presidential elections, it soon allied with President Collor, although the scandal of 1992 did little to help its fortunes. In the 2002 election, the PFL placed second, behind the PT; and PFL had 84 deputies in the 513-member Chamber and 19 senators in the 81-member Senate.

The Communists had been banned since 1957, but were allowed to organize after 1985. The Brazilian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Brasileiro), founded in 1922, is now a Euro-Communist party firmly committed to conventional politics. The Communist Party of Brazil (Partido Comunista do Brasil) is a more radical faction, Maoist in its origins but now expressing solidarity with any socialists who resist reforms.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the PSDB was elected president in October 1994, in Brazil's second direct presidential election since 1960, winning 53% of the vote to 26% for the PT candidate, Inácio da Silva (known as Lula), his closest rival. In October 1998 Cardoso won reelection in a first-round election with 53.1% of the vote, defeating Lula who came second with 31.7%. In 2002, Lula won in a runoff election with 61% of the vote, but his PT only captured about one out of every five seats in Congress. Through alliances and coalitions with other parties, Lula secured majority control of both chambers, but Brazilian politics is characterized by the lack of discipline, and party allegiance responds more to provincial and local interests than strong central party discipline. Yet, under Lula's leadership, the PT has successfully become a national party and is currently the largest and most important party in the country. Party loyalty by legislators has remained weak as most members of the legislature show more loyalty to their state governors that national party leadership. But the success of the PT helped foster a higher degree of party discipline and cohesiveness. The corruption scandal that rocked the PT in 2005, however, caused the party to lose a significant amount of public trust.


Brazil is a highly centralized system, in which local units have very little authority. Each of Brazil's 26 states has its own constitution and popularly elected legislature and governor. The states are divided into about 5,500 municipalities, which are, in turn, divided into districts. Each municipality has its own elected council and mayor. The state and municipal legislative bodies are subordinate to the federal government. Municipal authorities are responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads, the creation and upkeep of public parks and museums, and for the program of primary education. As districts increase in population, they, in turn, become municipalities. The large municipalities are important political units and may rival the state in political power. The largest city in each municipality serves as the capital, and usually the largest city in the largest municipality serves as the state capital. The Federal District government in Brasília is appointed by the president with Senate approval.

In 1960, after Brasília became the new capital, the former Federal District, comprising Río de Janeiro and the 1,165 sq km (450 sq mi) surrounding it, became the state of Guanabara. Eventually this state was amalgamated into the state of Río de Janeiro. From 1979 on, a few previously unincorporated territories became states.


The legal system is based on continental European principles. Although the jury system has been used in criminal cases for more than 100 years, there is a general tendency away from the use of juries. The Supreme Federal Court is composed of 11 justices, chosen by the president with Senate approval, who serve until age 70. It has final jurisdiction, especially in cases involving constitutional precepts and the acts of state and local authorities. The Federal Appeals Court deals with cases involving the federal government. Immediately below it are federal courts located in the state capitals and in the Federal District, as well as military and labor courts. Codes of criminal, civil, and commercial law are enacted by Congress, but in order to preserve the jurisdiction of state courts, the federal courts will not accept original jurisdiction solely because a law of Congress is involved. Electoral tribunals deal with registration of political parties, supervision of voting, infractions of electoral laws, and related matters.

Each state and municipality has its own judicial system. Justices of the peace and magistrates deal with commercial and other civil cases of the first instance. Decisions from state or municipal courts may be appealed to the federal courts and on up to the Supreme Federal Court.

There is also a system of specialized courts dealing with police, juveniles, and family matters.

The judiciary is independent from the executive and legislative branches. Judges are appointed for life and may not accept other employment.

Criminal defendants have a right to counsel.


The Brazilian armed forces had 302,909 active personnel, with reserves of 1,340,000 in 2005. The Army had 189,000 personnel, whose equipment included 178 main battle tanks, 286 light tanks, 409 reconnaissance vehicles, 803 armored personnel carriers, and over 1,554 artillery pieces. The Navy had 48,600 personnel, including 14,600 Marines and 1,150 naval aviation personnel. The Navy's major fleet units included 1 aircraft carrier, 14 frigates, 4 corvettes, 50 patrol/coastal vessels, and 6 mine warfare ships. The naval aviation arm had 26 combat capable aircraft that included 23 fighter ground attack aircraft in addition to 26 antisubmarine warfare helicopters. The Air Force had 69,309 active personnel, with 9 combat capable aircraft, consisting of P-3A Orion maritime patrol aircraft. Brazil's paramilitary force was under Army control and consisted of a public security force of more than 385,600 members. Brazil participated in five UN peacekeeping missions in 2005 The defense budget in 2005 totaled $13.08 billion.


Brazil is a charter member of the UN, having joined on 24 October 1945; it belongs to the ECLAC and several specialized agencies, such as the FAO, IAEA, IFC, ILO, IMF, UNESCO, the World Bank, and WHO. Brazil joined the WTO on 1 January 1995. The country also participates in G-15, G-19, G-24, G-77, the Río Group, the Latin American Economic System, and the Latin American Integration Association. Brazil is also a member of the OAS. In 1991, Brazil together with Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay created the Mercosur trade and strategic alliance.

Brazil is an observer of the Nonaligned Movement and a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group) and the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin American and the Caribbean (OPANAL). The nation contributed a battalion of troops to the UNEF in the Gaza area after the Suez crisis of 1956 and also sent troops to the Congo (now Zaire) in the early 1960s. It has also supported UN efforts in Kosovo (est. 1999), Liberia (est. 2003), East Timor (est. 2002), Côte d'Ivoire (est. 2004), and Haiti (est. 2004). Brazil serves on the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission, which was originally established in 1999 as the Special Commission for the Elimination of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction. The country is a signatory of the 1947 Río Treaty, an inter-American security agreement.

In environmental cooperation, Brazil is part of the Antarctic Treaty, the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Whaling, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, International Tropical Timber Agreements, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


The history of the Brazilian economy before World War II was characterized by six principal cycles, each centered on one export particular commodity: brazilwood, livestock, sugar, gold, rubber, and coffee. At the height of each cycle, Brazil led the world in production of that commodity. Even during the postwar era, variations in price and market conditions for coffee largely determined the degree of national prosperity.

Attempts to diversify the economy through rapid industrialization made Brazil one of the two leading industrial nations of South America, but spiraling inflation thwarted many of the economic advances. The rising inflationary trend of the mid-1960s was due mainly to public budgetary deficits resulting from losses incurred by the government-owned railroads and shipping lines and by official subsidy expenses for imports, such as wheat and petroleum. At the same time, wages increased at a higher rate than productivity; expansion of credit to private enterprises also lagged. The pace of further industrial expansion was determined largely by the availability of foreign exchange, derived chiefly from the sale of coffee, to buy the necessary equipment and raw materials, especially wheat and crude oil.

After the period of what some called an economic miracle (196873), during which GDP growth averaged more than 11% annually; the economy cooled to an annual growth rate of 6% between 1974 and 1980, mainly because of increased costs of imported oil. Throughout this period, industrial growth rates outstripped those for the economy as a whole, and industrial products claimed an increasingly large share of GDP.

Inflation was so chronic that in the late 1960s, the government instigated monetary correction, whereby fixed payments were indexed to past inflation. Thus, interest rates, pension payments, mortgage payments, and so forth, kept pace with rising prices, but inflation fed on itself. Even as economic growth surged in the mid-1980s, triple-digit inflation persisted. In February 1986, as the projected inflation rate for the year approached 500%, the government imposed a package of sweeping economic reforms, the Cruzado Plan, which created a new currency (the cruzado), eliminated monetary correction, and froze wages and prices. While inflation plunged to near-zero initially, by mid-1987, it had surged beyond 100%, fueled by increased customer spending due to the price freeze. The government then imposed an austerity program and began negotiations with the IMF for a rescheduling of the staggering foreign debt.

The Brazilian economy was hit by a deep recession and record inflation in 1990. The GDP fell by an unprecedented 4%, while inflation hit an all-time high of 2,938%. In March 1990, upon assuming office, President Collor announced sweeping economic reforms designed to stop inflation and integrate Brazil into the developed world economy. In addition, the Collor Plan imposed a price freeze, as well as a freeze on bank deposits, resulting in a precipitated capital flight. Trade barriers were significantly reduced but the attempt to reduce Brazil's large fiscal deficit resulted in the continual resurgence of inflation and a lack of confidence in the government's economic policies.

The Collor government introduced on 31 January 1991 another package, Collor II, attempting to reduce inflation. The package included wage and price controls and eliminated the overnight market. The economy experienced a lackluster recovery with GDP growth of 1.2%. However, the failure to reduce the structural fiscal deficit, inconsistent monetary policy, the unfreezing of prices and wages by the third quarter, and the unfreezing of remaining blocked accounts undermined the efforts to reduce inflation.

Under IMF guidance, monetary policy continued to tighten liquidity in 1992. The failure of the government's stabilization efforts produced a new inflationary spiral with monthly inflation rates in the mid-20% range. High real interest rates combined with the acceleration of inflation and the political uncertainty over the outcome of the impeachment proceedings produced another recession with GDP decline of 1.5% for 1992.

Inflation continued to rage in the early 1990s. In 1994 it peaked at 2,700%. That year, the finance minister, Fernando Henrique Cardoso (later president), introduced a new currency, the real, and a new economic plan called the Real Plan. The plan featured privatization of state-owned industries, lowering of tariffs, and the abolition of Brazil's unique and counterproductive wage-inflation indexing, which had sent prices on a seemingly endless upward spiral. By ending the hyperinflation of the past decades, the government greatly increased the standard of living of millions of Brazilians, allowed businesses to plan for the medium term in an environment of stability, and created a class of economically stable consumers. Inflation had dropped to only 6.9% by 1997, and has since remained in single digits.

From 1988 to 1998, GDP growth averaged 2.4%. The Real Plan had to be abandoned in early 1999, however, as the Brazilian economy became engulfed in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the Russian financial crisis of 1998. Brazil lost an estimated $50 billion in foreign reserves in the resulting capital flight. Steps were taken by the Group of Seven and the international financial institutions to try to reassure foreign investors. On 2 December 1998, a two-and-three-quarter-year standby agreement with the IMF went into effect, buttressed by a credit line of about $18.2 billion, as well as a one-year standby under the Supplementary Reserve Facility (SRF) with a $12.6 billion credit line, both part of an international support package totaling $41.5 billion. The support package had been designed as a precaution against Brazil catching the "Asian flu," as it were, but it did not prevent the Brazilian currency crisis of 1999. On 13 January 1999 the Central Bank devalued the real by 8%; on 15 January 1999, the Cardoso government announced that the real would no longer be pegged to the US dollar, ending the Real Plan. Immediately, the real lost more than 30% of its value, and subsequent devaluation made the real lose a total of 45% of its value. Despite the devaluation, the economy showed positive, if weak, growth in both 1998 (0.2%) and 1999 (0.8%), and inflation remained under control, at 3.2% in 1998 and 4.9% in 1999. However, Brazil's debt service ratio soared to an untenable 113.1% of export earnings in 1999, up from 62.7% in 1997 and 76.2% in 1998. To some extent, the problem was self-correcting, as the devalued real made Brazilian exports more competitive, which increased export earnings in 2000, and helped reduce the debt service ratio to 90.8% by 2000 and to 78.5% by 2001. GDP grew 4.5% in 2000, led by exports, while inflation picked up to 7%. Growth then fell to 1.4% in 2001 as the US recession and the global economic slowdown dampened export demand.

At the expiration of the 1998 IMF standby agreement in September 2001, two other one-year standbys were put in place with credit lines totaling about $30 billion. In 2002, debt service payments were running at over 80% of exports (a debt service ratio of 80.3%) as export markets continued slow after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, and as investors became increasingly anxious about the economic consequences of a victory by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the October presidential election. There were also questions about whether the administration of US president George W. Bush would support another standby arrangement with the IMF for Brazil. On 6 September 2002 the expiring 2001 arrangements were replaced by two more one-year standby arrangements with a $30 billion line of credit just as the currency exchange rate and the Brazilian stock market indexthe Bovespa indexwere reaching historic lows. Both the exchange rate and the Bovespa index improved after the election and into the first quarter 2003; the improvements were in part because the sell-off had preceded the election and in part because the Lula government was proving less radical than had been feared. Overall, real GDP is estimated to have grown 1.5% in 2002, while inflation increased to 8.4%, up from 6.8% in 2001.

Although hyperinflation in Brazil has ended, and the economy has to a great extent been liberalized, public-solvency indicators deteriorated in the midst of low growth and stalled fiscal reforms in the mid-2000s. President Lula da Silva by 2006 had won market confidence by showing commitment to stability and reform, and improved public-debt ratios, but the tightness of macroeconomic management frustrated industrialists and alienated da Silva's traditional supporters. Brazil uses inflation-targeting as a framework for monetary policy in the context of a floating exchange rate. The central bank has set a target inflation rate of 5.1%, and by 2006, inflation was on the decline. After the trade balance swung back into surplus in 2001 for the first time since 1993, the export to GDP ratio rose further in 2003, to 17.2%, following consecutive years of record export earnings in 200203. Primary products performed strongly by 2005, prompted by robust Chinese demand for soya and iron ore, but exports of manufactures also increased, led by automobiles. Underinvestment, particularly in infrastructure, has led to high costs and inefficiencies in services such as transportation, energy provision, and communications. Construction, which accounts for two-thirds of investment, was weak in 2005, partly because of high interest rates. There is also a heavy corporate tax burden. In 2004, the economy grew by 4.9%. Growth was likely to slow to 3% in 2005 before picking up again in 2006. Real GDP growth averaged 2.6% from 200004. Inflation averaged 8.7% during that period. Brazil was the world's 14th largest economy in 2004, according to the World Bank.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Brazil's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $1.6 trillion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $8,500. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 2.6%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 6.8%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 10% of GDP, industry 39.4%, and services 50.6%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $2.821 billion or about $16 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.6% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $296 million or about $2 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.1% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Brazil totaled $291.57 billion or about $1,647 per capita based on a GDP of $505.7 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 3.4%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 22% of household consumption was spent on food, 18% on fuel, 15% on health care, and 34% on education. It was estimated that in 1998 about 22.0% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


In 2005, Brazil had an estimated work force of 90.41 million. In 2003, it was estimated that 20% were engaged in agriculture, 66% in services, and 14% in industry. As of 2005, an estimated 9.9% of the workforce was unemployed.

The law provides for union representation of all workers except the military, uniformed police, and firemen. Union financing depends largely on a mandatory tax administered by the government, which applies to nearly all workers and employers. The number of strikes has decreased in recent years, with 1,250 strikes recorded in 1996 compared to 84 in the year 2000. Union organizers, especially in rural areas, continue to be violently harassed and even killed. About 16% of Brazil's workforce is unionized. However, most workers in the informal economy, including those not registered with the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MLE) and those who are self-employed, remain outside of the union structure. Around 50% of the country's labor force worked in the informal sector, while the percentage was even higher in the agricultural sector, where 70% were unregistred with the MLE.

Brazilian law limits the workweek to 44 hours, with a weekly rest period of 24 consecutive hours. Excessive compulsory overtime is prohibited with overtime hours at time-and-a-half rate of pay. The minimum wage is adjusted annually. In May 2005, the monthly minimum wage was set at us$130. These laws generally apply to workers in the formal economy.

Children under 16 are generally forbidden to work by law except in certain apprentice programs. However, this law is not effectively enforced. Estimates in 2004 put the number of children laborers between the ages of 5 and 17 who were working at 5.1 million.

Although Brazilian law prohibits compulsory or forced labor, forced, even slave labor, continues to be a problem. According to estimates by the International Labor Organization, there were about 25,000 slave laborers in Brazil, most of whom were in the states of Mato Grosso and Para. In addition, unsafe working conditions are prevalent throughout the country.


In 2003, 15% of Brazil's economically active population worked in agriculture, down from 23.3% in 1990. Total arable and permanent crop area comprises 66.5 million hectares (165 million acres). Although agriculture's share of exports has declined relative to industrial goods, the value has continued to increase, so that Brazil in 1977 became the world's second-largest exporter of agricultural products. Except for grain (particularly wheat), of which some 6.3 million tons had to be imported in 2004, Brazil is virtually self-sufficient in food. The growth rates for agriculture as a whole averaged 2.8% during 198090, and 3.2% for 19902000. By 2003, agricultural production was 13.7% higher than during 19992001. In 2003, agriculture accounted for 8% of the total GDP. Export crops are significantin addition to the traditional exports of coffee and cocoa, Brazil is also a major exporter of soybeans and orange juice. In 2004, Brazil ranked sixth in the production of cocoa beans at 169,400 tons, or 4.7% of the world's cocoa bean production. In recent years production has been devastated by the effects of the witches-broom fungus.

The Land Statute Law of 1964 was designed to modify the agrarian structure and increase agricultural output in selected regions over a 20-year period. The law empowered the federal government to expropriate unused or underutilized land by offering indemnification in bonds in the case of large properties and cash payment for smallholdings. In redistributing expropriated lands, priority is given to those who work the land under tenancy, sharecropping, or ordinary labor agreements. Responsibility for implementing the law is divided between the Brazilian Agrarian Reform Institute and the National Institute of Agricultural Development. In October 1984, a law was passed to facilitate the distribution of 43.1 million hectares (106.5 million acres) of state-owned land and nonproductive private estates to 1.4 million peasant families, primarily in the impoverished northeast, through 1989. The formation of cooperatives was encouraged.

Coffee, until 1974 preeminent among export earners, has been declining in importance since the early 1960s, while soybeans, sugarcane, cotton, wheat, and citrus fruits have shown dramatic increases. Brazil led the world in coffee production in 2004, at 2,475,000 tons. Sugarcane production, in which Brazil ranked first in the world in 2004, is grown not only for refined sugar but also as a source of alcohol for fuel, and totaled 410,983,000 tons that year. In 2004, production included 18,256,500 tons of oranges, 24,039,000 tons of cassava, and 211,800 tons of cashews. At 28,500 tons, Brazil was not the world's leading producer of Brazil nuts in 2004it trails Bolivia. Tobacco production in 2004 totaled 928,338 tons, 14% of world production. Agricultural production in 2004 (in millions of tons) was corn, 41.9; soybeans, 42.9; rice, 13.3; wheat, 6.0; and cottonseed, 2.2. Further agricultural reforms have been carried out under the Carta de Brasília of 1967. The Carta included an incentive program for the construction of storage facilities, to permit farmers to hold products off the market in expectation of better prices. Agricultural research in Brazil is conducted by the Agriculture and Cattle Raising Institute of Research. The expansion of power, transportation, and communications systems during the 1970s further contributed to agricultural development.


Brazil is a leading livestock-producing country, and 197,000,000 hectares (487,000,000 acresmore than one-fifth of the total national area) are devoted to open pasture. Since World War I, cattle production has become one of the country's major sources of wealth. Hereford and polled angus are raised in the southern states of Río Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, and Dutch and Jersey cattle supply dairy products in the uplands of Minas Gerais, Río de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Paraná. The humped zebu was first introduced in Minas Gerais, where intense crossbreeding produced the Hindu-Brazil breed that is now most common throughout Brazil because it resists tick fever and heat. There were an estimated 192 million head of cattle in 2004, as compared with an annual average of 147.8 million during 198991 and 116.6 million during 197981.

Hog raising, marked by an improvement in breeds, has doubled since 1935, making Brazil the world's third-largest producer. In 2004 there were an estimated 33 million hogs. Berkshires and Poland Chinas have been introduced in quantity, and, since vegetable oils are increasingly replacing lard, the emphasis is on production of pork, ham, and sausages. Brazil is not a major sheep country, since most of the area is too tropical. The bulk of Brazil's 14.2 million sheep are in Río Grande do Sul. Of the other domestic animals raised commercially in 2004, there were some 9.1 million goats, 5.9 million horses, 1.4 million mules, and some 1.1 billion chickens. Brazil is the world's third-largest exporter of broiler meat.

The government encourages production and seeks more efficient methods of conservation and distribution of meat products. Meat production was 19.1 million tons in 2004, including 7.8 million tons of beef and veal. The dairy industry is most highly developed in the vicinity of large cities. Estimated output of dairy products in 2004 included 23.3 million tons of fresh cow's milk and 1.6 million tons of eggs.

During the years of high inflation, ranchers and farmers looked at their herds and land as assets whose value increased in line with inflation and were less challenged to make investments and increase productivity. With inflation now under control, cattle prices have remained fairly stable, and some meat packers have started turning to the export market.


Although Brazil has a seacoast of some 7,400 km (4,600 mi) and excellent fishing grounds off the South Atlantic coast, the nation has never fully utilized its commercial potential. Traditionally, fishing has been carried on by small groups of individual fishermen using primitive techniques and equipment and seldom venturing out of sight of land. Lack of storage facilities, canneries, and adequate methods of distribution have limited the supply and led to the importation of dried fish. Swordfish is caught in large quantities off the coast of Paraíba and Río Grande do Norte, and shrimp is caught and dried along the coasts of Maranhão, Ceará, and Bahia. The fish resources of the Amazon River are not exploited, except for the commercial processing of the pirarucú and an aquatic mammal, the sea cow. The annual fish catch is so modest that there has traditionally been a scarcity during Holy Week, about the only time when Brazilians eat much fish. The total catch in 2003 was 1,086,504 tons, 36% from inland waters. Exports of fish products were valued at $419.1 million in 2003. Small quantities of lobster are exported.

A fisheries development agency was established in the early 1970s to exploit Brazil's coastal potential. The discovery of large quantities of tuna off the coast of Río Grande do Sul has interested foreign fishing companies, and Japanese and US concerns have obtained the right to fish in Brazilian waters and to establish storage and canning facilities. Normally, foreign fishing rights are reserved to the Portuguese. Aquacultural production consists primarily of carp and tilapia.


Over 50% of South America's forests and woodlands are in Brazil, with an estimated 412 million hectares (1,018 million acres). Sylvan areas in Brazil are nearly three-quarters as large as the forests of all African nations combined. Brazil's forests cover 49% of the country's land area and are among the richest in the world, yielding timber, oil-bearing fruits, gums, resins, waxes, essential oils, cellulose, fibers, nuts, maté, and other products. The Amazon region contains almost 80% of the national forest resources. In the rain forest, as many as 3,000 different species per sq mi (2.6 sq km) may coexist. However, only a limited percentage of forestland is being exploited, in part because of a lack of adequate transportation. Commercial tropical hardwood forests covered 238,000 hectares (588,000 acres) in 2005, or about 58% of the forested area. Brazil accounts for 20% of the world's tropical hardwood resources and is one of the leading producers of tropical hardwood products. Brazilian timber is of fine quality, ranging from wood as light as cork to the wood of the Brazilian pepper tree, with a density one and one-half times that of water. By 1991, rapid deforestation during the previous 30 years in the Amazon (from migration, road building, mining, and tax incentives) had caused the rain forest to shrink by an estimated 8.5% since colonial times. However, the annual rate of deforestation in the 1990s was 0.4%. Government incentives for reforestation projects ended in 1986. Most reforestation is carried out by private companies. The average annual reforested area in Brazil during 19992004 was 150,000 hectares (371,000 acres). The hardwood trees of the Amazon rain forest are of excellent quality, but because of a thriving domestic furniture industry, they are used mainly locally; furniture manufacturing is responsible for 40% of the wood consumption in Brazil. The Paraná pine (Araucaria angustifolia) is in greatest demand. It grows in the southern states in stands that comprise about 420 million trees. A Brazilian ban on log exports has focused exports on value-added products (mostly lumber, plywood, hardboard, and veneers). Policies to develop forest resources have changed recently, and the utilization of native species has become very restricted, mainly in the southern region. In July 2004 the government lifted the prohibition on exports of mahogany and other Amazon species such as virola and imbuia, but these exports are under rigid control.

Production of roundwood in 2003 was estimated at 238.5 million cu m (8.4 billion cu ft). Production of paper and woodpulp has expanded considerably since 1975; exports of paper intensified between 1981 and 2000, from 337,000 tons to 1,815,000 tons. Production amounts in 2004 included 31.8 million cu m (11.2 billion cu ft) of tropical hardwood logs and 8.4 million cu m (20.6 million cu ft) of softwood lumber. The total value of Brazilian forest product exports in 2003 reached $2.7 billion, with the United States, Belgium, and China as the primary markets. The Amazon region accounted for 40% of the total Brazilian exports of wood products, while the rest of Brazil accounted for 60% (of which Paraná represented 20%). Exports of plywood in 2003 totaled 1.3 million cu m (3.2 million cu ft), with 47% going to the European Union, 39% for the United States, 4% for the Dominican Republic, and 10% going to other markets.

Brazil's production of rubber in 2004 was 55,000 tons; the natural rubber industry, once a world leader, was dealt a strong blow by the development of cheaper synthetics. Forest products like rubber, Brazil nuts, cashews, waxes, and fibers now come from plantations and no longer from wild forest trees as in earlier days. Maté, derived from a species of South American holly, is steeped to make a popular form of tea. Production totaled 560,000 tons in 2004.


Brazil was Latin America's leading producer of iron ore, manganese, aluminum, cement, ferroalloys (ranking third in the world), tin (fourth in the world), gold (sixth in the world), and steel (eighth in the world), and produced 92.4% of the world's columbium, whose deposits contained 90% of the world's pyrochlore reserves. Brazil continued to be one of the world's largest gemstones producers and exporters, and the only source of imperial topaz and Paraiacuteba tourmaline. Iron ore was Brazil's second-leading export commodity in 2002, and production of cement, iron ore, tin, and steel were among its top eight industries. Brazil's 19,500 million tons of iron ore reserves ranked it sixth in the world, and recent discoveries of platinum indicated that Brazil could have half the world's reserves. Brazil produced 72 mineral commodities22 metal, 46 industrial, and 4 fuelincluding large deposits of the metals alumina, bauxite, beryllium, chromium, columbium (niobium), copper, lead, nickel, silver, tantalum, thorium, titanium, zinc, and zirconium; of the industrial minerals anhydrite, asbestos, bentonite, diamond, dolomite, fluorite, fluorspar, graphite, gypsum, kaolin (4,000 million tons of reserves, 28.2% of world total), limestone, magnesite (630 million tons of resources with 180 million tons of magnesium content identified), marble, mica, phosphate rock, potash, potassium, prophyllite, quartz (crude, common, crystal, and powder, reserves of 53 million tons), marine salt, rock salt, and talc; and of the fuel mineral coal. In 2000, Brazil also produced sizable quantities of cobalt, tungsten, barite, basalt, calcite, hydraulic cement, diatomite, feldspar, gneiss, granite, kyanite, lime, lithium, nitrogen, mineral pigments, quartzite, industrial sand, calcareous shells, silica, slate, caustic soda, soda ash, sulfur (Frasch and pyrites), and vermiculite.

Brazil's economy was the world's eighth-largest and the largest in Latin America, making up one-third of the region's economy. However, GDP fell in 2003 by 0.2% versus growth of 1.5% in 2002. The mineral-based industries accounted for $38 billion or 8.4% of Brazil's GDP in 2003. Mineral production, including gas and crude oil, came to nearly $13 billion, or around 2.8% of GDP. In 2003, Brazil's workforce was almost 80 million, of this total, about 5% or 960,000 were employed by the minerals sector, not including nearly 650,000 active garimpeiros (independent miners).

Gross iron ore and concentrate output for 2003 was 234,478,000 tons. Eight firms accounted for 96% of iron ore production, with CVRD accounting for 48%. The second-largest producer, Mineraccedilotildees Brasileiras Reunidas S/A (MBR), opened three new mines, Capatildeo Xavier, Tamanduacutea, and Capitatildeo do Mato, in Minas Gerais, to increase capacity to 32 million tons per year by 2004 and to offset depletion at the Aguas Claras and Matuca mines.

In 2003, an estimated 2.5 million metric tons in gross weight of marketable manganese ore and concentrate were mined. Brazil's output of mined tin in 2003 was estimated at 12,000 metric tons.

Major deposits of high-quality bauxite have been discovered in the Amazon region. As a result, output has risen rapidly, from 6.5 million metric tons in 1987, to 13,147,900 metric tons in 2003.

Brazil in 2003 produced 41,300 metric tons of pyrochlore in concentrates, 24,875 tons of columbium in alloys, and 5,064 tons of columbium in oxides from two open pitsAraxa; (Minas Gerais) and Cataleo and Ouvidor (Goias). The two columbium producers, Mineracao Catalao de Goias Ltda. (MCGL) and Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineracao (CBMM), had capacities of 65,000 tons per year pyrochlore and 1.9 million tons per year columbium ore. Tantalum production totaled 249 tons in 2003, and increased world demand was expected to maintain an upward trend.

Diamonds, along with other precious and semiprecious stones, were mined primarily in Minas Gerais, Goias, and Bahia. Other gemstones, found throughout the country, were emerald, aquamarine, amethyst, citrine, chrysoberyl, opal, topaz, agate, tourmaline, ruby, and sapphire. In 2003, total estimated yield was 500,000 carats of gem-quality diamond (up from 100,000 in 1998) and an estimated 600,000 carats of industrial diamond. Fewer garimpeiros and increased environmental restrictions have caused a decline in production. Despite government closure of high-content gem placers and high taxes on domestic sales of jewelry, Brazil had great potential, with its 600 million cu m of sedimentary rocks containing diamond grading between 0.01 and 0.1 carat per cu m (15 million carats), which represented 1.2% of the world's diamond reserve base. Belgium received 95% of the uncut stones.

Gold production was estimated at 39,400 kg in 2003, including 5,000 garimpeiros. Deposits found at Serra Pelada in 1980 raised gold production to 103,000 kg by 1989; production averaged 90,380 kg in 198791, and output in 1996 was 60,011. Higher production costs, depletion of shallower deposits, lower world prices, and much higher environmental standards caused the drop-offs. Gold output could increase significantly with the growth of copper production and increased interest by domestic and foreign investors in largely unexplored areas; more than 2000 gold occurrences were known, mostly Precambrian vein deposits and alluvial placers.

The discovery of gold in Minas Gerais (general mines) in 1693 made Brazil the world's leading gold producer; rapid exploitation under the Portuguese colonial system exhausted the mines in less than a century. The dissipation of the nation's gold wealth for the benefit of a foreign power, instilled in Brazilians a protective attitude toward mineral reserves, resulting in government control. The 1988 constitution forbade foreign majority participation in direct mining operations. Lack of capital has long restricted development by domestic firms, and Brazilian mining laws and adverse geographic conditions have discouraged foreign capital. The major portion of the mineral industry was partially or wholly owned by private Brazilian investors, Brazilian corporations, and/or foreign companies, the exceptions being the natural gas and petroleum industries. The structure of the industry continued to change to a privately owned/government-regulated regime. Two 1995 constitutional amendments opened the way for participation of the private sector (domestic and foreign), through privatization, joint ventures, and deregulated investment, in the sectors of coastal and river shipping, mining, natural gas, petroleum, telecommunications, and transportation. By the mid-1990s, investment was on the rise, as a result of aggressive economic policies, the diversity of mineral resources, and the constitutional reform that eliminated restrictions on foreign investment in mining. In 2000, the import tax for minerals was reduced, with varying rates, and the export tax would no longer apply to exported mineral products, nor would the tax on industrialized products apply to mining activities.


In 2001 drought created an energy crisis in Brazil, which is strongly dependent on hydroelectric power and also the third-largest consumer of electricity in the Western Hemisphere. As of 2002 the country's per capita energy consumption was equal to that of all other South and Central American countries combined. From June 2001 through March 2002, power was rationed allowing the country to avoid rolling blackouts. Brazil is one of the world's leading producers of hydropower.

Total installed electrical capacity increased from 4.8 million kW in 1960 to 8.5 million kW in 1968 and to 73.4 million kW in 2001. In 2003, installed capacity stood at 82.5 GW. Production for 2000 was 339.5 billion kWh, of which hydropower contributed 89%. By 2003, production increased to 359.2 billion kWh. Consumption of electricity in 2000 was 360.6 billion kWh, which increased to 371.4 billion kWh in 2003. Hydroelectric power accounted for 84% of the nation's electric power in 2003, at 302.9 billion kWh. Construction of the Itaipu Dam on the Paraná River took place between 1975 and 1982; this joint Brazilian-Paraguayan project, the world's largest hydroelectric plant, attained its full capacity of 12.6 million kW in 1986, at a cost of $15 billion. About 70% of Brazil's population is served by Itaipu, which generates about 75 billion kWh per year. Each of Brazil's nine turbines (Paraguay controls the other nine) at Itaipu has a capacity of 700,000 kW, which can be transmitted up to 1,000 km (620 mi) away. Brazil regularly purchases a large portion of Paraguay's half of its Itaipu electricity production. Conventional thermal generation in 2003 accounted for only 7.4% of Brazil's total supply of electricity. Nuclear power is provided by two plants: Angra-1 (630 MW) and Angra-2 (1,350 MW). A decision to complete an unfinished third facility, Angra-3, was promised to have been made before the end of 2005. Angra11, began operations in May 1985. It was followed by Angra-2, which took 23 years and $10 billion to complete and became operational in 2000. As of 2002, it was estimated that five more years would be needed to finish Angra-3 and bring it online. Nuclear generation of electricity accounted for 13.840 billion kWh in 2002, or 4% of production for that year. Estimates of uranium reserves were put at 163,000 tons in 1991, the fifth-largest in the world.

Brazil's proven oil reserves, according to the Oil and Gas Journal, are estimated to total 10.6 billion barrels, as of 1 January 2005, making the country second only in South America to Venezuela in the size of its proven reserves. The government-owned Petróleo Brasileiros (Petrobrás), established in 1953, formerly had a monopoly over the exploration and development of petroleum reserves. The 1988 constitution guaranteed the maintenance of state monopolies in the petroleum and electricity sectors, despite rampant privatization. In 1995, however, Brazil's Congress and Senate approved a constitutional amendment ending the government's oil monopoly, and allowing foreign companies to drill, prospect, import, export, refine, and transport oil. The government was to maintain at least 50% of Petrobrás' voting shares, plus one. In August 2000 the government sold a 29% stake in the company but remained the majority shareholder. Brazil's government hopes to raise large amounts of money and attract foreign investment through the privatization of the oil sector, in order to pay off the national debt.

Foreign participation and investment had been forbidden by Brazilian law. However, in the mid-1970s, exploration was opened to foreign companies through risk contracts, and the petrochemicals industry was opened to foreign participation. The National Petroleum Agency (ANP), created in 1997, is charged with opening up the oil industry to both foreign and domestic private interests. By 2004, estimated production totaled 1.8 million barrels per day. However, at 2.2 million barrels per day, consumption still outstripped production, and oil imports were necessary, mostly from Argentina and Venezuela. As of 2002 Brazil had 13 crude oil refineries.

Estimated production of natural gas in 2003 production was reported at 310 billion cu ft. As of 1 January 2005, proven reserves of natural gas were estimated at 8.8 trillion cu ft. In 1975, the government initiated a program to develop alcohol from sugarcane as an energy source. In the 1980s, 80% of the country's cars and light vehicles were powered by alcohol, although slumping oil prices and persistent financial problems within the alcohol industry prompted the government to freeze production at the 1985 level of 11.1 billion liters (2.9 billion gallons). By 1995, the production of gasoline-powered vehicles had shifted to 95% from the almost entirely alcohol-powered production of 1989. Alcohol still has an important function to maintain diverse sources of fuel for the transportation sector. Most transportation fuel sold in Brazil is a mixture of 22% ethanol and 78% gasoline. As of 1999, Brazil produced 200,000 barrels per day of ethanol.

The absence of good coking coal is a handicap to industrial plans, and Brazil must import coal for its steel industry. As of 2002 it was estimated that coal imports could double within the following ten years. Coal consumption in 2002 was estimated at 22.09 million tons.


Major industries include iron and steel production, automobile assembly, petroleum processing, chemicals production, and cement making; technologically based industries have been the most dynamic in recent years, but have not outpaced traditional industries. Peak industrial growth was achieved in 1973, when the manufacturing sector grew by 15.8%; growth rates averaging about 7% were posted during 197880, rising to 8.3% in 1985 and 11.3% in 1986. Growth slowed significantly during the 1990s. According to the Brazilian Statistical Institute (IBGE), manufacturing rose an annual average of only 0.7% between 1988 and 1998. Growth in 2002 was particularly pronounced in the construction industry, but by 2005 high interest rates had put a drag on construction. The industrial production rate was estimated at 6% in 2004.

In 1969, 3.7 million metric tons of crude steel were produced; by 1985, this had reached 20.5 million metric tons. In 2004, crude steel production amounted to 32.9 million metric tons, making Brazil the eighth-largest steel producer in the world, just ahead of India. Vast reserves of accessible, high-grade ore, plus rapidly expanding domestic and foreign demand for these products, favor continued expansion of the steel industry. By 2006, China had become a key market for Brazilian steel. The major negative factor is lack of domestic soft coal. Companhia Vale do Río Doce (CVRD) is the world's largest producer of iron ore and pellets and the largest Brazilian mining company, responsible for more than 30% of the iron ore transoceanic market share of Brazil. It is the country's largest investor, responsible for 14% of all Brazilian trade.

Motor vehicle production, Brazil's industrial backbone, experienced a drop of nearly 27% from 1998 to 1999 because of the country's financial difficulties. Production of automobiles went from about 2 million units in 1997, down to 1.6 million units in 1998. In 2001, Brazil produced 1.8 million automobiles, an increase of 7% over 2000. In 2000, the country produced more than 70,000 heavy trucks, an increase of 27% over 1999. In 2005, approximately 2.3 million vehicles were produced in Brazil. Thirty percent of all automobiles produced in Brazil are exported to Mexico. The automobile industry is expanding rapidly with major sources of foreign investment and the construction of new manufacturing plants.

Brazil mines and refines petroleum products. Because of increased domestic refining capacity during the 1970s, imports of petroleum products were less needed, and by 1979, Brazil was a net exporter of petroleum derivatives. Brazil's petrochemical industry emphasizes the production of synthetic rubber. There are also over 500 pharmaceutical laboratories and plants in Brazil, the majority in São Paulo. Over 80% of the industry is foreign-owned. Increased construction demands boosted Brazil's cement production during the 1980s and 1990s. Brazil's electrical equipment industry manufactures computers, television sets, transistor radios, refrigerators, air conditioners, and many other appliances. Brazil has the largest textile industry in South America in terms of installed capacity and output, with nearly half of the spindles and looms in operation on the continent. The manufacture of footwear is an important industry. The Brazilian pulp and paper sector is also large, consisting of more than 220 companies, which together employ approximately 80,000 people in industrial operations, as well as another 57,000 in forestry work and operations. The pulp and paper sector is almost fully privately-owned. The government allowed foreign investment in vital industries since 1995, and supports the sale of any residual parastatal enterprises.


The National Council of Scientific and Technological Development, created in 1951 and headquartered in Brasília, formulates and coordinates Brazil's scientific and technological policies. The Brazilian Academy of Sciences was founded in 1916 is headquartered in Río de Janeiro. In 1996, there were 25 specialized learned societies and 52 research institutes covering virtually every area of scientific and technological endeavor. Among the most important scientific institutions are the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation for biological research in Río de Janeiro and the Butantan Institute in São Paulo, which produces serums for the bites of venomous snakes, a field in which Brazil leads the world. Government expenditures on research and development (R&D) in 2000 amounted to $13.078 billion or 1% of GDP. In that same year, Brazil had 352 researchers and 339 technicians actively engaged in R&D per million people. Government spending in 2002 accounted for 60.2% of R&D expenditures, while business accounted for 38.2% and higher education 1.6%. Brazilian high technology exports in 2002 totaled $6.007 billion, or 19% of the country's manufactured exports.

Brazil entered the space age in 1973, with the launching of the SONDA II rocket as part of a program to determine electron density in the low ionosphere, a question of practical importance for aircraft navigation. Under the government's Amazon development program, Humboldt City, a scientific and technological center, has been established in Mato Grosso. Atomic research is conducted at the Energetics and Nuclear Research Institute of São Paulo; other research reactors are located at Belo Horizonte and Río de Janeiro. The Nuclear Energy Center for Agriculture was established in 1966. A total of us$550 million was allocated to the nuclear energy program under the 197579 development plan, but the program languished in the 1980s.

In 1996, Brazil had approximately 100 universities and colleges offering courses in basic and applied science. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 27% of college and university enrollments.


Río de Janeiro and São Paulo are the principal distribution centers; the largest numbers of importers, sales agents, and distributors are located in these cities, having branch offices in other areas. Other major commercial centers are Recife and Pôrto Alegre, in the northeast and the south; Belém, which serves as a distribution center for the whole Amazon River Valley; and Salvador, which is the main distribution center for Bahia and the neighboring states.

The Brazilian commercial code permits the exercise of trade by all persons who make trade their habitual occupation and register with the appropriate government body. Goods are sold in department stores, in specialty shops, by street vendors, and in supermarkets in the larger cities, but most commercial establishments have fewer than six employees. There are a number of consumer cooperatives that are generally sponsored by ministries, trade unions, and social security institutes. Producer cooperatives are found mostly in agriculture and fishing. The franchising sector by 2006 was booming: franchising accounts for about 25% of the retail revenues. There are some 800 franchise chains and 56,000 franchise units in Brazil, which generate more than 350,000 jobs. Credit is extended to higher-income customers on open accounts and to lower-income groups on installment payment plans. Since 1994, the government has enacted constitutional reforms to remove obstacles for privatization and foreign investment.

Business hours are from 8 or 8:30 am to 5 or 6 pm, Monday through Friday, with a two-hour lunch period from 12 to 2 pm. Banks transact business from 10 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Shopping hours are from 9 am to 7 pm, Monday through Friday, and from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturdays. Stores are usually closed on Sundays. Department stores are open from 10 am to 10 pm, Monday through Saturday. In many smaller cities and towns, stores are closed for over an hour at lunchtime.

Since 1947, the advertising sector (in all the various media) has increased its expenditures many times over. Most advertising agencies maintain headquarters in São Paulo; some major agencies have branch offices in other large cities. Advertisements are presented on television and on all radio stations, with the exception of the special broadcasting system of the Ministry of Education. Newspapers, magazines, periodicals, motion pictures, billboards, posters, and electric signs are used for advertising. Mobile advertising units equipped with loudspeaker systems are common in the larger cities.


Brazil's long-favorable foreign-trade balance deteriorated substantially between 1958 and 1974 as a result of industrial expansion, which necessitated increased imports of industrial capital goods and petroleum. During 1975/76 and again from 1978 to 1982, the foreign-trade balance was in deficit. Beginning in 1983, Brazil recorded trade surpluses: $5.1 billion in 1983, $11.8 billion in 1984, and $11.3 billion in 1985. This achievement was the result of policies that restricted imports and offered substantial incentives to exporters.

Between 1963 and 1981, exports expanded at an average annual rate of 17%, but they grew by only 9.1% between 1982 and 1985. Coffee has long been Brazil's dominant export, but the proportion

United States16,901.010,166.36,734.7
Italy-San Marino-Holy See2,207.51,828.3379.2
United Kingdom1,898.81,250.9647.9
() data not available or not significant.

of its export earnings declined from 41.3% in 1968 to 3.2% in 2000. As a result of an ambitious energy development program, Brazil's reliance on imported oil dropped from 70% of its needs in 1980 to 45% in 1985.

The notable accomplishment of former President Fernado Collor de Mello to open the Brazilian market remains the cornerstone of Brazil's economic and trade policies. However, after almost 30 years of import substitution, which initially brought high growth and short-term industrialization in the 1960s1970s, this policy was finally recognized in the late 1980s as the principal culprit of Brazil's economic woes, particularly high inflation and industrial decline.

By the early 2000s, most of Brazil's nontariff barriers to trade, which for many years were the hallmark of Brazil's restrictive trade regime, were eliminated or drastically reduced. Import duties were reduced from an average of about 50% in the late 1980s to 14.2% and a maximum of 35%. While the overall level and pervasiveness of nontariff barriers have been drastically reduced, some import duties remain high in comparison with other countries. While the depression/inflation problems of the late 1990s reduced purchasing power by about 50% among the working and lower middle classes and further skewed the already highly uneven distribution of income, the Brazilian market remains enormously attractive to US businesses.

Although trade barriers continued to recede with the government of former President Itamar Franco who assumed office in 1992, trade liberalization lost some of its momentum, and there were serious concerns regarding automobile, telecommunications, and information technology sectors. The reforms gained new momentum under the administration of the next president, Cardoso.

In 1995, Brazil joined with Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay to form the Mercosur common market, made up of 200 million people worth over $1 trillion. The agreement covered tariffs for over 85% of some 9,000 items with the remaining 15% to be covered by 2003 and complete coverage to be achieved by 2006. Brazil has an almost symbiotic relationship with Argentina, in which the latter supplies natural gas, automobiles, and other products; while the former exports steel, shoes, and paper products.

In 1999, Argentina implemented trade restrictions on certain Brazilian products because prices were ridiculously low from the currency devaluation. Brazil replied by putting its own trade barriers in place. Such measures did not bode well for the Mercosur community. Argentina had been in recession for several years, and the global economic slowdown, which began in 2001 further, worsened Mercosur's situation. In addition, Brazil has had considerable problems with its electrical distribution system, forcing the rationing of electricity and complicating production.

By 2006, Brazil and other members of the G-20 group of developing nations had called the most recent trade concessions from the United States and the European Union insufficient. The group was pressing for deeper cuts in farm subsidies. At the same time, Brazil found itself in a separate trade dispute with the United States, after accusing it of failing to obey a WTO ruling outlawing some of its cotton policies. The United States threatened to remove trade preferences worth more than $2 billion if Brazil insisted on asking the WTO for the right to impose $1 billion in sanctions on American goods.

The most popular export commodities from Brazil are road vehicles, iron, and steel. Brazil also exports footwear and textiles. The country exports a substantial amount of iron ore, soybeans, meat, and coffee. Productivity gains, especially in agriculture, have contributed to a surge in exports. Brazil imports machinery, electrical and transportation equipment, chemical products, and oil.

Brazil's leading markets in 2004 were the United States (21.1% of all exports), Argentina (7.6%), the Netherlands (6.1%), and China (5.6%). Leading suppliers included the United States (18.3% of all imports), Argentina (8.9%), Germany (8.1%), and China (5.9%).


After a decline in the mid-1960s, Brazil's reserve holdings grew spectacularly, reaching $6.5 billion by 1974. The prime reason was a steadily rising inflow of long-term capital investment, coupled

Current Account4,016.0
   Balance on goods24,801.0
   Balance on services-5,100.0
   Balance on income-18,552.0
   Current transfers2,867.0
Capital Account498.0
Financial Account-164.0
   Direct investment abroad-249.0
   Direct investment in Brazil10,144.0
   Portfolio investment assets179.0
   Portfolio investment liabilities5,129.0
   Financial derivatives-151.0
   Other investment assets-6,284.0
   Other investment liabilities-5,731.0
Net Errors and Omissions-764.0
Reserves and Related Items-3,586.0
() data not available or not significant.

with trade balances that were favorable or only minimally unfavorable. In 1974, however, a decline in the value of coffee exports and a doubling of import costs (partly attributable to increased oil prices) more than offset a further rise in capital investment, resulting in Brazil's first payments deficit in nearly a decade. Between 1976 and 1978, Brazil had a positive balance of payments, but large deficits were registered in 1979 and 1980. A surplus was achieved in 1981, in part because of Brazil's excellent trade showing. The surpluses in 1984 and 1985 were sufficient to pay all interest on the foreign debt.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, Brazil increasingly came to rely on international borrowing to meet its financing needs. The foreign debt grew rapidly after 1974 as the government pressed for continued economic growth without regard for balance of payments pressures generated by the oil shocks of the later 1970s and without increasing domestic savings or improving the tax base. The huge trade surpluses of 1984 and 1985 halted the upward trend. However, the 1986 surge in consumer spending drained reserves to such an extent that by early 1987, the government was forced to suspend payments on $68 billion of the estimated $108 billion debt, the highest of any developing nation. An agreement was reached in April 1991 on 198990 arrears. In 1992, Brazil and the advisory committee representing foreign commercial banks agreed to a debt and debt service reduction for $44 billion. Under the Real Plan, the balance of payments dropped from a surplus of $10.5 billion in 1994 to a deficit of $3.1 billion in 1995, -$5.5 billion in 1996, and -$8.4 billion in 1997. This transformation in Brazil's trade position was due to an overvalued exchange rate, market opening, and suppressed demand for capital and consumer goods. A devaluation of the currency in 1999 led to a reduction of the trade deficit in 1999 and in 2000.

The period of high net capital inflows and currency strength came to an end in 2001. Import compression in 200203, and an increase in export earnings after 2003, brought about a large adjustment on the current accounts: the trade surplus ballooned from $2.7 billion in 2001 to $33.7 billion in 2004, which transformed the current account from a deficit of 4.6% of GDP in 2001 to a surplus of 1.9% of GDP in 2004. In the first half of 2005, the trade surplus continued to grow.


A banking reform enacted in December 1964 provided for the establishment of the Central Bank of the Republic of Brazil (changed in 1967 to the Central Bank of Brazil), with powers to regulate the banking system and the stock market. The Central Bank serves as the financial agent of the federal government and functions as a depository for the reserves of private banks. The reform also created the National Monetary Council, which formulates monetary policies for the Central Bank.

The Bank of Brazil primarily finances projects in the agricultural sector. The National Economic and Bank (BNDES) provides long-term financing and administers the privatization program.

There once were about 340 commercial banks in Brazil, with hundreds of branch offices. However, banking reforms reduced that number to 233 in 1998. The largest banks are the federal banks Bank of Brazil, the Federal Savings Bank, and BNDS; private banks Bradesco, Itau, Unibanco, Safra, and Banespa; the Real Bank, and the state bank of Río Grande do Sul, Banrisul. Since January 1994, banks and other financial institutions must publish constant-currency financial statements. The major banks are considered to be sophisticated and competitive, many operating online, and offer a broad range of financial services.

The 1996 rise in international reserves and the fall of the dollar against the real falsely portrayed an improvement in the financial market. In an attempt to calm the financial markets' worries about exchange rate risk, the government began issuing bonds indexed to the exchange rate. The bonds were supposed to be a guarantee that exchange rate policy was not going to change. The Central Bank curbed the expansion of the monetary base, thus controlling inflation, while the volume of money controlled by banks increased with the initial relaxation of credit. This enlarged monetary base, which included the stock of federal bonds and deposits at the Central Bank, rose at a faster rate than nominal GDP. At the end of 1996, the enlarged monetary base was equivalent to 23% of GDP compared with 18% of GDP at the end of 1995. The expansion of monetary aggregates resulted from the rise in public debt through bond financing of the fiscal deficit. The relaxation of credit policy after the end of 1995 caused borrowers to overdraw, resulting in liquidity problems during 1996 and 1997. This presented a precarious situation for the Brazilian economy, especially when the 1998 financial crisis occurred. The Central Bank decided to let the real float in relation to the US dollar, severely depreciating the value of the real by about 45%; and the bonds that were supposed to have guaranteed a fixed exchange rate were also devalued. These issues led to a number of bank mergers and closures in 1999 and 2000. The 2001 collapse of the Argentine economy forced down the value of Brazil's currency, although it has since recovered somewhat. An energy crisis has also caused some trouble in the Brazilian economy, leading to and overall downturn in 2002. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $35.4 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $149.3 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 17.47%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 21.43%.

Brazil opened its market to foreign portfolio investment in 1991. Brazilian tax laws provide incentives for investment in stocks and bonds. Profit and dividend remittances are subject to a 15% income withholding tax. Up to 24% of individual tax liability may be invested annually in share certificates from authorized financial institutions. Furthermore, individuals may deduct from gross income up to 42% of capital subscription in companies or agencies involved in developing the northeastern or Amazon regions, up to 25% of amounts invested in open capital companies, up to 20% of investments in approved forestation or reforestation projects, up to 13.5% of investments in mutual funds, and up to 4% of savings under the National Housing System. Earnings from all the above investments are also excluded from gross income, up to certain limits. The stock market is a source of financing for all listed companies in Brazil, regardless of ownership. All public issues require the approval of the Securities Commission (CVM). There are nine regional stock exchanges, although over 90% of transactions are carried out in São Paulo and Río de Janeiro. In 2004, there were 357 companies listed on the São Paulo exchange. As of December 2004, the total market capitalization of the São Paulo Stock Exchange was $330.347 billion, up from $234.560 billion in 2003. In 2004 the IBOVESPA Index rose 17.8% from the previous year, ending at 26,196.3.


Brazil has a low rate of insurance compared to developed countries. 2.3% of its GDP in 2001 was insurance compared to an average of 7% in most developed countries. The operations of insurance companies in Brazil are supervised by the Superintendency of Private Insurance (SUSEPO), the National Private Insurance Council (CNSP), and the Institute of Reinsurance of Brazil (IRB), a company which is 50% owned by the government and 50% by the insurance companies operating in Brazil. The IRB was privatized in the second half of 2000. Motor-vehicle third-party liability, workers' compensation, fire, cargo/truck, and inland marine insurance are compulsory.

With the lifting of restrictions on foreign insurance companies operating in Brazil, several companies made major investments in the market during 1997 and 1998. The United States is the top investor, with 40% of the market. Nearly half of the insurance policies are sold in the city of São Paulo.

The Brazilian insurance market is characterized by two large groups of insurance companies. The top five groups occupied approximately 50% of the insurance market, including Sul America, Bradesco, Itau Porto Seguro, and American International Group (AIG-Unibanco). The balance of the market is shared among approximately 80 additional groups. As of 2003, direct premiums written totaled $14.565 billion, with nonlife premiums accounting for the largest portion at $8.259 billion. Bradesco and Bradesco Vida were Brazil's top nonlife and life insurers with gross nonlife (including healthcare) and gross life premiums written in 2003 of $663.2 million and 1,953.6 million, respectively.


The Brazilian fiscal year coincides with the calendar year. The budget, prepared under the supervision of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Coordination, represents the government's plans for financing administrative operations and capital expenditures. Budgetary deficits increased considerably in the 1960s. The government's objectiveto hold total expenditures fairly constant while raising the share of capital outlayswas achieved by an austerity policy. Although the federal budget deficit was reduced in real terms during the late 1960s, fiscal problems continued to be a major source of inflationary pressure, with revenues hovering between 14.5% and 16.5% of GNP and total government expenditures in the range of 17.519%. Government revenue increased considerably, and each year the real deficit was reduced below the previous year's level both absolutely and relatively. Public spending was stepped up, particularly transfer payments; transfers of capital to decentralized agencies increased, although direct investment by the central government fell off. Thus, more capital was invested in basic infrastructural projects. Increases in both revenues and expenditures were rapid during the 1970s, but the pattern of decreasing deficits continued. The budgets for 1973 and 1974 actually showed a surplus, although the realized surplus in 1974 fell far short of the budgeted surplus. There was a budget deficit

Revenue and Grants221,604100.0%
   Tax revenue111,08650.1%
   Social contributions77,49235.0%
   Other revenue38,61417.4%
   General public services69,69228.4%
   Public order and safety7,8223.2%
   Economic affairs11,8574.8%
   Environmental protection
   Housing and community amenities1,5610.6%
   Recreational, culture, and religion1660.1%
   Social protection115,79147.3%
() data not available or not significant.

in 1975, but surpluses were recorded annually during 197680. One of the principal causes of Brazil's financial instability in the 1980s was the rate at which public spending exceeded revenues. Following another stabilization program in 1990, a budget surplus of 1.4% of GDP was recorded, but deteriorated to a deficit of 1.7% of GDP by 1992. During the 1990s, the budget remained in deficit by about 4.0% of GDP, but in 1999, the budget recorded a deficit equal to 9.5% of GDP due to the devaluation of the real. This figure had declined to about 4.2% by 2002. Public spending accounts for about one-third of GDP in Brazil.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2004 Brazil's central government took in revenues of approximately $140.6 billion and had expenditures of $172.4 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$31.8 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 50.2% of GDP. Total external debt was $211.4 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 1998, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues in millions of reais were 221,604 and expenditures were 245,032. The value of revenues in millions of US dollars was $190,873 and expenditures $211,619, based on a principal exchange rate for 1998 of 1.161 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 28.4%; defense, 3.5%; public order and safety, 3.2%; economic affairs, 4.8%; housing and community amenities, 0.6%; health, 6.2%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.1%; education, 6.1%; and social protection, 47.3%.


Brazil's tax structure has been modified repeatedly in recent years, and traditional tax evasion has come under strong attack. A series of income tax reforms, during the 1960s and 1970s closed many loopholes and expanded the roster of taxpayers, mainly through wider use of withholding taxes.

The basic income tax rate on corporations and other legal entities in 2005 was 15%, with an added 10% surtax if profits exceed a certain limit. In addition, there is a 9% social contribution tax. Firms may effectively reduce income tax liability by investing part of the tax due in government-approved incentive projects or by purchasing quotas in funds that invest in such projects. Resident companies are taxed on their worldwide income.

Brazil has a progressive personal income tax that rises to 27.5%. Numerous exclusions from ordinary taxable income include profits on sales of shares, profits from certain real estate sales, and interest on stocks and bonds up to certain limits.

A value-added tax is payable on sales and transfers of goods at varying rates in accordance with the nature of the production (generally 1015%). All corporations are subject to a social contribution tax at rates ranging from 8% for corporations to 18% for financial institutions. Other taxes include a financial operations levy; taxes on the production and distribution of minerals, fuels, and electric power; a real estate transfer tax; and municipal service and urban real estate taxes. There is a social security tax of 2%, and from 1020% of employee payroll.


Since the late 1980s, the government has reduced import duties incrementally to encourage trade. Tariffs are based on the MERCOSUR common external tariff, known in Brazil as the TEC. The average applied tariff rate was 13.7% in 2000, down from 32% in 1990. There is an industrial products tax (IPI) that usually ranges from 015%, but goes up to 365% on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. There is also an ICMS (merchandise and service circulation) tax on goods moved through Brazil, at 18% in São Paulo, and 12% in other Brazilian states. There is also a Social Security product tax that varies by product but is generally around 10%. All imports and exports are controlled by SECEX, the Foreign Trade Secretariat, with the help of the SISCOMEX computer system.

Certain sectors, including petroleum products and weapons, require departmental or ministerial approval for imports. Importers must pay state and federal value-added taxes at ports, but these may be recovered for goods to be manufactured or sold in Brazil. There are eight free trade zones, including the oldest one in Manaus, and others in Macapa/Santana, Tabatinga, Guajaramirim, Bonfim, Paracaima, Brasileia, and Epitaciolandia. These zones and some energy development projects are exempted from import duties, as long as they export at least 90% of production.

Brazil and its MERCOSUR partners implemented a common external tariff in 1995, which increased by 3% in 1997 to 23%, to cover all tariff items by 2006. However, the 3% increase is being phased out.


Brazilian law gives the same protection and guarantees to foreign capital investments that it gives to investments made by Brazilian nationals. Special incentives are offered for investments in mining, fishing, tourism, shipbuilding, and reforestation and for projects undertaken in the northeast and Amazon regions. Brazil's Foreign Capital and Profit Remittance Law of 1962, as amended, regulates the registration of foreign capital and of reinvestment, profit remittance, interest, royalties, and payments for technical assistance, as well as repatriation of foreign capital. There is no limitation on the repatriation of capital; reinvestment of profits is considered an increase of the original capital for the purposes of the law. Prohibitions on remittances for royalty and technical service payments between related parties were removed under the 1992 tax code. The base tax rate on profits and royalty remittances was reduced from 25% to 15%.

In 1995, Brazil amended its constitution to eliminate the distinction between foreign and national capital. Foreign investors have been allowed to trade on the Brazilian stock market since 1991. The petroleum, telecommunications, mining, power generation, and internal transportation sectors were opened up to foreign investment in 1995.

The growth in the attractiveness of Brazil as a recipient of foreign investment is directly attributed to the economic liberalization implemented under finance minister, and later president, Fernando Enrique Cardoso in 1994. He instituted a new currency, reined in the hyperinflation that had plagued the country for decades, and opened up previously closed industries to private ownership. However, although Brazil embarked on the world's largest privatization drive in 1991, by 2002 privatization had virtually stopped. With the exception of the power-generation sector, most of the largest state enterprises have been sold, and thus privatization has died down.

The Cardoso Administration's liberalization provisions saw foreign portfolio investment go from $760 million the year it was enacted to $30 billion in 1997. Foreign direct investment rose from $19 billion in 1997 to $28.9 billion in 1998 and $28.5 billion in 1999, and then to a record $32.8 billion in 2000. Brazil's surplus on its capital account was over $19 billion in 2000, but not quite enough to prevent a balance of payments deficit of $2.3 billion because of a $10.4 billion debt servicing payment on official development assistance (ODA). A plunge in FDI to $22.5 billion in 2001, in the context of the global economic slowdown and worldwide decline in foreign investment after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, presented the Brazilian government with serious difficulties in making its debt servicing obligations. The gap would have to be filled through a combination of IMF loans, foreign borrowing, and sales in shares of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Investment comes mainly from the United States and EU countries. Investment from the Cayman Islands is thought to represent mainly repatriation of Brazilian capital through FDI, but it is also increasingly a conduit for US-based companies. Investment from Spain and Portugal increased in 1998 due to investment in the telecommunications and banking sectors. The stock of FDI in Brazil was $130.7 billion as of December 1998, of which the US share was 30% ($39 billion); Spain, 8.4% ($10.9 billion); and Germany, 8.1% ($10.5 billion). Four US companiesGM, Ford, Texaco, and Exxonwere among Brazil's top ten domestic enterprises. Four of its top ten exporting firms were foreign, all car manufacturersFiat, Ford, GM, and Volkswagenwhile five of its top ten importers were foreign companiesFiat, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, and Ericsson Telecommunications.

Since 2001, the trade balance has improved significantly, helping to produce current-account surpluses in 2003 and 2004. This trend enabled Brazil to weather a steep continuing decline in FDI inflows from $22.5 billion in 2001 to $16.6 billion in 2002 and just $10.1 billion in 2003. FDI inflows in 2004 increased to approximately $17 billion. Brazil had undertaken a significant reduction in trade barriers in the early 2000s. In 2004, Brazil's average Normal Trade Relations (NTR) tariff was 10.8%, down from 32% in 1990. However, Brazil has a poorly-structured revenue system marked by heavy tax burdens. The corporate and indirect taxation systems are particularly complex, porous, and unwieldy, but they do not discriminate between foreign and domestic firms.


Economic policy since the late 1960s has had three prime objectives: control of inflation, gradual improvement of the welfare of the poorest sector, and a high economic growth rate. Generally, under the stewardship of finance ministers Roberto de Oliveira Campos and, later, Antonio Delfim Netto (who became minister of planning in 1979), Brazilian policy sought to prevent inflation from eroding economic growth by a process of monetary correctionthat is, by the legal revaluation of fixed assets, such as real estate, debits in arrears, and the face value of bonds, to reflect inflation. This technique, which requires extensive government control over the economy, was intended to prevent inflation from distorting the relative values of various types of holdings. It was also disastrously inflationary.

The central stress of the 197579 development plan was on economic growth. Economic infrastructure (energy, transportation, and communications) received top priority, with a 25% share of the total investment. A special development plan, known as Palomazonia (the Program for Agriculture, Cattle Raising, and Agrominerals for the Amazon), concentrated on expansion of agriculture, forestry, mineral exploitation, and hydroelectric power in the region. The third national plan (198085) placed the greatest emphasis on agricultural development, energy, and social policies. Its main aim was improvement of the public welfare through continued economic growth and more equitable income distribution.

The First National Plan of the New Republic (198689), sought to maintain high levels of economic growth, introduce a wide range of basic institutional and fiscal reform in the public sector, and reduce poverty significantly. When inflation continued to mount, however, the Cruzado Plan was introduced; it froze wages and prices for a year, and introduced a new unit of currency, the cruzado. While inflation did drop dramatically, the ensuing consumer spending boom, caused by the desire to take advantage of the price freeze, rekindled inflation. By 1987, Brazil had reverted to orthodox austerity and monetary correction in an attempt to bring the economy under control.

In 1994, finance minister (and later president) Fernando Enrique Cardoso implemented the Real Plan, an economic liberalization named for the newly launched currency, the real. The plan called for the abolition of state control of wages and all indexing to inflation, lowering of tariffs and barriers to international investment, and a massive selloff of state-owned enterprises in nearly every sector. The plan was almost immediately successful, and attracted huge amounts of international investment while raising the living standards of million of Brazilians. Unfortunately, the 19971998 international financial crisis caused the Central Bank to let the real float, devaluating the currency by 45%. Instead of immediately falling into a recession, the economy reported modest gains in 1999 and 2000. In 2001, however, economic growth slowed, in part due to the raising of interest rates by the Central Bank to counteract inflationary pressures (Brazil's real interest rates remain among the highest in the world). Brazil was also adversely affected by a domestic energy crisis and the 2001 economic crisis in Argentina, and the real depreciated almost 20% that year. Brazil has been the recipient of successive Stand-By Arrangements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The controversial election of the left-wing Workers' Party candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as president in October 2002 brought jitters to international financial markets, but as of 2006, investors had been impressed with the president's tight fiscal and monetary policies.

Brazil is on the path toward a new development strategy, that of export substitution, which, it is hoped, will allow local government to address Brazil's severe problem of unequal income distribution. As of 2006, the government was committed to structural reforms and tight fiscal management to increase economic efficiency and reduce the fiscal debt. It was running a primary fiscal surplus (excluding interest payments) of more than 4% of GDP in 2005; however, government debt remains high, at 51% of GDP in 2004. Brazil uses inflation-targeting as a framework for monetary policy in the context of a floating exchange rate. Progress on reforms in 2006 was slowed by the government's need to negotiate support in a fragmented Congress.

Since the early 1960s, the government has offered special incentives to agricultural and industrial enterprises that further the development of the northeastern and northern regions of the country. The development of these areas is under the supervision of the Development Superintendency of the Northeast, whose activities cover the states of Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Río Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Bahia, the zone of Minas Gerais located within the Drought Polygon, and the territory of Fernando de Noronha. The Superintendency for the Development of Amazonia, the Superintendency for the Development of the West-Central Region, and the Superintendency for the Development of the Southern Region are the other regional development agencies.


The Organic Social Security Law of Brazil, passed during the Vargas reform years of the 1930s, covered only some four million urban workers by the 1960s, including metallurgical, textile, and other industrial workers and commercial, bank, and store clerks. In 1976, social security laws were consolidated, and in the following year, the National System of Social Security and Welfare was established. Benefits include modest insurance against accidents; old age, invalids', and survivors' pensions; funeral insurance; and medical, dental, and hospital coverage. The system is financed by contributions from the employer, the worker, and the government. In urban areas the retirement age is 65 for men and 60 for women. Assistance programs and unemployment insurance is funded solely by the government. Sickness and maternity benefits are available to almost all workers. A family allowance is provided for low-income workers with one or more children.

Perhaps the most significant social challenge facing Brazil is caring for the millions of children who lack sufficient education, housing, health care, and nutrition. It has been estimated that over one-third of all children live in poverty. Thousands of children live and work on the streets in deplorable conditions; some are homeless, but a greater number have homes they return to at night. Many street children abuse drugs and they are often forced to resort to crime and prostitution to make a living. As a result, many shopkeepers have taken action against street children, and there is a widespread tendency to regard the problem as a security concern rather than a human rights issue.

Sexual and domestic violence is common and often goes unreported. According to a 2004 survey, 23% of women were subjected to domestic violence. The government has implemented women's stations to address crimes against women, with counseling, shelter, hospital treatment, and information on criminal redress. Although a criminal offense, sexual harassment in the workplace remains a problem.

Racial discrimination is pervasive in Brazil. Most Afro-Brazilians work in low paid jobs and live in poor housing. They have fewer opportunities for higher education and professional employment. Indigenous tribes of the Amazon are increasingly being threatened by mining, logging, and ranching, which encroach on their lands.

Serious human rights abuses by the police have been reported, including the beating, torture, and killing of detainees.


A health and welfare program, Prevsaúde, introduced by the government in 1981, was intended to double health services by 1987. In 1993, however, Brazil's national health care system came to an end, chiefly due to extensive fraudulent activity by hospitals, physicians, and state and municipal health secretariats. The new Brazilian Minister of Health planned to implement a new system and supported legislation to increase funds for the public health sector. As of 1998, public health services, complemented by private services, covered 75% of the population. The Ministry of Health has made efforts to encourage the federal district and 26 states to participate in some quality of care projects. Initiatives include certification by the International Standards organizations, consulting services, total quality management, patient satisfaction, and development of new technologies to increase efficiency. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 6.5% of GDP.

Health and sanitary conditions vary widely from region to region. The large cities have competent physicians, generally with advanced training abroad, but there is a dearth of doctors, hospitals, and nurses in most towns in the interior. In 2004, there were approximately 237,000 physicians, 145,000 dentists, and 77,000 nurses in Brazil. As of that year, there were an estimated 1.3 physicians and 3.1 hospital beds per 1,000 people.

In 2000, 87% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 77% had adequate sanitation. As part of a pilot program, Brazil is fortifying sugar with vitamin A and is currently investigating the feasibility of fortifying foods with vitamin A or iron. As of 1999, children one year old and under were immunized as follows: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 90%; and measles, 99%. Cholera affected many Brazilians. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.70 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 660,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 15,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

The infant mortality rate is high, but it has declined over the last 20 years. In 2005, the infant mortality was 29.61 per 1,000 live births. Many Brazilian women die during childbirth. In 1998, 160 maternal deaths occurred for every 100,000 live births. An estimated 77% of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 years used contraception. The average life expectancy in 2005 was 72 years.


Despite major urban developments, both the housing supply and living conditions in Brazil remain inadequate. Large, sprawling slums are endemic in the large cities, while most rural dwellers live without amenities such as piped water and electricity. In 2000, there were 44,776,740 residences. Roughly 75% of all dwellings were owner occupied. Roughly half of the housing stock was considered to be in semi-adequate condition. Only about 44% of all housing was considered to be adequate. At last estimate, more than 80% of all housing units were detached houses of brick, stone, wood or concrete; less than 10% were apartments; less than 10% were rural dwellings of wood or clay; and less than 5% were semiprivate units called quartes. In 2000, the housing deficit was estimated at 6.6 million houses.

In 1964, the federal government enacted the National Housing Act and suspended rent controls, with the stipulation that rents could be brought in line with private market levels. The law provided for the establishment of the National Housing Bank (Banco Nacional de Habitação, or BNH), whose main purposes are to stimulate savings to finance home construction through lending institutions, to coordinate the activities of both the public and private sectors, and to introduce financial incentives. The BNH can raise funds through bond issues and may also receive deposits from governmental agencies, public cooperatives, and mixed companies.


Education in colonial times was carried on first by the Jesuits and then by a few royal schools. Brazil's public school system, always weak, was under the Ministry of Justice and Interior until 1930, when the Ministry of Education and Health was created by Vargas. Responsibility for public education, as defined by the 1946 constitution and the 1961 directives and standards for national education, is divided between the federal, state, and municipal governments. Public elementary and secondary instruction is almost exclusively a function of the municipalities and states, while higher education is the responsibility of the federal Ministry of Education. Public education is free at all levels and nonprofit private schools also receive public funding. The federal government has been active, however, on all three levels through the Federal Council of Education, established in 1961 to coordinate the implementation of the 1961 directives and to advise the Ministry of Education.

The 1961 directives required the federal government to contribute at least 12% of its tax revenues to education, and state and municipal governments were required to contribute a minimum of 20% of their tax revenues for this purpose. The first National Plan of Education, formulated in 1962, called for the extension of compulsory elementary education to five and, eventually, six years, and by 1980 eight years of schooling was required. The 1988 Brazilian constitution allocates 25% of state and local tax revenues to education. As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.2% of GDP, or 12% of total government expenditures.

Primary courses last for eight years. The general secondary lasts for three years; however, students may choose to participate in technical or vocational programs at the secondary level, with programs lasting from three to five years. In 2001, about 67% of all eligible children had been enrolled in some types of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 97% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 75% of age-eligible students. Most students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 24:1 in 2003. The ratio for secondary school was about 19:1.

There are more than 90 universities, including the Federal University of Río de Janeiro (founded 1920) and the universities of Minas Gerais (1927), São Paulo (1934), Río Grande do Sul (1934), Bahia (1946), Recife (1946), Paraná (1946), and Brasília (1961). The federal government maintains at least one federal university in each state. Entrance to a college or university is through an examination called the "vestibular"; students may either earn a "bacharel" degree or, with an additional year spent in teacher training, obtain a "licenciado" degree. There are at least 902 institutions at the postsecondary level. In 2003, about 21% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program.

Adult education campaigns have functioned sporadically since 1933, backed by the federal government with some assistance from social, fraternal, Catholic, Protestant, professional, and commercial organizations. Although millions of Brazilians have received literacy training, the adult literacy rate for 2004 were estimated at 88.4%, with a fairly even rate for men and women.


Of Brazil's many hundreds of public libraries, the largest municipal library system is that of São Paulo, with over one million volumes. The National Library in Río de Janeiro (founded in 1810) houses 1.4 million bound volumes, more than eight million documents, and many rare manuscripts. Included in the collection are 60,000 volumes brought to Brazil by the Royal Family of Portugal in 1808. Various government ministries maintain separate libraries in Brasília. The largest academic library is the São Paulo University Integrated Library System with three million volumes in 39 libraries, while the Federal University in Río de Janeiro houses one million volumes. The Brazilian Federation of Librarians Associations, Information Scientists and Institutions (FEBAB) was established in 1959.

Brazil has nearly 200 museums. The National Museum (founded in 1818), one of the most important scientific establishments in South America, is especially known for its Brazilian ethnographic collections. Other important museums in Río de Janeiro include the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Modern Art, the Historical Museum, the Museum of Mineralogy, the Museum of the Bank of Brazil, the Getúlio Vargas Gallery, and the Indian Museum. The most important museums in São Paulo are the Paulista Museum and the São Paulo Museum of Art. Also in São Paulo is the Museum of Japanese Immigration, detailing Japan's impact on the country. The Goeldi Museum in Belém is famous for exhibits covering every aspect of Amazonian life and history and there is a well-known museum of religious art in Vitória.


The principal telegraph network is operated by the Brazilian Postal and Telegraph Administration, in which the government holds part ownership. National trunk routes and international connections are also operated directly by another mixed corporation, the Brazilian Telecommunications Corp. (EMBRATEL), which inaugurated an earth satellite station in 1969 linking the Brazilian network with member countries of INTELSAT. EMBRATEL has rapidly modernized and extended the domestic telecommunications system with the introduction of microwave networks, including long-distance direct dialing, throughout much of the country. In the Amazon region, the company relies on a tropodiffusion system because of the area's large empty spaces. In 2003, there were an estimated 223 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 200,000 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 264 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Brazil has one of the largest television broadcasting systems in the world. As of 1999, Brazil had 1,365 AM and 296 FM radio stations. There were also 138 television stations. The primary news agencies are Agencia Brasil (state-owned), Agencia Estado (private, in São Paulo), and Agencia Globo (private). In 2003, there were an estimated 433 radios and 369 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 13.4 of every 1,000 were cable subscribers. The same year, there were 74.8 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 82 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 2,001 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

There are over 100 daily newspapers published in Brazil. The leading dailies in Río de Janeiro, with their political affiliation and 2002 circulation, include Globo (conservative), 350,000; Jornal o Dia (labor), 250,000; and Jornal do Brasil (conservative), 196,000 (in 2004). The sports daily, Jornal dos Sports, had a circulation of 150,000 in 2004. In São Paulo, the leading dailies (with 2004 circulation figures) included Folha de São Paulo (independent) 1.2 million (up from 640,407 in 2002); Estado de São Paulo (conservative) 491,070 (in 2002); Gazeta Mercantil, 106,000; and Noticias Populaires, 100,000. In Belo Horizonte, the independent Estado de Minas had a circulation of 170,000 in 2004, up from 65,000 in 2002. Porto Alegre's Zero Hora had a circulation of 270,000 in 2004, down from 528,000 in 2002. In Recife, the independent Diário de Pernambuco had a 2004 circulation of 90,000, up from 31,000 in 2002.

The largest Brazilian-owned magazine, which competes with the Portuguese-language edition of the Reader's Digest, called Selecões, is the popular illustrated Manchete of Río de Janeiro (1995 circulation 100,000).

Freedom of the press is guaranteed under the constitution of 1967 and no license is required for the publication of books, newspapers, and periodicals. However, under the newspaper code of 19 September 1972, newspapers were forbidden to publish "speculative" articles on politics or unfavorable reports on the economy. The interests of Brazilian journalists are defended by the InterAmerican Press Association and the influential Brazilian Press Association.


Owners of large farms and plantations, particularly coffee plantation owners, usually belong to one or more agricultural associations. The largest of the national agricultural organizations is the National Confederation of Agriculture, but, in general, local member groups of the federation, such as the Paraná Coffee Producers' Association, the Association of Coffee Farmers, and the Brazilian Rural Society, are more powerful than the national organization. Agricultural societies are organized for the primary purpose of promoting favorable legislation toward agriculture in the Congress, and they have become important political units over the years. Other agricultural groups include cattlemen's associations, dairymen's associations, and rice growers' and grain producers' organizations, usually organized on a statewide basis. Professional organizations exist for a wide variety of trades, professions, and interests. These are strongest in São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Goiás, and Río Grande do Sul. Chambers of commerce function in every state.

The Brazilian Academy of Letters, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, and the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science are among the many cultural and scholarly organizations. The Associacao Medica Braseleira serves as a physicians network as well as a national forum for the promotion of high standards in healthcare and medical research. There are also several organizations involved in specialized medical research for a wide variety of conditions and diseases.

Most international service, social, and fraternal organizations are represented in Brazil. The Rotary International is well organized in the industrial cities of the south and there are Lions clubs and societies of Freemasons. The Catholic Church and the growing number of Protestants maintain various organizations. Catholic Action and the Catholic hierarchy have actively addressed themselves to combating misery and disease, especially in the big-city slums and in the northeast.

Youth organizations include the Boy Scouts of Brazil and the Federation of Girl Guides of Brazil, which are active nationwide. There is a Junior Chamber organization and active chapters of YWCA. There are numerous sports associations, including many that are affiliated with international organizations.

Brazil has chapters of the Red Cross, ActionAid, Habitat for Humanity, HOPE, World Vision, Defense for Children, Amnesty International, and Greenpeace.


Río de Janeiro is one of the leading tourist meccas in South America. Notable sights include Sugar Loaf Mountain, with its cable car; the Corcovado, with its statue of Christ the Redeemer; Copacabana Beach, with its mosaic sidewalks; and the Botanical Gardens. Large numbers of visitors are also drawn to the churches of Bahia; the historic city of Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais; and the colorful Amazon Valley cities of Belém and Manaus. Brazil is also famous for its vibrant celebrations of Carnival, especially in Río de Janeiro; neighborhood samba groups rehearse all year for this occasion. Brazil's African heritage can best be savored at the Carnival in Salvador. Ecotourism attracts growing numbers of visitors to the world's largest rain forest in the North, the Iguacu Falls in the South, and the Mato Grosso wetlands in the Central West region. Football (soccer) is by far the most popular sport. Brazil hosted the World Cup competition in 1950, and Brazilian teams won the championship in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002. The Maracanã soccer stadium in Río de Janeiro seats more than 180,000 spectators. Other favorite recreations include water sports, basketball, tennis, and boxing.

A valid passport and visa are required of all tourists to enter Brazil. All visitors must secure a visa in advance. Yellow fever vaccination certificates are required if a visitor is from an infected area. Malaria prevention is also recommended.

In 2003, a total of 4,090,590 tourists visited Brazil. As of that year, tourism receipts totaled $2.6 billion. There were 212,580 hotel rooms in 2000, with 425,160 beds.

In 2003, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Río de Janeiro at $213. Costs in other cities were lower, with Belo Horizonte at $96, Belém at $173, and Campo Grande at $105.


Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, also known as Tiradentes (d.1792), led an unsuccessful uprising in 1789 against Portuguese colonial rule. The patriarch of Brazilian independence was José Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva (17631838), a geologist, writer, and statesman. Pedro I (Antonio Pedro de Alcántara Bourbon, 17981834), of the Portuguese royal house of Bragança, declared Brazil independent and had himself crowned emperor in 1822; he became King Pedro IV of Portugal in 1826 but gave up the throne to his daughter, Maria da Gloria. His Brazilian-born son, Pedro II (Pedro de Alcántara, 182591), emperor from 1840 to 1889, consolidated national unity and won respect as a diplomat, statesman, and patron of the arts and sciences. Other famous Brazilians during the imperial period include the Brazilian national hero, Luís Alves de Lima e Silva, Duque de Caxias (180380), a patron of the Brazilian army; and Joaquim Marques Lisboa, Marques de Tamandaré (180797), a naval hero, soldier, and statesman. In the field of international politics, Joaquim Nabuco (18491910) won distinction as a diplomat, journalist, and champion of the abolition of slavery; José Maria de Silva Paranhos, Barão de Río Branco (18471912), was a famous minister of foreign affairs, who represented Brazil at many international conferences; and Ruy Barbosa (18491923) was a lawyer, diplomat, statesman, and jurist. A leader of industrial and economic development was Irineu Evangelista de Souza, Barão de Mauá (181389). Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont (18731932) is called the father of flight for his invention of a gasoline-powered airship in 1901. Oswaldo Cruz (18721917) founded the Brazilian Public Health Service and helped eradicate yellow fever in Río de Janeiro. Marshal Cândido Rondon (18651957), an explorer of Amazonia, organized the Brazilian Indian Bureau. Dr. Vital Brasil (18651950) developed São Paulo's snakebite serum institute at Butantã.

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (18391908), author of Memórias Póstumas de Braz Cubas and other novels and poems, is generally considered the greatest Brazilian literary figure. The poet Euclides da Cunha (18661909) wrote Os Sertões (1902), one of the foremost works by a Brazilian. Other literary figures include Antônio Gonçalves Dias (182464), a romantic poet who idealized the Brazilian Indian; Castro Alves (184771), who influenced the abolition of slavery; and contemporary writers such as Gilberto de Mello Freyre (19001987), José Lins do Rego (19001959), Erico Verissimo (19051975), and Jorge Amado (19122001).

Aleijadinho (Antônio Francisco Lisboa, 17391814) was an 18th-century church architect and carver of soapstone religious statues in Minas Gerais. Contemporary artists include the painter Emiliano di Cavalcanti (18971976); the painter and muralist Cândido Portinari (190362), considered the greatest artist Brazil has produced; and the sculptor Bruno Giorgio (b.1905). Lúcio Costa (b.France, 190285), regarded as the founder of modern Brazilian architecture, designed the new capital city of Brasília, and Oscar Niemeyer (b.1907) designed most of the government buildings. Robert Burle Marx (190994) originated an unusual form of landscaping to complement modern architectural form. Another Brazilian architect of note, Alfonso Eduardo Reidy (b.France, 190964), designed the Museum of Modern Art in Río de Janeiro.

The greatest figure in Brazilian music is the composer and educator Heitor Villa-Lobos (18871959), who wrote prolifically in many styles and forms. Other musicians include the composers Carlos Gomes (183696), Oscar Lorenzo Fernandez (18971948), Francisco Mignone (18971987), and Camargo Guarnieri (19071993); the concert pianist Guiomar Novaës Pinto (18951979); the operatic soprano Bidu Sayao (Balduina de Oliveira Sayao, 190299); and the folklorist and soprano Elsie Houston (19001943). One of the best-known Brazilians is soccer star Edson Arantes do Nascimento (b.1940), better known as Pelé.

Other noted figures are Getúlio Vargas (18831954), president-dictator in the period 193045, who increased the power of the central government; Francisco de Assis Chateaubriand Bandeira de Melo (18911966), a publisher, diplomat, and art collector; Oswaldo Aranha (18941960), president of the UN General Assembly during 194749; and Marcelino Candau (191183), director-general of WHO during 195373. Gen. Ernesto Geisel (190796) and his presidential successor, Gen. João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo (191899), guided Brazil through a period of political liberalization. Luis Inácio Lula da Silva (b.1945) was elected president in 2002, the first socialist president to be elected since 1964.


Brazil has no colonies, but three national territories are contiguous with or incorporated within the national domain. The constitution provides for the creation of a territory from part of an established state, the incorporation of a territory into an established state, or the organization of a territory into a new state if that territory can demonstrate its ability to meet the requirements of statehood.

The territories of Amapá, on the French Guiana border, and Roraima (formerly Río Branco), on the Venezuelan border, became states on 5 October 1988. The Fernando de Noronha island, off the northeastern coast, was annexed to the state of Pernambuco in 1988. Territorial governors are appointed by the president of the republic, and each territory has one representation in the federal Chamber of Deputies. Territories have no representation in the federal Senate. Trindade, Atol das Rocas, Penedos de São Pedro e São Paulo, and the Ilhas Martin Vaz, small islands in the Atlantic, also belong to Brazil.


Calvert, Peter. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Latin America. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2004.

Garretón, Manuel Antonio, and Edward Newman, (eds.). Democracy in Latin America: (Re)constructing Political Society. New York: United Nations University Press, 2001.

Health in the Americas, 2002 edition. Washington, DC: Pan American Health Organization, Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Regional Office of the World Health Organization, 2002.

Herndon, William Lewis. Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon, 18511852. New York: Grove Press, 2000.

Inequality and Economic Development in Brazil. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2004.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Meade, Teresa A. A Brief History of Brazil. New York: Facts On File, 2003.

Smith, Joseph. History of Brazil, 15002000: Politics, Economy, Society, Diplomacy. New York: Longman, 2002.

Vincent, Jon S. Culture and Customs of Brazil. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003.

Williams, Daryle. Culture Wars in Brazil: The First Vargas Regime, 19301945. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2001.


views updated May 29 2018


Federative Republic of Brazil

Major Cities:
Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Recife, Pôrto Alegre, Salvador da Bahia, Belo Horizonte, Belém, Manaus, Fortaleza, Curitiba, Goiânia

Other Cities:
Anápolis, Aracaju, Campina Grande, Campinas, Campo Grande, Caxias do Sul, Corumbá, Florianópolis, João Pessoa, Juiz de Fora, Maceió, Natal, Olinda, Ouro Prêto, Ribeirão Prêto, Santos


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 1999 for Brazil. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


The Federative Republic of BRAZIL , occupying almost half of continental South America, is the fifth largest country in the world. With a 1996 population of roughly 160 million people, it sprawls across 3.3 million square miles of forest and plain, and shares boundaries with every South American state except Chile and Ecuador. In spite of profound economic problems, Brazil is an intriguing country. Its daring venture, nearly three decades ago, of carving a new capital city out of almost inaccessible territory, captured the interest of the world. Its bustling cities offer a broad contrast to the beauty of the countryside, and the widespread intermixtures among Caucasians, Negroes, and native Indians have resulted in a land of varied cultures and fascinating people.



The city of Brasilia, one of the wonders of the modern world. Modern buildings, is a futuristic city design and road system, rolling landscape, and a lake are features of the city. Brasíia, 600 air miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro in the central plateau of Brazil, is similar in topography and vegetation to western Texas. The Federal District, home of Brasíia and its satellite cities, lies within the State of Goids and comprises some 2,200 square miles. The District lies at the junction of the headwaters of three major Brazilian river systems, with an elevation of about 3,700 feet.

Brasíia is growing steadily but retains many U.S. small-town characteristics, such as an emphasis on family life. People are friendly and lifestyles tend to be informal. Construction of Brasíia began in 1957. In 1960, the city formally became the capital of Brazil. Over the next decade, the President, Congress, Federal Supreme Court, Foreign Ministry, and most other government agencies moved to Brasíia from the former capital, Rio de Janeiro. All official acts are signed in Brasíia, and all embassies are here.

Brasíia's demographics and economy make it a unique city. Brasíia's standard of living (the highest in Brazil) is stable due to regular employment in the government. Indeed, most of the population depends either directly or indirectly on government employment. Locals consider Brasíia as being on the Plano Piloto, while other cities in the Federal District are satellite cities. Satellite cities, originally created to house construction workers early in Brasíia's history and intended to disappear after construction was completed, have remained to be Brasíia's suburbs. Although construction workers originally populated them, skilled and semi-skilled workers and government bureaucrats now mostly populate satellite cities.

The city's population comes from all parts of Brazil and is heterogeneous. The native population is small. The appearance, thinking, and idiosyncrasies common to each area within Brazil are present in Brasíia. People consider themselves state citizens and form close associations with state groups.

Brazilians rely heavily on the family unit, spend their free time together, and depend on one another for assistance. The big Sunday family dinner is far more common here than in the U.S. Although some Brasilienses speak English, Portuguese is important for dealing with any stratum of Brazilian society. Limited recreational facilities and cultural activities, close living, and isolation can be problems, unless you develop hobbies or other leisure-time activities. Most who have served here have found life in Brasíia pleasant.

Outside the official U.S. Embassy community, most Americans living in Brasíia are missionaries, farmers who only work part of the year within the Federal District, and teachers employed by the American School.

Brasíia's moderate temperatures make the climate pleasant. Winter temperatures drop as low as 55°F at night and reach about 80°F during the day. Summer temperatures average from 65°F to 85°F. Average relative humidity varies from 50% to 70% during the summer's rainy season. Rainfall averages 60 inches annually, falling mostly between October and April. During this period, mildew is sometimes a problem. During the rainy season, flash storms bring several inches of rain in a short time. It rains in the morning or afternoon, followed by clear skies. Brasíia has spectacular sunrises; the sunsets are equally breathtaking.

The dry season, from April to September, has little or no rainfall, with humidity as low as 10%. Days are warm, but nights are cool.

Although pests do not plague Brasíia, ants, roaches, mosquitoes, flies, lizards and spiders are sometimes plentiful. Snakes are not generally found in populated areas.


Brasíia has several well-stocked, large supermarkets. Vegetables and fruits are in good supply. They can also be purchased in small shops, Japanese markets, or from large, open, suburban markets where fruits and vegetables are fresher, cheaper, and found in greater quantity and variety. Frozen meats and prepared foods are available.

Almost all American-type fresh fruits and vegetables are available. Tropical fruits such as papaya, pineapple, mango, tamarind, passion fruit, sweetsop, Chinese gooseberry, and even more exotic fruits are available seasonally. Other fruits such as strawberries, apples, grapes, pears, peaches and nectarines are imported. Standard U.S. beef cuts are not widely available, but Brazilian cuts are acceptable. Beef filet, chicken, and fresh pork are excellent. Lamb is also available. Fresh and frozen fish are abundant, but shellfish is expensive. Local fresh, pasteurized, powdered, and long-life milk are available. Dairy products, such as butter, cream, yogurt, and cheese, are available in grocery stores, cheese stores, health food stores, delicatessens, and bakeries.

Brasíia has many good restaurants. Chinese, French and Mexican cuisine is available, as well as outstanding, traditional Brazilian barbecued meat (churrasco), and other national and international dishes. The American fast-food chains McDonald's and Arby's have representation here, too.


Men: Summer and spring suits are worn year round. Bring primarily lightweight suits and one or two medium weight suits for the cool season. Generally, the quality of dry-cleaners is good, but expensive. Slacks and sports shirts (short or long sleeved) are suitable for off-duty hours. Bring a variety of clothes for a warm climate, from casual to semi-formal. Sport jackets, sweaters, light jackets, and wind breakers are comfortable during the cool season. Local clothing prices vary from city to city and U.S. sizes are not always available. Styles are more European than American.

Women: Fashion-conscious Brazilian women follow all the latest trends abroad, and have some of their own. Although entertaining is informal, elegant sports clothes are often worn. You can buy chic well-made clothing, but prices are high. Cotton suits and lightweight knit dresses can be worn during the cool and rainy seasons and evenings. Some warmer clothing is occasionally necessary. Except for the rainy period, days are often hot, so bring cotton and synthetic blends. If you are planning to travel to Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, or south of Brasíia during winter, you will need winter clothes. Generally, informality prevails in Brasíia. However, evening wear is often considered "elegant casual." Bring sweaters or lightweight jackets for occasional cooler days and nights of the rainy season and the evenings of the dry season. A raincoat may be too warm, but an umbrella is essential. Wool slacks and long-sleeved blouses or dresses for cool, rainy days and a warm robe are welcome.

Bring plenty of sportswear, including washable slacks and shorts. Local prices for underwear and beach ensembles are high. Women's and girl's swimwear is available in all sizes, but run small. Brazilian swimwear, even one-piece suits, exposes more than U.S. styles. Sun hats are advisable.

Bring shoes or leave shoe size with a U.S. store and order as needed. All types of shoes, sandals, and tennis shoes are found in Brasíia, but it is difficult to find good fits, particularly for half and narrow sizes. Brazil manufactures many kinds of footwear available at a variety of prices, though for the most part the quality is inferior to shoes found in the U.S.

Children: Bring washable children's clothing, swimwear, and shoes. Include sweaters and lightweight jackets for cool nights and mornings. Blue jeans are a must for outside play. Light-colored play clothes stain easily from Brasíia's red clay. Dress at the American School is informal; both boys and girls may wear jeans. Elementary school-aged children wear shorts with short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts most of the year.

Supplies & Services

Toiletries and patent medicines of Brazilian manufacture may be bought locally. Many are U.S. brands manufactured under license and are expensive. Bring or order specialty items from the U.S. Bring all essential store items with you such as Tylenol, children's cough syrup, toothpaste, suntan lotion, contact lens solution, etc. If you have a baby or are expecting, bring all items with you. These items are imported to Brasíia and the costs are about double that in the U.S. Baby food and diapers can be ordered through the commissary or the internet Netgrocer shopping service.

Litter boxes are not available in Brasíia. Pet supply stores sell leashes, brushes, flea collars, and a few toys. Pet treats and rawhide chew sticks are available. Fleas are prevalent year round. Consult your veterinarian regarding flea repellents and flea collars. Anti-flea sprays and lotions, shampoos, etc. are roughly twice the price here than they are in the States. Program is also sold here, although it is more expensive than in the States.

Laundry and dry-cleaning services are available throughout Brasíia.

Beauty shops and barbershops do acceptable work and some are reasonably priced. Specialty services such as hair coloring/frosting and perms are generally more expensive than in the U.S. Massages, manicures, and pedicures are available at varying prices.

Domestic Help

Part-time servants usually suffice, although full-time and live-in help are desired by some. Wages vary from USD 150-200 (at an exchange rate of R$2 to USD 1) a month for live-in maids, plus the cost of various benefits guaranteed them under Brazil's Constitution.

In addition to wages, the employer of a live-in servant provides bed linens, towels, food, and, if desired, uniforms. Live in maids are sometimes scarce, as many prefer to work during the day only. Housekeeping and laundry services are fair, but you must train the maids to use modern appliances.

Day cleaning personnel currently charge USD 15-20 per day (again, with an exchange rate of R$2 to USD 1). They are generally available for 1 or 2 days a week per family, with services divided among two or three employers. The 1988 Constitution guarantees various rights to domestic workers.

Religious Activities

Brasíia has many Catholic churches. An English-language mass is conducted each Saturday at one of the churches. Several Protestant churches and a Greek Orthodox church have congregations in Brasíia. English-language worship services and religious instruction are held Sunday mornings by an interdenominational Protestant group and a Baptist church. A small Jewish cultural association welcomes members from the official and diplomatic communities. Services are conducted weekly and on all holidays at the local synagogue.


The American School of Brasíia (EAB) was founded in 1964 and offers preschool through grade 12 based on a U.S. public school curriculum. Instruction is in English, but English-speaking students are required to study Portuguese. The school has about 600 students from about 40 countries. Facilities include a soccer/softball field, a library with 10,000 volumes, a science lab, a computer classroom, a gym, and a canteen. Enrollment is close to school capacity.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of the U.S. accredits the school. The lower school is recognized by the Secretary of Education in the Federal District. The educational allowance currently covers all school expenses for grades K-12. Preschool is not covered by the educational allowance. The school year runs from early August to early June, with a one-week vacation at Carnaval and a four-week vacation during the Christmas season.

Some supervised extracurricular sports, as well as other after-school activities including band, are available, though they are quite limited, especially for the lower grades. Bring music materials, as they are expensive in Brasíia.

EAB participates in sports and some academic competitions along with other American schools in Brazil and the region, giving students the opportunity to travel and take part in these events while meeting a variety of South American and international students.

Another school that is used by some in the American community in Brasíia is the School of Nations, a B'hai school. Instruction is bilingual, one-half in English and one-half in Portuguese. The school is not accredited. The School of Nations offers instruction from pre-kindergarten through 11th grade and offers a US-based curriculum with a strong emphasis on diversity and values.

Preschool aged children may attend the Affinity Arts pre-school. There is a strong emphasis on music in the program along with other activities such as language, science, theater, swimming, cooking and playground.

Other schools in the Federal District include public, private, and parochial institutions. Instruction is given from nursery school through grade 12, but not in English. Children with a good background in Portuguese may attend these schools. Note: the Brazilian school year has summer vacation during December, January, and February, with a mid-term break in July.


Sociedade Hipica de Brasíia (Horse Riding Club): This is the most complete and centrally located horse-riding club in Brasíia. Horses are rented. Nonmembers can ride on weekends at scheduled times.

Other facilities include a social clubhouse with bar and restaurant, two swimming pools, tennis court, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and a large riding pavilion. Riding lessons are available.

The following clubs are available for membership, but memberships are extremely expensive: the Yacht Club of Brasíia (late Clube), the Club of Nations (Clube das Naçňes and the Brasíia Country Club, Cota Mil Yacht Club, and the Academia de Tenis (Tennis Academy). There are numerous commercial health clubs (called academias) whose fees are similar to health-club fees in the U.S.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Brasíia's Lake Paranoá is beautiful. However, floating debris and raw sewage make all water-related activities in the lake unsafe. Swimming in pools is a popular pastime. Bring diving masks, goggles, and flippers if desired.

Brazil's national sport is soccer. Numerous games are played in Brasíia between various amateur teams, and a small professional league. Brasíia has a team in the national league.

Hunting for birds and small game is prohibited in all states except Rio Grande do Sul. Fishing for any but the smallest kinds of fish requires a 3-to 4-hour drive to the Verde River or an 8-hour drive to the Araguaia River in Goiás State. Excellent fishing is found on the Island of Bananal, accessible only by 1-1/2 hours' flight by small plane.

Brasíia offers limited sightseeing with few museums and galleries. A well-laid out zoo houses several species of Brazilian wildlife and is continually expanding. You can view various types of vegetation and plant life can be seen at the botanical reserve.

Brasíia's TV tower is the fourth tallest in the world at 715 feet. Oscar Niemeyer, the famous architect who designed much of Brasíia, designed it. The top of the tower is 4,403 feet above sea level, and a lookout platform provides a panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside. A "hippie" fair, featuring handicrafts, clothes, shoes, and wood and leather items, is held at the foot of the tower on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. There is a lovely gem museum located on the Center level of the TV tower. At Christmas, the tower is strung with lights to resemble an enormous Christmas tree.

An outstanding landmark in Brasíia is the national flag flown on Three Powers Square. The enormous 286-square meter flag flies from a 100-meter high flagpole that consists of 22 joined staffs representing the states of Brazil. A different Brazilian state donates a new flag on the first Sunday of every third month. The new flag is raised amidst a colorful ceremony with music and traditional folk dancing.

In late June, Brasíia hosts the "Feira dos Estados," a charity state fair including state displays, local products, regional cuisine for sale, folk dancing performances, and a midway. Representatives of foreign countries also participate.

In May, one of the liveliest and most colorful festivals is the Cavalhadas in Pirenópolis about 2 hours from Brasíia. During this brilliant pageant, richly caparisoned horses and riders simulate ancient Iberian Peninsula tournaments. Both fine horsemanship and wild stunt riding by masked riders are displayed in this fascinating folk festival.

Driving outside Brasíia can be a pleasant pastime. The town of Cristalina, a gem seeker's paradise, is about 2 hours south of Brasíia. The shops located around the town-square offer Brazilian precious and semiprecious stones and other gifts or souvenirs. You can visit some working pit mines a short drive out of town. A quaint country restaurant serving local fare is located in Luziania, mid-way between Brasíia and Cristalina, and is a popular place to stop for lunch when returning from a shopping expedition.

Goiánia, about 2-3 hours southwest of Brasíia, is the capital of Goiás and its largest city. The city, founded in 1933, is a planned city like Brasíia. With an altitude much lower than Brasíia's, it is warmer and more humid. Goiánia is a pretty town with tree-lined streets, interesting 1930s architecture, a centralized shopping center, good hotels, tall apartment buildings, and some excellent restaurants. On weekends, a "hippie fair" offers a variety of goods and crafts.

The beautiful Itiquira waterfalls, amid a rugged terrain, are located 2 hours north of Brasíia over newly paved roads. For those interested in a health spa, a first-class resort hotel and several warm, natural pools are located near Caldas Novas, about 5 hours from Brasíia in Goiás. Visit this resort for a relaxing 3-day weekend.

Travel to São Paulo-Brazil's largest city, or to Rio de Janeiro-world famous for its natural beauty-for a real change of pace and scenery. By highway, Rio is 753 miles and 15-20 hours away; São Paulo is 627 miles from Brasíia with driving time of 14-17 hours. Frequent air connections to both cities are available. Air travel time is about 1-1/2 hours.

If you want to leave the main road, secondary roads are often unpaved and difficult. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are useful, especially for camping.

There are two softball seasons, and several coed teams, with participants from the American and international community. Bowling is available at Park Shopping.

The Parque da Cidade (City Park), located in Asa Sul, offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as bicycle riding, jogging, walking, paddleboats, children's amusement park, barbecue sites, etc. Additionally, one of the main highways is closed on Sundays and made available to bicyclists and joggers.


Dinner parties, cookouts and casual buffets are a popular form of home entertainment. The American Women's Club International (AWCI) organizes monthly meetings with speakers on various topics. Weekly and monthly AWCI activity groups meet to enjoy such things as tennis, bridge, playgroup, Portuguese conversation and social services work, to name just a few. The AWCI book clubs buy a wide selection of current bestsellers with membership fees. The American School sponsors a Christmas Bazaar, Fun Run, International Fair, Flea Market, and two stage productions which are attended by the Brasíia community at large. The Casa Thomas Jefferson, which is actually three Brazilian-American binational centers, sponsors art exhibits and musical events that feature both American and Brazilian artists and performers.

Brasíia has many movie theaters. Admission costs are comparable to the U.S. English-language films are popular. Most films are American originals with Portuguese subtitles. Children's films tend to be dubbed. Some French and Italian films are also shown in the respective embassies as well as in Brazilian theaters.

The National Theater presents concerts and occasionally has ballet or other dance performances. The circus comes to town once a year, as do various foreign performers. The University of Brasíia holds interesting performances by staff members in its music school. Military and police groups hold parades and other activities on various national holidays. Americans are welcome at all cultural and national celebrations.

Brasíia has some nightclubs; most have dancing, some have floor shows. Several popular discotheques attract various age groups. Outdoor cafes featuring drinks and snacks are popular evening meeting places.

Shopping malls have movie theaters, a variety of shops and eateries. Park Shopping, adjacent to one of the largest supermarkets in the area, has eleven movie theaters, a 24 lane bowling alley built by Brunswick, a McDonald's, an international food court, and approximately 175 shops. Many other new malls have been built recently, including Brasíia Shopping and Patio Brasil, each with stores, eateries and move theaters. There is an arcade with small amusement rides and video games, and an in-door skating rink during the Christmas holidays.

Rio De Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, the center of a metropolitan area of about 11 million people, offers one of the world's most beautiful physical settings. Set adjacent to an ocean bay off the Atlantic Ocean and facing south, Rio is surrounded by mountains with spectacular formations and tropical greenery, and is truly what its residents, the Cariocas, call the Cidade Maravilhosa (marvelous city). Its landmarks are the striking Sugar Loaf Mountain Pão de Açucar and Corcovado Mountain with its famous Christ Statue overlooking the city. Brazil's seasons are the reverse of those in the U.S., with summer from December to March. Rio's normal temperatures range from 75 to 95°F. Extremes vary from 40°F during winter to 105°F in the hot, humid summer. Intense rainfall also occurs throughout the year and may occasionally cause severe flooding within the city itself. Infrequent landslides affect housing on mountain slopes in densely populated slum areas known as favelas.

The city was Brazil's capital until 1960, and many government offices are located here. Rio is a focus of transportation, communications, military, cultural and journalistic activity. However, its history is as a seashore resort famous for its beaches, Carnaval, and its outgoing people But the continued population increase within Rio has created other problems common to a megalopolis: traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, and a high crime rate. Pollution and crime have, it fact, jeopardized the traditional tourist industry. The Department of State has designated the crime threat rating level for Rio as critical.

While Rio is cosmopolitan, Portuguese is necessary for everyday use (shopping, newspapers, and social events). Its beaches are often a focal point for recreational activities but they can be overcrowded and polluted.

Cariocas commonly refer to Rio being divided into three residential areas: Zona Sul (South Zone) and Zona Norte (North Zone) and Barra da Tijuca. There is a mountain range, which forms a spectacular, scenic separation between the zones. The Zona Sul area is significantly smaller. less than 1 million people and is also the area where virtually all official Americans reside. The sparsely populated area known as Centro, separates the relatively more affluent south zone from poorer neighborhoods in the north zone.

Another fast-growing and relatively new part of Rio de Janeiro is the southern suburb of Barra da Tijuca. This area which was once considered out of town is the fastest growing district in the city. Barra da Tijuca features several large shopping centers as well as large mega-markets, which include everything from groceries to clothes to hardware to car supplies (i.e., similar to Super Wal-Marts in the States). In addition to the shopping, dozens of new condominiums have sprung up. American fast food outlets are common. Office parks are also being built, not to mention major amusement parks. Barra da Tijuca is also home to the cleanest beaches in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

The American community in Rio is fairly large, with about 6,000 registered at the Consulate General. Only a relatively small number participate in activities that bring the expatriate community together. Rio's American Society organization is active. The American business community in Rio is strongly represented with Fortune 500 firms. The American Chamber of Commerce meets regularly and maintains full-time offices. However, significant reductions in the presence of American businessmen have had a marked affect on community life, including reduced enrollment by American students at the American School of Rio.


Rio has many large supermarkets. Selection is generally good. Many employees purchase fresh produce from weekly markets (feiras) that rotate through residential areas; costs can be higher but the quality is better. Each neighborhood has its own smaller grocery store, butcher, bakery, and other specialty shops which results in decentralized frequent shopping (Brazilians often shop on a daily basis). Local beef is not aged and lacks tenderness but is reasonably priced; lamb is generally not available. Fish and seafood are plentiful, but expensive. The COBAL in Leblon is another market similar to the feiras, but is covered. It is open Tuesday through Sunday. Fresh fruits, vegetables, fresh cut flowers, meat, seafood and poultry are available. The prices vary from stand to stand, but the quality is similar to those at the feiras or (better).

Recognized international and U.S. food companies manufacture many of their products in Brazil but retail prices are higher than in the U.S. Employees are supplied bottled drinking water. One and a half liter plastic bottles are now available at the supermarket; larger size containers can be home-delivered.


General: Bring lightweight, washable, comfortable clothing. Dry-cleaning is available but is expensive and not always reliable. Small clothing stores line shopping malls and shopping areas with reasonable selections and often focus on designer clothing. During summer days, beachwear is frequently the norm in shopping areas and restaurants. Shoes available here may not conform to U.S. sizes or durability. Good sandals and casual shoes are available locally. Shoe repair workmanship is good and reasonably priced.

Women: Although temperature differences between summer and winter are not wide, seasonal differences in dress are noticed. In summer, bright, gay colors, and patterns in lightweight materials predominate; in winter, lightweight woolens and knits in darker tones appear. A light jacket is occasionally needed, and during damp, rainy weather, a sweater or sweatshirt would be comfortable. Slacks and jogging suits are worn year round. Hose is rarely worn, except on dressier occasions or in office settings. Locally produced panty hose is of variable quality, so bring a supply from the U.S. A good selection of casual wear is a must for both seasons.

Bikinis dominate beach wear (Cariocas actually prefer the even briefer tanga), but all styles are worn. Frequent swimmers or sun-bathers should have several changes of beachwear to avoid drying problems. All styles of swimsuits and beach cover-ups are available locally, but larger sizes (above a US size 10) may be difficult to find. Evening social events require dressier clothing. Brazilian women favor long or very short dresses of silk and other fine materials. Dressy cottons and synthetics are practical.

Many seamstresses are available, but finding the right one is difficult. Some prefer to work in their own homes; others will work in a customer's home and must be provided a sewing machine. U.S. patterns are not available locally; some seam-stresses make their own patterns, use those in Brazilian fashion magazines, or copy from ready made clothing or pictures. If you sew, bring a supply of U.S. patterns. A wide variety of Brazilian textiles, some in wash-and-wear materials, is available. Many fabrics are not preshrunk. Quality materials cost more than U.S. goods.

Stylish belts, costume jewelry, purses and other accessories are available in Rio. Brazilian gems and jewelry designs are world renown. The quality of Brazilian ready-made clothing is adequate, but expensive. Women's sizes are not comparable to those in the U.S., particularly undergarments. Bring an ample supply of hot weather clothes, as during the long summer, repeated laundering and intense sun cause fabrics to fade and lose body.

Men: Heavy wool suits are never necessary. Suits of lightweight wool, linen, or other natural fiber are comfortable and practical. Dark suits are useful for evening events. The need for formal clothing is negligible in Rio.

Raincoats or overcoats are rarely seen on men except during a cool winter's rain. Ready-made suits in various materials are available locally, but cuts differ from the U.S. Tailors are expensive but offer quality continental-style tailoring.

Sports clothing is necessary. Long sleeved sports shirts in conservative colors and sports jackets are commonly worn to social functions and restaurants. A wide variety of good-quality sports clothes, including jeans, is available locally at prices roughly comparable to those in the U.S. Bring cheap, generic baseball caps for use on the beach. Cotton sweaters and light jackets are useful on cooler days.

Children: Children's shoes and clothes are more expensive and sometimes less durable. Most families order clothes from U.S. catalog companies.

Supplies and Services

Rio has several large shopping areas and malls where one can find both local and imported products. The variety is impressive. More specialized malls include the São Conrado Fashion Mall, emphasizing clothing, and the Rio Design Center in Leblon, with beautiful furniture and decorative accent pieces for the home. Many international pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies manufacture locally under license. Suntan lotion is an expensive item in Brazil. Appliances, household tools, electrical supplies, plastic ware, and a wide range of consumer goods are manufactured locally. Inmost instances, prices are higher than comparable U.S. items.

Beauty shops and barbershops abound. Prices are generally higher than U.S. levels, depending on location and reputation of the shop. Quality is good if language is no barrier. Some hairdressers for both men and women have trained in either the U.S. or Europe. Repair costs for electrical equipment and appliances, such as radios and TVs, are higher than U.S. prices. Reliable service is a problem.

Print film can be developed locally and 1-hour processing is available. Several good automobile repair shops exist. General bodywork is adequate but more sophisticated electronic repairs are difficult to obtain. Costs are sometimes high, especially for spare parts, and estimates should be requested before repairs are authorized. Spare parts for U.S. cars must be imported; tires are available locally for U.S. cars. Repair services for Brazilian made cars (Chevrolet, Ford, Fiat and VW) are good.

Domestic Help

The quality of domestic help varies and turnover is high. Domestics who have worked for other Americans are helpful, but few understand English, and you need at least a rudimentary knowledge of Portuguese. Most apartments have domestic quarters that are located off of the kitchen area. Employers furnish room and board, uniforms, and linens. A cook or housekeeper currently receives about $200-$400 monthly, plus the Brazilian Social Security contribution, currently 12% of salary. Day workers are paid from $20 to $40 per day plus lunch. Occasionally transportation cost will be assessed.

Religious Activities

Brazil is the most populous Roman Catholic nation in the world. Many Catholic churches are found in Rio. The Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy has services in English.

Protestant churches with English language services include the Union Church, a Protestant nondenominational church; the Christ Church (American Episcopal Church of England), which has an international membership; the International Baptist Church; the Christian Science; and the English Lutheran.

Jewish services are held at the Sinagoga Copacabana (Orthodox), the Associação Religiosa Israelita (Conservative), and the Centro Israelita Brasileiro (highly Conservative, Sephardic). All services are in Hebrew.


The American School, Escola Americana of Rio de Janeiro (EARJ), is a coeducational school offering a U.S. curriculum from pre-school through grade 12, including the International Baccalaureate degree. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of the U.S., it is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools. Its enrollment is about 1,000, and U.S. colleges readily accept its graduates. The faculty numbers 118 (37 Americans). Students with American citizenship make up about 10% of the student body with about 85% being Brazilian students.

The first semester begins in early August and runs to mid-December; the second term runs from early February to mid-June. Extracurricular activities are at an extra expense. Classes are 5 days weekly, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., in a modern, hillside complex of 9 interconnected buildings. Full cafeteria facilities are available; extracurricular activities are similar to those in U.S. schools. School buses serve most residential areas.

Arrangements for enrollment can be made directly with the Escola Americana, Estrada da Gavea, 132, Gavea Rio de Janeiro, RJ 22451-260 Brazil.

Our Lady of Mercy School, a coeducational Catholic school, follows an American curriculum for grades 1 through 12. The U.S. Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools accredits the school. The school is sponsored by the Society of Our Lady of Mercy and provides a chapel for English-speaking Catholics. Graduates have been readily accepted in U.S. colleges. Our Lady of Mercy also offers a pre-nursery school program for children age 2 and up.

The school term is similar to the American School. Hot lunches are available. Extracurricular activities are similar to those in U.S. Schools. Make enrollment arrangements directly with the Headmaster, Rua Visconde de Caravelas 48, Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro RJ 22271-030, Brazil.

The British School is coeducational and offers instruction from pre-nursery through age 13. Following a British curriculum, it qualifies students for the British common entrance examinations. School terms are from February to July and August to December. Lunch is provided for all, except pre-nursery and kindergarten children who go home at noon. Large playground and playing fields are available for sports. School bus transportation is available. Average class size is 24. Enrollment is arranged through the Headmaster, The British School, Rua da Matriz, 76, Botafogo Rio de Janeiro, RJ 22260-100 Brazil.

Several pre-schools accept children as young as 1 year old. One such institution, St. Patrick's, teaches in English. All are more expensive than comparable U.S. facilities. Bus service is available for many. Arrangements for these schools may be made after you arrive at post. Generally, St. Patrick's accepts children age 2 and up. Classes are taught in English through the 4th grade.

Special Education Opportunities

Working knowledge of Portuguese greatly enhances any trip to Rio. Portuguese language training is available through various institutions. The Brazilian-U.S. Institute offers frequent Portuguese language courses. Tutors for private lessons are available. Portuguese courses are also available at any of several local universities. There are no programs of higher learning in the English language in Rio.


The main recreational activities relate to the beach. The popular beach promenades have all been illuminated and are now enjoyed by many both day and night. Games of soccer, volleyball and that incredible combination of the two, fute volley, seem to be going on 24 hours of the day. There are no public recreational facilities with swimming pools or golf courses. Club memberships within Rio range in price from the nicely affordable (Clube Flamengo) to the extravagantly expensive (Country Clube). While a few apartment buildings have facilities reserved for tenants, most buildings do not. The city does have a bicycle path that follows along certain beach areas. On Sundays and holidays, half of the primary beach avenue is closed to normal traffic to the great enjoyment of walkers, joggers, cyclists, and rollerbladers.

Soccer is the national sport. Brazil won the 1994 World Cup; the popularity of the sport is reflected by the size of Rio's Maracaña Stadium. It is one of the world's largest, originally configured to seat 200,000 people. The nearby smaller Maracañazinho Stadium is used for special events, such as ice shows and basketball games. Neighborhood soccer and volleyball games are also played frequently, as are weekend games on nearly every beach.

Rio's extensive beaches are popular for swimming, boogy boarding, and surfing but one must be alert to publicized, regular health warnings and avoid dangerous levels of water pollution. The advisability of beach swimming is published daily in the local newspapers. Strong undertow is also a common hazard. Many people with their own transportation travel to cleaner, less heavily populated beaches south of the city.

Sports equipment is manufactured locally and imported, but prices are generally higher than U.S. prices. Be sure to bring your bicycles and rollerblades.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

As a transportation and communications center, Rio offers excellent opportunities for touring all parts of Brazil. The cost of domestic air transportation is high. If possible, try to purchase the special Brazil Air Pass from the Brazilian carrier Varig prior to your arrival (not all travel agents can/will sell these since one purchase requirement may be the possession of a round trip ticket to Brazil from the U.S.).

For overland travel, many highways are good but sometimes crowded. Brazilian drivers are impatient in heavy traffic. Highway fatality rates are among the highest in the world. Night highway driving is exceptionally dangerous and is not recommended. Bus service, including the sleeper bus, is frequent, and not overly expensive. The bus conditions are varied but can be cramped.

An automobile trip of about an hour and a half will lead you to cooler mountain are. Quaint colonial cities, lovely seaside communities, and modern industrial centers are all within a 3-6 hour drive. Few roadside motel accommodations are available; lodgings at major destinations are satisfactory.

Camping, hang-gliding, surfing, surf fishing, mountain climbing, and water skiing are other activities available within Rio's vicinity. Deep-sea fishing is fair but expensive; freshwater fishing is available in the mountains. Hunting is prohibited in Brazil, except in Rio Grande do Sul.


The greatest single annual entertainment event in Rio is its famed Carnaval. During the 4 nights and 3 days preceding Ash Wednesday, commercial and official activities come to a complete standstill. Then samba schools, street parades, and night-long parties dominate Rio's scene. Carnaval also attracts many foreign visitors. Tickets for Carnaval balls and main parade seating are relatively expensive but the events, especially the parades, are exceptional and should not be missed.

From June to September, outstanding Brazilian and foreign artists offer varied programs of music, opera, and dance at several theaters. The Brazilian theater season is year round; both original Brazilian works and foreign plays are presented in Portuguese, and in an informal off-Broadway style. Children's plays are offered regularly in Portuguese. An English-language small theater group offers productions and performance opportunities on an irregular basis.

Nightclubs and small boate offer shows of varying quality; many feature jazz, samba music, and dancers. Well known foreign entertainers and groups appear occasionally at some larger theaters and nightclubs.

Movie theaters are numerous and good. First-run American and European films are shown with original dialogue and Portuguese subtitles at prices comparable to the U.S. Late-night network TV sometimes features programs in English. Rio has several good TV stations, which can help improve Portuguese language abilities. Many neighborhoods offer cable TV for a monthly fee with programs such as CNN, ESPN, and MTV Excellent FM radio broadcasting is also available.

Restaurants offer varied national and international cuisine at comparable U.S. prices. A churrascaria (specializing in barbecued meat) is a popular type of Rio restaurant.

Many art and historical museums are available. Rio also has interesting and photogenic churches, a large botanical garden, a major tropical forest park (Tijuca National Park), and a zoological park. Art galleries abound, and although prices of established Brazilian artists are high by U.S. standards, new painters always await discovery. Art courses in Portuguese are available at the Parque Lage, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Catholic University.

Rio has no English-language newspapers. Local newsstands regularly offer the Miami Herald and the International Herald Tribune; individual subscriptions can be arranged at reduced cost, but are still expensive. English language editions of some leading U.S. news magazines are also available.

Social Activities

The American Society and the International Newcomers Club help integrate the social activities of the American community. Another organization, "The Players," has periodic English language performances that provide opportunities related to the theater.

São Paulo

São Paulo is the largest and one of the fastest growing cities in South America. It is a thriving metropolis of contrasts, with skyscrapers built alongside small, residential houses; narrow cobblestone streets feed wide avenues; street vendors hawk their wares near five star hotels. A dynamic city rich in historic and modern culture, it boasts three symphony orchestras, many fine art galleries, and an international selection of museums. Thousands of avid spectators follow everything from soccer matches to horse races. São Paulo is the industrial and financial heart of Brazil, and the bustling city sets a pace that resembles New York City. [It is also home to fine restaurants, theaters, nightclubs, first-run movie theatres, and performances by major international stars.] With something of appeal from every point of view, these inviting contrasts make living and working in São Paulo exciting, interesting and challenging.


The water supply is plentiful in São Paulo. Water pressure is reasonable in all areas of the city. All parts of the city now have fluoridated water, although levels of fluoridation are below recommended U.S. levels. Tap water is not consistently potable anywhere in Brazil. Electric current is 110v 60 cycle, AC; 220v, 3-phase, AC, is available for ranges, high-voltage heaters, and dryers. Power interruptions are uncommon, though voltage regulators are recommended for occasional current fluctuations. Electrical outlets vary even within households and you will need several different types of adapters. They are available locally for a reasonable price, but you may want to bring an assortment.

In the past, U. S.-made appliances were preferred for quality and price to local products. However, appliances are now increasingly comparable to U.S. products in price, quality and availability.

Like any large U.S. city, São Paulo has a wide variety of local radio stations, including several FM stations with continuous (mostly American and Brazilian popular) music, classical music and talk radio. Radio short-wave bands receive VOA and BBC in the evening.

Local TV is on the PAL-M system, so U.S.-purchased sets (NTSC or European PAL sets) will only receive in black and white, unless modified-a process that is commonly performed for around 150 Reals. Videocassette recorders are popular and video clubs like Blockbuster are plentiful. However, U.S. VCRs are not compatible with PAL-M-only TVs and must be converted, the cost of which is about 100 Reals. Cable is available at costs comparable to U.S. prices.

São Paulo winters can be cold and damp. The temperature rarely drops below 32 Fahrenheit, and central heating is nonexistent. Electric blankets and space heaters are recommended. Blankets and comforters are more expensive in São Paulo, so bring a sufficient supply. As a side note, pollution tends to be heavier in the winter months. Occasionally, this affects individuals with allergies or respiratory problems. You may want to bring air purifiers.


Most foods are available locally. Pasteurized fresh milk, butter, cheeses, and other products are plentiful. Almost all fresh fruits and vegetables are available year round in supermarkets, as well as open-air fruit and vegetable markets. Oranges, tangerines, bananas, pineapples, papayas, melons, mangoes, and other fruits are always in season. Locally grown apples, pears, peaches, plums, strawberries, and grapes are available seasonally, and imported varieties, year round. Ample supplies of meat and fish exist. American-type supermarkets and European-style hypermarkets carry locally made goods that compare with U.S. brands. Some of these supermarkets also offer U.S. cuts of beef (Brazilian cuts differ markedly from U.S. cuts). Local wines and spirits are of good quality.


Although São Paulo's climate is milder than that of the northeastern U.S., bring clothes for cool and rainy weather, including sweaters, fall suits, raincoats, and umbrellas. Rain is common in São Paulo and during the summer there can be heavy rainstorms each afternoon. Every family member needs at least one good umbrella. Temperatures vary, so layered dressing is important. Fall and winter (June-October) can be chilly. Bring light and warm clothing that can be worn indoors due to of lack of central heating. An all-weather coat with removable lining should meet your outdoor needs. Those accustomed to living in very warm climates may need a pair of gloves, a scarf, and a knit hat.

Local shoes vary in quality though shoes are stylish and easily found although narrow widths are not readily available. Walking shoes are a must and, due to uneven, cobblestone sidewalks, occasional heel repair is necessary. Leather is of good quality. São Paulo is a high fashion city; every new fashion can be seen and is acceptable, from conservative to trendy. All types of sports goods and clothing are sold in São Paulo, at prices similar to those found in the U.S.

Dress for social functions is often business attire, depending on the nature of the event. Tuxedo or formal dress rental places are abundant throughout the city. Long dresses are seldom worn to formal dinners. For women, local lingerie, hose, and other nylon clothing are of lesser quality than U.S. made products, but are readily available.

Supplies and Services

It is important to note that the Brazilian economy is drastically changing and therefore it is difficult to state with certainty that Brazilian-made products are higher or lower in cost relative to the U.S., although imported items are generally higher-priced (e.g., some clothing, luxury items). The cost of living is comparable to that in Washington, D.C. Dining out, food purchases, and entertainment (theater, movies, etc.) cost the same or less.

Miscellaneous toiletries, cosmetics, household needs, cigarettes, tobacco, and liquor products are sold on the Brazilian market. However, not every brand is consistently available. American-style supermarkets and superstores like Wal-Mart and Sam's Club sell all types of household cleaning equipment. Prescription and nonprescription drugs, many made by subsidiaries of U.S. or European companies, are available at reasonable prices. Imported cosmetics are more expensive, but some U.S. brand names (Revlon, Helena Rubinstein, etc.) are manufactured locally. Travellers with infants or small children may want to bring disposable diapers, a supply of baby food, any special baby formula, and a bottle warmer in accompanied airfreight. Disposable diapers are available locally, but are expensive.

Dry-cleaning and laundry services are common and equal to U.S. prices. Shoe repair is inexpensive, workmanship is good, and rubber and leather are used for heels and heel tips. Nylon is not generally available. Hair salons are less expensive than in the U.S.; work is good and reasonably priced. Consider bringing your favorite hair shampoos, rinses, and sprays, as these are not consistently available. Repair work on watches, radios, stereos, televisions, and other electrical appliances is good.

The quality of auto maintenance and repair facilities is inconsistent. Repair work is good, but most services take more time than in the U.S. GM, Ford, Fiat, and VW produce cars locally at favorable prices.

Domestic Help

Domestic help is readily available, but trained servants are hard to find and few speak English. Salaries depend on class of servant, i.e., trained cooks earn R$100 to R$150 a week; live-in housekeeper, R$100 and up. Staff with newborns often hire a live-in nurse who has had about 6 months of formal education in pediatric nursing. The live-in nurse earns around R$125 a week. Families with older children often employ a live-in nanny. Salaries may change as the economy settles.

Brazilian houses and apartments are designed with a maid's room and private bath, located near the laundry and kitchen area. Employers can provide uniforms, and live-ins normally receive bedding, towels, and furniture. Servants get one day off weekly, plus major national and religious holidays. Under the Brazilian Constitution, employers must give servants a 13th-month bonus equal to one month's salary or prorated to the length-of employment during the year. Also, the employer must contribute to the local Brazilian retirement system for the domestic employee.

Medical Care

São Paulo has very competent doctors and dentists. Many speak English and were trained in the U.S. Quality orthodontic services are available as well. In general, the costs for an office visit are equal to fees in the U.S. Maternity and other in-hospital care is good, despite a lack of thorough training for support personnel.

Religious Activities

São Paulo has many churches and synagogues. Many Protestant churches, including the Fellowship Community Church, inter-denominational; St. Paul's (Anglican); Calvary International Church; First Church of Christ Scientist; and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, hold English-language services. The American priests of the Order of the Oblate Fathers conduct services in English at the Chapel School. A Greek Orthodox Cathedral also exists. The city has several synagogues. The largest, Congregacão Israelita Paulista, follows the conservative traditions and has an American rabbi.

Religious-oriented summer camps are available for children.


Three schools in São Paulo follow the U.S. public school curriculum: the São Paulo Graded School, the Chapel School (School of Mary Immaculate), and the Pan American Christian Academy. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits all three schools.

The local Chamber of Commerce established the São Paulo Graded School, in 1929. The faculty, though predominantly American, employs teachers of several nationalities. Instruction is from kindergarten through grade 12. There is also a large preschool for 3-year-olds and older. The preschool and lower grades are taught on a modified Montessori program. The school follows curriculum standards of New York State. Enrollment is about 1,168; 38% are U.S. citizens. Facilities include a gym, auditorium, science labs, computer center, satellite TV, libraries, and a cafeteria serving hot lunches. Buses serve all residential areas. Most sports played in the U.S., except American football, are offered; teams compete within the school and with other American schools in Brazil. Additional extracurricular activities include theater, yearbook, and scouting. A program for students with special learning problems is available.

Felician Sisters and lay teachers staff Escola Maria Imaculada (The Chapel School) under the direction of the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate. Instruction is from nursery school through grade 12. Advanced placement and the International Baccalaureate are integral parts of its quality academic program. Most graduates are accepted into universities and colleges of their first choice. The students represent over 30 countries; 40% of the students are non-Catholics and enrollment is 700; 25% are U.S. citizens. Facilities include: two libraries, a gym, a large playing field, a cafeteria, an auditorium, science labs, a computer center, an audiovisual room, an infirmary staffed by a nurse, and a student union. Organized sports include soccer, basketball, gymnastics, softball, tennis, handball, and volleyball both varsity and junior varsity teams. The school is a member of the São Paulo High School League. Twice a year, sports meets are held with American schools in São Paulo, Brasilia, and Rio de Janeiro at alternating locations. Additional extracurricular activities include judo, cooking, ballet, debating, choral groups, and band.

The Pan-American Christian Academy is operated by evangelical missionaries and is located some distance outside the city. Instruction from kindergarten through grade 12 is conducted in English. The level of instruction and discipline is reportedly high. Enrollment is approximately 317; 40% are U.S. citizens.

Each school begins in early August and runs through early June, with a 6-week midyear vacation in December and January. Requirements for enrollment are similar to those in the U.S. Schools adequately prepare students for entrance into U.S. colleges and universities.

Two preschool programs often used by American families are: Playpen, a Montessori school that has classes in English, and Portuguese and Tiny Tots, a preschool operated by a British-Brazilian family, with instruction in both English and Portuguese. Both often offer instruction during periods when the major schools (Graded, Chapel, etc.) are not in session. There are numerous other preschool programs in Portuguese throughout the city.

Tuition costs vary according to school and grade, with higher costs for middle school and senior high school.

A French-language school and a British school, St. Paul's, are also available. Also, many Brazilian nursery schools and kindergartens offer excellent, inexpensive programs. The required Portuguese language programs at the American schools are good, but some families send younger children to a public or private Brazilian school to learn Portuguese. Most Brazilian schools do not have facilities for children with speech or learning problems. Differences exist in preparation for American and Brazilian universities; therefore it is not recommended that you use Brazilian schools beyond the primary level.

Special Educational Opportunities

Although São Paulo has several fine universities, among which are the University of São Paulo, Mackenzie University, and Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV), you must be fluent in Portuguese in order to take advantage of their study programs. The Alumni Association and Uniao Cultural, two U.S. Brazil binational centers in the city, offer Portuguese language courses that can be used to supplement the post's language training program. However, there are certain opportunities for educational advancement available in English.

Through the Graded School, graduate level education courses are periodically offered for teachers, parents, and community members, with priority for enrollment in that order. These courses are taught by visiting professors from U.S. universities. The Graded School also offers courses in computers for teachers, parents, and members of the community. Other computer courses, in English and Portuguese, are available at private institutes throughout the city. Many schools of dance, adult exercise classes, and tutors in music, ballet, and painting are available.


Like other metropolis areas, São Paulo has various spectator sports. The most popular sport is soccer. Horse, auto and motorcycle racing, basketball games, tennis and golf tournaments, sailing regattas, polo, boxing, and wrestling matches complete the picture. São Paulo has no public golf courses or tennis courts, but many private tennis, squash, and racquetball courts are widely available on a pay-as-you-go basis. Private clubs include facilities for golf, tennis, swimming, horseback riding, boating, and basketball. Membership is expensive.

Most sporting equipment sold locally is comparable to price and quality of products in the U.S.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

The area around São Paulo is ideal for weekend excursions. Many beach and mountain resorts are within 100 miles of São Paulo and connected by good roads. Hotel quality and prices vary greatly, though most are very reasonable. Weekend houses are sometimes available for rent. The northern coast has various little towns and pristine beaches where hotel rooms are as little as $15 a night and rental boats will take you to secluded natural pools.

Iguaçu Falls (2 hours by air) offers one of Latin America's unique tourist sights. You may want to take an extra day to visit the falls from the Argentine side. The huge Itaipu hydroelectric project is nearby. Other popular outings for weekends or vacations include Rio de Janeiro; Ouro Preto, a mining town in Minas Gerais, with colonial baroque churches and other old towns nearby; Campos do Jordão; and Brasilia, a stunning example of city planning and modern architecture. Local travel agencies can be helpful in obtaining tour packages throughout Brazil and to other South American locations. Sdo Paulo and Mato Grosso offer excellent fishing and camping along the coast.

Weekly artist fairs are held on Sundays at the Praça da Republica, in the Asian neighborhood of Liberdade, and in Embu, on the outskirts of Sdo Paulo. These fairs offer local artwork, handicrafts, and geological specimens. The city also has many shopping facilities reminiscent of those in American cities.


Sdo Paulo offers excellent, professional theater in Portuguese. During winter, several symphonies often offer concerts, some with guest soloists. Operas are presented and local and touring concert groups and ballet companies also perform. Most movie theaters feature first-run American or foreign movies, as well as many Brazilian films. Foreign movies are usually shown with Portuguese subtitles. The city has many world-class art museums and galleries. Every 2 years, São Paulo hosts the Biennial, an internationally important modern art exposition, with extensive multinational representation.

With about 25,000 restaurants, cafes, and bars, São Paulo is one of the world's greatest cities for dining out. The city is especially rich in Italian, Japanese, and continental restaurants, and almost all ethnic communities are well represented. Brazilian churrascarias abound, serving a wide variety of richly seasoned, grilled meats accompanied by generous salad bars and side dishes. Fast food branches of American chains or local imitations are increasingly available.

Social Activities

There is a wide range of both business and social events, while home entertaining is also common. Much of the entertaining in the American community consists of luncheons and dinners.

The Newcomers Club, an English speaking club composed of all nationalities, is open to individuals for their first 2 years in Brazil. The club helps newcomers get acquainted and settled, and provides an opportunity for members to exchange information. Social activities include coffees and teas, museum outings, luncheons, dinners, book exchanges, and trips.

The American Society is a social and philanthropic organization for Americans in São Paulo. It organizes an annual field day for American Society members on the Fourth of July, an eggnog party at Christmas, and sponsors other social activities during the year. The American Society also issues an annual directory of members, a handy classified shopper's guide in English, and publishes a monthly newspaper with news of the English-speaking community. The American Society has a welfare program that provides financial, medical, and educational assistance to U.S. citizens in distress and also sponsors little league baseball, soccer, and flag football.

The São Paulo Women's Club, an international English-speaking club, provides social, cultural, and charitable activities. These include two book clubs, a free circulating library, a chorus, small theater group, current events group, and classes in bookbinding, painting, languages, and gems.

Masons, Rotary, and Lions clubs meet regularly in São Paulo. Illinois and São Paulo participate in a program called Joint Partners of the Americas. Finally, the PTAs of the three American schools sponsor many children's activities, such as sports teams and competitions, scouting, drama, dances, and school trips.

Special Information

If you are traveling between June and October, include cool weather clothing in ac companied baggage; other times brim warm weather clothing.

The winter is brief but can be chilly. An all-weather coat with zip out lining should meet your needs. Those accustomed to living in warm climates may need a pair of gloves, a scarf, and a knit hat. Children need a warm jacket. For the rest of the year, cardigan and pullover sweaters and sweatshirts in assorted weights will suffice.

It rains nearly every afternoon in summer (December to February). Therefore, each family member needs at least one good umbrella. Plastic rainwear is uncomfortable, and a lightweight cloth raincoat would be preferable. Footwear for wet weather is also useful.

Travelers with infants or small children should include disposable diapers, a supply of baby food, any special baby formula, and a bottle warmer in accompanied airfreight. Disposable diapers are available locally, but are expensive and of poor quality.

São Paulo has competent doctors and dentists. Many speak English and were trained in the U.S. Their fees for an office visit are higher than fees in the U.S. Adequate orthodontic services are available at prices higher than those in the U.S.

Maternity and other hospital care is good, despite the absence of thorough training for support personnel. Admission to private institutions, even for an emergency, requires a substantial cash deposit if you do not belong to a local health plan.

São Paulo is a major metropolitan area with all the noise, pollution, and congestion found in large cities. Pollution levels are high, which affects those with allergies or respiratory problems. Heavy traffic and noise are common problems.


Recife, a city of startling contrasts, stretches 30 miles along Brazil's east coast. Miles of attractive beaches front the modern, luxury suburbs of Boa Viagem and Piedade at the city's southern tip. The central city, situated on two islands and the delta formed by the Capibaribe and Beberibe Rivers, is laced with numerous old and new bridges. It is a bustling, dynamic area, with thousands of taxis and small passenger vans clogging the narrow streets. The total absence of a grid system, the rivers winding through the city, and maze of one-way streets (at times unmarked) make finding one's way a challenge.

Recife's many small parks and plazas are well maintained. The thriving open market, Mercado de São Jose, is a principal tourist attraction, as are feiras (smaller markets) scattered throughout the city. Colonial Portuguese churches abound, the railroad station is a well-restored Victorian marvel, and an adjacent former prison has been converted into the Casa da Cultura, where hundreds of stalls feature local handicrafts. Neighboring Olinda is considered one of Brazil's greatest colonial treasures and offers a fascinating glimpse into 17th century architecture.

Recife is the capital of Pernambuco and is the principal port city of Brazil's developing northeast. It is the commercial, cultural, and political center of the consular district, which has about 40 million people. The city has 2 million inhabitants; the greater metropolitan area has 3.5-4 million inhabitants. The city skyline is an impressive jumble of modern skyscrapers and sturdy old church towers. Residential areas along the Boa Viagem, Piedade and Candeias beaches feature kilometers of 2030 story apartment buildings.

Developing industrialization includes sugar refining, alcohol distillation, truck assembly, aluminum fabrication, and the manufacture of textiles, rum, vegetable oils, leather, glass, ceramics, canned goods, pharmaceuticals, paint, electronic equipment, and synthetic rubber. Tourism is an expanding industry with a growing influx of tourists traveling from southern Brazil during winter and summer and from Europe in winter. Agriculture remains the base of the Pernambuco economy; sugar has been the principal crop for over 300 years. Cotton raised in the interior, sisal, livestock, and fruits, vegetables, and grain crops are also economically important. Over the past few years, Brazil's largest center for the production of irrigated tropical fruit has developed in Petrolina, about 700 km west of Recife.

The countryside surrounding Recife is tropical, hilly, and fertile; it reaches inland some 20-30 miles. The undulating foothills and low mountains of the drier agreste region offer some relief from the tropical monotony of the coast. The agreste gives way to the semiarid sertão which stretches far into the central regions of the Northeast. It is dry and desolate most of the year; its cowboy folklore reminds one of the American southwest. Its location on the eastern extremity of Brazil places Recife about 1,500 miles across the south Atlantic from Dakar, Senegal, and about 1,300 miles north of São Paulo. Recife's geographic location makes it an important refueling point for transatlantic flights from South America to Europe. There are currently several non-stop flights a week to Miami as well as to destinations in Europe. Local connections to other Brazilian cities are also widely available and deregulation in recent years has led to a drop in domestic airfares. While few American tourists visit Recife, increasing numbers are visiting other beach cities in the consular district, most notably Natal and Fortaleza. Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago approximately 400 miles northeast of Recife which belongs to Pernambuco state, is rapidly gaining international notoriety as a destination for ecotourism.

Recife is located on the eastern edge of Brazil's time zone; sun time is over an hour ahead of clock time. Throughout the year it is dark soon after the Consulate closes at 5 pm, and there are never daylight hours for outdoor activities in the evening. Many Brazilians rise with the sun at 4:30 or 5:30 am and exercise on Boa Viagem beach or use the 8-kilometer walkway that stretches the length of the beach. For the late starter, for whom vigorous early morning exercise has little appeal, there are other options, including golf, equestrian sports and sports facilities at local clubs.

Recife has year-round rainfall, but the winter rainy season (May-September) has heavy daily rains that account for most of the annual 77 inches along the Pernambuco coast. Summer (October-April) is drier, with many clear, beautiful days. During the winter rainy season humidity is high and temperature variations are slight; the thermometer rises from 80°F to almost 90 degrees F, distinguishing winter from summer. The Northeast averages 250 days of sun per year, and the sun shines at least part of the day even during the rainy season. The climate is not unbearably tropical, due to prevailing trade winds. Nevertheless, many expatriates experience problems with upper respiratory allergies during the rainy season, and post has obtained dehumidifiers to alleviate problems with some success.

Brazilians are a mixture of many ethnic groups: Portuguese, African, and Brazilian Indian backgrounds predominate in the Northeast. The largest foreign community is Portuguese, but small French, German, Israeli, Italian, Japanese, and Middle East groups exist. There are over 2,000 Americans registered in the Consular district and approximately 25% live in Recife. Many of those registered are dual nationals, although there is an important American missionary community.


Recife's modern, air-conditioned supermarkets are well stocked and provide all the essentials to meet food and other household requirements of the average American family. In addition, the city is host to several specialty stores that provide oriental and other ethnic foods. Some types of meat, veal for example, are hard to obtain, but aside from this, you can maintain a perfectly adequate nutritional regimen with the food products available locally. Exceptional local tropical fruits and vegetables are available year round. Temperate climate fruits are brought in from southern Brazil and Argentina.


Men: Summer clothes may be worn year round as temperatures seldom fall below 70 degree F. Most businessmen are casual in their dress, although some, such as bankers, still prefer suits to sport shirts.

Wash-and-wear items are most practical. Local custom-made linen, tropical worsteds, and Brazilianmade wash-and-wear suits range from $200 to $300, but are of lower quality. Bring at least one or two dark, lightweight suits for business calls and evening social functions.

You do not need hats (although caps for use in outdoor activities are highly recommended), but bring shirts, underwear, socks, and shoes. You can buy good-quality imported shirts in Recife, but they are expensive. Summer-weight washable slacks and shorts are useful, as is beach attire. Dry cleaning is available, but of questionable quality and expensive. Formal attire, such as a tuxedo or smoking jacket, is rarely required (only for the Carnaval ball). Tuxedos can be purchased or rented locally.

Women: Clothing stores are plentiful and varied, although Brazilian styles are considerably tighter fitting than U.S. clothing. Bring plenty of comfortable summer clothing: skirts, shorts, shirts, and bathing suits. A good basic evening wardrobe might consist of washable cocktail separates (pants, skirts, blouses, etc.) and a few washable evening dresses. Cotton dresses and separates are preferable for afternoon functions.

Dressmakers range from expensive designers to tailors who take in mending; in between are competent, reasonable dressmakers who can adequately copy the simple lines of current fashions. Fabrics are available locally. Hats are seldom worn (except for informal hats and caps for outdoor activities). Carnaval calls for costumes of fancy dress or shorts and a T-shirt.

Children: Bring children's clothing from the U.S. Given the weather, do not purchase winter clothes. Spring and summer weight clothing can be used year-round. Children rarely require long pants. Local seam-stresses can be hired to mend and alter clothing and to make play clothing for children, although inexpensive locally manufactured play clothing is available and of acceptable quality.

Supplies and Services

Brazilian cosmetics and toiletries, many manufactured under agreements with U.S. firms, resemble U.S. products and are plentiful but more expensive than their U.S. counterparts. Internet buying services offer an excellent option for the purchase of U.S. goods.

Dry-cleaning service is available in Recife, but the quality is not up to U.S. standards. Full-or part-time launderers work in homes. Good beauty shops are available. Men's haircuts average $10. Women's cuts and styling range from $20-$40.

Repair work on radios, TVs, and other electrical appliances is not always satisfactory, but authorized service centers are available for most major brands. Parts are available, but expensive. Recife has the second most developed medical infrastructure in Brazil, and as a result medical and dental care is excellent, but more expensive than in the U.S. Note: Check your health insurance before arrival to see if overseas claims are based on an U.S. fee schedule or on a straight percentage of charges.

Domestic Help

Servants are necessary in Recife for the American or Brazilian running a household. The system benefits the family in that necessary household help is supplied, and employment and security is provided for semiliterate and untrained persons. Nannies are also common and readily available. Current monthly wages (including all benefits are estimated as follows: cook/house-keeper, $200; nanny $200; cook, $150; housekeeper, $150. Fringe benefits include quarters for the live-in cook and housekeeper (all housing, including smallest apartments, provides separate servants quarters and bath), food, uniforms, and social security/health insurance (for those that do not live in, a transportation allowance is also provided). Live-in employees are more common and less expensive. Part-time domestic employees charge on average $200 a month. A note of caution, finding suitable servants can be difficult and challenging.

Religious Activities

Recife has churches of almost every denomination including a synagogue, but few English-speaking services. English-language Baptist church services and a children's Sunday school are held every Sunday. Many beautiful and historical Catholic churches are located in Recife and in the adjoining town of Olinda. Mass is conducted in Portuguese. Many Catholic churches hold special Masses for adults, family, and youth. The youth mass is particularly interesting for young people who bring their guitars for group singing.


The American School of Recife, founded in 1957, is a private, non-sectarian coeducational school that offers an instructional program from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 for students of all nationalities. The school is governed by a seven-member Board of Directors elected for a 2-year term by the Association, composed of the parents of children enrolled in the School. The Principal Officer is a non-voting member of the school board.

The curriculum is mainly that of U.S. general academic, preparatory, public schools. The Southern Association of Colleges accredits the school. There are 32 full-time and 6 part-time faculty members, of which 13 are U.S. citizens, 20 Brazilians, and 5 of other nationalities. Enrollment is approximately 350 students of which 40 are U.S. citizens, 250 host-country nationals, and 60 third-country nationals.

The school occupies an 8.5-acre site in a beautiful residential area of Recife. The pre-K/Kindergarten, elementary and high schools are in separate buildings. General facilities include classrooms, a science laboratory, two audio/visual rooms, a computer laboratory, a library with 12,000 volumes and a small theater. The school also has an adequate snack bar and lunch area as well as spacious sports and playground facilities.

Special Educational Opportunities

An art academy and a music conservatory are located in Recife. The Federal University of Pernambuco School of Fine Arts offers courses in theory, instrumentation, and ensemble playing. Private instruction is available on musical instruments. Private art instruction and group ballet lessons are also available.

Spouses need a basic command of Portuguese before coming to Recife; all practical day-to-day communications is in Portuguese. Additional language instruction for adult dependents is available.


Many health clubs and fitness centers in the city offer aerobics, gymnastics, dance, and exercise equipment. They are similar to those in the U.S., with trained instructors and such amenities as saunas, steam baths, and optional massages. Membership fees are low by U.S. standards and are paid monthly.

Other social clubs offer recreational facilities in the city. There is also a golf and equestrian club.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

The Northeast offers some of the best beaches in Brazil, and many are less than a day's drive from Recife. Beaches range from established resorts to isolated stretches and most are easily accessible by vehicle, although a four-wheel drive vehicle would be preferable. Other one-day sightseeing trips afford visits to sugarcane plantations and mills, forts from the Dutch era in the 17th century, and quaint fishing villages on the coast and inlets. Most major routes are paved, and the remote, adventuresome routes are passable, except during the rainy season.

Several small towns, from 2-3 hours away offer a cooler, drier climate than the coastal region. Satisfactory overnight accommodations are available. Other cities in the consular district, such as Fortaleza, Natal and João Pessoa offer considerable tourist attractions. Salvador, the colorful, historic first capital of Brazil is approximately an hour's flight south. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are a 2-1/2-hour flight south.


Recife has several modern multiplex theaters offering first-run U.S. and Brazilian movies. Several comfortable movie theaters also show other foreign films. Foreign films are in their original language with Portuguese subtitles, although children's films are dubbed. Recife has many restaurants ranging from simple, beachfront seafood houses in Olinda, to luxurious and expensive restaurants in Boa Viagem. Downtown restaurants are patronized mainly at lunchtime. Open-air restaurants along the beach in Boa Viagem are popular for evenings and weekends. Cuisines include Chinese, Italian, and seafood restaurants; churrascarias for grilled meats are also available. Prices vary, but dinner for two with wines is less than in the U.S.

The renovated old city, Recife Antigo, offers an excellent option for nightlife. Open-air bars and sidewalk cafes, along with cultural events sponsored by the city, make Recife Antigo the center of nightlife in the city. There are several large discos and nightclubs (including Brazil's largest) which are very popular.

Recife also has several large modern shopping centers with many services, including bowling alleys and arcades. One, Shopping Recife, is the largest shopping center in South America.

Several radio stations and five color TV stations broadcast in Recife. An American black-and-white TV operates with a transformer and a voltage regulator. U.S. color sets need a PAL-M to NTSC converter, which can be purchased in the U.S. Local TVs are readily available, although more expensive than U.S. TVs.

Local TV offers numerous variety shows, popular Brazilian novelas (soap operas), daily national news programs, public interest features, Brazilian soccer and, occasionally, world sports events. Direct TV is available as are affordable satellite TV services offering US premium cable channels.

No English-language newspapers are published in Recife; foreign news is sparsely covered in the local press. The Latin American editions of Time and Newsweek are available weekly. However, internet service is readily available and inexpensive (approximately $20 per month for unlimited access).

Recife's Carnaval is world famous. It is considered the largest street carnival in the world. Two events during Carnaval, the Bloco de Parceria on the Sunday before Carnaval and the Galo de Madrugada the Saturday of Carnaval vie for the title of largest concentration of people in the Guinness Book of World Records (each brings an estimated 2 million people together). Tourists from around the world flock to Olinda and Recife Antigo for more traditional carnivals. Other important celebrations include the São Joao festival in June, which offers typical northeastern music and dancing and special Brazilian dishes, and Recifolia, one of the largest out-of-season carnivals in Brazil. Several libraries are located in Recife for those who can read Portuguese, although books cannot be loaned out. A small library of American books and current periodicals is located at the binational center.

Social Activities

This region of Brazil is known for its hospitality and receptivity to foreigners. Most of the social activity in Recife revolves around the extended family, which often includes close family friends. Dinners are also common. Most entertaining, both in a family or more formal setting, is done at home. Entertaining is also more informal in nature, reflecting this family orientation.

The social life in Recife is active and Americans are readily welcomed into the community. Adults, adolescents and children quickly develop their own social life and meet frequently for parties and various activities.

Pôrto Alegre

Pôrto Alegre, capital of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, is the center of one of the most prosperous areas of Brazil. The city, with an estimated population of 2.9 million, lies at sea level at the mouth of the Guaíba River, the head of the sea's freshwater outlet, Lagoa dos Patos. The State of Rio Grande do Sul covers 108,951 square miles, and is slightly larger than Colorado. It is bordered on the north by the State of Santa Catarina, on the west by Argentina, and on the south by Uruguay.

Traditionally an agricultural state, it grows and processes rice, corn, wheat, soybeans, livestock, and a variety of other products. Extensive industrial expansion, including the refining of petroleum and its byproducts, and the production of steel, ships, footwear and leather products, wine, wood, paper and cellulose, textiles, and electrical products has occurred in recent years.

Although Pôrto Alegre's basic cultural pattern is dominated by its Luso-Brazilian heritage, this has been modified by Texas-like gaucho traditions, and (more recently) by heavy German and Italian immigration.

Pôrto Alegre's architecture reflects its historical development: early colonial buildings, baroque structures derived from Italy and France, and Brazilian modern design. Pôrto Alegre is built on hills, some of them quite steep. Narrow cobblestone streets, buses, and taxis, and many office buildings in the downtown district contribute to traffic congestion that is out of proportion to the city's size.

The Americans in Pôrto Alegre include those on assignment with agencies of the U.S. Government, a small number of business firms, and several religious organizations. The British community is somewhat larger. Periodically, American business representatives visit the city. Membership in the American Chamber of Commerce is almost entirely Brazilian.

Schools for Foreigners

Rio Grande do Sul, and Pôrto Alegre in particular, has one of the best school systems in Brazil, but all instruction is in Portuguese. Fluency in that language is more or less mandatory for admission and for satisfactory performance in Brazilian schools.

The only English-language school in Pôrto Alegre is the Pan-American School, which offers kindergarten through eighth grade, and can provide correspondence-school supervision for grades nine through 12. The school was organized in 1966, and had a 1991 enrollment of about 87 students. There were nine full-time and seven part-time teachers at the school in 1991. The Pan-American School is a coeducational institution with a U.S.-style curriculum. The school has 12 classrooms, a 5,000-volume library, playing field, computer lab, and science lab. Extracurricular activities include soccer, field trips, and school newspaper. Information is available from the school at Rua João Paetzel 440, 90.000 Pôrto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Four private American missionary schools exist but, as the founders have died or been replaced by Brazilian teachers, the schools have lost their U.S. character. The schools are Colegio Americano (Methodist for girls), Instituto Pôrto Alegre (Methodist for boys), Colegio Batista (Baptist, coeducational), and Ginasio Menino Deus (Catholic, coeducational in the primary grades, operated by the Bernardine Sisters from the U.S., but taught mostly by Brazilian nuns). All offer first grade through high school. Children, especially girls, must wear uniforms.

Several good Portuguese-language schools are in Pôrto Alegrethe Colegio Anchieta (Jesuit, coeducational), Colegio Farroupilha (coeducational), Colegio de Aplicacão (junior high and high school, coeducational), Colegio Rosario (Marist Brothers for boys), and Colegio Sevigne (Sisters of St. Joseph for girls). Pôrto Alegre's Jewish community runs the Ginasio Israelita Brasileiro. Schools are in session about four hours a day, morning or afternoon, six days a week. Children too young to travel alone are taken to and from school by parents. A few private institutions have buses.

Principal universities in Pôrto Alegre, among the first in Brazil, are Catholic University and Federal University. Courses are taught in Portuguese. Private Portuguese-language instruction on a reasonable hourly basis may be arranged.


Many sports are available in the Pôrto Alegre area, among them tennis, golf, yachting, fishing, swimming, riding, and trap, skeet, and target shooting. A number of clubs maintain good tennis courts, and several clubs also have swimming pools. Ocean swimming is available at beach resorts such as Torres, Capão da Canoa, Tramandaí, and Cassino, two to six hours by car from the city. There is a fine harbor at Veleiros do Sul, one of the two major yacht clubs. The other club, Jangadeiros, caters to day sailors and holds frequent regattas for small centerboard sloops. Motor-boating is also popular.

Spectator sports are soccer and horse racing.

Those interested in touring will find Caxias do Sul an interesting spot. About 75 miles north of Pôrto Alegre in the center of the mountainous wine-growing region, it is a clean and attractive city well worth visiting. The Italian community holds an annual wine festival there. Slightly closer than Caxias do Sul is the mountain resort town of Gramado. Many people living temporarily in Pôrto Alegre also make trips to Florianópolis, the capital of Santa Catarina, to enjoy the fine beaches. Iguaçú Falls are accessible by scheduled airlines in a three-hour flight or a one-day drive over good roads. Bordered by Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, the falls are world renowned for their volume and beauty.


Pôrto Alegre has several air-conditioned movie theaters. U.S films (six months to one year old) predominate, supplemented by French, Italian, German, British, and Brazilian productions.

The Pôrto Alegre Symphony Orchestra plays at least once a month in season, and another concert series brings international guest artists to the city. Professional Brazilian theater companies perform occasionally. The city offers many good restaurants, some featuring German, Italian, or Chinese cuisine, as well as the traditionalchurrasco (barbecue). Several nightclubs exist.

Celebration of Carnaval season is fairly moderate and is best represented by social events organized by clubs and neighborhood groups.

Many members of the English-speaking community join the British Club. Facilities include tennis courts, swimming and wading pools, and playground equipment. Although the club serves as a gathering place for English speakers, membership is not confined to persons familiar with the language. The International Women's Association also offers opportunities for social activities.

One of the attractive features of visiting or living in Pôrto Alegre is the chance to meet and know Brazilians, and the only limit to the newcomer's international contacts is language. Pôrto Alegre has several active Rotary and Lions clubs and Masonic lodges. The ability to speak Portuguese fluently will greatly enhance opportunities for social contact.

Special Information

Santa Catarina, in the U.S. consular district of Pôrto Alegre, is in the south temperate zone of Brazil. Its climate is similar to that of Rio Grande do Sul. The state is divided into three distinct geographical zones: the coastal plain, the central highlands, and the western highlands. The state borders Argentina to the west, Paraná to the north, and Rio Grande do Sul to the south. The capital is Florianópolis.

Blessed with abundant rainfall and numerous lakes, the state is one of Brazil's most beautiful. The coastal area includes superb beaches and coves, and attracts visitors from many parts of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.

The State of Santa Catarina's population of four million includes 30 percent German, 30 percent Italian, 15 percent Portuguese, 10 percent Polish, five percent Russian, five percent Negro, and five percent of mixed origin. Santa Catarina is the most European of Brazil's states. Entire communities of German-speaking peoples abound, especially in the Blumenau-Joinville-Brusque area. The architecture, language, music, and cultural traditions all give the state the air of a central European country.

Santa Catarina has elementary and secondary schools in all municipalities of 2,000 inhabitants or more. In the western highlands, few secondary and preparatory schools exist.

The only accredited university in the state, the Federal University of Santa Catarina, is in Florianópolis. Present enrollment is about 6,000 full-time students. Separate faculties also exist in Joinville (economics and public administration) and in Lages (chemistry and industrial engineering). Blumenau has a municipal university.

Santa Catarina's many lakes and ocean-front beaches make it a fisherman's heaven. For hunters, all sorts of wild game abound, including rabbit, squirrel, bobcat, puma, bear, raccoon, wild boar, and over 25 species of game birds. The western portion is ideal for overnight camping.

Salvador Da Bahia

Salvador Da Bahia, formerly Salvador, is Brazil's oldest city, located in one of the most historic parts of the country. The Portuguese first landed in Brazil at Pôrto Seguro in the southern part of the State of Bahia, and when they colonized the country, they built the city which is now Salvador da Bahia. It was Brazil's capital from 1549 to 1763.

Situated on a hilly peninsula at the entrance to All Saints' Bay (Bahia de Todos os Santos), it is a picturesque city famed for its many baroque churches, distinctive food, colorful costumes, and religious ceremonies. Although strong African influences are found in Bahia, the main cultural tradition is Western, influenced at first by Portugal, and more recently by France and the U.S.

Salvador da Bahia is one of Brazil's largest modern ports. Cocoa, tobacco, sugar, sisal, diamonds, iron ore, aluminum, hides, and petroleum are exported through Salvador da Bahia's port. The city has many important industries, among them textiles, ceramics, food and tobacco processing, automobiles, chemicals, and shipbuilding.

The metropolitan area has an estimated population of 2.4 million and is growing rapidly. Although this growth is accompanied by modern urban problems, the city retains much of its charm because of its privileged location by the bay and ocean, its varied topography, and its rich collection of historic buildings, many of which are registered and cannot be torn down.

Salvador da Bahia is divided into two partsthe "lower city" at sea level with the old port and commercial district; and the "upper city," reached by stone steps, and the site of government buildings, residential areas, museums, and churches. Some of the old and historically significant churches have been made into museums.

Schools for Foreigners

The Pan-American School of Bahia, with a student body of about 470, representing many nationalities, is partially sponsored by the U.S. Government. It offers an English-language curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade. In 1991, the school had 50 full-time teachers, 25 of whom were Americans. Located 15 minutes from downtown Salvador da Bahia, the school consists of two buildings, 25 classrooms, a 35,000-volume library, two playing fields, two science labs, and a computer lab. In December 1977, Pan-American was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its program follows the U.S. educational system, and students have transferred easily into American schools and universities. Extracurricular activities include field trips, computers, year-book, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. The school address is: Caixa Postal 231, Salvador da Bahia 4000, Brazil.

Two universities in Bahia offer interesting courses, seminars, and lectures for those with a firm command of Portuguese. Many Americans study that language with private tutors or at the Binational Center.


Golf, tennis, sailing, swimming, and volleyball are the sports which normally attract members of the foreign community in Bahia. Skin diving, rock fishing, and deep-sea fishing are also available. Game in the area is scarce, but duck hunting is possible.

Many Americans join clubs which, in addition to offering sports facilities, provide a place to dine and relax on weekends. The Yacht Club, with a large freshwater pool, a boathouse, and restaurant/bar in attractive surroundings, makes available a temporary (four-month) membership. The Associação Atletica also offers a temporary (six-month) membership. Both the Bahia Tennis Club and the Cajazeira Golf Club provide either transferable or temporary memberships. The British Club, strictly a social organization, is the gathering place for the English-speaking community, and an English-language library is maintained there.

Salvador da Bahia and many nearby historic towns are good for sight-seeing. In the city itself, there is the excellent Museum of Sacred Art, considered the most beautiful in all of Brazil; it contains many works of Brazil's renowned baroque sculptor, Aleijadinho (Antônio Francisco Lisboa), known as "the little cripple." The visitor will also find numerous churches, forts, a small zoo, and many buildings of historical and architectural interest.

It is possible, by prior arrangement, to attend a condomble (voodoo religious ceremony). Photographs may not be taken at such ceremonies without specific permission.


Movies in English, with Portuguese subtitles, are shown in many theaters. A cultural society presents a series of musical recitals and concerts during the May-to-December season.

The few nightclubs, generally discotheques without live entertainment, compare in price to those in large cities of the U.S. Salvador da Bahia has many fine restaurants.

Local radio programs are good, and shortwave is usually satisfactory, but sets should be tropicalized and powerful because of the distances involved. Most people on extended assignments have stereo equipment for home entertainment, and they find that the humidity makes it necessary to use cartridges of variable inductance rather than the ceramic type. There are three television stations in the city. No adjustments are needed for reception on black-and-white American sets.

The closely knit international community in Salvador da Bahia consists mainly of Americans (executives from the private industrial sector and petrochemical complex, and petroleum industry workers), Scandinavians, Swedes, English, Germans, and Argentines. Most speak English and send their children to the Pan-American School. In several book clubs, English-speaking members collectively purchase and share publications. The International Women's Club is one of the city's active social and charitable organizations.

Foreigners participate actively in the city's normal social life. Bahians are friendly and welcome contact with foreigners, especially Americans. English-speaking business representatives meet each Wednesday for lunch at the Clube do Comércio.

Because of the interesting scenery and relaxed life in Salvador da Bahia, many prominent artists make their homes in the area, and are easily accessible to foreigners.

Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte (Beautiful Horizon), capital of Minas Gerais, is Brazil's third largest city, with a population of over 4 million. Minas Gerais is Brazil's second most important state economically, after São Paulo. It is a major center of mining, steel production, automobile (Fiat), electronics, heavy machinery, and agriculture.

Minas Gerais maintains a higher economic growth rate than the nation as a whole. The state's utilities are generally well run providing better than average services, for Brazil. However, investment in basic infrastructure, especially roads, has not kept pace with the state's economic growth. The effects of rapid economic growth of the past decades are evident in the proliferation of common urban problems, such as air pollution (especially severe during the dry season), a crowded downtown area, and slums. Nevertheless, the city is less crowded and congested than Rio or São Paulo, and seems much smaller than a city of 4 million.

Accelerated economic growth in the past few years has also brought an explosion in the cost of living in Belo Horizonte. Consumer prices and rents are comparable to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Officers stationed in Belo Horizonte do not receive tax-free gasoline privileges.

Belo Horizonte, founded in 1897, is spread out over a rolling terrain and many streets are steep. The cross-work of avenues, streets, and diagonals can be confusing to a newcomer. Belo Horizonte has few landmarks of historical significance. The most interesting features of the city include the Praça da Liberdade, the center for the state government; the Municipal Park with tree-shaded paths, a small recreation area for children, small lake, and the Lagoa da Pampulha area with a larger lake; and the Oscar Niem-eyer-designed São Francisco de Assis Church, with murals and frescoes by the internationally famed Brazilian painter, Portinari. Brazil's colonial past is illustrated by a series of beautifully preserved historical cities such as Ouro Preto and Sabara, within 2 hours' drive of the capital. The city has an active night life, with many bars, clubs, restaurants and music.

Belo Horizonte enjoys a warm and dry climate. Winters are mild and sunny, with few genuinely cold days. Summers (December-March) are warm with few spells of hot, muggy weather. Most precipitation occurs from November to February with intermittent rain, heavy at times, causing severe, dangerous flooding. The city is a junction for highways, connecting Rio de Janeiro (4-4-1/2 hours by car), São Paulo (8 hours), and Brasilia (10 hours). Highways are paved and in good condition, although overcrowded with trucks carrying mineral and steel products and agricultural goods. The city's streets are well kept generally, although the quality of pavement is poor in many areas. Most of the city is paved and has a clean look, although pollution is becoming a problem. Modern shopping centers are located in and around the city, offering many stores, including many international chains.

Two airports, Confins (60 min. downtown) and Pampulha (20-30 min.), provide frequent connections to Brasilia, São Paulo Rin de Janeiro and other cities


Food is available locally in adequate quantity and variety. Fresh meat is plentiful. Fruits and vegetables in season are plentiful. Canned goods, frozen foods, and a growing variety of packaged and convenience foods are available but expensive. The central market and neighborhood markets continue to be important sources of supply for fruit, vegetables, and meats. Large supermarkets carrying a wide variety of merchandise, in addition to food items, are available.


All types of temperate climate clothing are useful, including a limited number of woolens for occasionally chilly winter mornings, evenings, or when traveling in southern Brazil during winter. Styles for men and women are informal, but some business and social occasions call for business suits or formal wear. Brazilian women are style conscious and women coming to post may wish to vary their wardrobe after arrival according to local fashions. Various pants, blouses, and pant-suits will suffice for most occasions, with long dresses used only for formal social events.

Supplies and Services

Basic supplies are available locally. Officers stationed in Belo Horizonte should make arrangements to buy items available at the commissary in Brasilia.

Local tailors and dressmakers are adequate. Shoe repair is good. Laundry and dry cleaning services are good, but prices are high.

Local physicians, surgeons, and dentists can treat all but the most serious medical problems. Many have studied or done residencies in the U.S. and speak some English. The cost of medical services in Belo Horizonte is high. An office call currently costs about $70. You can obtain advanced and highly specialized medical services in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Pharmacies carry adequate stocks of Brazilian-produced prescription and nonprescription medicines.

Repair facilities for foreign automobiles, appliances, or electronic items are difficult to find. The reliability of repairs varies. Local carpenters and cabinetmakers are competent, but slow.

Good household help is difficult to find. Increased job opportunities for women in manufacturing industries and businesses have sharply reduced the number interested in domestic employment. Finding and keeping skilled and reliable help is a problem. Personal recommendations are the best way of finding help; employment agencies are not recommended.


American and English-speaking children attend the American School. Classes are from kindergarten through grade 12.

The Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Catholic University of Minas Gerais provide programs in most subject areas. Foreign students are few. The binational center and the Federal University offer Portuguese courses.


Free public recreation facilities are limited and crowded. These include the Municipal Park downtown, a zoo in the Pampulha area, Mangabeiras Park, and Minas Gerais and Fernão Dias Parks.

Many local residents join sports and social clubs and memberships cost $2,000 and up. Clubs offer swimming and tennis facilities. Monthly fees cost $200 and up. Fishing and boating are available on the San Francisco River, some 200 miles from the city. Spectator sports include professional soccer, basketball, and volleyball.


Several colonial cities famous for their baroque architecture and colorful settings are located in Minas Gerais State and are popular tourist attractions. Movie theaters often feature international films with Portuguese subtitles. The Palacio das Artes is home of the Minas Gerais Symphony Orchestra and sponsors performances by local and international musical and theatrical groups. A growing number of art galleries exhibit the works of local artists. The city has an active night life, with many bars, restaurants, nightclubs, concerts, and dancing. The small American community offers limited opportunities for social contact and activities. It consists of temporary residents working for American firms with local branches, missionaries, and permanent residents, including Americans settling in Minas Gerais after marrying Brazilians. A monthly picnic is held at the American School for all members of the community. The city has a small diplomatic community with consulates from Portugal, Argentina, Italy, and Chile.

Mineiros, as natives of the state are known, are friendly but reserved. Host country and other officials meet through business, commercial, fraternal organizations, country clubs, and artistic and cultural events. Family life centers in the home in Minas Gerais. However, once new acquaintances are established, families welcome friendly relationships in their homes.


Belém, a port city, lies about 1°S. of the equator. The ninth largest city in Brazil, it is the capital of the State of Pará. Belém is the economic and political center of the Amazon region. Its narrow streets, tile-fronted homes, random Victorian architecture, modern high-rise office and apartment buildings, and wide streets lined with mango trees bear testimony to Belém's rich and varied history. The city was founded in 1616 by the Portuguese as a base to protect their territorial holdings in what now is northern Brazil. Throughout its history, as now, Belém has served as the port of entry to the vast Amazon Basin, and port of exit for regional products. Products exported via Belém include Brazil nuts, cassava, jute, black pepper, and aluminum.

Some of Brazil's most beautiful old churches are in Belém, among them the Santo Alexandre, the Basílica da Nossa Senhora de Nazaré, and the 17th-century Mercês Church. The city's Catedral (cathedral) dates from 1748. Noteworthy among the modern structures is Teatro da Paz, one of the country's largest theaters, the public library, and archives building.

The city is 90 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, at the junction of the Guamá River and Guajara Bay, which form part of the southern estuary of the Amazon River system. High temperatures and relative humidity make the climate debilitating and, at times, exhausting, but moderate easterly winds bring some relief. Insect and animal pests flourish.

About 25 percent of the city's estimated population of 1.5 million is of European descent, mostly Portuguese. The remainder is either of Indian or mixed racial origin. The foreign community includes some 25,000 Portuguese, 10,000 Japanese, and several hundred English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Lebanese, and Eastern Europeans. About 1,000 Americans live in and around Belém, and another 1,500 are scattered throughout the district.

A modern airport, which is one of Brazil's largest, is maintained in Belém.


Manaus (formerly spelled Manáos) is the capital of Amazonas State and the major city of the Amazon Basin, standing near the confluence of the Amazon and the Río Negro. The rubber boom of the late 19th century effected temporary prosperity, but the decline in that industry left the city to shrink in influence until a renewed interest in the Amazon Basin brought economic growth. Approximately 615,000 people now live in Manaus. It is the major port of northwestern Brazil, and its floating docks can accommodate oceangoing vessels. Brazil nuts, rubber, rosewood oil, and several forest products constitute Manaus' primary exports. Several industries make their home in Manaus, including ship building, soap manufacturing, brewing, petroleum refining, and chemical production. An international airport has been built, and coexists with the British-built customs house, the Portuguese town-houses, and the lavish Opera House, where Sarah Bernhardt once sang.

Manaus features a cathedral, zoological and botanical gardens, and the Museu Indígena Salesiano, which is dedicated to the region's Indian cultures. The tourist office is at Praça 24 de Outubro, Rua Taruma 329, and there are information kiosks at the airport and at the floating docks. Most banks in the city will change foreign currency only in the morning, but money can be exchanged at Selvatour in the Hotel Amazónas. One-and two-day river trips up the Río Negro from Manaus are readily available, and considered worthwhile excursions; it is possible to stop along the river banks to explore the fringes of the forest or to canoe in the clear lakes of the interior.


Fortaleza (Portuguese for fortress), a city with an estimated population of 2.8 million residents, is the capital of the State of Cearáin northeastern Brazil. The city (often referred to as Ceará, the state designation, by foreigners) served as a center for the sugar plantations in colonial times and, today, processes sugar and cotton, and ships exotic products such as carnauba wax and oiticica oil. Fortaleza is also known for traditional handicrafts, especially lace-making.

The Dutch occupied Fortaleza in the mid-17th century, and Nossa Senhora da Assuncão, a fort built by them, still stands. Excellent seafood is brought to the nearby beaches by the fishermen in their hand-crafted vessels each day at about sundown, and the lobsters here are considered particular delicacies. The 1,393-acre Ubajará National Park, featuring caves of the same name, is close by. Fortaleza's tourist office is located at Rua Senador Pompeu 250, and there is a branch in the old prison.


Curitiba, a rapidly growing city of more than 1.4 million residents, is a commercial and processing center, and also the capital, of the southeastern State of Paraná. It was founded in 1654, but developed slowly until the influx of German, Italian, and Slavic immigrants in the early part of the 20th century. The metropolitan area now accommodates well over one million residents.

During the past 30 years, Curitiba has seen swift expansion and modernization. New housing and public buildings have sprung up both in the central city and the burgeoning suburbs, yet the city has not succumbed to the clutter and confusion which often accompanies urban growth. Beautiful, wide avenues and vast expanses of park land remain, bestowing an aura of tranquility seldom found in a modern setting.

Curitiba is home to several industries which manufacture textiles, automobiles, furniture, matches, tobacco, soft drinks, lumber, and tea. Tourist attractions in the city include the Paranáense Museum and an Egyptian-style temple located near Lake Bacacheri.

Two institutes of higher learning are located hereFederal University of Paraná, dating from 1912, and Catholic University, which opened in 1959. Curitiba also is the site of the State Library. The International School of Curitiba, which follows a U.S. curriculum and employs six American teachers, is in a suburb overlooking the city.


Goiânia, capital of the State of Goiás and its largest city, is about two-and-a-half hours west of Brasilia. Like Brasilia, it is a planned city, and was built in 1933 to replace the old city of Goiás as the state capital. With an altitude much lower than Brasilia's, it is usually considerably warmer and more humid. Goiânia is an attractive city with tree-lined streets, attractive parks, interesting 1930s architecture, a shopping center, good hotels, and some excellent restaurants. It also has fine museums and art galleries, and a good urban transportation system. The Sunday fair is one of the best in the area.

Goiânia's population has grown to over 702,000. The city is a shipping and processing center for livestock, crops, and minerals. It is the seat of two schools of higher learning, Federal and Catholic universities, as well as several technical institutes. The city is accessible by air, road, and railway.


The city of ANÁPOLIS , in the State of Goiás, is situated in central Brazil, 82 miles south of the capital. Lumber, rice, coffee, and livestock are processed in this industrial center. Anápolis distributes diamonds, gold, maize, and rubber by rail. A highway and an airport are located nearby. Its population is about 161,000.

ARACAJU is the capital city of Sergipe State in northeastern Brazil. It is near the mouth of the Sergipe River and has an excellent harbor. As the state's commercial hub, it ships cotton, sugar, hides, and rice. The city has several industries which process salt, cotton, sugar, beans, bananas, cashews, and leather. Several roads and airports link Aracaju to Recife, Maceió, and Salvador da Bahia. Aracaju's population is about 289,000.

CAMPINA GRANDE is situated in northeastern Brazil in the State of Paraíba. Since Campina Grande is located in a cotton-growing region, most of its industries are mainly based on that product. Other factories in the city manufacture metallurgical products, pharmaceuticals, and plastics. It also produces sugarcane, fruit, vegetables, and tobacco. The city is the home of an art museum and a regional university. Road, river, air, and rail transportation is available to Recife, João Pessoa and several other cities. The population of Campina Grande is about 222,000.

Located in the State of São Paulo, CAMPINAS is about 57 miles northwest of the city of São Paulo. At one time, Campinas was Brazil's top coffee producer. Today, its industries include the processing of cereals, cotton, and sugarcane as well as coffee. Cosmetics, soap, textiles, motorcycles and agricultural machinery are also produced. Campinas has a symphony orchestra, as well as theaters, museums, and art galleries. A tourist attraction near Campinas is the Salto d'Ita Falls, located five miles north of the city. There are two universities here. The city's population is approximately 567,000.

CAMPO GRANDE , in southwestern Brazil, is the fastest-growing city in the State of Mato Grosso. Industries include tanneries, meat-packing plants, and slaughterhouses. Coffee, corn, rice, and beans are grown in areas surrounding the city. The railroads and airways in Campo Grande are an essential means of transportation for the surrounding region. Campo Grande's population of 282,800 is the largest in Mato Grosso.

CAXIAS DO SUL (formerly called Caxias) is an Italian immigrant settlement in the State of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. Regional farming supports the city's industries which include cattle-raising, wine making, and hog slaughtering. The city's population is close to 199,000.

CORUMBÁ , a small southwestern port city of approximately 66,000 residents on the Río Paraguai, is the chief trade center for Mato Grosso State. Visitors often take boat trips north from here through the Pantanal, a vast wildlife preserve. Other attractions are the regional museum, and the arts and crafts center at the old jail. Corumbá, a junction on the railroad connecting Brazil and Bolivia, was a key strategic point in the War of the Triple Alliance (1865), and changed hands often. Factories in the city process xarque (dried beef) and animal hides.

FLORIANÓPOLIS is located on Santa Catarina Island, off the coast of southeastern Brazil, and is connected to the mainland by two spans, the oldest of which is the handsome and historical Hercílio Luz Bridge. The city has spilled over onto the Estreito strip of the mainland, and the total population is estimated at 154,000. The city produces a number of products including pharmaceuticals, communications equipment, perfume, and plastics. Now a bustling commercial center and the capital of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis' colonial houses still stand along the narrow streets of the city's older section. An anthropology museum at Federal University is worth visiting, and excellent beaches have made the area popular with tourists. The city, named for an early Brazilian president, Floriano Peixoto, was once known as Destêrro. It is linked by excellent roads with the coastal cities of Pôrto Alegre and Curitiba. Flights are available from Florianópolis to Rio de Janeiro, Pôrto Alegre, and São Paulo.

Located in northeastern Brazil, JOÃO PESSOA is the capital of Paraíba State. Founded in 1585, João Pessoa today supplies cement, clothing, beverages, and cigars locally. One of its better-known historical buildings is the 18th-century Church of São Francisco. The church still has its original wooden grilles, entrance, and decorative towers and domes. The city manufactures chemicals, metals, plastics, and electrical products. The city is the home of Paraíba University. João Pessoa's population is close to 290,250.

JUIZ DE FORA is 80 miles north of Rio de Janeiro in the southeastern State of Minas Gerais. The city, with an estimated population of 300,000, is an important manufacturer of knitwear. Many crops are grown near Juiz de Fora, among them bananas, sugarcane, coffee, and rice. Textiles and plastics are also manufactured here. A major tourist attraction is the Mariano Procopio museum. In 1960, the Federal University of Juiz de Fora was opened here.

Situated 125 miles southwest of Recife, in northeastern Brazil, MACEIÓ is the capital of Alagoas State. An industrial city, Maceió produces household items, cotton textiles, chemicals, cigarettes, sugar, and foods. Exports include tobacco, cotton, rum, and sugar. Reflecting its colonial background, the city's landmarks include a lighthouse in the center of the city the Church of Bom Jesus dos Mártires, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Government Palace. Maceió is linked with Recife and cities to the north by road and rail. The population here is about 375,700.

NATAL , with a population of close to 376,500, is situated in northeastern Brazil. It is the capital of Rio Grande do Norte State. A major port, it ships hides, salt, cotton, and sugar. Important industries include salt refining and cotton spinning and weaving. The city was founded on December 25, 1599; "natal" means "Christmas" in Portuguese. The coastline has nice beaches and a folk museum housed in a 16th-century fort. Railroads and highways extend from Natal to the interior and to coastal urban centers. Flights are available to the cities of Recife and Teresina.

Located on the Atlantic coast in Pernambuco State, OLINDA is about 60 miles south of Natal and about 50 miles north of Maceió. Less than four miles from Recife, Olinda is one of the major architectural centers of Brazil. The narrow, steep streets here are flanked by beautiful churches and centuries-old houses. A large colony of artists in the city produce wood carvings and pottery. The colorful Moorish fountains give an added dimension to this historic town of 267,000 residents.

OURO PRÊTO , located in the mountains of eastern Brazil, was founded during the gold rush at the turn of the 18th century, and became a prosperous mining town in the following decades. Since 1933, the city has been considered a national museum, and bears the designation, "world monument," an honor bestowed by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The city's colonial-era houses, churches, and public buildings have been preserved and restored. On June 24 of each year, it becomes the capital of Minas Gerais State for one day (it was superseded by Belo Horizonte in 1897). The 18th-century atmosphere of twisting streets, and the old houses and churches of the town have been preserved. At the churches of Sáo Francisco and Carmo, one may view the baroque sculpture of Aleijadinho, the "little cripple." The museum of the Inconfidencia, housed in a large colonial penitentiary, is dedicated to the history of gold mining and culture in Minas Gerais. For those interested in mineralogy, a museum at the old colonial governor's palace contains a beautiful collection of minerals native to Brazil. The still-operating gold mines three miles north of town are of interest. The tourist office at Praça Tiradentes 41 features films about Ouro Prêto several times daily. Maps in English are available at the Luxor Hotel. The population here is about 27,900.

Once the coffee capital of Brazil, RIBEIRÃO PRÊTO is located in southeastern Brazil in São Paulo State. It was founded in 1856 and has over 300,000 residents. Several crops are grown near the city, among them corn, rice, cotton, sugar, and fruits. Cottonseed oil, beer, and textiles are manufactured in Ribeirão Prêto. The city is accessible by road, air, and rail from São Paulo.

SANTOS , a city of approximately 416,000 in São Paulo State, is the world's largest coffee-exporting port, and one of the principal ports of Brazil. Settled in 1543, it is situated on the island of São Vicente, near the town of the same name, which was the first permanent Portuguese settlement in the New World (1532). Several factories are located in the city. These factories produce soap, soft drinks, cement, and candy. Santos' energy needs are met by a large hydroelectric plant and the petroleum refinery at Cubatão. Santos' humid climate and marshy terrain once made living conditions difficult, but new housing, drainage canals, and updated sanitation facilities have dramatically improved the city. Santos, with its fine beaches and seaside facilities (particularly at suburban Guarujá), is a fashionable residential and resort area.


Geography and Climate

Brazil, with a land area of 3.3 million square miles, is larger than the continental U.S. It extends from the Amazonian equatorial plains at latitude 4°N. to cool uplands at 30°S., where frost often occurs. It borders all South American countries except Chile and Ecuador and, to the east, the coastline runs along the Atlantic Ocean for 4,600 miles.

The vast regions of the Amazon and La Plata River basins occupy about three-fifths of the total area. The huge plateau, rising from l, 000 to 3,000 feet above sea level in São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul, is the country's main physical feature. This is crossed by two mountain ranges; the highest, at 9,823 feet, is near Rio de Janeiro. A second mountain system, in central Brazil, has an eastern range with a maximum altitude of 4,206 feet, and a western peak of 4,500 feet near the city of Goiânia. Because of its great plains and basins, 40 percent of the country has an average altitude of only 650 feet.

Although Brazil is immense in size and varies in topography from the sweeping sea-level Amazon basin south to the mountains of São Paulo and Pôrto Alegre, the temperature range is narrow. The seasons are the reverse of those in the U.S., with summer from December to February. The rainy season usually extends from October to March.


Brazil's population of roughly 160 million is composed of four major groups: indigenous. Indians, the Portuguese, Africans brought to Brazil as slaves, and various. European and Asian immigrant groups. The Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered Brazil in 1500, and the country was subsequently colonized by the Portuguese. A strong African influence exists in the northeast, the legacy of slaves brought to Brazil. The population in the southern half of the country reflects various waves of immigration, with many Brazilians of German and Italian descent in Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. A large Japanese population is concentrated in the agricultural and industrial area around São Paulo, and Brazil also has a significant population of Arab descent. Travelers to Brazil will note a distinct atmosphere and population in each region-the result of the wide diversity in Brazil's ethnic composition.

Brazilians are warm and friendly people eager to know foreigners and their habits and customs. In large cities, many Brazilians speak some English, but appreciate Americans who speak Portuguese. A knowledge of the language is necessary to understand and enjoy the people and their intriguing culture.

Some 90% of the population live in the central plateau and the narrow coastal plain along the Atlantic. The tropical Amazon River basin, comprising almost half of Brazil's total area, is sparsely settled. The Trans-Amazonian Highway Project, as well as several large development projects such as Carajas, are aimed at developing the local economy and encouraging migration into the less populated regions of northern Brazil.

Almost every religion is represented in Brazil, but Roman Catholics are predominant (89%). Animism is widespread and is practiced alongside Catholicism. Religious freedom and separation of church and state prevail.

Public Institutions

Brazil is a constitutional federal republic with broad powers granted to the federal government. The 1988 constitution establishes, at the national level, a presidential system with three branches-executive, legislative, and judicial. Brazilians reelected President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and his vice-presi-dent, Marco Maciel, to second four-year terms beginning January 1, 1999. This marked the fourth direct election for Congress, governorships and the President.

The bicameral national Congress consists of 81 senators (three from each state and the Federal District) elected to eight-year terms, and 513 federal deputies elected at large in each state to four year terms, based on a complex proportional representation system, weighted in favor of less populous states. The apex of the judicial system is the Supreme Federal Tribunal, whose 11 justices are appointed by the president to serve until age 70.

Brazil is divided administratively into 27 states and a federal district, which includes the capital, Brasíia. The structure of state and local governments closely parallels that of the federal government. Governors are elected for four year terms. A federal revenue-sharing system, in place since the 1988 constitution, provides states with considerable resources.

Arts, Science, and Education

Brazil's tremendous ethnic and regional diversity makes for a vibrant and varied cultural scene. São Paulo and Rio audiences enjoy a constant menu of outstanding national music and art events, and a steady diet of top international fare as well. Brasíia and Recife are less tied into the international circuit, but local and national cultural options are regularly available.

Brazil's federal and state higher education institutions include some of the finest in Latin America, a product of heavy government investment in graduate-level programs and university research capacity since the 1960s. Of the 68 major universities in Brazil, 35 are federal, 20 are private or church-related, two are municipal and 11 are state supported. Every state but one (Tocantins) and the Federal District of Brasíia has one or more federal universities, all of which operate directly under the Ministry of Education. In many states there are also one or more state universities and one or more Catholic universities. In addition to the universities, there are approximately 800 other degree-granting colleges and institutions of higher education in such areas as engineering, medicine, agriculture, law, economics and business administration. While bloated payrolls and an innovation-stifling bureaucracy have come to pose a serious challenge to the health and quality of the system, a number of reforms stressing greater teacher and student performance based accountability and more streamlined budgetary processes promise to address many concerns.

The Cardoso Administration recognizes that to be competitive in today's more open and service-driven economy places greater demands on workforce education at all levels, and resources are being shifted to the long-neglected primary and secondary levels. Both access and quality are showing improvement. Although eight years of schooling have been legally compulsory since 1973, 1992 figures revealed that the average Brazilian worker had fewer than five years of formal education. That figure is expected to be closer to seven years in 1998 figures, and the sharply upward trend is likely to continue based on much better retention rates in primary schools over the past four years and surging enrollment rates in secondary schools.

During the 70s and 80s, the poor quality of public schools prompted almost all Brazilian middle-and upper-class families to send their children to private or church-affiliated schools. Those children were then better prepared to pass the difficult entry exams for the public universities, creating a paradox in which the less affluent Brazilians were the least able to benefit from the free public universities. Today that trend is showing some signs of softening as quality improvements and economic pressures lead an increasing number of middle-class families to opt again for public schools.

Commerce and Industry

Brazil's gross domestic product (GDP) of US$800 billion in 1998 makes it the world's ninth largest economy. Brazil's population of 160 million makes it the fourth most populous country, and its territory is the fifth largest. Rich resources make Brazil a country of tremendous potential. Per capita income averages US$5,000, with sharp disparities; in general, the south and southeast are more prosperous, while the northeast is much poorer.

Brazil's economy is highly diversified both agriculturally and industrially. Brazil is a major exporter of manufactured products (73 percent of total exports). It is the world's largest exporter of coffee and orange juice concentrate and a major exporter of soybeans, sugar, cocoa, meat and cotton. Mining is also important, particularly iron ore production.

After many years of high inflation, Brazil achieved its most sustained period of stability, beginning in July 1994 with the introduction of a new currency, the real (plural is reais; abbreviation is R$). This stabilization plan was developed when current President Fernando Henrique Cardoso was Finance Minister (May 1993-April 1994). The inflation rate, which had reached 50 percent per month by June 1994, declined to less than two percent per month throughout 1995. Inflation came down as a result of a strongly valued currency bolstered by very high real interest rates.

In order to consolidate the stabilization program, attract more long-term investment, and put Brazil on the path to long-term sustainable growth, the government must implement wide-ranging structural reforms. Over the years, Brazil has built a cumbersome government-dominated economy that has benefited a few special interests at the expense of the overall society. Many of the necessary reforms require amendment of Brazil's 1988 Constitution. The Congress passed in 1995 five reforms opening the economy to greater investment by the private sector, including foreign investors. Since then some US$80 billion of mostly federally owned assets have been privatized with another US$20 billion of state and local enterprises set for the auction block in 1999.

The GOB has been engaged in a multifaceted program to stabilize its economy in the face of a global financial crisis which began in Asia in late 1997 and was further aggravated with Russia's default and the devaluation of its currency in September 1998. Brazil's vulnerability was its high fiscal deficit. To address this, the Brazilian government has cut spending modestly while simultaneously raising taxes. In early 1999, it abandoned its foreign exchange policy which had closely bound the real to the dollar in a "crawling peg," embracing, instead, a floating exchange.

There was strong consensus that the real has been overvalued for some time. The result was a nearly 50 percent devaluation against the dollar in its first month. To further address the fundamental causes of fiscal deficit, Brazil continues to make structural reforms, primarily in the area of social security and public sector retirement programs. Other reforms currently under consideration include an overhaul of its tax system, labor reform, and political reform to strengthen party organization and discipline.



Parts for cars not produced in Brazil must be ordered from abroad. Few mechanics are trained for repair of imported vehicles. Brazil manufactures gasoline, alcohol, and some service-type, diesel-powered vehicles. Gasoline available is only a 72-octane gasohol mixture. Nearly all gasoline sold in Brazil contains up to 25% anhydrous alcohol. Non-Brazilian-manufactured vehicles run well on the local gasohol. But low-compression engines, either imported or produced locally, are recommended. The gasoline is non-leaded and therefore it is not necessary to remove the catalytic converter.

Ford, Chevrolet, Fiat and VW manufacture full lines of vehicles in Brazil. Most models are based on the companies' European models, but a few are similar to models sold in the U.S. Toyota, Honda and Renault manufacture a limited selection of models in Brazil. Brazilians overwhelmingly prefer vehicles with manual transmissions; automatic transmission is available on a few models, though not all. Used cars are readily available.

The number of imported cars in Brazil is increasing, and dealers are improving service and parts availability. However, it would still be prudent to bring a shop/repair manual and some make/model specific spare parts. There are several competent mechanics in town.

All POVs must carry mandatory and third-party insurance. The mandatory insurance covers personal medical expenses resulting from an accident and costs about R$60 a year. The third-party insurance may be obtained from a Brazilian or a U.S. firm. The minimum required coverage is $400,000 for property damage and $400,000 for personal injury or death. Insurance should include coverage for all persons who may, with permission, operate the vehicle.

The Brazilian Transit Department (DETRAN) issues Brazilian drivers licenses. Those without a valid U.S. or other foreign license are required to have an eye exam. Only eligible family members (EFMs) 18 years old or older are eligible to obtain a Brazilian license.

Brasíia: Taxis are available and offer adequate transportation, particularly for short runs. They are, however, expensive. Municipal governments set metered taxi rates, with higher rates being charged after 11 p.m. on weekends and holidays. All cabs have red license plates with white numbers. Tips are not required, but 10% of the metered fare is appropriate for excellent service.

Bus transportation passes through the center of the city, as well as on other major thoroughfares and is good. Bus service is also available to Brasíia's many satellite cities.

Rio de Janeiro: Many metered taxis are available at reasonable prices, depending on the distance to be traveled. Radio controlled taxis which can be requested by phone are also available. Drivers have a reputation for being reckless. The Security Office advises personnel to avoid riding public buses because of the high incidence of theft. The Metro is also another form of transportation from Copacabana to downtown. The Metro is reasonably priced at R$1.00 each way. Air conditioned buses are widely available and the price ranges from R$3.00 to R$5.00. The air-conditioned buses are generally safer than the public buses. Public bus price is R$.70 each way if you choose to take this route of transportation.

São Paulo: Metered taxis are available at reasonable prices.

Recife: Recife's extensive bus system is efficient and inexpensive. Taxis are abundant and inexpensive. Although we recommend against their use, inexpensive gypsy cab vans ply regular routes.

Belo Horizonte: The rapid growth of this city has overburdened the city's transportation system. Bus lines are extensive and inexpensive, but some knowledge of the city is required. The bus system is chaotic, with most lines ending in the downtown area requiring a change of bus for cross town trips. Although economical, city buses are overcrowded and offer only minimal comfort.

Taxis are plentiful and can be found at stands situated throughout the downtown and principal residential areas. Taxi fares are moderate. Trips to outlying areas require a fare supplement. Taxi companies provide radio-controlled service.

Crowded traffic conditions and a limited number of parking spaces in the downtown and adjacent commercial areas of the city make the use of private cars impractical at times. Trips to this area during business hours are best taken on foot or by taxi.


Direct international air service is available to and from the U.S., Africa, and Europe. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are the primary entry airports for U.S. flag carriers. However, some international flights terminate in Manaus, Belem, Recife, Brasíia, Belo Horizonte, and other Brazilian cities. Intracountry connections to Brazil's major cities by national airlines are excellent, but airfares are high. Air transportation to and from Belo Horizonte is excellent, as the city is served by all four Brazilian commercial air carriers and American and United Airlines. Air transportation to and from Porto Alegre is also excellent, although most destinations require an intervening stop in Rio or Sdo Paulo.

Bus transportation between cities is inexpensive and widely used. Some of the longer routes have air-conditioned buses with sleeper chairs (leito), coffee service, and toilets. Most intracity buses are not air conditioned and are crowded during rush hours, but run frequently and are inexpensive. Metro service operates in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

The highway system in southeastern Brazil and as far north as Salvador is good. Brasíia is connected directly to Foz do Iguacu, Belem, Goidnia, and to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Gas stations, restaurants, and hotel accommodations are scarce on some highways.

The Amazon and Plata Rivers with their tributaries provide 25,600 miles of navigable rivers. Regular water transportation is available from Rio de Janeiro south to Buenos Aires and up the Amazon to Iquitos on the Peruvian border. You can obtain information in Belem on ships traveling up the Amazon.


Telephone and Telegraph

Brazil's telephone service is good. Local rates are higher than in the U.S., however. Reception on incoming international calls is excellent; for outgoing calls reception varies considerably. Direct dialing is available internationally and throughout Brazil. A telephone calling card from a major carrier (AT&T, Sprint, MCI, etc.) is quite useful. Cellular phone service is Brazil is popular.


Registered mail service is available at Rio de Janeiro only.

Radio and TV

Brazil has some 3,000 radio stations and more than 400 television stations. For most Brazilians, TV and radio act as the principal source of news, sports and entertainment. TV Globo, with 107 stations, is known throughout the world for its telenovelas (soap operas), which bring Brazilian stories to TV fans throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Unlike the U.S. standard NTSC system, Brazil television is broadcast with the PALM system. A U.S.-purchased NTSC set can receive the PAL-M signal, but only in black and white. NTSC-PAL-M converters that will allow you to use your NTSC set and receive the normal color transmission are available in large cities for prices that range between $60 and $100. Multisystem TVs are available in Brazil, as well; as of February 1999, a 29-inch SONY multisystem set was selling for about $600.

While Brazil's commercial and public networks provide an ample selection of Portuguese-language news, talk shows, soap operas, sports and variety programs, most expatriates also subscribe to one of the cable systems. Since the launch of cable service in 1993, it has grown rapidly, with projections to reach an estimated 6 million subscribers in the year 2000. The major companies are Globo's NET, TVA/Abril and Direct TV Monthly fees range from about $25 to $40, depending on the package selected. CNN, ESPN, HBO, Cartoon Network, Discovery Kids and similar cable fare are available via all three systems.

Video rental outlets, including U.S. giant Blockbuster, are common throughout Brazil. American-made films for children are generally dubbed into Portuguese; those for adults generally carry subtitles. Video rental prices range from $1 to $3 at February 1999 exchange rates.

Radio fare runs the gamut from MPB (Brazilian Popular Music) and Bossa Nova to Motown and classical music. U.S. music fans can easily identify several stations that focus on music from back home, and Portuguese-speaking news hounds will find a growing selection of all-news or mostly-news formats. The Brazilian Government continues to require all commercial broadcasters to air the government-run Radiobras news program from 7 to 8 p.m. During election time, the public air-waves are also dedicated to a couple of hours a day of free campaign spots for candidates.

Internet use has grown rapidly in Brazil. An estimated 3.5 million Brazilians will be surfing the net by the year 2000, and Brazilian web sites are proliferating daily. Those who would like to practice their Portuguese from the U.S. can start by accessing dozens of Brazilian newspapers via or listen to Brazilian radio stations via the Internet at

Internet providers are multiplying throughout the country, and prices have become more competitive over the past couple of years. You can expect to pay $20 to $35 for monthly service, depending on the amount of usage and your location. AOL is coming into Brazil shortly, so the U.S. standby will also be an option. Phone lines have historically been the limiting factor with Internet service, as 56k modems were wasted on bad lines. With the privatization of phone companies throughout Brazil, the future looks brighter (and faster).

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Brazilian newsstands are jammed with an array of newspaper and magazines, ranging from the serious to the frivolous. Major dailies such as Folha de São Paulo, Jornal do Brasil, O Estado de São Paulo, and O Globo are great sources for information about Brazilian politics, society and culture. They and many smaller, regional newspapers can be accessed on-line via Veja, the most widely circulated weekly magazine in Brazil, offers both newcomers and veterans an excellent overview of the country.

International newspapers such as the International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Miami Herald and The New York Times are available at major newsstands, but the news will be at least a day-and sometimes a week-old. Single editions sell for the equivalent of USD 2.50 to USD 4.00, and subscriptions are available.

Latin American editions of Time and Newsweek, which focus more on international events and issues, are available both at newsstands and via subscription. National bookstore chains such as Saraiva and Livraria Siciliano carry a selection of English-language paperbacks alongside their Brazilian titles, but prices tend to be significantly higher than what readers can find via or other U.S. providers.

Internet Support: Computers and associated hardware are more expensive in Brazil than in the U.S. Parts for personal computers made by international vendors (Dell, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, etc.) are usually available. Qualified repair personnel can be difficult to find. Be sure to bring power and telephone line protection for computer equipment.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Most of the pharmaceuticals used in the United States are available in the Brazilian post cities. In some cases the identical brand name medication is marketed locally. However, in some instances, the quality or availability of locally marketed medication is suboptimal.

The testing of blood products for transfusion purposes in Brazil has improved considerably over the past several years and blood supplies are considered safe.

Brasíia: There are several very adequate hospitals available and the level of competence and technical sophistication among the local health care providers is very good. Dental, orthodontic, and prosthodontic care is available and of good quality. Supplies of medications are good. There is an abundance of specialist consultant physicians available, many of whom are English speaking and have had training in the United States.

Rio de Janeiro: As in Brasíia, there are inspected and satisfactory hospitals, well trained specialist physicians, and other medical support services are readily available. Likewise, dental, orthodontic, and prosthodontic care is available and of good quality. Supplies of medications are good.

São Paulo: São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and as such has a very sophisticated and excellent medical infrastructure.

Community Health

Bottled water, available on a post-reimbursable basis, is recommended for direct consumption, at all locations. Municipality supplied water is treated and considered acceptable for bathing, laundering, and cooking. Fluoride content is variable and not directly added to bottled water and so fluoride supplementation is advised, for children under the age of twelve.

Food inspection and cleanliness of marketed meats and produce is very variable. Fruits and vegetables that are eaten uncooked and or unpeeled should be thoroughly washed and soaked in a disinfecting solution prior to consumption. Meats should be cooked thoroughly. Adequate pasteurization of dairy products is much improved but still variable and "long life" milk is recommended. Likewise, restaurant inspection is less enforced than in the United States. It is advisable to keep this constantly in mind and use discretion in ordering choices, and particularly to be careful with buffet type presentations in regard to freshness and adequacy of food chilling.

Several insect borne diseases are a problem in different areas of Brazil. In the Amazon and Northern regions malaria and Chagas disease are endemic. Dengue fever, a mosquito-transmitted viral illness, is becoming more disseminated throughout the country. To date, Brasíia and São Paulo are still considered nonendemic cities. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever. The malaria in Brazil is considered chloroquine resistant. As important, is to make provision for avoidance of mosquito bites by means of protective clothing, bed netting, and insect repellents. Schistosomiasis, a tissue-invasive worm infestation, is present throughout the countryside. The parasite is transmitted by a microscopic water dwelling larval form, which can invade through the skin unnoticed. Bathing in lakes and river pools is inadvisable because of this organism.

Viral hepatitis, both A and B types, is a significant danger in Brazil and immunization for both is strongly recommended. Tuberculosis is a widespread illness in the country and biannual skin testing for the disease is appropriate. The incidence of HIV AIDS is rapidly increasing in Brazil. Appropriate protective measures and diligent awareness of the problem are essential. Education of potentially at-risk individuals is well advised.

Rabies is present in the country, but not in sufficient intensity to warrant universal immunization for individuals. Pets accompanying the employee should be current in rabies vaccination. Environmental hazards include heat prostration, air pollution in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, dehydration during the dry season (May-October) particularly in Brasíia, and sun exposure-related skin problems. Liberal use of sun screens lotions/creams while outdoors along with wearing protective clothing and headgear is a good habit to develop.

Preventive Measures

You should be immunized against yellow fever. Likewise, immunization against polio, typhoid fever, tetanus, diphtheria, and hepatitis A and B should be current for those coming to Brazil. Due to Brasíia's elevation and proximity to the equator, the sun's ultraviolet rays are more intense and hence more dangerous to skin exposed to the sun. It is important to protect against this hazard with clothing, hats, and sunscreen application.

Persons with ongoing health problems requiring medication or medical appliances and equipment should bring several months' supply of the prescribed drugs along with them. If you use corrective lenses, bring an extra pair of glasses as well as the lens prescription with you, the same applies to contact lenses. The local supply of these items is actually quite adequate, but some delay may be involved in the replacement process.


Passage, Customs & Duties

Direct Delta, United, and American flights to Brazil are available from New York, Miami, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Usual ports of entry are Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

A passport and visa are required for Americans traveling to Brazil for any purpose. Brazilian visas must be obtained in advance from the Brazilian Embassy or consulate nearest to the traveler's place of residence. There are no "airport visas," and immigration authorities will refuse entry to Brazil to anyone not possessing a valid visa. All Brazilian visas, regardless of validity, are considered invalid if not used within 90 days of the issuance date. Immigration authorities will not allow entry into Brazil without a valid visa. Minors (under 10) traveling alone, with one parent or with a third party, must present written authorization by the absent parent(s) or legal guardian, specifically granting permission to travel alone, with one parent or with a third party. This authorization must be notarized, authenticated by the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate, and translated into Portuguese. For current entry and customs requirements for Brazil, travelers may contact the Brazilian Embassy at 3009 Whitehaven St. N.W., Washington, D.C., 20008; telephone (202) 238-2818, e-mail [email protected].; Internet: Travelers may also contact the Brazilian consulates in Boston, Houston, Miami, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Addresses, phone numbers, web and e-mail addresses, and jurisdictions of these consulates may be found at the Brazilian Embassy web site above.

Americans living in or visiting Brazil are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Brazil and obtain updated information on travel and security within Brazil. The U.S. Embassy is located in Brasilia at Avenida das Nacoes, Lote 3, telephone 011-55-61-321-7272, after-hours telephone 011-55-61-321-8230; web site at http// Consular Section public hours are 8:00 a.m.-12:00 noon and 1:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday except Brazilian and American holidays. There are consulates in the following cities:

Recife: Rua Goncalves Maia 163, telephone 011-55-81-3421-2441, after-hours telephone 011-55-3421-2641; web site at Consular Section public hours are 8:00am-12noon and 1:00pm-4:00pm Monday through Friday except Brazilian and American holidays.

Rio de Janeiro: Avenida Presidente Wilson 147, telephone 011-55-21-2292-7117, after-hours 011-55-21-2220-0489; web site at Consular Section public hours are 8:30am-11:00am and 1:00pm-3:00pm, Monday through Friday except Brazilian and American holidays.

Sao Paulo: Rua Padre Joao Manoel 933, telephone 011-55-11-3081-6511, after-hours telephone 011-55-113064-6355; web site at Consular Section public hours are 8:30am-11:00am, Monday through Friday and 2:00pm-3:30pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday except Brazilian and American holidays.

There are Consular Agencies in:

Belem: Rua Oswaldo Cruz 165; telephone 011-55-91-242-7815.

Manaus: Rua Recife 1010, Adrianopolis; telephone 011-55-92-633-4907.

Salvador da Bahia: Rua Pernambuco, 51, Pituba; telephone 011-55-71-345-1545 and 011-55-71-345-1548.

Forteleza: The Instituto Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos (IBEU), Rua Nogueira Acioly 891, Aldeota; telephone 011-55-85-252-1539.

Porto Alegre: The Instituto Cultural Brasil-Norteamericano, Rua Riachuelo, 1257, Centro; telephone 011-55-512-225-2255.


Dogs and cats are required to have the following documentation before their arrival: (1) certificate of vaccination against rabies, and (2) a U.S. public health certificate issued within 30 days of departure and validated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Veterinarians are familiar with this procedure.

The same procedure is followed for pets coming from outside the U.S., i.e., a public health certificate from the country where the pet is located.

Firearms and Ammunition

The importation of personal firearms is to be for sporting purposes only. Those wishing to import a personal firearm into Brazil or purchase one locally should be aware of the following restrictions: There are restrictions on the number and caliber of weapons that can be imported or purchased locally. All personal firearms must be legally registered with the Brazilian Government. The focal point for all matters pertaining to personal firearms is the regional security office in Brasilia. All questions pertaining to personal firearms should be directed to that office. A written request which includes the make, model, serial number, and a copy of the original sales receipt must be forwarded to that office a minimum of 120 days prior to the intended date for shipping personal firearms.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

The currency of Brazil is the real. The rate of exchange is determined by market forces and varies from day to day. It is illegal to purchase currency from individuals or entities that are not authorized by the Central Bank of Brazil to perform exchange services.

In Recife and Belo Horizonte, authorized exchange dealers provide these services. A limited number of automated teller machines (ATMs) accept U.S. ATM cards. This service is expanding. As an added convenience, many personal bills for things like residential telephones and cable television services may be paid at banks.

Brazil has many banks, including Citibank and the Bank of Boston. Most banks also offer ATM service for account holders.

International credit cards are beginning to enjoy widespread acceptance in Brazil. Major credit cards include Diner's Club, American Express, Master Charge, Visa, and Credicard. They may be used for a variety of purchases and for travel expenses. The rates of exchange offered on credit card purchases are competitive at this time.

The international metric system of weights and measures is standard for Brazil.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb/Mar. (Mon & Tuesbefore Ash Wed.) Carnival*

Feb/Mar Ash Wednesday*

Mar. 19 St. Joseph's Day

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Apr. 21 Tiradentes Day

May 1 Labor Day

June Corpus Christi*

Sept. 7 Independence Day

Oct. 12 Our Lady of Aparecida

Nov. 1 All Saints' Day

Nov. 2 All Souls' Day

Nov. 15 Proclamation of the Republic

Dec. 25 Christmas Day



The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Amado, Jorge. Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon. New York: Knopf. 1962. America's Watch. The Struggle for Land in Brazil: Rural Violence in Brazil. New York: Human Rights Watch, 1991.

Atkins, G., Editor. South America into the 1990's: Evolving International Relationships. Boulder, Co.: Westview, 1989.

Baer, Werner and Joseph S. Tulchin. Brazil & the Challenge of Economic Reform. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1993.

Bastide, Roger. The African Religions of Brazil: Toward a Sociology of the Interpenetrating of Civilizations. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978.

Bishop, Elizabeth. Anthology of 20th Century Brazilian Poetry. Wesleyan University Press, 1971.

Bradbury, Alex. Backcountry Brazil: The Pantanal, Amazon, and the Northeast Coast. Edison, N.J.: Hunter Publishing, 1990.

Bunker, Steven G. Under Developing the Amazon: Extraction, Unequal Exchange, and the Failure of the Modern State. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1985.

Burns, E. Bradford. History of Brazil. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980.

Costa, Emilia Viotti da. The Brazilian Empire: Myths and Histories. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

Costa, Gino R Brazil's Foreign Policy: Toward Regional Dominance. Boulder, Co.: Westview, 1989.

DaCunha, Euclides. Rebellion in the Backlands. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Damatta, Roberto. Carnivals, Rogues, & Heroes: An Interpretation of the Brazilian Dilemma. South Bend, Ind: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991.

Degler, Carl L. Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the U.S. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1971.

Dos Passos, John. Brazil on the Move. New York: Paragon, 1963.

Everson, Norma. Two Brazilian Capitols: Architecture and Urbanism in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973.

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views updated May 29 2018


Federative Republic of Brazil

República Federativa do Brasil



Located in South America, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, after Russia, Canada, China, and the United States. Brazil has an area of 8,511,965 square kilometers (3,286,482 square miles), extending 4,320 kilometers (2,684 miles) from north to south and 4,328 kilometers (2,689 miles) from east to west, and a total coastline of 7,491 kilometers (4,655 miles). Brazil borders all the countries of South America except Chile and Ecuador. Brazil's capital city, Brasília, is located in the country's midwest; its largest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, are located in the southeast.


The population of Brazil was approximately 172.86 million in July 2000, which was an increase of 17.7 percent from the 1991 population of 146.83 million. In 2000 the birth rate was estimated at 18.84 births per 1,000, and the death rate at 9.37 deaths per 1,000. The population growth rate declined by an average of 1.9 percent annually between 1980-1990, to 0.94 percent in 2000, reflecting the effect of birth control programs developed by the Brazilian government during the 1990s. It was forecasted that the population would reach approximately 190 million by the year 2010.

Brazil is the most populous country in Latin America and the fifth most populous country in the world. The highest concentration of Brazilians live in the Atlantic coastal region. Of the total population, the states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo contain approximately 41 percent; the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Bahia, Pernambuco, and Ceará contain about 23 percent; and the remaining states hold about 36 percent. The population is extremely urbanized with 78 percent of the population living in cities. Approximately 29 percent of the population is between 0-14 years old, 66 percent is between 15-64 years old, and only 5 percent is over 65 years old.

About 55 percent of the Brazilian population is comprised of whites, the descendants of Portuguese, German, Italian, Spanish, and Polish immigrants; 38 percent are mixed white and black; 6 percent are blacks of African descent; and others comprise 1 percent. Immigration was a major determinant of the population structure in Brazil. During colonial times, Portuguese and Africans immigrated to the northeastern region of Brazil. During the period between 1821-1945, approximately 5.2 million Europeans immigrated to Brazil, settling in the southern agricultural regions. After World War I, the Japanese community in Brazil grew to become the largest expatriate Japanese group of the world, with more than 1 million immigrants.


Before World War II Brazil was the leading world producer of many agricultural goods. Sugar, rubber, and coffee were important exports. However, price variations in the world market for these commodities left the Brazilian economy vulnerable. After the war, the government succeeded in rapidly industrializing the economy in order to diversify and decrease its dependency on imported goods. Brazil became one of the only industrialized nations of South America and an important exporter of manufactured goods. Industry and agriculture are today the country's major economic sectors. However, the country's growing prosperity was offset by the inflation caused by budget deficits .

Brazil is unable to produce enough oil to meet domestic demand, and needs to import most heavy industrial machinery and equipment. The government provides incentives for domestic petroleum production, and gives legal and fiscal incentives promoting foreign investment in heavy industry. Multinationals dominate Brazilian industry, followed by government-owned companies. The biggest government-owned company is Petróleo Brasileiro, or Petrobras, an oil drilling and processing company. Brazil has oil reserves located on the coast and in the Amazon Basin. The geography and topography are also extremely beneficial to agriculture. Most of the country has either a tropical or subtropical climate. Extensive water reserves provide for the growth of grains, which are extensive enough to meet domestic consumption and allow for substantial exports.

Government external debt more than doubled during the 1980s and 1990s. Total outstanding and disbursed debt grew from US$61.3 billion in 1979, to US$114.5 billion in 1989, and to US$221.8 billion in 1999. The increase in government debt was due mainly to increased interest paid to its lenders and the borrowing of new money to implement economic and social plans in the country. However, because the new loans were used ineffectively, the debt service increased significantly. By making bigger payments to offset the debt, the government was left with few resources to carry on its own economic and social development plans. Total debt service (the interest paid on loans) increased from US$11.3 billion in 1979, to US$14.1 billion in 1989, and to US$73.7 billion in 1999.

The Brazilian government follows International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic, fiscal, and social objectives in order to receive funds. Brazil started a structural adjustment program at the request of the IMF, receiving a US$41.5 billion financing package in November 1998. The privatization policy adopted by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso decreased government participation in industry, and brought in much-needed foreign investment. In 1999, Brazil's debt-to-GDP ratio of 48 percent beat the IMF target. After the currency was devaluated by more than 60 percent in 1999, Brazil negotiated with the IMF on adjustments to the 1999-2001 economic program. Lowered economic targets were agreed upon in January 1999, when the debt-to-GDP ratio was set to fall below 46.5 percent by the end of 2001.


The Brazilian Constitution, created in 1988, supports a democratic government with universal suffrage by direct and secret ballot. Voting is compulsory for literate persons between 18 and 69 years of age and is optional for persons who are illiterate, over 70 years of age, or 16 and 17 years of age. There are 3 branches of government: the executive, legislative, and judicial. The president exercises executive power, and is elected by direct ballot to a 4-year term. Legislative power is exercised by the bicameral (2-chambered) National Congress comprised of: the Federal Senate, or upper house, whose 81 members are elected by a system of proportional representation for 4 years; and the Chamber of Deputies, or lower house, whose 513 members are elected for 8 years by direct ballot, and whose districts are proportional to the size of the population. Each state has a directly elected governor and an elected legislature. The municipalities are governed by directly elected mayors and an elected legislature.

Judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Federal Tribunal, whose judges are appointed for life and who are elected by their own tribunal members. Brazil's judicial system plays an important role in the Brazilian economy. It is responsible for compliance to laws regarding the economy, which are determined by the constitution. Any government decision affecting the rights of the individual is contested and supported by an independent judicial system. Therefore, radical changes in legislature regarding the economy are almost impossible if the judicial system disapproves.

Brazil went through decades of military dictatorship. The military overthrew the left-wing regime of President João Goulart in 1964 and ruled Brazil until 1985. The Brazilian military exerted complete control over the economy, politics, and popular media. All mass communication, art, and popular opinion were censored by military intelligence. Many leftist politicians were arrested and exiled to other countries during these dark years. However, in 1985, popular pressures and a recession led to peaceful democratic elections and indirect elections for the presidency. The legislative election of 1985 resulted in the formation of the democratic regimes of the 1980s and 1990s, and the military lost its power and influence in the economy. Since then there have been military, navy, and aviation ministries in the Brazilian government, but their influence has not been felt in the most important economic and political decisions.

A coalition of the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), the Liberal Front Party (PFL), and the Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB) has held power since Brazil became a democracy. This coalition is opposed by the coalition of the Worker's Party (PT) and other smaller parties. The PSDB and the PT were the strongest political forces during the 1990s, directly opposing each other in the national congress and throughout the states.

The Democratic Workers' Party (PDT), led by Leonel Brizola, criticized the military dictatorship of the 1970s. The Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), which later turned into the PMDB, also opposed the military regime. The PFL represents the conservative front of Brazil with alliances to the winner of the 1989 presidential elections. The Communist Party of Brazil (PC) represents extreme opposition to the government and has alliances with the organizers of the Landless Movement.

Brazil had its first democratic presidential elections in 1989 after decades of military dictatorship. Luís Inácio da Silva, also known as Lula, represented a coalition of worker union parties (including the PT), but lost to Fernando Collor de Mello who represented a liberal, pro-business party. In the democratic elections of 1994 (the second since 1960), Lula fell again to Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Cardoso developed a strong economic policy, cutting inflation, and decreasing government spending in order to meet IMF targets and receive loans. The Brazilian real was then tied to the U.S. dollar and forced to maintain a constant exchange rate . Inflation stabilized, but the cuts in government expenditure generated a recession in the country. In 1997 Brazil's congress approved a constitutional amendment enabling Fernando Henrique Cardoso to run for reelection in 1998. He was reelected for a second term, beating Lula again and continuing his economic policies.

Brazil's government plays a large role in the economy, controlling many sectors of the economy that are considered strategic, including power generation, oil extraction, mining of natural resources, water supply, and telecommunications. Fernando Henrique Cardoso began to adopt policies to end these monopolies . The policies include privatization of state-run companies, and deregulation of the energy and mining sectors.

Nearly 61 percent of government revenue comes from tax payments. Personal income tax rates are progressive, with a maximum rate of 25 percent. The income tax rate on corporations and other legal entities are also progressive, with a maximum of 30 percent. Profits are taxed at up to 50.5 percent and capital gains at 25 percent. A value-added tax that ranges from 10 percent to 15 percent is payable on sales and transfers of goods in accordance with the nature of the production. Apart from personal income taxes, government taxes are applied on corporation income, turnover , sales, financial operations, minerals, fuels, electric power, real estate, municipal service, and urban real estate. Tax evasion is rampant in Brazil, but this crime came under attack during 2000. The Central Bank of Brazil and the Ministério da Receita (Ministry of Income) compared their records in order to determine which Brazilians had not filed income taxes.


Roads are the primary method of transportation in Brazil of both passengers and freight. With an estimated 21.31 million passenger cars and 5.5 million commercial vehicles in 1998, the highway system is inadequate and poorly maintained. There are approximately 1.98 million kilometers (1.23 million miles) of highways in Brazil, but only 184,140 kilometers (114,425 miles) of these roads were paved in 1996. A study by the World Bank shows that in the early 1990s 28 percent of the country's highways were in poor condition. Furthermore, the lack of proper maintenance increased transportation costs in Brazil by nearly 15 percent over the same period. The government implemented road construction plans in order to integrate the industrialized south with the less developed northeastern and northern areas. This integration enabled agricultural producers to move goods to ports located in the coastal areas for exportation. The railway system in Brazil is very limited. There are only 27,882 kilometers (17,326 miles) of tracks in Brazil (excluding urban commuter lines) and this number is in decline as track falls out of service.

In contrast, Brazil's air transportation is well developed with 48 main airports, 21 of which are international. In 1998 about 31 million passengers used Brazilian airlines, traveling a total of 27.39 million kilometers (17.02 million miles). The total weight of airline freight was equal to 602.74 million metric tons and Brazilian airlines carried freight over 2.2 billion kilometers (1.36 billion miles). Guarulhos International Airport at São Paulo and Galeão International Airport at Rio de Janeiro are the most important and active international airports of Brazil.

Hydroelectric plants generate most of Brazil's electrical power, responsible for 91 percent of the total production. Secondary sources include fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Only state companies are allowed to supply electrical power to the population, producing a total of 316.927 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in

CountryNewspapersRadiosTV Sets aCable subscribers aMobile Phones aFax Machines aPersonal Computers aInternet Hosts bInternet Users b
United States2152,146847244.325678.4458.61,508.7774,100
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

1998. Domestic production falls 20 billion kWh short of domestic need, causing Brazil to import electricity from neighboring countries such as Paraguay. Power supply is reliable most of the time, and shortages and blackouts are infrequent in urban areas.

Telecommunications services are well developed. Privatized in 1999, telephone service is provided by a number of privately held foreign capital companies. The country has approximately 19 million main lines in use (1997 est.) and 8 million mobile cellular phones in use (1998 est.). There are 138 television broadcast stations (1997) that are sent to 316 television sets per 1,000 people (1998). Computer access is still limited, evidenced by the number of personal computers (30.1) and Internet hosts (1.84) per 1,000 people recorded in 1998.


Brazil's major economic sectors are all well developed. The agricultural sector of Brazil represented a larger percentage of the gross domestic product than industry until 1945. At that time, the government supported industrialization and direct investment in industry, with subsidies and trade protection for Brazilian industrial products. Industry was almost 3 times more valuable than agriculture as a percentage of gross domestic product by 1999. In the agriculture sector, Brazil is one of the world's largest producers of soybeans and coffee. International competitors watch Brazil's weather to determine the success of the soybean and coffee season, setting international prices based on Brazil's harvest. The agriculture sector represented 8.4 percent of the gross domestic product in 1999 and employed 31 percent of the workforce.

The government uses import taxes to protect many Brazilian industries against international competition. These industries include textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, and other machinery and equipment. The footwear industry is the most important finished good exported from Brazil. Government-owned Petrobras and Brazilian Aeronautics Enterprise are important companies headquartered in Brazil that produce oil and aircraft, respectively. The industrial sector represented 31.7 percent of the gross domestic product in 1999. Twenty-seven percent of the employed workforce was in the industrial sector.

The third most important developed sector of the Brazilian economy is the services sector. It represented 59.9 percent of the gross domestic product in 1999. Tourism has increased rapidly with an estimated 4.82 million foreign tourist arrivals and receipts of US$3.68 billion from foreign tourists in 1998. This represented an increase from 2.67 million foreign tourist arrivals and receipts of US$2.47 billion in 1996. Forty-two percent of the employed working force was in the service sector.


Brazil has been the world's second largest exporter of agricultural goods since 1977. With the exception of imported wheat, Brazil is self-sufficient in food. In 1993, 48.9 million hectares (121 million acres) of land was available for agriculture in Brazil, the fifth largest agricultural area in the world. In 1999 agriculture accounted for 8.4 percent of the total GDP, a decrease from 11 percent in 1979. Average annual growth of agriculture as a percentage of the total gross domestic product was 3.4 percent in the 1979-1989 period, and 2.9 percent in the 1989-1999 period. Annual growth of agriculture as a percentage of gross domestic product leapt to 9.5 percent in 1999, due to the expansion of the export sector. This expansion occurred because the Brazilian government de-valued its currency by nearly 60 percent in 1999, making Brazilian agricultural exports extremely cheap. Brazil is the largest producer of coffee, oranges, and sugar in the world; and is a primary exporter of coffee, cocoa, soybeans, orange juice, and sugar. The country imports rice, wheat, and barley.

Livestock, dairy, and poultry production play an important role in Brazilian agriculture. Since the 1940s, cattle have become one of the country's major sources of income. The area devoted to open pasture in 1994 was equal to 185.5 million hectares (458.38 million acres). This area occupied more than one-fifth of the total country. The government provided incentives to stimulate production, food conservation, and a more effective distribution of meat and dairy products.


Brazil's coffee production increased from 1 million metric tons in 1995-96 to 2.14 million metric tons by 1998-99, more than doubling in 4 years. However, production decreased slightly to 1.85 million metric tons in 1999-2000. The decline in production for 1999-2000 was linked to an agreement of the Association of Coffee Producing Countries (ACPC). ACPC developed a program to reduce the world supply of coffee in order to increase its price. The volume of coffee held back by each country is set at 20 percent of exports. However, Brazil still remains the largest producer and exporter of coffee in the world.


Soybean production in Brazil increased considerably for the 1999-2000 harvest. The average production of soybeans for 1994-99 was 28.23 million metric tons and for 1999-2000 alone was 32.5 million metric tons. The increase in soybean production for the 1999-2000 harvest was equivalent to 15 percent over the 1994-99 average. This increase was due to favorable weather in the southeast area of Brazil, where most of the farms are located. Another positive effect was that the world market increased imports from Brazil after the currency devaluation. The increase in soybean exports was equal to 24 percent, from 8.93 million metric tons for 1998-99 to 11.16 million metric tons for 1999-2000. Brazil is the second largest soybean producer and exporter (after the United States) in the world. The total area used for soybean production is equal to 13.4 million hectares (33.16 million acres).


Brazil is the largest producer and exporter of oranges and orange juice in the world. Brazil's total production was equal to 1.1 million metric tons in 1999-2000, or 47 percent of the world total. Orange juice consumption in Brazil is very small, only 18,000 metric tons for 1999-2000. The remainder is exported, at 1.16 million metric tons for 1999-2000 (including tangerine juice). Brazil's orange production and export volume declined from 1998-99 levels by 19 and 11 percent, respectively, in 1999-2000.

SUGAR. Since the time of Portuguese colonization, Brazil has been the largest producer and exporter of sugar in the world. Sugarcane production is concentrated in the northeastern area. Brazilian companies process sugarcane into sugar and alcohol. Sugar is mostly exported to the rest of the world while alcohol is mostly used as fuel for passenger vehicles. Passenger vehicles in Brazil are powered by either a combination of oil and alcohol, or solely alcohol. The Brazilian government developed research and financial incentives for utilization of alcohol in passenger vehicles after the world oil crisis in 1973-74. Brazil's sugar production in 1999-2000 was equal to 20.1 million metric tons. Sugar exports for 1999-2000 were equal to 11.3 million metric tons.


Tobacco is another major agricultural product. Brazil is the third largest producer (after China and India) and largest exporter of tobacco in the world. During the 2000 calendar year, 493,100 metric tons were produced and 350,000 metric tons of tobacco were exported from Brazil. Tobacco production in Brazil increased from 365,000 metric tons in 1996 to 493,100 in 2000, an increase of 35 percent. Tobacco exports in Brazil increased from 282,500 metric tons in 1996 to 350,000 in 2000, an increase of 24 percent.


Cocoa production in Brazil has suffered the effects of mixed weather patterns and infection by the witches-broom fungus since 1989. Despite these problems, Brazil is the third largest cocoa producer and exporter in the world (after Côte D'Ivoire and Ghana). Cocoa production for 2000 was the lowest in 30 years, decreasing by 21 percent, from 159,119 metric tons in 1999 to 125,290 metric tons in 2000. Exports, however, increased by 3 percent, from 93,295 metric tons in 1999 to 96,100 metric tons in 2000. Brazil's chocolate consumption rose 89 percent from 1988-89 to 1995-96, from 62,700 metric tons to 118,500 metric tons. Cocoa imports in 2000 increased by 67 percent, setting an all-time high, from 50,350 metric tons in 1999 to 84,100 metric tons in 2000. The government tried to develop new cocoa strains resistant to the fungus, and to use pest management systems, but without success.


Brazil is the third largest producer of corn in the world (after China and the European Union). Corn production for 1999-2000 yielded 31.6 million metric tons, a decrease of 2 percent from the 1998-99 production of 32.35 million metric tons. Consumption after 1996-97 was higher than production, generating a need for imports. Corn imports were small, amounting to only 1.79 million metric tons in 1999-2000. It is expected corn production will surpass consumption in the future due to government production incentives.


Brazil is the world's second largest producer (after the United States) and third largest exporter of beef (after Australia and the United States). Beef production for 2000 was 6.3 million metric tons, an increase of 4 percent from the 1999 production of 6.05 million metric tons. Beef exports for 2000 were equal to 650,000 metric tons, an increase of 18 percent from the 1999 export of 550,000 metric tons. In 2000 the mad cow disease in Europe helped boost beef exports from Brazil. In 1999 the European Union was the market for nearly 70 percent of Brazilian beef exports. However, Brazilian exporters expanded to other existing markets (such as the United States) and to new markets (mainly in Asia). Even though exports to the United States rose 50 percent in 1999 to 50,376 metric tons, the United States joined Canada (its NAFTA partner) in temporarily banning all imports of beef in 2001.


Brazil's dairy production is the sixth largest in the world (after the United States, India, Russia, Germany, and France), but all of its production is consumed domestically. Total production of fresh cow's milk was equal to 22.8 million metric tons in 2000.


Brazil's poultry production ranks third in the world (after the United States and China). Broiler meat exports from Brazil also rank third in the world (after the United States and Hong Kong). Broiler production has increased significantly throughout the last 5 years. Broiler meat production increased from 4.05 million metric tons in 1995 to 5.45 million metric tons in 2000, an increase of 35 percent. Broiler meat exports went from 424,000 metric tons in 1995 to 850,000 metric tons in 2000, an increase of 100 percent in only 5 years. Most of the increase in exports happened in the years of 1999 and 2000, when the devalued real boosted broiler meat exports. In 2000 the mad cow disease in Europe helped to increase broiler meat exports. Poultry exports increased 26 percent in 1999, and 20 percent in 2000. The European Union increased its imports of Brazilian poultry by 50 percent in 2000.


Brazil's pork production was equal to 1.95 million metric tons in 2000, mostly for domestic consumption. Fishing is limited, and lamb and sheep are not raised in Brazil due to the tropical weather.


Peak industrial growth was achieved in 1973, when the manufacturing sector grew by 15.8 percent. In 1999 the industrial sector accounted for 31.7 percent of the total gross domestic product, decreasing from 40.6 percent in 1979. The average annual industrial growth rate was 2.3 percent during 1979-1989, and 2.1 percent during 1989-1999. Industrial growth decreased 1.3 and 1.7 percent in 1998 and 1999, respectively; however, industry grew by 6.5 percent by the end of 2000. The industries that developed most in the year 2000 were the automobile (18.9 percent), parts and machinery (18 percent), mining (11.9 percent), electrical and communications (11.9 percent), and metal processing (7.6 percent) industries. Industry in Brazil employed 27 percent of the work-force. Industrial products included iron and steel, automobiles, petroleum, chemicals, and cement.


The manufacturing sector contributed 22.7 percent of the gross domestic product in 1999, engaging 11.8 percent of the workforce in 1998. The manufacturing sector decreased as a percentage of gross domestic product from 31 percent in 1979 to 29.5 percent in 1989, and 22.7 percent in 1998 and 1999. This was caused in part by a lack of foreign investment and inflationary problems during the 1980s and 1990s. The instability generated by inflation and uncertain government policies caused tremendous fluctuations in manufacturing growth rates. Major products in the manufacturing sector are televisions, VCRs, telephones, and computer chips. There are a few national companies that are domestically oriented, such as Consul and Brastemp. There are also companies that are primarily export oriented, such as Nokia, Intel, and Compaq.

State participation in manufacturing occurs in the production of textiles and clothing, footwear, food, and beverages. These industries comprise a large proportion of the manufacturing sector, but there are also new industries that have been developed in the last few decades with government aid. Machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, sugar cane and wood derivatives, and chemicals are important manufacturing industries. Direct government participation is noticed in the oil processing industry and passenger jet aircraft industry through partial ownership of such companies. Indirect government participation is noticed in the textile industry and machinery industry through export subsidies and low interest loans.


Automobiles are the most important manufactured items in Brazil. Brazil's passenger automotive production was approximately 1.25 million passenger car units, 350,000 commercial vehicles, and 17,000 tractors in 1998. Machinery and transport equipment were the biggest exports from Brazil, accounting for US$12.6 billion in 1998, or 25 percent of total exports. Brazil has manufacturing plants for General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford, Fiat, Honda, and Toyota. Workers are highly unionized, receiving the highest salaries among the manufacturing industries. In 1998, 292,290 people were employed in the industry.


Crude steel production in 1998 was 25.76 million metric tons. Vast reserves of ore and high domestic demand for steel products have helped the industry. Brazil exported US$3.67 million in steel and ore in 1998.


The national textile industry is responsible for 3 percent of world production. Total sales average US$19 billion per year; exports were US$2.9 billion in 1998. Brazil has the largest textile operating facilities in Latin America. The textile industry is also labor intensive, employing 1.43 million people in 1998. Fibers and leather are used to produce clothing, shoes, and luggage. Brazilian shoes are exported mainly to Europe, where they are famous for their quality. The Brazilian textile industry was comprised of 44,478 mostly small producers in 1998.


The Brazilian paper and pulp industry was responsible for the production of 273,000 metric tons of newsprint in 1998. The industry consisted of approximately 200 companies, employing approximately 80,000 people directly in their processing operations and 60,000 people in forestry operations. Pulp and waste paper exports were US$1 billion for 1998.


The mining sector was protected by the 1988 constitution against foreign majority participation of direct mining companies. This was a setback for the development of the mining sector because domestic investors lacked the capital for extensive mineral exploration. Private Brazilian investors and Brazilian corporations own the majority of the mineral industry. The participation of foreign capital is very limited due to Brazilian mining laws. However, in 1995 the Congress approved an amendment to the constitution allowing private companies (including foreigners) to participate in the mining industry through joint ventures , deregulating investments, and the privatization of state-owned mining plants. Shortly afterwards, the state-owned Companhia Vale do Rio Doce was privatized.

In 1999 mining contributed 0.6 percent of the gross domestic product of Brazil. The country is the world's largest producer of bauxite, gemstones, columbium, gold, iron ore, kaolin, manganese, tantalum, and tin. Major exports are iron ore, tin, and aluminum. The states of Minas Gerais, Bahia, and Goiás, located in the midwest of Brazil, have deposits of diamonds and other precious and semiprecious stones. In 1991 production of diamonds accounted for 1,500 carats, sixth in the world. Reserves of petroleum in Brazil were estimated in 1997 to be at 657 million metric tons.

Brazil's iron ore reserves are estimated at 20 billion metric tons. Mining operations started in 1942, extracting iron ore from the state of Minas Gerais, located on the country's Midwest. With the help of foreign investments, iron ore production increased to 59.4 million metric tons in 1974, and by 1985 output was 186 million metric tons. In 1981 Brazil became the world's leading exporter of iron ore, exporting 131 million metric tons in 1985, mostly to Japan and Germany.


The services sector accounted for 59.9 percent of the gross domestic product in 1999. Government participation in this sector was extremely high, with interests in land, air, and water transportation; postal, telecommunications, and financial services; and research and development. Approximately 42 percent of the workforce was employed in the services sector. The service sector's contribution to gross domestic product was 48.3 percent in 1979, 48.8 percent in 1989, and 59.9 percent in 1999. Average annual growth was 1.9 percent for the 1979-89 period and 2.7 percent for 1989-99.


The number of tourists that visit Brazil increased considerably during the 1990s. In 1994, 1.8 million foreign tourists visited Brazil, generating receipts of US$1.9 billion. In 1999, 5.1 million foreign tourists arrived, spending over US$4 billion. Argentina ranked first with 1.5 million visitors in 1999, American tourists ranked second with 0.6 million visitors, and Germans ranked third with 0.3 million visitors. The average annual income of visitors in 1999 was US$37,000 and they spent an average of US$79 per day, excluding expenses of international airfare. Brazil has over 10,000 hotels and other forms of accommodation. Approximately 63 percent of the existing hotel rooms were occupied in 1998. Hotels generate over 1 million jobs and pay over US$400 million in taxes.

Tourists are attracted to Rio de Janeiro for its notable sights: the Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf Mountain), with its cable car; the Corcovado, with its statue of Jesus Christ the Redeemer; and Copacabana Beach, with its beautiful people and mosaic sidewalks. The historic city of Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais, and the churches of Bahia also attract many tourists. Ecotourism is developed in the Amazon Valley cities such as Belém and Manaus, the Iguaçu Falls in the south, and in the flooded areas of the Pantanal located in the western central region. Brazil is most famous for its Carnival, that usually takes place in February. Rio de Janeiro's Desfile das Escolas de Samba (Samba Schools Parade) attracts millions of tourists every year.

Foreign and government investments in tourism are important to the economy. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Brazilian government invested 1.2 billion in the northeast region, starting in 1994. Investments in that region were responsible for renovating airports, improving public sanitation, preserving natural ecosystems, and restoring cultural practices. These investments rapidly boosted the tourist economy in the northeast, and foreign investment helped with the construction of multimillion dollar resorts in the coastal areas of the northeast. Such investments helped attract an increasing number of tourists to the northeast region. Other investments funded by the IDB and Brazilian government are planned for the Amazon and Pantanal regions, and in the south of Brazil.


The government owns most of the financial sector, the largest component of the services industry. The 3 largest banks of Brazilthe Bank of Brazil, Federal Economic Register, and National Bank of Economic and Social Development (BNDES) accounted for US$181.5 billion in total assets in 2000. The assets of the 3 major banks represented approximately 23 percent of the gross domestic product in 1999. The government holds the majority of the stocks of 3 national banks and a variety of state banks, with the exception of the privatized State Bank of São Paulo (BANESPA), the seventh largest bank in Brazil, and the State Bank of Rio de Janeiro (BANERJ).

The Bank of Brazil is the largest bank in Brazil and the largest financial institution in Latin America. It has 12.9 million customers and agencies in 30 different countries, employing 90,378 people. The total assets of the Bank of Brazil were worth roughly US$71 billion in 2000. The second largest bank, the Federal Economic Register, had assets worth approximately US$63 billion, employing 102,614 people in 2000. BNDES's assets were worth approximately US$48 billion, employing 1,246 people.

The Brazilian Discount Bank (BRADESCO) and Itaú have the largest assets in the private sector . BRADESCO has 3.6 million customers and more than 26 million checking accounts. Total assets for 2000 accounted for US$40 billion and US$27 billion for BRADESCO and Itaú, respectively.

The total assets of the 50 largest banks in Brazil were worth US$436 billion in 2000. This represented more than 50 percent of the total gross domestic product of that year. This part of the financial services sector employed 492,230 people in 2000.


This sector is responsible for the highest number of employed people in all sectors of the services industry. The number of companies that employ 500 or more workers is low; there were 75 companies which hired 500 or more workers in 1997 in the retail section, and 31 companies with 500 or more workers in the wholesale section. The bulk of employed people in this sector come from companies that employ less than 500 employees. Combined retail and wholesale sectors were made up of 708,635 retail and wholesale outlets. Total sales in the sector amounted to approximately US$300 billion in 1998. There are few retail chains in the economy. Most of them are located in the capitals of each state but are not part of the retail context in the less developed economies in rural areas. Food, grocery, and other retail chains are located in the coastal areas whereas small family-owned businesses compose the retail sector in smaller cities. The smaller retail businesses are responsible for employing a large number of people.


Brazil's overall trade flow (the sum of imports and exports) increased from US$63.8 billion in 1993 to US$97.2 billion in 1999, a 52 percent rise. Most of the increase in trade flow is due to the 94 percent increase in imports, from US$25.3 billion to US$49.2 billion. Exports increased by 24 percent during the same period, from US$38.6 billion to US$48 billion.

From 1981 until 1994, Brazil exported more than it imported. Beginning in 1995, however, Brazil began to run a trade deficit , due to the stabilization policies adopted by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Since then, the imbalance has grown considerably. Brazil's

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Brazil
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

trade deficit increased to record numbers in 1997, to US$6.8 billion. This continued in 1998 at US$6.6 billion, but in 1999, the trade deficit decreased to US$1.2 billion. Forecasts for the year 2000 are that exports will exceed imports. The decrease in the deficit can be attributed to the devaluation of the real in 1999.

The primary trading partners of Brazil are the United States and Argentina. The United States is the major importing country of Brazilian goods. Exports to the United States reached US$9.7 billion, representing 19 percent of all exports (this percentage has been the same since 1996). Major exports were manufactured goods, iron ore, soybeans, footwear, and coffee. Argentina was Brazil's second largest exporting destination with US$6.7 billion, or 13 percent; followed by Germany with US$3 billion, or 6 percent; the Netherlands with US$2.7 billion, or 5 percent; and Japan with US$2.2 billion, or 4 percent.

Major imports come from the United States. In 1998 Brazil imported goods valued at US$13.5 billion, representing 23 percent of all imports. Major imports were machinery and equipment, chemical products, oil, and electricity. The second largest imports come from Argentina with US$8 billion, or 14 percent of the total imports to Brazil; followed by Germany with US$5.2 billion, or 9 percent; Japan with US$3.3 billion, or 6 percent; and Italy with US$3.2 billion, or 6 percent.

Brazil is a member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the Law of the Sea treaties. Brazil is also member of MERCOSUR, a South American free trade agreement that includes Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Bolivia, Chile, and Venezuela were being considered for membership to the MERCOSUR free trade area.


From the 1970s onwards, government spending and service of the public debt were the reasons for high inflation, and the subsequent rise in prices. Inflation was Brazil's greatest monetary problem until President

Exchange rates: Brazil
reals (R$) per US$1
Jan 20011.954
Note: From October 1994 through January 14, 1999, the official rate was determined by a managed float; since January 15, 1999, the official rate floats independently with respect to the US dollar.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

Fernando Henrique Cardoso in the mid-1990s adopted measures to slow down government spending and renegotiate public debt in order to contend with inflationary pressures. Brazil's currency was constantly devalued against the U.S. dollar. Currency devaluations generated incentives for the export market, decreasing the trade imbalance caused by debt payments and excess imports of manufactured goods. Devaluation helped the export market, which expanded its production when exports were given a price advantage provided by cheaper products in the world markets, but also represented a burden for domestic consumers who faced higher prices on imported goods. In the period from 1995 to 2000, the real devalued by approximately 100 percent. In 1995, 1 U.S. dollar was equal to 0.9176 reals. In 2000, 1 U.S. dollar was equal to 1.8302 reals. The devaluation was largely felt in early 1999, when the central bank of Brazil adopted a floating exchange rate system. The real then fell by 56 percent from 1998 to 1999.

In the past, Brazil had as many as 9 regional stock exchanges. However, with consolidations of the stock markets in the early 1990s and the advent of electronic trading, all securities transactions in Brazil are carried out in São Paulo, at the São Paulo Stock Exchange (BOVESPA). There are approximately 1,100 companies listed on the São Paulo exchange. The total market valuation of all listed companies on the São Paulo Exchange was US$228.6 billion in February 2001. Daily transactions are published in the leading newspapers and are available on the Internet. BOVESPA is part of the leading technology exchanges, offering electronic and after-hours trading options. The Rio de Janeiro Stock Exchange is the oldest financial institution in the country, founded in 1845. The Rio de Janeiro exchange is responsible for all the transactions in government bonds. Futures transactions are carried out at the Mercantile Futures Exchange (BM&F). Located in São Paulo, the BM&F has been operating since 1986 and is used mainly by coffee, beef, and cattle producers and buyers.

GDP per Capita (US$)
United States19,36421,52923,20025,36329,683
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.


Brazil has a few wealthy people and a large number of very poor people. The gap between the highest and the lowest social levels is high, even if it decreased during the late 1990s. Stabilization of the economy, through lower inflation levels, has given more purchasing power to the poor. Social indicators show that since 1994, when Fernando Henrique Cardoso became president, the percentage of people living below the poverty line decreased from 19 percent of the total population in 1993 to 14.51 percent in 1999, the lowest level in decades.

The income received by the top 10 percent of the Brazilian people represented 47.75 percent of the total income received in 1999. Meanwhile, the income received by the bottom 50 percent of the Brazilian people represented only 12.55 percent of the total income received in 1999. The top 1 percent of Brazilian people received 13.31 percent of the total income in 1999, more than the income for the bottom 50 percent combined.

Health services are free for all Brazilians, but the service is questionable. Medical doctors are well educated, but the demand in urban areas is much higher than what is available. Health and sanitary conditions vary from region to region. The south and southeast have better health services and sanitary conditions than the north and northeast.

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage
Share: Brazil
Lowest 10%0.9
Lowest 20%2.5
Second 20%5.5
Third 20%10.0
Fourth 20%18.3
Highest 20%63.8
Highest 10%47.6
Survey year: 1996
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
CountryAll foodClothing and footwearFuel and power aHealth care bEducation bTransport & CommunicationsOther
United States139946851
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Despite a government program against illiteracy, developed in 1971, 15 percent of the population aged 15 and higher were still illiterate in 1999. This number is higher than the percentage in Latin America and the Caribbean Islands as a whole. The percentage of illiteracy among the upper-middle class is 10 percent. Education is free at the school and university levels. Secondary school is the responsibility of the municipalities, and universities are the responsibility of the federal and state governments.

The biggest social challenge facing the Brazilian government and society is the lack of education, housing, health care, and nutrition for the homeless children of Brazil. Thousands of children live in the streets, abandoned by their parents who cannot afford to raise them. Confronting starvation and living in deplorable conditions, these children abuse drugs, commit crimes, and resort to prostitution in order to survive. The government has developed programs through the Ministry of Social Assistance to combat the poverty and starvation of homeless children.


Brazil employed approximately 24.49 million people in 1998: 66 percent between 18 and 39 years of age, 31 percent between 40 and 64 years of age, 2 percent under 17 years of age, and 1 percent 65 years of age or older. The rate of unemployment for 2000 was 7.1 percent, a decline from the 1999 rate of 7.6 percent. This rate was calculated by the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, (IBGE, Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) in the 6 largest metropolitan areas of the country (Recife, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Porto Alegre). Unemployment rates for the 1998-2000 period were the highest in the decade, and at least as high as in 1984, the last year that the military held power.

Unions represent all major segments of industry. The National Confederation of Industrial Workers, the National Confederation of Commercial Workers, the National Confederation of Bank Workers, and the National Confederation of Ground Transport Workers are examples of the major labor unions in Brazil. Unions are legal, and financed by compulsory payments deducted from workers' paychecks and by membership dues. Approximately 7 million workers are unionized, accounting for 20-30 percent of the employed labor force . Brazilian workers have had the right to strike since 1984. In 1992 the economy was hit by an organized strike of port workers, airport workers, teachers, drivers, fare collectors, and government employees. In the late 1990s strikes were still common in Brazil.

The minimum wage was established in 1940. After correcting for inflation, the initial minimum wage was approximately US$100 per month in 1940; it rose to its maximum in 1960 at US$170 per month, and was equal to US$75 per month in December 2000.

Even though children under 14 years of age are prohibited from working, it is estimated that 14 percent of all children between 10 and 13 work. Maternity benefits include a 90-day leave for mothers and a one-week leave for fathers. Racial discrimination is illegal, but still practiced by many businesses in Brazil. Non-white workers and women are often underpaid. The role of women in the workforce has changed considerably in the 1980s and 1990s. According to the constitution, there must be equal pay for equal work regardless of sex. The government also provides special protection for women. While the more industrialized areas in Brazil, mostly the southeast region, employ women and treat them equally to male workers, the less industrialized regions, mostly the northern regions, still underpay women and discriminate against them.


1500. Portuguese Admiral Pedro Álvares Cabral discovers Brazil.

1549. Governor-general Tomé de Souza establishes the first government in Brazil.

1773. Pedro I proclaims Brazil's independence from Portugal on 7 September and is crowned emperor.

1883. Revolution establishes the Federal Republic of the United States of Brazil.

1888. Slavery is abolished in Brazil.

1891. First constitution under the Republic.

1930. Getúlio Vargas is named president, brought to power by the military with some civilian support.

1946. Eurico Dutra is elected president.

1950. Vargas returns, creating the National Development Bank and the state petroleum company.

1964. Military dictatorship. Congress appoints Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco to the presidency.

1967. Arthur da Costa e Silva becomes president under a new constitution.

1973. Oil crisis results in a significant setback for Brazil's economy.

1979. General João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo becomes president and allows democratic elections.

1982. First democratic elections since 1964.

1985. Tancredo Neves, a senator from Minas Gerais from the opposition party, becomes president.

1988. The constitution is ratified, reestablishing direct elections for the presidency.

1989. Fernando Collor de Mello is elected president, and implements a liberalization plan.

1992. Itamar Franco takes over the presidency and tries to control inflation, which he does in 1994 with his "Real Plan."

1994. Fernando Henrique Cardoso is elected president on the strength of his economic plan.

1998. Fernando Henrique Cardoso is reelected.


The continued success of economic measures adopted by Fernando Henrique Cardoso upon his re-election in 1998 depends upon the ability of the government to maintain a tight monetary policy and maintain fiscal restraint facing both national and international economic pressures. In the long run, the government needs to implement structural reforms, such as reforms of the tax and social security systems, decentralization of governmental spending to state and municipal governments, and privatization of major enterprises. Most of these measures require additional constitutional amendments or legislation.

The presidential election on October 2002 will have a strong influence on the political, fiscal, and economic programs adopted by President Cardoso. The triumph of the leftist parties shown in the 2000 municipal elections suggest that there is a disapproval of the harsh measures taken by Cardoso to restore stability. Since there is no popular candidate from the governing coalition for the 2002 presidential elections, there might be difficulties passing unpopular laws if the opposition comes into power. Contentious legislation such as tax reform and social security payments from retired civil servants may not be considered until after Cardoso's presidency ends. The passage of such laws would greatly improve the quality of the fiscal situation.


Brazil has no territories or colonies.


Baaklini, Abdo I. The Brazilian Legislature and Political System .Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992.

Bacha, Edmar L., and Herbert S. Bacha, editors. Social Change in Brazil, 1945-1985: The Incomplete Transition. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989.

Bak, Joan L. "Political Centralization and the Building of the Interventionist State in Brazil." Luso-Brazilian Review. Vol. 22, No. 1, Summer 1985.

Banco Central do Brasil. <>. AccessedFebruary 2001.

Becker, Bertha K. Brazil: A New Regional Power in the World-Economy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Brazilian Embassy in Washington. <>. Accessed in January 2001.

Burns, E. Bradford. A History of Brazil, 3rd ed. New York:Columbia University Press, 1993.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Brazil. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Fausto, Boris. A Concise History of Brazil. Cambridge, U.K.:Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE). <>. Accessed February 2001.

Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (IPEA). <>. Accessed February 2001.

International Cocoa Organization (ICCO). 1997/98 Annual Report. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC). Brazil. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Levine, Robert M. The History of Brazil. Westport, CT:Greenwood Press, 1999.

Ministério do Esporte e Turismo. EMBRATUR: Empresa Brasileira de Turismo. <>. Accessed August 2001.

Parkin, Vincent. Chronic Inflation in an Industrialising Economy: The Brazilian Experience. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Payne, Leigh A. Brazilian Industrialists and Democratic Change .Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

Schneider, Ronald M. Brazil: Culture and Politics in a New Industrial Powerhouse. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <>. Accessed August 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Brazil. <>. Accessed February 2001.

The World Bank Group. Countries: Brazil. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Ecio F. Costa




Brazil's currency, the real (R$), was introduced on 1 July 1994. One real equals 100 centavos. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos, and 1 real, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 reals.


Manufactures, iron ore, soybeans, footwear, coffee.


Machinery and equipment, chemical products, oil, electricity.


US$1.057 trillion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$46.9 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$48.7 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.).


views updated May 11 2018


Compiled from the November 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Federative Republic of Brazil










Area: 8,511,965 sq. km. (3,290,000 sq. mi.); slightly smaller than the U.S.

Cities: Capital—Brasilia (pop. 2.3 million). Other cities—Sao Paulo (10.8 million), Rio de Janeiro (6.1 million), Belo Horizonte (2.4 million), Salvador (2.6 million), Fortaleza (2.3 million), Recife (1.5 million), Porto Alegre (1.4 million), Curitiba (1.7 million).

Terrain: Dense forests in northern regions including Amazon Basin; semiarid along northeast coast; mountains, hills, and rolling plains in the southwest, including Mato Grosso; and coastal lowland.

Climate: Mostly tropical or semitropical with temperate zone in the south.


Nationality: Brazilian.

Population: (2005 est.) 186 million.

Annual growth rate: 1.1%.

Ethnic groups: Portuguese, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Arab, African, and indigenous people.

Religion: Roman Catholic (74%).

Language: Portuguese.

Education: Literacy—86% of adult population.

Health: Infant mortality rate—27.5/1,000. Life expectancy—71.3 yrs.

Work force: 90.4 million.


Type: Federative republic.

Independence: September 7, 1822.

Constitution: Promulgated October 5, 1988.

Government branches: Executive—president (chief of state and head of government popularly elected to no more than two 4-year terms). Legislative—Senate (81 members popularly elected to 8-year terms), Chamber of Deputies (513 members popularly elected to 4-year terms). Judicial—Supreme Federal Tribunal (11 lifetime positions appointed by the president).

Political parties: Workers’ Party (PT), Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), Liberal Front Party (PFL), Social Democratic Party (PSD), Democratic Workers Party (PDT), Brazilian Labor Party (PTB), Liberal Party (PL), Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), Communist Party of Brazil (PC do B), Brazilian Progressive Party (PP). Popular Socialist Party (PPS), Green Party (PV), the Social Liberal Party (PSL), the National Mobilization Party (PMN), National Workers Party (PTN), Humanistic Solidarity Party (PHS), and the Party of the Reedification of the National Order (PRONA).

Economy (2005)

GDP: $619.7 billion (official exchange rate).

GDP: $1.579 trillion (purchasing power parity)

Annual real growth: 2.4%.

Per capita GDP: $8,400 (purchasing power parity).

Natural resources: Iron ore, manganese, bauxite, nickel, uranium, gemstones, oil, wood, and aluminum. Brazil has 14% of the world’s renewable fresh water.

Agriculture: (10% of GDP) Products—coffee, soybeans, sugarcane, cocoa, rice, livestock, corn, oranges, cotton, wheat, and tobacco.

Industry: (39% of GDP) Types—steel, commercial aircraft, chemicals, petrochemicals, footwear, machinery, motors, vehicles, auto parts, consumer durables, cement, and lumber.

Services: (51% of GDP) Types—mail, telecommunications, banking, energy, commerce, and computing.

Trade: Trade balance 2005—$44 billion surplus. Exports—$118 billion. Major markets—European Union 25.0%, United States 21.1%, and Mercosur 20.4%. Imports—$62.8 billion. Major suppliers—European Union 25.4%, United States 21.2%, Argentina 7.6%, and China 5.6%.


With its estimated 186 million inhabitants, Brazil has the largest population in Latin America and ranks fifth in the world. The majority of people live in the south-central area, which includes the industrial cities of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte. Urban growth has been rapid; by 2005, 81% of the total population was living in urban areas. This growth has aided economic development but also has created serious social, security, environmental, and political problems for major cities.

Six major groups make up the Brazilian population: the Portuguese, who colonized Brazil in the 16th century; Africans brought to Brazil as slaves; various other European, Middle Eastern, and Asian immigrant groups who have settled in Brazil since the mid-19th century; and indigenous peoples of Tupi and Guarani language stock. Intermarriage between the Portuguese and indigenous people or slaves was common. Although the major European ethnic stock of Brazil was originally Portuguese, subsequent waves of immigration have contributed to a diverse ethnic and cultural heritage.

From 1875 until 1960, about 5 million Europeans immigrated to Brazil, settling mainly in the four southern states of Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul. Immigrants have come mainly from Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, Poland, and the Middle East. The largest Japanese community outside Japan is in Sao Paulo. Despite class distinctions, national identity is strong, and racial friction is a relatively new phenomenon. Indigenous full-blooded Indians, located mainly in the northern and western border regions and in the upper Amazon Basin, constitute less than 1% of the population. Their numbers are declining as contact with the outside world and commercial expansion into the interior increase. Brazilian Government programs to establish reservations and to provide other forms of assistance have existed for years but are controversial and often ineffective. Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. About three quarters of all Brazilians belong to the Roman Catholic Church; most others are Protestant, members of a growing evangelical movement, or follow practices derived from African religions.

Pedro Alvares Cabral claimed Brazil for Portugal in 1500. The colony was ruled from Lisbon until 1808, when Dom Joao VI and the rest of the Portuguese royal family fled from Napoleon’s army, and established its seat of government in Rio de Janeiro. Dom Joao VI returned to Portugal in 1821. His son declared Brazil’s independence on September 7, 1822, and became emperor with the title of Dom Pedro I. His son, Dom Pedro II, ruled from 1831 to 1889, when a federal republic was established in a coup led by Deodoro da Fonseca, Marshal of the Army. Slavery had been abolished a year earlier by the Regent Princess Isabel while Dom Pedro II was in Europe.

From 1889 to 1930, the government was a constitutional republic, with the presidency alternating between the dominant states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. This period ended with a military coup that placed Getulio Vargas, a civilian, in the presidency; Vargas remained as dictator until 1945. Between 1945 and 1961, Jose Linhares, Gaspar Dutra, Vargas himself, Café Filho, Carlos Luz, Nereu Ramos, Juscelino Kubitschek, and Janio Quadros were elected presidents. When Quadros resigned in 1961, Vice President Joao Goulart succeeded him.

Goulart’s years in office were marked by high inflation, economic stagnation, and the increasing influence of radical political elements. The armed forces, alarmed by these developments, staged a coup on March 31, 1964. The coup leaders chose as president Humberto Castello Branco, followed by Arthur da Costa e Silva (1967-69), Emilio Garrastazu Medici (1969-74), and Ernesto Geisel (1974-79), all of whom were senior army officers. Geisel began a democratic opening that was continued by his successor, Gen. Joao Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo (1979-85). Figueiredo not only permitted the return of politicians exiled or banned from political activity during the 1960s and 1970s, but also allowed them to run for state and federal offices in 1982.

At the same time, an electoral college consisting of all members of congress and six delegates chosen from each state continued to choose the president. In January 1985, the electoral college voted Tancredo Neves from the opposition Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) into office as President. However, Neves became ill in March and died a month later. His Vice President, former Senator Jose Sarney, became President upon Neves’ death. Brazil completed its transition to a popularly elected government in 1989, when Fernando Collor de Mello won 53% of the vote in the first direct presidential election in 29 years. In 1992, a major corruption scandal led to his impeachment and ultimate resignation. Vice President Itamar Franco took his place and governed for the remainder of Collor’s term culminating in the October 3, 1994 presidential elections, when Fernando Henrique Cardoso was elected President with 54% of the vote. Cardoso took office January 1, 1995, and pursued a program of ambitious economic reform. He was re-elected in October 1998 for a second four-year term. Luiz Inacio da Silva, commonly known as Lula, was elected president in 2002, after his fourth campaign for the office.

President Lula, a former union leader, is Brazil’s first working-class president. Since taking office he has taken a prudent fiscal path, warning that social reforms would take years and that Brazil had no alternative but to maintain tight fiscal austerity policies. Economic growth in 2004 and the first half of 2005 was strong with increases in employment and real wages. Growth slowed somewhat in the second half of 2005, but has accelerated in 2006.


Brazil is a federal republic with 26 states and a federal district. The 1988 constitution grants broad powers to the federal government, made up of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The president holds office for four years, with the right to reelection for an additional four-year term, and appoints his own cabinet. There are 81 senators, three for each state and the Federal District, and 513 deputies. Senate terms are eight years, staggered so that two-thirds of the upper house is up for election at one time and one-third four years later. Chamber terms are four years, with elections based on a complex system of proportional representation by states. Each state is eligible for a minimum of eight seats; the largest state delegation (Sao Paulo’s) is capped at 70 seats. This system is weighted in favor of geographically large but sparsely populated states.

Fifteen political parties are represented in Congress. Since it is common for politicians to switch parties, the proportion of congressional seats held by particular parties changes regularly. The major political parties are:

  • Workers’ Party (PT-center-left)
  • Liberal Front Party (PFL-right)
  • Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB-center)
  • Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB-center-left)
  • Progressive Party (PP-right)
  • Brazilian Labor Party (PTB-center-right)
  • Liberal Party (PL-center-right)
  • Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB-left)
  • Popular Socialist Party (PPS-left)
  • Democratic Labor Party (PDT-left)
  • Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB-left)
  • Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL–left)

President Lula was re-elected October 29, 2006 in a second round victory with over sixty percent of the vote, over Geraldo Alckmin of the PSDB. Lula’s PT party failed to win a majority in either the lower or upper houses in concurrent legislative elections and will be obliged to form a coalition with the centrist PMDB party —which won the most seats in the lower house and may end up with the largest number in the Senate —and a collection of minor parties. However, party loyalty is weak in Brazil, and it is common for politicians to switch parties, changing the balance of power in Congress. The PT won five of twenty-seven governorships, but the opposition PSDB remains in control of the critical states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. The PMDB, as in the legislative elections, won the most governorships of any one party, controlling seven states. Because of the mandatory revenue allocation to states and municipalities provided for in the 1988 constitution, Brazilian governors and mayors have exercised considerable power since 1989.

Lula’s electoral victory came despite a series of corruption scandals that resulted in the resignation of senior PT officials and the electoral defeat of several congressmen from parties allied to the PT. At least four congressional investigations are ongoing, though Lula has yet to be personally linked to any of the scandals.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 12/19/2006

President: Luiz Inacio LULA DA SILVA

Vice President: Jose ALENCAR

Chief of the Civilian Household of the Presidency: Dilma ROUSSEFF

Min. of Agrarian Development: Cuilherme CASSEL

Min. of Agriculture (Acting): Luis Carlos GUEDES

Min. of Cities: Marcio FORTES de Almeida

Min. of Communications: Helio COSTA

Min. of Culture: Gilberto GIL

Min. of Defense: Waldir PIRES

Min. of Development, Industry, & Trade: Luiz Fernando FURLAN

Min. of Education: Fernando HADDAD

Min. of Environment: Marina SILVA

Min. of Finance: Guido MANTEGA

Min. of Foreign Relations: Celso AMORIM

Min. of Health: Jose Agenor DA SILVA

Min. of Institutional Security: Jorge Armando FELIX

Min. of Justice: Marcio Thomaz BASTOS

Min. of Labor & Employment: Luiz MARINHO

Min. of Mines & Energy: Silas RONDEAU

Min. of National Integration: Pedro BRITO

Min. of Planning & Budget: Paulo BERNARDO

Min. of Political Coordination: Tarso GENRO

Min. of Science & Technology: Sergio Macado REZENDE

Min. of Social Development & Hunger Alleviation: Patrus ANANIAS

Min. of Social Security: Nelson MACHADO

Min. of Sports: Orlando SILVA

Min. of Tourism: Walfrido MARES Guia

Min. of Transportation: Paulo Sergio PASSOS

Pres., Central Bank: Henrique MEIRELLES

Ambassador to the US: Roberto ABDENUR

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Ronaldo Mota SARDENBERG

Brazil maintains an embassy in the United States at 3006 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-238-2700). Brazil has consulates general in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and consulates in Miami, Houston, Boston, and San Francisco.


Brazil’s economy, aided by a benign international environment, grew approximately 2.3% in 2005 and 4.9% in 2004. Sustained growth, coupled with booming exports, healthy external accounts, moderate inflation, decreasing unemployment, and reductions in the debt-to-GDP ratio. President Lula and his economic team have implemented prudent fiscal and monetary policies and have pursued necessary microeconomic reforms.

Brazil has made progress but significant vulnerabilities remain. Despite registering its first year-on-year decline in 2004, Brazil’s (largely domestic) government debt remains high, at 51% of GDP. Total foreign debt, while falling, is still large in relation to Brazil’s export base. Over time this concern will be reduced by healthy export growth, which has anchored the positive trade and current accounts. Personal incomes improved in 2004 and 2005 after a significant decline over the previous decade. Income and land distribution remains skewed.

Sustaining high growth rates in the longer term depends on the impact of President Lula’s structural reform program and efforts to build a more welcoming climate for investment, both domestic and foreign. In its first year, the Lula administration passed key tax and pension reforms to improve the government fiscal accounts. Judicial reform and an overhaul of the bankruptcy law, which should improve the functioning of credit markets, were passed in late 2004, along with tax measures to create incentives for long-term savings and investments.

Legislation promoting public private partnerships, a key effort to attract private investment to infrastructure, also passed in 2004. Labor reform and proposals to increase autonomy for the Central Bank are pending. Despite this well-considered reform agenda, much remains to be done to improve the regulatory climate for investments, particularly in the energy sector; to simplify tax systems at the state and federal levels; and to further reform the pension system.

Trade Policy

President Lula has made economic growth and poverty alleviation top priorities. Export promotion is a main component in plans to generate growth and reduce what is seen as a vulnerability to international financial market gyrations. To increase exports, the government is seeking access to foreign markets through trade negotiations and increased export promotion as well as government financing for exports. To increase its international profile (both economically and politically), the Lula administration is seeking expanded trade ties with developing countries, as well as a strengthening of the Mercosul (Mercosur in Spanish) customs union with Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina. In 2004, Mercosul concluded free trade agreements with Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru, adding to its existing agreements with Chile and Bolivia to establish a commercial base for the newly-launched South American Community of Nations. Mercosul is pursuing free trade negotiations with Mexico and Canada and has resumed trade negotiations with the EU. The trade bloc also plans to launch trilateral free trade negotiations with India and South Africa, building on partial trade liberalization agreements concluded with these countries in 2004. In July 2006, Venezuela was admitted to the trade bloc as a full member China has increased its importance as an export market for Brazilian soy, iron ore and steel, becoming Brazil’s fourth largest trading partner and a potential source of investment.

Reform Agenda

In 2003, Congress passed Lula’s key reforms of the public sector pension system and the tax code. The 2004 legislative season was not very productive, in part because of a political scandal early in the year followed by campaigning for the October municipal elections. In December 2004, several key bills passed into law, including a reform of the judicial system, a modern bankruptcy law, and Public Private Partnerships to fund infrastructure projects. In March 2005, a law to legalize biotechnology crops and stem cell research passed. The domestic political scandal, which surfaced in June 2005 and led to multiple congressional investigations, sidetracked most reform legislation for the remainder of the 2005 and 2006 sessions.


Agriculture is a major sector of the Brazilian economy, and is key for economic growth and foreign exchange. Agriculture accounts for 10% of GDP (30% when including agribusiness) and 40% of Brazilian exports. Brazil enjoyed a positive agricultural trade balance of U.S. $38 billion in 2005. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of sugar cane, coffee, tropical fruits, frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ), and has the world’s largest commercial cattle herd (50% larger than the U.S.) at 170 million head. Brazil is also an important producer of soybeans (second to the United States), corn, cotton, cocoa, tobacco, and forest products. The remainder of agricultural output is in the livestock sector, mainly the production of beef and poultry (second to the United States), pork, milk, and seafood.

Other Aspects

Forests cover half of Brazil, with the largest rain forest in the world located in the Amazon Basin. Recent migrations into the Amazon and large-scale burning of forest areas have brought international attention. The government has reduced incentives for such activity and is implementing an ambitious environmental plan that includes an Environmental Crimes Law with serious penalties for infractions.

Brazil has one of the most advanced industrial sectors in Latin America. Accounting for one-third of GDP, Brazil’s diverse industries range from automobiles and parts, other machinery and equipment, steel, textiles, shoes, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, and petrochemicals, to computers, aircraft, and consumer durables. Most major automobile producers have established production facilities in Brazil.

Brazil has a diverse and sophisticated services industry as well. Mail and telecommunications are the largest, followed by banking, energy, commerce, and computing. During the 1990s, Brazil’s financial services industry underwent a major overhaul and is relatively sound. The financial sector provides local firms a wide range of financial products. The largest financial firms are Brazilian (and the two largest banks are government-owned), but U.S. and other foreign firms have an important share of the market.

Privatization triggered a flood of investors after 1996. The yearly investment average in the telecom sector the 4 years prior to the start of privatization was R$5.8 billion, and the annual average for the four years following privatization was R$16.3 billion, nearly tripling. Investment in the electrical power sector increased from R$5.3 billion annually in the pre-privatization era to R$7.2 billion. U.S. companies provided a great deal of this influx of cash. After 2000, many of these investors suffered huge losses in the face of adverse regulatory decisions and especially the sharp depreciation of the real. The energy sector was especially hard hit.

In 2001, Brazil experienced an electricity crisis due to inadequate rainfall for its hydroelectric system and insufficient new investment in the sector. Mandatory rationing and price hikes were sufficient to prevent blackouts. The rationing system officially ended on March 1, 2002. Lula’s then-Energy Minister unveiled an energy plan in July 2003, which left many vital details undefined and most investors dissatisfied.

The Government of Brazil has undertaken an ambitious program to reduce dependence on imported oil. In the mid-1980s, imports accounted for more than 70% of Brazil’s oil and derivatives needs; the net figure is nearing zero. Brazil is expected to become a net exporter of oil by the end of 2006 as output from the Campos Basin continues to increase. Brazil is one of the world’s leading producers of hydroelectric power. Of its total installed electricity-generation capacity of 90,000 megawatts, hydropower accounts for 66,000 megawatts (74%). Proven mineral resources are extensive. Large iron and manganese reserves are important sources of industrial raw materials and export earnings. Deposits of nickel, tin, chromite, bauxite, beryllium, copper, lead, tungsten, zinc, gold, and other minerals are exploited. High-quality, coking-grade coal required in the steel industry is in short supply.


Brazil has traditionally been a leader in the inter-American community and played an important role in collective security efforts, as well as in economic cooperation in the Western Hemisphere. Brazil supported the Allies in both World Wars. During World War II, its expeditionary force in Italy played a key role in the Allied victory at Monte Castello. It is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) and a party to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty). Recently, Brazil has given high priority to expanding relations with its South American neighbors and is a founding member of the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), the Community of South American Nations (CASN) and Mercosul, a customs union including Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela and Brazil, with Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador as associate members.

Along with Argentina, Chile, and the U.S., Brazil is one of the guarantors of the Peru-Ecuador peace process. Brazil is a charter member of the United Nations and participates in its specialized agencies. It has contributed troops to UN peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East, the former Belgian Congo, Cyprus, Mozambique, Angola, East Timor, and most recently Haiti. Brazil is currently leading the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti. Brazil served as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from 2004-2005. Prior to this, it had been a member of the UN Security Council four times. Brazil is lobbying for a permanent position on the Council. As Brazil’s domestic economy has grown and diversified, the country has become increasingly involved in international economic and trade policy discussions. For example, Brazil has been a leader of the G-20 group of nations in the WTO Doha Round talks. The U.S., Western Europe, and Japan are primary markets for Brazilian exports and sources of foreign lending and investment. China is a growing market for Brazilian exports. Brazil also has bolstered its commitment to nonproliferation through ratification of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), signing a full-scale nuclear safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), acceding to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and joining the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.


The United States was the first country to recognize Brazil’s independence in 1822. The two countries have traditionally enjoyed friendly, active relations encompassing a broad political and economic agenda.

The relationship between Brazil and the U.S. strengthened with the inauguration of Brazil’s internationally oriented, reformist President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in 1995. President Bush invited then President-elect Lula to Washington for a meeting in December 2002. President Lula again visited Washington for a summit on June 20, 2003. Documents covering the results of the summit can be found on the White House and State Department web sites. Deepening U.S.-Brazil engagement and cooperation are reflected in the numerous recent high-level contacts between the two governments, including visits to Brazil by President Bush in November 2005 (see Joint Statement), Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in April 2005 and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in October 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in March 2005, Treasury Secretary John Snow in August 2005, and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez in June 2006,. Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorim and many other members of President Lula’s cabinet have visited the U.S.

Ongoing topics of discussion and cooperation include trade and finance; hemispheric economic integration; Free Trade Area of the Americas; regional security; nonproliferation and arms control; human rights and trafficking in persons; international crime, including financial support to terrorist groups; counter-narcotics; and environmental issues. Existing bilateral agreements include an Education Partnership Agreement, which enhances and expands cooperative initiatives in such areas as standards-based education reform, use of technology, and professional development of teachers; a Mutual Legal Assistance treaty—ratified in 2001; and agreements on cooperation in energy, the environment, science & technology, and transportation.

U.S. Embassy and Consulate Functions

The U.S. embassy and consulates in Brazil provide a wide range of services to U.S. citizens and business. Political, economic, and science officers deal directly with the Brazilian Government in advancing U.S. interests but also are available to brief U.S. citizens on general conditions in the country. Attachés from the U.S. Commercial Service and Foreign Agriculture Service work closely with hundreds of U.S. companies that maintain offices in Brazil. These officers provide information on Brazilian trade and industry regulations and administer several programs to aid U.S. companies starting or maintaining business ventures in Brazil. The number of trade events and U.S. companies traveling to Brazil to participate in U.S. Commercial Service and Foreign Agriculture Service programs has tripled over the last three years.

The consular section of the embassy provides vital services to the estimated 60,000 U.S. citizens residing in Brazil. Among other services, the consular section assists Americans who wish to participate in U.S. elections while abroad and provides U.S. tax information. Besides the U.S. residents living in Brazil, some 150,000 U.S. citizens visit annually. The consular section offers passport and emergency services to U.S. tourists as needed during their stay in Brazil.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

BRASILIA (E) Address: SES Av. das Nações Qd. 801–Lt. 03–70403-900– Brasilia, DF–Brasil; APO/FPO: Unit 3500 APO AA–34030-3500; Phone: 5561-3312-7000; Fax: 55-61-3312-7676; Workweek: M-F/8:00-5:00; Website:

AMB:Clifford Sobel
DCM:Phillip Chicola
DCM OMS:Tammy Percy
POL:Dennis Hearne
CON:Simon Henshaw
MGT:Frank Manganiello
AFSA:Christopher Jester
AGR:Allan Hrapsky
AID:Jennifer Adams
APHIS:Allan Terrell
CDC:Suzanne Westman
CLO:Abel Fernandez
CUS:Julio Velez
DAO:Paul Bruno
DEA:Mark Knight
ECO:Bruce Williamson
EEO:Calvin Watlington
EST:Patricia Norman
FCS:Danny Devito
FMO:Calvin Watlington
GSO:Matthew Shields
ICASS Chair:Julio Velez
IMO:Fred Sadler
IPO:Jeffrey Flynn
ISO:Karl J. Jarvis Sr.
ISSO:Karl J. Jarvis Sr.
LEGATT:David Brassanini
MLO:Jorge Munoz
NAS:Mark Hoffman
PAO:Richard Stites
State ICASS:Bruce Williamson

Last Updated: 1/4/2007

RIO DE JANEIRO (CG) Address: Avenida Presidente Wilson, 147. Rio de Janeiro. RJ 20030-020; APO/FPO: Unit 3501 APO AA 34030; Phone: 55-21-3823-2000; Fax: 55-21-3823-2003; INMARSAT Tel: 683-142-238; Workweek: Mon–Fri/08:00–16:45 hrs.

CG:Elizabeth Martinez
CG OMS:Marguerite Santos
POL/ECO:Jenny Malheiro
CON:William Weissman
MGT:Timothy Hanway
CLO:Magaly Fagan
DAO:Mark Anderson
EEO:Gerald Lutz
FCS:Camille Richardson
GSO:Mary Lou Gonzales
IPO:Gerald Lutz
ISSO:Kevin Bennecoff
PAO:Catherine Jarvis
RSO:Lance Root

Last Updated: 12/12/2006

SAO PAULO (CG) Address: Rua Henri Dunant, 700, Chacara Santo Antonio, Sao Paulo/SP, 04709-110; APO/FPO: Unit 3502, APO AA 34030; Phone: (55-11) 5186-7000; Fax: (55-11) 5186-7099; (55-11) 5186-7350 (Mgmt); Workweek: Mon-Fri, 8 AM to 5 PM; Website:

CG:Christopher McMullen
CG OMS:Kathryn Coster
POL:Peter Higgins
POL/ECO:David C. Wolfe
CON:Jennifer Noronha
MGT:Arnold Vela
CA:Debra Tabusa de Godoy
AFSA:Joseph Vasquez
APHIS:Jeffrey Willnow
ATO:Morgan Perkins
CLO:JoAnn Potter
DEA:Kevin Wilson
ECO:David C. Wolfe
FCS:John A. Harris
FMO:Arnold Vela
GSO:Scott A. Blomquist
IPO:William Potter
ISSO:Rajon T. Gilmore
PAO:Lisa L. Helling
RSO:Karl J. Kahele
State ICASS:Arnold Vela

Last Updated: 1/10/2007

RECIFE (C) Address: Rua Gon-calves Maia, 163, Boa Vista, Recife, PE; APO/FPO: Unit 3503 APO AA 34030; Phone: 011-55-81-3416-3050; Fax: 011-55-81-3231-1906; Workweek: M-F 7:30 am -4:30 pm; Website:

PO:Diana Page
MGT:Sarah Hayes
CA:Hector Nava
CON/POL/ECO:Cecilia Coleman
ISSO:Sarah Hayes

Last Updated: 1/5/2007

Other Business Contacts

U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
International Trade

14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 202-482-0428
Fax: 202-482-4157
Automated fax service for traderelated info: 202-482-4464

American Chamber of Commerce of Sao Paulo
Rua da Paz, No. 1431
04713-001—Chacara Santo Antonio
Sao Paulo—SP, Brazil
Tel: 55-11-51-803-804
Fax: 55-11-51-803-777
E-mail: [email protected]

American Chamber of Commerce of Rio de Janeiro
Praca Pio X-15, 5th Floor
Caixa Postal 916
20040 Rio de Janeiro—RJ-Brazil
Tel: 55-21-2203-2477
Fax: 55-21-2263-4477
E-mail: [email protected]


Consular Information Sheet : October 20, 2006

Country Description: Brazil, a nation the size of the lower 48 United States, has an advanced developing economy. Facilities for tourism are excellent in the major cities, but vary in quality in remote areas. The capital is Brasilia.

Entry/Exit Requirements: The Department of State strongly encourages travelers to obtain passports well in advance of any planned travel. Routine passport applications by mail take up to six weeks to be issued.

A passport and visa are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil for any purpose. Brazilian visas must be obtained in advance from the Brazilian Embassy or consulate nearest to the traveler’s place of residence. There are no “airport visas” and immigration authorities will refuse entry to Brazil to anyone not possessing a valid visa. All Brazilian visas, regardless of the length of validity, must initially be used within 90 days of the issuance date or will no longer be valid. Immigration authorities will not allow entry into Brazil without a valid visa. The U.S. Government cannot assist travelers who arrive in Brazil without proper documentation.

In response to the introduction of the U.S.-VISIT program, on January 1, 2004 the Government of Brazil began fingerprinting/photographing all U.S. citizens arriving in Brazil. In the first six weeks of 2004, two U.S. citizens were fined (an average $15,000 each) for making obscene gestures while being photographed at a Brazilian port of entry. Travelers are reminded that they are subject to local law, and that showing contempt to a government official is a serious offense in Brazil. (Fines for such offenses are based on the offender’s claimed income).

Additionally, travelers who have recently visited certain countries, including most other Latin American countries (check Brazilian Embassy website linked below) may be required to present an inoculation card indicating they had a yellow fever inoculation or they may not be allowed to board the plane or enter the country. Minors (under 18) traveling alone, with one parent or with a third party, must present written authorization by the absent parent(s) or legal guardian specifically granting permission to travel alone, with one parent, or with a third party. The authorization (in Portuguese) must be notarized and then authenticated by the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate.

For current entry and customs requirements for Brazil, travelers may contact the Brazilian Embassy at 3009 Whitehaven St. N.W., Washington, D.C., 20008; telephone 1-202-238-2828, e-mail consular@; Internet: Travelers may also contact the Brazilian consulates in Boston, Houston, Miami, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Addresses, phone numbers, web and e-mail addresses, and jurisdictions of these consulates may be found at the Brazilian Embassy web site linked above.

Dual Nationality: U.S. citizens also possessing Brazilian nationality cannot be issued Brazilian visas and must obtain a Brazilian passport (from the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate nearest to their place of residence) to enter and depart Brazil. In addition to being subject to all Brazilian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Brazilian citizens. Note that children adopted from Brazil are still considered Brazilian citizens and must be documented as such should they return to Brazil.

Safety and Security: Political and labor strikes and demonstrations occur sporadically in urban areas and may cause temporary disruption to public transportation. Naturally, protests anywhere in the world have the potential to become violent. In addition, criminal organizations, during 2006, staged several violent campaigns against public institutions in the Sao Paulo State leading to a large number of deaths. While it is unlikely that U.S. citizens would be targeted during such events, U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Brazil are advised to take common-sense precautions and avoid any large gatherings or any other event where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. Individuals with ties to criminal entities operate along the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. These organizations are involved in the trafficking of illicit goods; some individuals in the area are financially supporting designated foreign terrorist organizations. U.S. citizens crossing into Paraguay or Argentina may wish to consult the Consular Information Sheets for those countries.

Colombian terrorist groups have been known to operate in the border areas of neighboring countries. Although there have been reports of isolated small-scale armed incursions from Colombia into Brazil in the past, we know of no specific threat directed against U.S. citizens across the border in Brazil at this time. Colombian groups have perpetrated kidnappings of residents and tourists in border areas of Colombia’s neighbors. Therefore, U.S. citizens traveling or residing in areas of Brazil near the Colombian border are urged to exercise caution. U.S. citizens are urged to take care when visiting remote parts of the Amazon basin and respect local laws and customs. U.S. visitors should ensure that their outfitter/guide is experienced in the Amazon.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Crime throughout Brazil has reached very high levels. The Brazilian police and the Brazilian press report that the rate of crime continues to rise, especially in the major urban centers—though it is also spreading in rural areas. Brazil’s murder rate is several times higher than that of the U.S. Rates for other crimes are similarly high. The majority of crimes are not solved. There were several reported rapes against American citizens in 2006.

Street crime remains a problem for visitors and local residents alike, especially in the evenings and late at night. Foreign tourists are often targets of crime and Americans are not exempt. This targeting occurs in all tourist areas but is especially problematic in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador.

Caution is advised with regard to nighttime travel through more rural areas and satellite cities due to reported incidents of roadside robberies that randomly target passing vehicles. Robbery and “quicknapping” outside of banks and ATM machines are common. In a “quicknapping,” criminals abduct victims for a short time in order to receive a quick payoff from the family, business or the victim’s ATM card. Some victims have been beaten and/or raped.

The incidence of crime against tourists is greater in areas surrounding beaches, hotels, discotheques, bars, nightclubs, and other similar establishments that cater to visitors. This type of crime is especially prevalent during Carnaval (Brazilian Mardi Gras), but takes place throughout the year. While the risk is greater at dusk and during the evening hours, street crime can occur both day and night, and even safer areas of cities are not immune. Incidents of theft on city buses are frequent and visitors should avoid such transportation. Several Brazilian cities have established specialized tourist police units to patrol areas frequented by tourists. In Rio de Janeiro, crime continues to plague the major tourist areas.

At airports, hotel lobbies, bus stations and other public places, incidents of pick pocketing, theft of hand carried luggage, and laptop computers are common. Travelers should “dress down” when outside and avoid carrying valuables or wearing jewelry or expensive watches. “Good Samaritan” scams are common. If a tourist looks lost or seems to be having trouble communicating, a seemingly innocent bystander offering help may victimize them. Care should be taken at and around banks and internationally connected automatic teller machines that take U.S. credit or debit cards. Very poor neighborhoods known as “favelas,” such as those located on steep hillsides in Rio de Janeiro, are found throughout Brazil. These areas are sites of uncontrolled criminal activity and are often not patrolled by police. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid these unsafe areas. Carjacking is on the increase in Sao Paulo, Recife and other cities.

Travelers using personal ATMs or credit cards sometimes receive billing statements with non-authorized charges after returning from a visit to Brazil. The Embassy and Consulates have received numerous reports from both official Americans and tourists who have had their cards cloned or duplicated without their knowledge. Those using such payment methods should carefully monitor their banking online for the duration of their visit.

While the ability of Brazilian police to help recover stolen property is limited, it is nevertheless strongly advised to obtain a “boletim de ocorrencia” (police report) at a “delegacia” (police station) whenever any possessions are lost or stolen. This will facilitate the traveler’s exit from Brazil and insurance claims.

Brasilia: Once spared the crime rates of other Brazilian cities, Brasilia now has significant crime problems. Armed robberies (which are sometimes violent) and street crime are becoming commonplace. Following the citywide trend of previous years, reports of residential burglaries continue to occur in the generally affluent residential sections of the city. Public transportation, hotel sectors and tourist areas are still the locations with the highest crime rates, though statistics show that incidents can happen anywhere and at anytime. A significant number of criminals now use lethal weapons in the course of carrying out their criminal activities and the level of gratuitous violence is on the increase. The majority of kidnappings in Brasilia continue to be the “quicknappings.”

Rio De Janeiro: The city continues to experience a high incidence of crime. Tourists are particularly vulnerable to street thefts and robberies on and in areas adjacent to major tourist attractions and the main beaches in the city. Walking on the beaches is very dangerous at night. During the day, travelers are advised not to take possessions of value to the beach. Incidents affecting tourists in 2006 included the robbery of cars and a tourist bus going into the city from the airport and the murder of a Portuguese tourist at 8:30 a.m. on Copacabana beach. Drug gangs are often responsible for destruction of property and other violence, such as the burning of public buses at the end of 2005 caused the deaths of some passengers. While these occurrences have not resulted in any injuries to U.S. citizens, visitors and residents alike should be aware that such incidents could result in closed shops and disrupted municipal services. In Rio de Janeiro City, motorists are allowed to treat stoplights as stop signs between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. to protect against holdups at intersections. While most police officials are honest, in 2006, there were several cases of corrupt police officials extorting money from American tourists. All incidents should be reported to the tourist police, who can be reached at 3399-7170/71/72/73.

Sao Paulo: While similar incidents may occur elsewhere, all areas of Sao Paulo have a high rate of armed robbery of pedestrians at stoplights. There is a particularly high incidence of robberies and pick pocketing in the Praca da Se section of Sao Paulo and in the eastern part of the city. As is true of “red light districts” in other cities, the areas of Sao Paulo on Rua Augusta north of Avenida Paulista and the Estacao de Luz metro area are especially dangerous. There are regular reports of young women slipping knockout drops in men’s drinks and robbing them of all their belongings while they are unconscious. Armed holdups of pedestrians and motorists by young men on motorcycles (“motoboys”) are an increasingly common occurrence in some parts of Sao Paulo. Victims who resist risk being shot. The number one item of choice by robbers in Sao Paulo, especially with regards to business travelers, is laptop computers. Recent efforts of incarcerated drug lords to exert their power outside of their jail cells have resulted in sporadic disruptions in the city, violence directed at the authorities, bus burnings and vandalism at ATM machines. These occurrences have not resulted in any injuries to U.S. citizens. Visitors and residents should respect police roadblocks and be aware that some municipal services may be disrupted.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is generally good, but it varies in quality, particularly in remote areas, and it may not meet U.S. standards outside the major cities. Expatriates in Brazil regularly use the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo. The hospital phone is (55-11) 3747-1301.

Plastic and other elective/cosmetic surgery is a major medical industry in Brazil. While Brazil has many plastic surgery facilities that are on par with those found in the United States, two U.S. citizens died and one was left in vegetative state from complications following plastic surgery in 2005. U.S. citizens should make sure when arranging such surgery that emergency medical facilities are available, as some “boutique” plastic surgery operations offer luxurious facilities, but are not hospitals and are therefore unable to deal with unforeseen emergencies. Several U.S. citizens have also died while visiting non-traditional healers outside of urban areas. While this is not surprising given that this type of treatment often attracts the terminally ill, U.S. citizens are advised to ensure they have access to proper medical care when visiting the site. In the unfortunate event of a death, relatives or friends of any deceased U.S. citizen are advised to immediately contact the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia and not to contract with local mortuary services before seeking embassy assistance.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at Further health information for travelers is available at

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Brazil is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Travelers may consider obtaining an Inter-American Driving Permit, to carry along with their valid U.S. license if they plan to drive while in Brazil. Such permits can be obtained through AAA or other sources.

Road conditions in Brazil vary widely throughout the country. State roads (especially in the south) are often excellent, while federal, interstate roads (designated by “BR”) are often very poor due to lack of maintenance. There are occasional stretches of modern divided highway (especially in Sao Paulo State) that rival European or U.S. roads. In municipal areas, however, signs, shoulders, exits, and merge lanes tend to be haphazard. There are many potholes and surfaces are frequently uneven and bumpy. Some stretches of federal roads and rural state roads are so potholed that high-clearance vehicles are needed to traverse them. Many cities and towns have erected speed bumps, which are sometimes severe and may be unpainted and unmarked. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and horse-drawn vehicles all pose hazards and can be encountered even on major routes. Travel after dark outside city centers is not recommended because of animals and disabled vehicles. Dirt roads are the rule in remote areas. These vary widely in quality and may quickly become more dangerous, even impassable, in rainy weather. Passenger car travel can be reasonably safe in most areas if one takes into account the prevailing conditions described above and exercises due prudence and caution. Passenger-bus hijacking, usually non-violent, occurs at random in some areas of the country.

Brazil’s inter-city roads are widely recognized as among the most dangerous in the world. As is the case elsewhere in the region, poor driving skills, bad roads and a high density of trucks combine to make travel considerably more hazardous than in the United States. There are no laws requiring truckers to take mandatory rest stops and they often drive for excessive periods of time. All major inter-city routes are saturated with heavy truck traffic and for the most part have only two lanes. Road maintenance is inadequate and some longdistance roads through the Amazon forest are impassable much of the year. There are few railroads and passenger train travel is almost nonexistent. Private cars and public buses are the main modes of inter-city road travel. Buses can range (depending on the route and the price) from luxurious and well maintained to basic and mechanically unsound.

The Brazilian Federal Government maintains a (Portuguese language) website with up-to-date information on road conditions throughout the country (; the site also has downloadable state roadmaps. A private Brazilian company, Quatro Rodas, publishes road maps that contain local phone numbers to ascertain the current conditions of roads on the map. They are available at Apart from toll roads, which generally have their own services, roadside assistance is available only very sporadically and informally through local private mechanics. There is a group called the “Angels of the Pavement” that provides roadside assistance on the main highway between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The fastest way to summon assistance in an emergency anywhere in the country is to dial 193, a universal number staffed by local fire departments. This service is in Portuguese only. Many motorists in major urban areas and more developed parts of the country carry cellular phones, and can be asked to assist in calling for help.

Brazilian traffic laws impose severe penalties for a number of traffic offenses. Enforcement ranges from sporadic to non-existent, so motorists should not assume that others will necessarily follow even the most fundamental and widely accepted rules of the road. Some important local rules and customs include the following:

Seat Belts: All states have seat belt laws, but enforcement varies from state to state

Child Car Seats: Some states require child car seats, but they are not universally available or affordable, and enforcement is also lax. As a result, most children are not secured in car seats.

Speed Limits: The maximum speed limit on major, divided highways is 120kmph (74 mph). Lower limits (usually 60kmph (40 mph)) are often posted in urban areas, depending on the road and the nature of the neighborhood. Speed limits are widely ignored and rarely enforced. Many towns and cities have marked electronic/photographic devices (“Fiscal-isacao Electronica”), which verify speed and snap photos of violators’ cars and license plates as a basis for issuing speeding tickets. Brazilian drivers tend to brake suddenly when encountering these devices.

Yielding the Right of Way: Drivers must yield the right of way to cars on their right. Compliance with stop signs is rarely enforced; so many motorists treat them as yield signs.

Driving Under the Influence: Drivers are in violation of the law if blood/alcohol level reaches 0.06 percent.

Turns on Red Lights: Not permitted, except for right turns where there is a sign with an arrow pointing right and the words “Livre a Direita.”

Penalties for Drivers Involved in an Accident Resulting in Injury or Death: In addition to possible criminal charges and penalties, compensatory and punitive damages may also apply.

Local Driving Customs: Drivers often use flashes or wave a hand out of the window to signal other drivers to slow down. Drivers will often break suddenly to slow down for the electronic speed traps mentioned above. In addition, pedestrian “zebra” crossings are strictly observed in some places (especially in Brasilia) and ignored most everywhere else.

For specific information concerning Brazilian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please contact the Brazilian National Tourist Organization offices in New York via the Internet at

For additional information from other sources in Brazil about road safety and specific information about accident statistics, Brazilian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please see the following web sites: (Brazilian Federal Highway Police, in Portuguese only), and (Ministry of Transportation, in Portuguese only).

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Brazil’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Brazil’s air carrier operations. Foreigners are required to carry their passports for internal flights. It can sometimes be difficult to book flights as a result of the 2006 financial collapse of Brazil’s largest airline, Varig. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at

Special Circumstances: Brazilian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Brazil of items such as firearms, antiquities, tropical plants, medications, and business equipment. In the Amazon region, there is a special concern for the export of biological material, which could have genetic value. People propagating or exporting biological material without proper permits run the risk of being accused of “biopiracy,” a serious offence in Brazil. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Brazil in Washington or one of Brazil’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Brazilian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Brazil are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Brazil are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Brazil. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in Brasilia at Avenida das Nacoes, Lote 3, telephone 011-55-61-3312-7000, after-hours telephone 011-55-61-3312-7400; web site at Consular Section public hours are 2:00 p.m.—4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday except Brazilian and U.S. holidays. Non-emergency services are provided by appointment, available at 61-3312-7471 or 7063.

There are consulates in the following cities:

Recife: Rua Goncalves Maia 163, telephone 011-55-81-3416-3050, after-hours telephone 011-55-3416-3060; web site at Consular Section public hours are 1:00 p.m.—4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday except Brazilian and U.S. holidays.

Rio De Janeiro: Avenida Presidente Wilson 147, telephone 011-55-21-2292-7117, after-hours 011-55-21-2220-0489; web site at Consular Section public hours are 8:30 a.m.—11:00 a.m. (passports and reports of birth by appointment) and 1:00 p.m.—3:00 p.m. (notary services), Monday through Friday, except Brazilian and U.S. holidays. Non-emergency passports and reports of appointments should be done by appointment; please request at [email protected].

Sao Paulo: Rua Henri Dunant, 500 Barrio Chacara Santo Antonio, telephone 011-55-11-5186-7000, after hours telephone 011-55-11-5181-8730; web site at Consular Section public hours are 8:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m., Monday through Friday and 2:00 p.m. -3:30 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday except Brazilian and U.S. holidays. Non-emergency services are done by appointments, please request at [email protected], by phone: 11-5186-7315 or by fax: 11-5186-7159.

There are Consular Agencies in:

Belem: Edificio Sintese 21, Av. Conselheiro Furtado 2865, Rooms 1104/1106; telephone 011-55-91-3259-4566.

Manaus: Rua Franco de Sa, 230 Sao Francisco, Edificio Atrium, Rm. 306; telephone 011-55-92-3611-3333.

Salvador da Bahia: Av. Tancredo Neves, 1632, Rm. 1401—Salvador Trade Center—Torre Sul, Caminho da Arvores; telephone 011-55-71-3113-2090/2091/2092.

Fortaleza: Av. Santos Dumont 2828 s.708—Aldeota; telephone 011-55-85-3486-1306

Porto Alegre: The Instituto Cultural Brasil-Norteamericano, Rua Riachuelo, 1257, Centro; telephone 011-55-51-3226-3344.

International Adoption : April 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. It does not necessarily reflect the actual state of the laws of a child’s country of birth and is provided for general information only. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: Prior to 2001, the number of adoptions completed by American citizens was higher than the years to follow. The decrease in adoptions to American citizens is due to the Brazilian government placing priority for inter-country adoptions to those countries that have already ratified the Hague Adoption Convention, which the U.S. has not. More recently, the number of adoptions is higher due to the fact that almost all cases of adoptions granted to American citizens are of sibling groups of children. Please review current reports online at

Adoption Authority: The State Judiciary Commission of Adoption (CEJA) is the division of government responsible for intercountry adoption in Brazil. Each Brazilian state maintains a CEJA that acts as the central adoption authority, and is the sole organization authorized to approve foreign adopting parents.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: The Government of Brazil requires that prospective adoptive parents meet the following conditions:

  • Persons over the age of 21 may adopt, regardless of marital status;
  • The adopting party must be at least 16 years older than the potential adoptee;

Residency Requirements: Brazilian law requires prospective parents to live in Brazil with the child for a cohabitation period of at least 15 days for children under two years of age and at least 30 days for older children.

Time Frame: The average time to complete an intercountry adoption in Brazil varies from three months to one year.

Adoption Agencies And Attorneys: The CEJAs maintain lists of attorneys throughout Brazil, some of whom specialize in adoption cases. The U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro can provide interested parties with a list of CEJA addresses and phone numbers.

Adoption Fees: There are no government fees to open a dossier with the CEJAs. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine an average cost for attorneys in Brazil since prices vary from state to state, and on the qualifications of the attorney.

Brazilian Adoption Law: In October 1990, Brazil promulgated a new Federal Statute for the protection of children and adolescents. In accordance with this law, priority in adoptions is given to Brazilian citizens. Other major terms of the law include:

  • Adoption by proxy is prohibited;
  • A child being adopted will only be allowed to depart Brazilian territory once the adoption has been finalized;
  • Adoption requires the consent of the birth parents or of the legal representative of the potential adoptee. Consent will be waived with regard to a child or adolescent whose birth parents are unknown or who have been stripped of their parental rights;
  • International adoption agencies are allowed to act on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents.

Furthermore, an adoption home study evaluation is required to determine the suitability of the applicant(s) to become adoptive parent(s). The home study must be performed by a professional social worker who is authorized by local authorities in Brazil to perform such work. In general, home studies done in the U.S. are acceptable as long as the adopting parent(s) present a Portuguese translation authenticated by the Brazilian Embassy and/or Consulate in the United States.

Adoption Procedures: To begin the adoption process, prospective adoptive parents must apply for permission to adopt from the State Judiciary Commission of International Adoption (CEJA) in the state where the adoption will occur. According to CEJA statute, the adoptive parents will need to file the documents listed below. Once the documents are submitted, CEJA processes the application. CEJA also provides prospective adoptive parents with a “Habilitation Approval Certificate” and eventually identifies the children eligible for adoption from a database of prospective children.

The U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro provides a letter addressed to the CEJA stating that the United States will comply with the Hague Adoption Convention (i.e. that the adopted child will be a United States citizen and have all rights as any United States citizen). This letter is provided only after the DHS has approved the I-600A application and a copy of the approval is received by the United States Consulate in Rio de Janeiro.

Once the adoptive parents satisfy Brazilian adoption requirements, a judge may grant a final adoption. The Brazilian government will then allow the child to leave Brazil. The adoptive parents can change the child’s name and request a new birth certificate (listing their names as parents) at the Brazilian Civil registry office. Afterwards, the adoptive parents need to apply for a passport for the child at the Brazilian passport office.

Documents Required: According to CEJA statutes petitioners must provide at a minimum the following:

A Home study including:

  • Psychological evaluation;
  • Medical report of prospective parents;
  • Pictures of prospective adoptive family and grandparents (if possible).
  • ‘I-171H’ form, Notice of Approval of I-600A petition;
  • Copy of Petitioner’s U.S. passport(s), photo and signature page;
  • Police records, requested within one year;
  • Last filed Federal Income Tax (return);
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable);
  • Birth certificate (if not married);
  • Divorce Decree (if applicable);
  • Applicant’s Current state of residence law on adoptions, including statement that the law is still in effect;
  • Handwritten signed statement from the petitioner saying s/he is aware that adoption in Brazil is free and irrevocable;
  • Statement that petitioner is aware that s/he must not establish any contact in Brazil with prospective child’s birth parent(s) or guardian (if applicable) before the authorization from CEJA is issued.

Brazilian Embassy
3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 238-2700
Fax: (202) 238-2827

Brazilian Consulates are located in the following U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco.

US Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state. gov/family.

U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro:
Avenida Presidente Wilson, 147,
Rio de Janeiro RJ 20030-020
Ph: (55) (21) 3823-2000
Fax: (55) (21) 3823-2083
E-mail: [email protected]

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Brazil may be addressed to the U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

International Parental Child Abduction : February 2007

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: Brazil is organized as a federal republic with a civil law system. The Federal Union and the states have their own court systems, which follow the same civil procedure. There is no civil jury system in Brazil. Local family courts handle divorce and custody cases in Brazil. Hague petitions submitted to the Central Authority are filed with a federal court. In conflicts between a local court and a federal court, the federal court has precedence. Brazilian courts can uphold a U.S. custody order, however, the order must first be registered in Brazil, which is a lengthy process called homologation.

Child Custody Law: Under the Brazilian Civil Code, married parents have equal rights of custody to their minor children. Legal guardianship goes automatically to a mother when the child is born out of wedlock, unless the father files for custody with a family court. While parents share a presumption of equal rights of custody, the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia notes that bias based on gender or nationality does occur.

Mothers are often given preference in custody cases involving small children or girls and a Brazilian parent is favored over a foreign parent. Divorce and custody disputes are not uncommon in Brazil. The U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, however, feels that compared to other court processes, family court cases are resolved in a relatively short period of time. Parents seeking the recognition of U.S. custody orders can initiate a process called homologation, which consists of registering the U.S. decision in Brazil. The process is very lengthy and ultimately must be upheld by a Brazilian court.

Right of Visitation: Brazilian courts grant visitation rights to parents residing outside of the country. The specifics of visitation are determined by a divorce decree or custody order. Parents seeking to enforce visitation rights already granted by a foreign or Brazilian court order may do so directly with a Brazilian court or through the Hague Convention. Additionally, parents may initially seek visitation or access rights through the Hague Convention. For further explanation on pursuing visitation or access rights through the Hague Convention please review the section on the Convention below.

Criminal Aspects: Under Brazilian law, parental abduction is a crime when committed within Brazil and both parents are Brazilian. An international parental abduction, involving a Brazilian parent taking a child to Brazil in interference with a foreign parent’s custodial rights, is not considered a crime. Additionally, the Brazilian Constitution prohibits the extradition of its own nationals, preventing a taking parent of Brazilian nationality from being extradited for parental kidnapping.

Citizenship/Passports: If one of the parents of a child is a Brazilian citizen, then the child is a Brazilian citizen, regardless of place of birth or any other citizenship that may be possessed by the child. Children born in the U.S. may travel to Brazil on a U.S. passport and be documented as Brazilian citizens upon arriving in Brazil. It is also possible for children born in the U.S. to be registered and documented as Brazilian citizens by a Brazilian Consulate in the U.S., allowing the child to travel out of the U.S. on a Brazilian passport. All children born in Brazil, except those born to people on the diplomatic blue list, are Brazilian citizens. Under Brazilian law, neither parent can travel alone with a child without the written consent of the absent parent or a court order granting either sole custody to the traveling parent or permission to travel with the child. This applies to both domestic and international travel and includes married parents. Additionally, both parents’ consent is necessary for the issuance of a Brazilian passport.

For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.

Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Abduction: The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Abduction (the “Hague Convention”) came into force between the United States and Brazil on December 1, 2003. Therefore, Hague Convention provisions for return or access would apply to children abducted or retained after December 1, 2003. Parents and legal guardians of children taken to Brazil prior to December 1, 2003, may still submit applications for return or access to the Brazilian Central Authority in some cases.

For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.


views updated May 21 2018


BRAZIL , South American federal republic; general population (est.) 183 million (2005); Jewish population 97,000.

Jewish history in Brazil is divided into four distinct periods with a specific interval: (a) The presence of *New Christians and the action of the *Inquisition during the Portuguese colonial period (1500–1822); (b) An interval under Dutch colonialism, with the settlement of a Jewish community in *Recife, Pernambuco, Northeastern Brazil, in the 17th century, when the Dutch promoted religious freedom for the Jews; (c) The modern period, when Brazil became an independent country (1822), up to the proclamation of the Republic (1889), when non-Catholic religions were accepted. The beginning of scattered immigration to some cities was followed by the establishment of the first Jewish community in the city of Belém in the state of Pará, in the north of Brazil; (d) The period of the Republic (in 1889 Brazil adopted a constitution that guaranteed religious freedom), from the first decade of the 20th century, when communities settled in agricultural colonies of the Jewish Colonization Association (ica) in Rio Grande do Sul, in the south of Brazil, to the years of World War i, when organized Jewish communities settled in some of the main cities of Brazil, particularly in *Rio de Janeiro, *São Paulo, and *Porto Alegre.

Estimates of the number of Jews in Brazil in 2005 range between 97,000 and 130,000 (the latter adopted by the Jewish institutions in the country). It is the fourth largest Jewish community in America, after the United States, Canada, and Argentina. The main Jewish communities are located in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Recife, and Salvador. Although it makes up less than 0.01% of the total population of the country, the Jewish communities of these state capitals have a solid institutional network and the Jews play an important role in many different fields and activities in the country including the economy, culture, the professions, and the arts, thus forming a minority whose participation and visibility in Brazilian life very much surpasses its minute percentage. There are Jewish federations in 13 states of the country, but in some of those, such as Santa Catarina and Amazonas, there are only a few dozen families. In dozens of other cities, there are small organized communities.

Colonial Period

The presence of Portuguese New Christians began with the discovery, conquest, and colonization of the land that would become Brazil, then inhabited by many groups of indigenous peoples. In the colonial period (1500–1822), thousands of New

Christian Portuguese came to Brazil, but they never formed an organized Jewish community that expressed publicly what could be characterized as Judaism.

Until the proclamation of independence in Brazil, in 1822, Catholicism was the official religion and there was no freedom regarding the practice of other religions. The New Christians contributed to the establishment of the first villages, to the mercantilist state and church struggle against the Indians, to the finance of and participation in the expeditions to the interior, and to cultivation of the land and of sugar cane, particularly in the mills of Bahia, Paraíba, Pernambuco, and other states. New Christians were also slave merchants, farmers, and craftsmen, among other occupations. They ascended socially and economically, but they were faced with the restrictions on belonging to religious orders or holding political positions, such as the Irmandades de Misericórdia and Câmaras Municipais (city councils), plus marriage restrictions with Old Christians. Other groups such as Indians and black slaves also suffered from these restrictions.

Some sources maintain that one New-Christian, Gaspar da Gama, was part of Pedro Álvares Cabral's fleet, in 1500. A significant number of Jews were involved in the sciences and the art of navigation in Portugal during the period of overseas expansion in the early 15th century. During most of the colonial period, the Tribunal do Santo Ofício da Inquisição (the Inquisition) was active in Brazil. Established in Portugal in 1536, it operated in the Metropolis up to 1821. The conversion of non-Christians in the Americas (such as members of the indigenous and pre-Columbian cultures) was a central colonial activity in the process of the expansion of the Portuguese and Spanish empires. After the first auto-da-fé, in 1540 in Portugal, the emigration of New Christians to the Brazilian colony grew, and many of them arrived in Bahia and other regions of the northeast with the first governors.

The Inquisition did not settle permanently in colonial Brazil. From 1591, the Tribunal do Santo Ofício carried out several visitations to Brazil, powers were delegated to some bishops, as for instance the bishop of Bahia, and clergymen used to indict people for Jewish practices and send them for trial in Lisbon. The action of the Inquisition became more intense after the union between Portugal and Spain in 1580.

The best-known action of the Inquisition against *Crypto-Jews in Brazil were the Visitations of 1591–93 in Bahia; 1593–95 in Pernambuco; 1618 in Bahia; around 1627 in the Southeast; and in 1763 and 1769 in Grão-Pará, in the north of the country. In the 18th century, the Inquisition was also active in Paraíba, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais. The Inquisition also condemned people accused of sexual deviations, witchcraft and slandering the Holy Church.

In 1773, during the liberal government of Marques de Pombal, governor general of Brazil, the differentiation between New Christians and Old Christians was abolished and the Inquisitional procedures came to an end. Consequently the New Christians were then integrated into society at large. The Inquisition in Brazil was less systematic and more infrequent than its Portuguese counterpart, probably owing to the difficulty of controlling the colony, the fact that a permanent tribunal was never established in Brazil, and the greater permeability of the social and religious relations established in the Portuguese New World, which also allowed the New Christians to find alternative forms of social and economic advancement and often alternative ways to get around restrictions, creating identity strategies to survive socially, including, in some cases, disguising New Christian traces. During the 17th century, in Rio de Janeiro, episodes were recorded of Old Christians testifying in court in favor of New Christians belonging to the same social strata, proving that there were also forms of social intercourse coexisting with the system of Inquisitorial persecution.

According to Arnold Wiznitzer, in the two and a half centuries of the Inquisition in Brazil, around 25,000 people were brought to trial by the Portuguese Inquisition, out of which 1,500 were condemned to capital punishment. In Brazil, approximately 400 judaizers were prosecuted, most of them being condemned to imprisonment, and 18 New Christians were condemned to death in Lisbon. Three New Christian writers stood out in the colonial period with works that reveal elements of Jewish expression: Bento Teixeira, author of Prosopopéia – one of the most important colonial poems; Ambrósio Fernandes Brandão, author of Diálogos das Grandezas do Brasil (both in the 16th century); and one of the best-known Portuguese playwrights, Antonio Jose da Silva, "the Jew," who lived part of his life in Portugal and part in Brazil, and was condemned to death by the Inquisition in 1739.

The presence of New Christians in colonial Brazil has always been a controversial issue in both Brazilian and Portuguese historiography. Some historians believe that the interventions of the Inquisition Tribunal in Brazil, supported by the nobility and the Catholic clergy, were aimed at expropriating the New Christians' possessions and impeding the social ascension of a group with bourgeois aspirations. Therefore, the Inquisition created a myth regarding the origin and purity of blood, which discriminated against those with "infected blood," according to the Statutes on Blood Purity. Other historians see strictly religious and political reasons related to the history of the Portuguese Catholic Church and Portuguese Empire.

Meanwhile, some historians maintain that Judaism or Crypto-Judaism was "fabricated" during the Inquisitional processes (that is, by means of intimidating, indicting, menacing, and torturing, the Inquisition "created" Judaism or Crypto-Judaism in order to justify its own existence and legitimacy). Others maintain that New Christians deliberately and furtively professed Judaic or Crypto-Judaic traditions inherited from their ancestors, even though in the 18th century the Inquisition condemned New Christians as such, that is, as descendants of Jews rather than Judaizers, which would show a more definite anti-Judaism on the part of the persecutors. The debate includes the manner in which to read documents of the Inquisition, the main source for these studies, and in what measure they can constitute a trustworthy source from the point of view of the Jewish way of life of each person prosecuted. This debate assumes different forms when it relates to the 16th or the 18th centuries, since in the 1700s the New Christians were evidently much more distant from their Jewish origins. There was also a regional variation in Brazil that needs to be taken into account. According to Anita Novinsky, the New Christian was a "split human being," socially and existentially, with a differentiated identity in the colonial Portuguese-Brazilian world.

The anti-Jewish attitude found in the Inquisition's procedures did not lead to disseminating hatred against Jews among the population in Brazil, although the imaginary extension of the Inquisition and the terror it implied can hardly be assessed and there are traces in the country of a Catholic popular imagery, which – although it has never triggered any form of persecution in modern history – does have a relatively medieval vision of the Jews and Judaism.

There is no actual link between the history of New Christians and contemporary 20th century Jewish history. Nevertheless, the remote (and secret) Jewish origin of many traditional Catholic Portuguese has been recently acknowledged by the traditional families of the country through genealogical research, and the presence of the Jews, or "Semites," has been brought to light in the historical studies of the country. Equally, the theme and memory of the New Christians have been exaggerated by the Jewish communities in Brazil, which tend to consider erroneously all the New Christians as secret Jews, exaggerating the Jewish colonial heritage of the country. This memory often transcends the boundary which separates the New Christians' lives in the colonial period and the establishment of modern Jewish communities in Brazil, as if we were dealing with – and this is not the case – a continuous and identical historical line, which began with the conquest of Brazil by the Portuguese in 1500.

dutch domain

The first organized Jewish community in Brazil was established in Recife, Pernambuco, in the northeast, during a brief period of Dutch colonial occupation in the 17th century, which permitted religious freedom, and legally defended Jews and New Christians from the restrictions imposed by Portugal. The estimates of the Jewish population at Recife vary considerably. According to Wiznizter, it reached 1,450 members in 1645. Egon and Frieda Wolff 's research found around 350 Jews.

From the end of the 16th century, Amsterdam became an important Jewish religious, cultural, and economic center, formed mainly by New Christians of Portuguese origin who returned to Judaism. When the West India Company, aided by the Dutch government, equipped an expedition to Brazil, some Dutch Jews joined the expedition. In May 1624 two important forts in Bahia were captured by the Dutch; but a large Portuguese and Spanish expeditionary force arrived shortly afterwards, and two months later, the Dutch had to surrender (May 1625). The West India Company soon prepared another expedition, this time to Pernambuco. The States General at The Hague proclaimed that the liberty of Spaniards, Portuguese, and natives, whether Roman Catholics or Jews, would be respected. Jewish soldiers, traders, and adventurers joined the expedition that successfully landed at the ports of Olinda and Recife in the middle of May 1630.

Johan Maurits van Nassau, who was appointed governor-general of Brazil in 1637, gave the non-Christian inhabitants of Dutch Brazil a sense of security. In 1636 the Jews founded the first Brazilian synagogue in Recife, the first on American soil: Kahal Kadosh Zur Israel. Later they founded the synagogue Kahal Kadosh Magen Abraham in Maurícia. There are records of a prayer house in Paraíba. The Jewish community was very well organized along the same lines as the mother community in Amsterdam. All Jewish residents were members of the community and were subject to its regulations, taxes, and assessments. The Jewish cemetery was located in the hinterland, separated from Recife and Maurícia by the Capibaribe River. Jews from Recife addressed an inquiry regarding the proper season to recite the prayers for rain to Rabbi Ḥayyim Shabbetai in Salonika, the earliest American contribution to the rabbinic *responsa literature.

By 1639 Dutch Brazil had a flourishing sugar industry with 166 sugar cane mills, six of which were owned by Jews. Jews also had an important role in tax farming, were engaged in the slave trade, and were also very active in commerce, and all these opportunities attracted many Jews to Dutch Brazil. In 1638 a group of 200 Jews, led by Manoel Mendes de Castro, arrived on two ships. Soon after, the Jews of Recife needed rabbis, Hebrew teachers, and ḥazzanim and thus invited the famous Rabbi Isaac Aboab da *Fonseca, one of the four rabbis of the Talmud Torah congregation in Amsterdam, and the scholar Moses Raphael *d'Aguilar to come to Brazil as their spiritual leaders. A young Jew by the name of Isaac de *Castro, who had come to Bahia – then under Portuguese rule – from Amsterdam via Dutch Brazil, was arrested for teaching Jewish rites and customs to the New Christians. He was extradited to Lisbon and was one of the victims of the auto-dafé on Dec. 15, 1647.

Jews were enrolled into the militia; one of the four companies was composed entirely of Jews and was exempt from guard duty on Saturdays. As early as 1642 the Portuguese began preparations for the liberation of northeastern Brazil. In 1645 they began a war that lasted nine years. Jews joined the Dutch ranks, and some were killed in action. Scores of people died of malnutrition. Famine had set in and conditions were desperate when, on June 26, 1649, two ships arrived from Holland with food. On that occasion, R. Isaac Aboab wrote the first Hebrew poem in the Americas, "Zekher Asiti le-Nifle'ot El" ("I Have Set a Memorial to God's Miracles"). Soon afterwards other ships arrived with 2,000 soldiers and more supplies. The war continued, and some Jews taken prisoner by the enemy were sentenced and hanged as traitors; others were sent to Lisbon for trial. The war ended with the defeat and capitulation of the Dutch in January 1654. Even though during the war many Jews died and many returned to Holland, in 1650 there were still about 650 Jews in Recife and Maurícia. It was stipulated in the capitulation protocol of January 26, 1654, that all Jews, like the Dutch, were to leave Brazil within three months and had the right to liquidate their assets and to take all their movable property with them. The majority left for Amsterdam, but some sailed to the Caribbean Islands (*Curaçao, *Barbados, etc.). Wiznitzer maintains that a group of 23 Brazilian Jews arrived in New Amsterdam (old name of New York), then under Dutch rule, on the Saint Catherine at the beginning of September 1654 and they were the founding fathers of the first Jewish community in New York. Egon and Frieda Wolff reject this historical connection and argue that there is no documentary basis to assume that the Jews who arrived in New York were the same who had left Recife during the expulsion of the Dutch.

Independent Brazil

Two years after Brazil declared its independence from Portugal (1822) it adopted its first constitution. Roman Catholicism remained the state religion, but the constitution proclaimed some tolerance of other religions. After the proclamation of independence from Portugal and during the period of monarchy in Brazilian history (1822–89), Brazil had two emperors, Dom Pedro I and Dom Pedro ii. The latter was interested in Judaism, was a Hebraist, and maintained correspondence with illustrious Jews of his time and had visited the Holy Land during one of his international voyages.

The second organized Jewish community in Brazilian history, in modern times, was founded in Belém, capital of the State of Pará, in the north, in 1840, made up of Jews who had come from Morocco. The immigrants were attracted by the wealth derived from the rubber economy. They established the first modern synagogue in the country, Eshel Abraham, in 1823, and around 1826 the second one, Shaar Hashamaim. The first synagogue followed the rites of Tanger and Tetuán (which later became part of Spanish Morocco), and Shaar Hashamaim followed the rites of Arab Morocco (later under French colonial rule, Algeria, and other parts of North Africa. In 1842 a Jewish cemetery was founded in the same city. Revival of the rubber industry between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th attracted more immigrants. Immigrants from Morocco formed small communities in other places in northern Brazil. There were also small Moroccan nuclei in the Amazonas, another northern state, attracted by the wealth of the rubber industry, in places such as Itacoatiara, Cametá, Paratintins, Óbidos, Santarém, Humaitá, and others. Most of these Jews mixed with the local population, giving origin to many local legends mixing Judaism and Catholicism. By World War i, Belém's Sephardi community, of Moroccan origin, had about 800 people.

Early Modern Period

Contemporary Jewish Brazilian history started in the last quarter of the 19th century, when a few hundred Jewish immigrants arrived from both Eastern and Central Europe, mainly from the Alsace-Loraine region, settling in some of the main cities in the country, principally Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. It was not an organized and systematic immigration flow, but one which occurred rather on an individual basis. These first immigrants did not organize a Jewish community in Brazil. The new constitution adopted by Brazil in 1891, after the country became a republic in 1889, abolished all traces of religious discrimination, ensured the civil rights of all citizens, and provided for the introduction of civil marriage and the establishment of nonsectarian municipal cemeteries. The principles of freedom of conscience and religion and equality before the law have been retained in all the constitutions subsequently adopted by Brazil – in 1934, 1937, 1946, and 1967.

agricultural settlement

The earliest discussion of a plan for the agricultural settlement of Jews took place in 1891, when the Deutsches Central Committee fuer die Russischen Juden, established after the expulsion of Jews from Moscow, sent Oswald Boxer – a Viennese journalist and close friend of Theodor Herzl – to Brazil to investigate the possibilities of founding agricultural settlements for Russian refugees. Boxer was warmly received by government representatives and after an inspection tour he reported to the committee that Jewish settlement could indeed prosper in Brazil and that the first settlers could be dispatched as early as March 1892. The revolution of November 3, 1891, and the counterrevolution of November 23, which ended the rule of General Deodoro da Fonseca, invalidated Boxer's forecast, and the project was finally abandoned in 1892, when Boxer died of yellow fever. In 1901, on the initiative of the vice president of the *Jewish Colonization Association (ica), who had contacts with the Belgian railway company in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil again became the objective of Jewish agricultural settlement. The continuing stagnation in the agricultural colonies of Argentina prompted ica to seek new land where the expenses of agricultural settlement would be lower than in Argentina.

The first organized immigration and the first Jewish communities in contemporary Brazil settled in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state of Brazil, which borders on Argentina and Uruguay. Through the Jewish Colonization Association and by means of agreements with the state government, hundreds of immigrants from Eastern Europe settled in agricultural colonies, following the example of similar colonies established in Argentina from 1893.

The first colony in Brazil, with an area of 4,472 hectares, was Philippson, in the region of Santa Maria, in 1904, consisting of 37 families (267 persons) from Bessarabia. The first Jewish school in Brazil was founded in Philippson in 1906, where the official curriculum was taught. In 1908, the colony had 299 inhabitants. The meager chances of economic success in the settlement, contrasted with the prospect of more comfortable livelihoods as peddlers or artisans in Santa Maria soon led to the settlement's disintegration. In August 1926 the director of ica in Buenos Aires reported that of the 122 families who settled in Philippson at various periods, only 17 remained.

In 1912 Quatro Irmãos was established, with over 350 families divided into four nuclei: Quatro Irmãos, Baroneza Clara, Barão Hirsch, and Rio Padre. The first colonists came from Argentina and Bessarabia. In each of the nuclei a school functioned, teaching both the official and the Jewish curricula. In 1915 the population in Quatro Irmãos reached 1,600 people.

The colonists also cleared fertile areas of forest and groves (mato), which were enriched by the wood ash created by burning the vegetation. The salvaged wood was sold to ica's sawmills in the area, and, in order to facilitate transportation and marketing, ica began building an 18-kilometer railroad that joined Quatro Irmãos and the town of Erebango early in 1918. Flour mills and a consumer cooperative organization were also established, and in 1912 a school was built and cultural life began to develop.

In 1924 Rabbi Isaiah Raffalovich arrived in Brazil as a representative of ica. He played a decisive role in the development of the Jewish presence in the country and tried, unsuccessfully, to organize in Brazil a unified community, inspired by kehillah principles.

In the 1920s the majority of the colonists moved to Porto Alegre and other cities in the hinterland of Rio Grande do Sul, such as Erebango, Pelotas, Cruz Alta, Passo Fundo, Santa Maria, and Erechim, establishing communities in each one of these cities.

Some of the factors that made the immigrants abandon the colonies were the precarious quality of the land; lack of credit; isolation of the immigrants; lack of agricultural experience; commercial and industrial interests associated with ica (such as the railroads) which exploited the Jewish colonists; lack of government support, plus a military uprising that occurred in Rio Grande do Sul in 1923 and devastated the region, as the colonies were situated along the strategic railroads.

From the 1920s, ica began to concentrate its immigration efforts on the cities. In 1935, with ica's support another small agricultural colony was established in Rezende, in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The colony was planned to be also a haven for some German Jewish refugee families who had previous agricultural experience, but they were unable to obtain entry visas because of the restrictions on Jewish immigration during the Vargas regime after 1937. Another attempt at negotiations by ica, to bring some Polish families in 1939, similarly failed. The last families of the colony of Rezende left for urban regions in 1939.

urban immigration and the national basis of jewish life

From World War i and through the 1920s and 1930s Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Western Europe and the Middle East formed well-structured communities in the main cities of the country, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Recife, and Salvador (as well as Belém, where a community settled in the 19th century). This process occurred during the so-called "Old Republic" or "First Republic" (1889–1930) in the history of Brazil. Jewish immigration to Brazil counted on the direct organization and support of international Jewish assistance organizations, mainly ica, Joint, Emigdirect, and hias. In many cases these organizations put pressure on local Jewish groups so as to welcome more immigrants trying to flee from Eastern Europe. Small settlements were also established in dozens of cities in the interior of Brazil, following the main economic possibilities of the country. In the State of São Paulo, some small communities settled alongside the railroad that transported coffee, the main product of the country up to 1929. They settled in places such as Santos, Campinas, Santo André, Ribeirão Preto, Piracicaba, Taubaté, São Carlos, Sorocaba, Mogi das Cruzes, and São José dos Campos.

By World War i, Brazil had a Jewish population of between 5,000 and 7,000 persons. After World War i there was a marked increase in Jewish immigration, and in the 1920s, 28,820 Jews entered the country, mostly from Eastern Europe. In the 1930s, the number of Jewish immigrants increased to approximately 56,000. According to official statistics, the Jewish population per state was as follows:

São Paulo22620,37926,443
Rio de Janeiro2522,39333,270
Rio Grande Do Sul546,6198,048
Minas Gerais371,4311,528

In Pernambuco, in 1920 there were around 150 families.

Several factors contributed to a successful process of settlement and social, cultural, and economic integration of Jews into contemporary Brazilian society from 1910. Since the end of the 19th century, and particularly after the abolition of slavery in 1888, Brazil has become a "country of immigrants," with religious tolerance and intense social and cultural permeability, which was not hindered by the manifestations of prejudice and racism. From the 1880s to the 1940s, Brazil welcomed about 4 million immigrants (65,000 of them – up to 1942 – were Jews). Mostly, immigration came from Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Japan, but also from Germany, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, and other countries. These immigrants, with their dynamic cultural, social, and economic drive, played a decisive role in the development of the country and left their mark on the urban culture wherever they settled, such as in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre.

As well as allowing religious freedom, Brazilian legislation was tolerant towards European immigrants and they could always find loopholes that allowed more immigrants to enter the country, despite legal bureaucracy and the need for "cartas de chamada" (call letters). It was not any different for Jewish immigrants; this was the open social environment full of economic opportunities that successive migratory waves met, at least until the 1930s. From the 1920s on, Brazil became a desirable and viable destination due to the restrictions and quotas imposed by the United States, Canada, and Argentina. In the 1920s, over 10% of all Jews who emigrated from Europe had chosen Brazil as their destination, and between 1920 and 1930 about half of the immigrants from Eastern Europe who arrived in Brazil were Jewish. Only very traditional state circles such as diplomats and the military were not always receptive to the presence of the Jews, but this did not hinder the development of Jewish life in the country by any means. Between 1920 and 1940, immigrants took advantage of the high rates of economic growth and urbanization in Brazil, as well as the commercial and industrial opportunities available. The combination of religious and political freedom, solid community ties, and the individual dream of "making it in America," produced a social and economic dynamism that allowed for individual and collective social integration and the progress of immigrant communities.

Many of the early Jewish settlers became itinerant peddlers (klientelchik), except for a small group of immigrants who worked as artisans. In the course of time, however, this situation underwent a change. The Jewish tradesmen who settled in the country after World War i soon became manufacturers and industrial pioneers in their fields – especially in textiles, readymade clothes, furniture, and at a later period, construction. An outstanding example of industrial pioneers is the *Klabin family, leaders in paper manufacturing and related industries.

community life and social organizations

The organization of the community was a decisive factor for successful integration. Wherever large groups of immigrants settled, as for instance in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Salvador, Recife, Belo Horizonte, Belém, and other cities, there was always at least one or more charitable organization, a credit cooperative, and one or more schools, which provided immigrant children with good social and educational opportunities. In 1917, the first Congresso Israelita no Brasil took place.

The first charitable society, Achiezer, was founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1912. The Sociedade Beneficente Israelita, Relief, was founded in 1920. Three years later the Froien Farain and the Lar da Criança Israelita (children's home) were founded. The Policlínica Israelita was established in 1937, later becoming the Hospital Israelita. In Rio de Janeiro, the Sociedade das Damas would later found the Lar da Velhice (old age home), in 1963. Also, a credit cooperative was founded in that city, which was Brazil's capital until 1960 (when it was transferred to Brasilia).

In São Paulo, between the years 1920 and 1940 there were 10 charitable entities in the community which offered all the necessary support to the newly arrived immigrants, from welcome at the port, assistance to pregnant women, and loans to set up a small business. Some of these organizations were run by individuals and families who had arrived some time before and had already prospered and did not want to see their brethren having to beg in the streets or looking like poor immigrants. The Sociedade Beneficente Amigos dos Pobres Ezra was established in 1915, in São Paulo, followed by the Sociedade Beneficente das Damas Israelitas a year later. The Policlínica Linath Hatzedek was established in 1929, and later the Gota de Leite of B'nai B'rith, the Lar das Crianças da CIP, the Lar das Crianças das Damas Israelitas, the Organização Feminina de Assistência Social (Ofidas, 1940), and the Asilo dos Velhos (1941). Between 1936 and 1966 the Sanatório Ezra for tuberculosis patients operated in São Jose dos Campos (50 miles from São Paulo). It had 120 beds, taking care of Jewish people from about 30 cities from all over Brazil. In 1928 the Cooperativa de Crédito Popular of the Bom Retiro neighborhood was established.

Even though the Bom Retiro neighborhood of São Paulo concentrated the main nucleus of immigrants coming from Eastern Europe, there were also small communities scattered throughout the city, and the groups from Western Europe, the Germans, and the Sephardim basically kept themselves apart, maintaining contact only from time to time. Each group had its own burial society, but the cemetery was common to all. In Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro there were common institutions from the beginning of the immigration.

Community life also developed in and around the synagogue, social, sporting and cultural clubs, political movements, and the active press. In Rio de Janeiro, União Israelita do Brasil was founded in 1873 and the first synagogue, Centro Israelita, opened in 1910. The first Jewish institution to be opened in São Paulo was the Kahal Israel synagogue (1912). In São Paulo, the Sephardim from Lebanon and Syria founded two synagogues in the Mooca neighborhood in the 1920s. The German Jews (as well as Italian and Austrian Jews) established the Congregação Israelita Paulista in São Paulo (1936) and the Associação Religiosa Israelita (1942) in Rio de Janeiro. Both were liberal congregations.

In Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, the local União Israelita was founded in 1909 by Ashkenazi and Sephardi immigrants together. Sephardim founded the Centro Hebraico Rio-Grandense in 1922. Sibra (Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura e Beneficência) was created in 1936. In the interior of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, small comunities were formed in Santa Maria (1915), Pelotas (União Israelita Pelotense, 1920), and Rio Grande (Sociedade Israelita Brasileira, 1920, with many immigrants from the agricultural colony of Philipson), Passo Fundo (União Israelita Passo-Fun-dense, 1922), and Erechim (1934, Sociedade Cultural e Beneficente Israelita, with many immigrants from Quatro Irmãos).

In Salvador, capital of Bahia, a synagogue opened in a private household in 1924. Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe began to arrive in Recife, capital of Pernambuco, in the 1910s and in the same year a shill in a private house was created. In 1918 Centro Israelita de Pernambuco and an Ídiche Schul were founded, followed by the cemetery (1927), the Synagoga Israelita da Boa Vista (1927), and a cooperative (1931). In the 1930s Sephardim built their synagogue in Recife. The community at Recife had a very active Jewish life, with five schools, a library, a theater group, youth movements, and Zionist women's organizations (wizo and Naamat).

In Curitiba, capital of Paraná, União Israelita do Paraná was founded in 1913 and later became Centro Israelita do Paraná (1920). The cemetery was built in 1925 and the local community reached around 3.500 Jews.

In São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, and Recife the Jews concentrated in specific neighborhoods: in Bom Retiro, Bonfim, and Praça Onze, respectively, in the first three cities and in Boa Viagem and Boa Vista in Recife. Eliezer Levin is the main chronicler of Jewish life in Bom Retiro and the writer Moacyr *Scliar wrote several novels set in the little shtetl of Rio Grande do Sul. In Rio de Janeiro, the main writer of memoirs from Praça Onze (also the heart of the Rio de Janeiro carnival) is Samuel Malamud. In these four large Brazilian cities, a defined Jewish urban space existed, with its stories, both real and imaginary, its meeting places, bars, restaurants, and lively folklore.

Women prostitutes were exploited by the international Tzvi Migdal traffic network based in Buenos Aires from the end of the 19th century and segregated by the community. They founded the Associação Beneficente Funerária e Religiosa Israelita (1906 to 1968) in Rio de Janeiro, and the Sociedade Religiosa e Beneficente Israelita in São Paulo (1924 to 1968), with their own mutual-aid organizations. They maintained separate cemeteries in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Cubatão (a neighboring city of Santos) and a synagogue in Rio. Within the Jewish communities themselves, the traffickers sponsored the Yiddish theater. The existence of Tzvi Migdal was an issue that made newspaper headlines in the 1930s and served as a pretext for those who wanted to ban Jewish immigration. But the history of the Jewish prostitutes or polacas (Poles), as they were known, entered the social and cultural imagination of the two most important Brazilian cities, even though Jews were only a minority among the women prostitutes. These stories can be found in the novel Macunaima by Mario de Andrade, the founder of Brazilian Modernism, and they were also the subjects of paintings and songs by popular artists and musicians. The subject, already a strong taboo in the community, became the theme of a novel (O Ciclo das Águas) by the Brazilian Jewish writer Moacyr Scliar.

education and culture

Jewish communities all around Brazil maintained schools in the most important cities where they settled. In 1929, there were 25 schools in the country, with about 1,600 students. In São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador there was an ideological plurality of schools dividing Zionists, who taught Hebrew, and Yiddishists, who taught Yiddish. In São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Recife there was a Jewish theater.

The Dr. Weizmann school was established in Belém, Pará State, in 1919. The Maguen David School was founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1920, later renamed the Colégio Hebreu-Brasileiro. In São Paulo, a small talmud torah, a "ḥeder," opened in 1916. The first school in São Paulo was the Ginásio Hebraico-Brasileiro Renascença (1924). Renascença and talmud torah (1932) schools started to incorporate Jewish teaching with the Brazilian official curriculum, resulting in an important form of social integration for the children and young people. In São Paulo, a small school linked to the Bund existed in the 1930s and leftist sectors founded the Yiddishist Scholem Aleichem school in the 1940s. Other schools were C.N. Bialik and I.L. Peretz and the religious Beit Chinuch.

The Escola Israelita Jacob Dinezon of leftist and Yiddishist orientation was founded in Salvador in 1924. During the 1930s, a second school was founded – Ber Borochov, of Zionist orientation. Jewish schools were founded in Belo Horizonte (1928) and in Curitiba (1935). There were also schools in Nilópolis, in the interior of Rio de Janeiro State, and in Santos, interior of São Paulo.

The Jewish press in Yiddish was very active until the 1960s and there was an active Jewish press in Portuguese until the 1990s, when the remaining newspapers and magazines were confined to a limited Jewish public.

The first Jewish newspaper in Yiddish in Brazil was Di Menscheit, published in 1915 in Porto Alegre. The press reflected the ideological diversity, embracing left-wing and Zionist newspapers. Later came Kol Yisrael (1919) and Dos Idishe Vochenblat (1923), later to be called Brazilianer Yiddishe Presse (1927). Other Yiddish newspapers were Di Yidishe Folkstsaytung, Yidishe Tsaytung and Der Nayer Moment.

The first Jewish newspaper published in Portuguese was A Columna, in 1916. In 1933–39 São Paulo also had a Portuguese-language newspaper, A Civilização. Newspaper and magazines edited in Portuguese were Crônica Israelita, Semana Judaica (both linked to cip in São Paulo), Aonde Vamos?, Shalom, O Reflexo, Revista Brasil-Israel, Encontro, and Boletim da Associação Sholem Aleichem in Rio de Janeiro. Many institutions had their own publication or newsletter.

zionism and political participation

The large immigration of the 1920s consisted of Jews of different political positions and the whole spectrum of ideological orientation. All the Zionist parties were represented among Brazilian Jewry, and they left their mark upon the community. As a result, communal social Jewish life was greatly enriched. The first Congresso Sionista in Brazil took place in 1922, bringing together four movements – Ahavat Sion (São Paulo), Tiferet Sion (Rio de Janeiro, established in 1919), Shalom Sion (Curitiba), and Ahavat Sion (Pará) – founding the Federação Sionista do Brazil. One year before, in 1921, a Brazilian representative took part in the 12th Zionist Congress in Carlsbad. In the 1929 election to choose the Brazilian representative to the 16th Zionist Congress a total of 1,260 votes were cast, and for the Congress of 1934 the total number of votes was 2,647. The Zionist movement was very active within the Jewish communities, from Belém (Pará) to Rio de Janeiro, and in 1929, in Rio de Janeiro, Zionists assembled and marched through the streets in a public demonstration in which 1,500 people participated.

From the year 1930 Zionist youth movements were active mainly in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre: Hashomer Hatzair, Ichud Habonim, Dror, Gordonia and also the Scout movement Avanhandava. In the 1960s, Chazit Hanoar and Netzach were also active.

The leftist movements were also quite significant. The movement of left-wing Jews in Rio de Janeiro was connected with the Sholem Aleichem Library, Brazkcor, the Sociedade Brasileira Pró-Colonização Judaica in the Soviet Union, and the Centro Operário Morris Vinchevsky (the last two were established in 1928, ran a Jewish worker's school, and edited the periodical Der Unhoib). In São Paulo there were the groups Cultura and Progresso, as well as a small nucleus of Bund and later, in 1954, the Instituto Cultural Israelita Brasileiro (icib), the pro-Communist Casa do Povo (People's House), together with Teatro de Arte Israelita Brasileiro (taib) and the Escola Sholem Aleichem. Yiddish language and culture were key factors within these movements. The Jews were leaders in the Partido Comunista Brasileiro. In other communities, such as Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, and Salvador, there were also left-wing nuclei, comprising left-wing Zionists and Communists.

the jews under getÚlio vargas

In the 1920s and 1930s, having settled in a few cities and because of their economic, social, and cultural activities, the Jews became one of the "most visible" groups of immigrants in the words of the historian Jeffrey H. Lesser. Thus, they came to be the object of local, national, and international gambling interests, of stereotypes, and of political intrigue, "pawns of the powerful," especially during the Vargas regime (1930–45), when "the Jewish question" was raised in the country, involving political interests.

In 1930 the "First Republic" came to an end and a revolution brought Getúlio Vargas to power with a nationalist government that overcame the supremacy of the rural oligarchies of the States of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, which had dominated the country since 1889. Brazil began to industrialize and define the urban middle classes in the large cities. In the year 1937, Getúlio Vargas, who had already governed since 1930, decreed the dictatorship of the "Estado-Novo" (New State). This was a turning point in Brazil's immigration policy, which became increasingly restrictive and had an adverse effect on the immigration of Jews. In 1934 the tendency to select immigrants on the basis of their ethnic origin came to the fore, and afterwards it was taken to the extreme when a secret order was circulated through the Brazilian consulates abroad to reject all visa applications submitted by Jews. Both the 1934 and 1937 constitutions and a decree issued in 1938 provided for a quota system of immigration that was not to exceed 2% (annually) of the total number of immigrants from any particular country in the period 1884–1934 and was to consist of up to 80% agricultural laborers. The Estado-Novo military coup was orchestrated by Vargas on the pretext that a plan for a Communist revolution was underway. This plan received the (Jewish) name "Plan Cohen."

Nevertheless, Jewish immigration, mainly from Nazi-dominated Europe, continued individually by a variety of means, mainly case by case negotiations, but never organized through charitable organizations. From time to time, special provisions were made for the immigration of people skilled in certain fields or relatives of Brazilian citizens. The law also made it possible for the authorities to accord to tourists the status of permanent residents. Some 17,500 Jews entered Brazil between 1933 and 1939 (until 1945 an additional 6,000 entered), but many refugees from occupied Europe had their visa applications denied. During this time, some diplomats tried to act sympathetically towards the Jews; among them were Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas and Aracy Carvalho de Guimarães Rosa.

During the years of the Estado-Novo (1937–1945) and World War ii, a general climate of xenophobia was present in government circles and in sectors of the political elite and among intellectuals. At least two militant Jewish Communist women were deported by Vargas' political police to Germany and handed over to the Gestapo: Jenny Gleizer and Olga Benário, wife of Luis Carlos Prestes, the most important Brazilian Communist leader, having led a Communist revolt in the country in 1935. The teaching of foreign languages and publication of newspapers in foreign languages were prohibited and immigrant organizations had to "nationalize" their names and to elect boards of directors with native-born Brazilians. As a rule, these restrictions were imposed on all immigrant groups and not exclusively on Jewish immigrants, affecting the Italians and hitting the Japanese hard (who were deported from São Paulo and Santos to the interior of the state).

Despite the dictatorship and the climate of nationalistic xenophobia, the Jewish organizations adjusted to the legislation and learned how to deal with the restrictions so as to continue operating. The schools continued to teach Hebrew and Jewish culture, the synagogues kept up their services, radio programs played Jewish music, and innumerable organizations were established during this period (including the Associação Religiosa Israelita – ari, founded by German Jewish refugees in 1942 in Rio de Janeiro, with around 1,000 members) resulting in a very fertile period for the organizations of the Jewish community. The German Jews were the ones who became most alarmed, especially after Brazil broke off relations with Germany and Italy in 1942, but their organizations operated as usual during the war years.

During the Estado-Novo and especially in the war years, there are no records of any forcible closure of Jewish organizations in São Paulo, then the biggest Jewish community. The antisemitism which was present in governmental and intellectual circles, among diplomats and the elite, did not result in criminal actions against the Jews living in Brazil and those who managed to evade the immigration barriers. Daily Jewish life followed its normal course, in spite of the restrictions in immigration and the antisemitic rhetoric in official circles.

In São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro the communities took part in campaigns in support of the war effort by Brazil, which broke off relations with the Axis powers in August of 1942 and followed a policy of alignment with the United States and the Allies. The Jewish community of Brazil donated five airplanes to the newly created Brazilian Air Force, in 1942, and formed several committees to help refugees of the war in Europe, some of which were linked to the Red Cross. In July 1944 Brazil sent the Força Expedicionária Brasileira (feb) to Italy, consisting of over 30,000 men, who fought together with the U.S. Army in Northern Italy, participating in the victorious battle of Monte Castello. Jews were part of the feb. Among them were the artist Carlos Scliar, who later published an Álbum de Guerra (Album of War), and Boris Schnaiderman, who published Guerra em Surdina, an eyewitness novel about the feb.

Also during the war, several campaigns were undertaken to help the refugees in Europe. With the restriction on imports and the naval blockade, there was significant industrial and technical development in the great urban centers, in order to supply goods that had previously been imported. This created jobs for the inhabitants of the cities, among them the Jewish immigrants who had technical, commercial, and industrial skills.

Between 1933 and 1938 the Ação Brasileira Integralista (aib) Fascist movement was active in Brazil, led by Plínio Salgado, Gustavo Barroso, and Miguel Reale. Inspired by European and South American Fascism, Integralismo had an antisemitic platform. Gustavo Barroso, the head of the militia, was the main antisemitic spokesman. He translated into Portuguese The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and published adaptations of the book for the Brazilian public, such as A Sinagoga Paulista; Brasil, colônia de banqueiros; História secreta do Brasil, and others. Gustavo Barroso ran the column "International Judaism" in the main Integralist newspaper. He was also the author of about 80 books, a member and president of the Academia Brasileira de Letras, and an intellectual respected throughout the country, and can be considered the most active antisemitic activist in modern Brazilian history. However, there is no documented evidence of open violence against Jewish communities, who reacted when necessary. No Jewish organization stopped functioning because of the antisemitic propaganda spread by aib. In Curitiba, Baruch Schulman wrote Em Legítima Defesa, in 1937, a publication in defense of the Jews, and in Belo Horizonte the historian Isaías Golgher created an Anti-Integralist Committee. A group of Brazilian intellectuals, supported by the ica and by the Klabin company, published a book in defense of the Jews called Por que ser anti-semita?, an inquiry among Brazilian intellectuals, in 1933.

Postwar Period

After the end of World War ii and with the participation of Brazil in the military campaign against the Axis, the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas fell and Brazil enjoyed a period of democratic regimes up to 1964, including the democratic election of Vargas himself as president in 1950.

It was through the creation of the Federação Israelita do Estado de São Paulo in 1946, under the inspiration of Zionism, that the community in São Paulo started to evolve a general community ideal in order to organize postwar immigration. The campaigns undertaken during the war and Zionist activism generated greater unity. The Zionist movement, which had remained inactive during the war years, resumed its public activity. The Jewish left became quite active again, also in the ranks of the Communist Party. The Federação Israelita do Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1947.

The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was a source of great encouragement to the Jewish minority in Brazil. In the period 1946–47, federations of Jewish organizations and institutions were formed in the larger communities, and 1951 witnessed the establishment of the Confederação das Entidades Representativas da Coletividade Israelita do Brasil (Confederation of Jewish Institutions in Brazil) – now known as Confederação Israelita do Brasil (conib) – to act as the authoritative and representative body of the country's entire Jewish community.

Jewish immigration to Brazil was resumed in the 1950s. In the period 1956–57 about 2,500 Jews from Egypt and 1,000 from North Africa (mainly from Morocco) and in 1956, some 1,000 from Hungary entered Brazil. According to the official census, the Jewish population of Brazil was 55,663 (1940), 69,955 (1950), 96,199 (1960), and 86,417 (1991). In 1991, 70,960 Jews lived in the Sudeste, mainly São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; 10,614 in the South, basically in Rio Grande do Sul; 1,693 in the Nordeste; 2,308 in the North; and 841 in Centro-Oeste. According to statistical studies, estimates of the Jewish population in 2005 were 96,700 people, but Jewish institutions in the country expanded this figure to 130,000.

Israel's War of Independence (1948) and Sinai Campaign (1956) brought new waves of Sephardi immigration from Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria, especially to São Paulo, where four new synagogues were founded from the 1960s, three of them in the neighborhood of Higienópolis. From that period Sephardi Jews became politically active in the community and leaders of some of the more important Jewish institutions in the city and also in the country, holding positions such as the presidency of Confederação Israelita do Brasil. Generally, the integration between Ashkenazim and Sephardim in Brazil was successful.

Brazilian Jews experienced considerable economic mobility. The peddlers of the prewar period eventually became wholesalers and retailers, and some also became industrialists. Besides getting involved in trade and industry, from the 1960s a significant number of Brazilian Jews began taking up various professions, becoming physicians, administrators, engineers, university professors, journalists, publishers, psychologists, etc.

Important organizations were also founded in the postwar period. The Hebraica club, founded in São Paulo in 1953, is the largest Jewish organization in the country in terms of numbers of members (25,000). In the field of charity, the Centro Israelita de Assistência ao Menor (Ciam) was created in 1959 in São Paulo, and in 1993 it also developed into the Aldeia da Esperança (Village of Hope), inspired by the model of Kefar Tikvah in Israel. Unibes, the most important Jewish charitable organization in the country, was founded in 1976. Some time later, Ten Yad was established. The Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, inaugurated in São Paulo in 1971, became one of the most important hospitals in the country and maintained an active Department of Volunteers carrying out important medical and social work in a neighboring shantytown.

In 1964, through a coup de état, a military dictatorship took control in Brazil, interrupting 19 years of democracy since the end of World War ii. Under the military regime, there was neither a specific Jewish policy nor any spread of antisemitism. The policies of the military government benefited the middle classes and the country underwent a development boom with high economic growth rates during the 1970s, the so-called "Brazilian miracle." In São Paulo, from 1960, many Jews improved themselves economically and moved up the social ladder, leaving the Bom Retiro neighborhood for well-to-do districts such as Higienópolis, and later Jardins and Morumbi. Thus, the centers of Jewish life in the city partly moved to other neighborhoods as well.

Before Parliament was dissolved in 1968, six Jews representing various parties were elected to the federal legislature in the 1966 parliamentary elections. There were also Jewish politicians in the state legislatures and city councils. Horacio *Lafer was a leading Jewish political figure and served as finance minister and foreign minister of Brazil. A former federal deputy, Aarão *Steinbruch, was elected senator, the first Jew to be elected to that prestigious post.

In November 1975, the Brazilian vote in favor of the un resolution condemning Zionism as "racism" aroused considerable criticism. It was considered an expression of Brazil's foreign policy, aimed at the Third World and the Arab oil-exporting countries. In 1980 a document issued by the Serviço de Informações do Ministério de Minas e Energia accused the Jewish community of being among the main opponents of the nuclear agreement signed by Brazil and Germany because Jewish physicists such as Mario Schenberg, Jose Goldemberg, and others were among the leaders of this opposition. Some Jewish left-wing activists became involved in movements against the dictatorship and even joined armed guerrilla groups that fought against the dictatorship. The Academic Center of the Institute of Psychology of the University of São Paulo was named for Iara Iavelberg in memory of an activist assassinated by the military regime in 1971. In 1975 the murder of the Jewish journalist Vladimir Herzog in a military prison, reported as a "suicide," triggered off mass protests in the country and was one of the events that led to the end of the military regime. There was great tension in the Jewish community, as many opposed burying the journalist as a suicide. Rabbi Henry I. Sobel was one of the leaders of the movement who challenged the Army's official version of the facts and gave Herzog a regular burial.

In 1978 there were antisemitic outbursts in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. In the same year, Gustav Franz Wagner, an officer who served in the Sobibor concentration camp, was arrested after participating in a meeting of the so-called "Movement for the Liberation of the German Reich." He was held by the Brazilian authorities, while extradition was requested by Austria, Poland, West Germany, and Israel. However, the requests were rejected by the Supreme Court of Brazil. Brazil was a shelter for probably a few dozen Nazis, some of whom had arrived via Argentina. Among the Nazis who took refuge in Brazil was Joseph Mengele, who probably died in the country.

The slow return of the country to democracy started in 1979, first with the Amnesty Policy and in 1984 with the direct election for president of the republic. The return to democracy in 1984 brought new hope, but also some serious economic and social crises. Under the government of Fernando Collor de Melo (1990–92, when the president was politically impeached), Celso Lafer was minister of foreign affairs. In the two terms of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1994 to 1998 and 1998 to 2002) numerous members of the Jewish community took an active part in the government.


Antisemitism is not a determining factor in the contemporary history of Jews in Brazil. Apart from the activism of Gustavo Barroso and Integralismo in the 1930s, antisemitism in Brazil has never been an organized movement. Even during those years Jews living in Brazil suffered neither discrimination nor violent persecution, except for a political campaign by a specific party and official antisemitism that was oriented toward restriction of immigration. In contemporary Brazilian history, antiemitism has always been ephemeral and isolated and the majority of incidents have been limited to occasional slogans on the walls of Jewish institutions and public statements or antisemitic articles in the press or more recently on the internet, which has been used the world over as a means of racist and antisemitic propaganda.

In the 1990s a new Nazi publishing house, Revisão, published antisemitic books, such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The International Jew (Henry Ford), Brasil, colônia de banqueiros written by Gustavo Barroso in the 1930s, and Holocaust denial books, such as Holocausto judeu ou alemão? Nos bastidores da mentira do século, writted by S.E. Castan. The books were well publicized and had considerable repercussions. In 1989, an alliance of Jews, Afro-Brazilians, and other sectors organized a movement (Movimento Popular Anti-Racismo – mopar) in Porto Alegre, to fight the antisemitic editor and his books. The Revisão publishing house took part in events and book fairs in several state capitals, which provoked much debate between those who defended absolute freedom and those who attacked the distorted, racist content of these books. In 2004, the editor S.E. Castan was convicted of racism and antisemitism by the Supreme Federal Court, the highest court in the country, establishing an important precedent in this type of case.

Anti-Zionism is an important ideological component in left-wing parties and movements in the country, mainly since the 1970s, but not always has such anti-Zionism been distinctly associated with antisemitism.

Despite the fact that antisemitism was sporadic and isolated for almost four centuries, Brazil was a Portuguese colony in which the Catholic Church and the activities of the Inquisition in the country had a decisive influence until the end of the 18th century. This left a mark on the culture, mentality and popular imagination of Brazilians, diffusing elements of a medieval anti-Judaism that associate the Jews with the crime of deicide, usury, and greed. There are many pejorative examples in the popular language, such as "judiar," meaning "to mis-treat," as well "Judeu," meaning miserly and tightfisted. Such imagery does not induce concrete action, also because over 90% of the Jews reside in large urban centers, where this imagery has even less of an impact.

Interfaith Relations

Brazil is a country with a Catholic majority and a more recent high percentage of Protestants, mainly Evangelists. The growth of Protestantism helped produce a kind of philosemitism and greater support for Israel. The inter-religious dialogue, especially with the Catholic Church, is solid and permanent. Following the orientations of the Vatican ii Council, the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil published a Guide for Inter-Religious Dialogue. The archbishop of São Paulo, Cardinal Dom Cláudio Humes, repeatedly positioned himself in favor of inter-religious dialogue as an important element in a country with a Catholic and Protestant majority. The liberal rabbi Henry I. Sobel, from CIP, São Paulo, led this movement in the country and played a leading role in ecumenical and political events, where the presence of a Jewish representative is important. He was the best-known spokesman of Brazilian Judaism. The Conselho de Fraternidade Cristão-Judaica, founded in 1962, maintained an active inter-religious dialogue. From the 1990s many Protestant groups and churches appeared as "Christian-Hebrews," calling themselves "Jews who follow Jesus."

In the 21st Century

As stated, the number of Jews in Brazil in 2005 was estimated at between 96,700 and 130,000. In spite of the vitality of Jewish institutional life in Brazil, there were hundreds of Jews who did not belong to any Jewish body. There were organized Jewish federations in the States of Amazônia, Bahia, Brasilia (Federal District), Ceará, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraná, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and São Paulo. The main Jewish communities were located in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre, concentrating more than 80% of the Jews in the country, followed by Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Recife, and Salvador. In Manaus, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Natal, and Florianópolis, the Jewish communities numbered a few dozen families. Out of the 5,560 Brazilian municipalities there were very small Jewish groups in a few dozen of them.

Although constituting less than 0.01% of the total population of the country, Jewish communities were very active and the Jews made a notable impact in such areas as the economy, culture, professional life, and the arts. The Jewish population generally belonged to the middle and upper classes, which constituted a minority within society at large. In cities such as São Paulo (which boasted over 11% of the national income), the Jews constituted 0.6% of the total population, but this percentage was certainly much higher in the strata with high social, political, economic, and cultural visibility in a country where large sections of the population live in the margins of consumer society as second-class citizens.

The state policy of noninterference in religious freedom, social mobility, cultural tolerance, and the economic and urban development of the country resulted in the development of their communities and very successful integration in the middle and upper reaches of society for the majority of Jews. The economic and social crisis which began in the 1980s resulted in poverty for many of the Jews, but they were succored by a solid network of Jewish community aid and social assistance. Jewish social assistance institutions, hospitals, and sports clubs were very active. The Albert Einstein Hospital, in São Paulo, was one of the best in the country and the Hebraica club was one of the most important on the continent. Three social institutions in São Paulo, Unibes, Lar das Crianças da CIP, and Ciam were models of social assistance both inside and outside the community, maintaining important partnerships with local governments.

Although Jews individually played an important part in several areas of Brazilian culture, the depth and intensity of Jewish cultural production can be said to have been in decline since the 1970s, despite the great number of events produced by Jewish organizations.

The Arquivo Histórico Judaico Brasileiro, in São Paulo, maintained the most important historical archive and Jewish library, including a Yiddish section. The Instituto Cultural Israelita Marc Chagall, in Porto Alegre (1986), the Instituto Histórico Israelita Mineiro, in Belo Horizonte, the Arquivo Judaico de Pernambuco, in Recife (1992), and the small Museu Judaico, in Rio de Janeiro (1998), housed historical documentation and promoted cultural activities. No central cultural organization existed in the country. The Jewish communities operated with almost complete independence, with little interaction or mutual connection. The communities functioned more as a conglomerate of institutions, despite the foundation of state federations and a National Confederation, conib, whose activities, since its origin, have been limited to several important issues.

Cultural life was associated with social life and developed in the clubs and organizations. In São Paulo, a highly developed cultural network had its main centers in Hebraica, B'nai B'rith, cip, and the Casa de Cultura de Israel; in Rio de Janeiro, in ari and asa. There were also other clubs in São Paulo (Macabi), Rio de Janeiro and Salvador.

The most important Brazilian Jewish writer was Moacyr Scliar, a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and one of the outstanding contemporary Brazilian authors. Many critics see important Jewish traces in the work of Clarice *Lispector, one of the most important modern Brazilian writers, born in the Ukraine, particularly in her book A Hora da Estrela, a classic work of Brazilian literature. Among the writers and chroniclers who wrote about the Jewish experience in Brazil, one can cite Samuel *Rawett, Jacó Guinsburg, Alberto Dines, Cíntia Moscovich, and also Samuel Malamud, Eliezer Levin, and Samuel Reibcheid. Brazil had a small, but significant movement of writers who wrote in Yiddish, among them Meir Kucinsky and Rosa Palatnik. There was also a small but significant number of memoirs of immigration, with several books on the agricultural colonies in Rio Grande do Sul, and equally memoirs of the Holocaust published by survivors who had immigrated to Brazil. The writer Stefan *Zweig, a refugee of Nazism in Brazil, wrote Brasil, País do Futuro, praising Brazil. Perspectiva was the main Jewish publishing house in Brazil, directed by Jacó Guinsburg; other publishing houses were Sefer (which ran a Jewish bookstore in São Paulo), Mayanot, and small religious publishing companies.

There were Jewish television programs in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, one of them, Mosaico na tv, was the longest running program on Brazilian television. The Jewish written press lost much of its circulation and turned inward to the community. Most of the main organizations had their own newsletters.

Among artists distinctly reflecting Jewish culture in their works, Lasar Segall was one of most important representatives of Modernism and Expressionism in Brazil and the world. In São Paulo, the Museum Lasar Segall housed his works and a permanent exhibit, A Festival of Jewish Cinema, was annually organized in the Hebraica club in São Paulo jointly with movie theaters in town. There were also courses in Hebrew at the state universities in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, where a Center of Jewish Studies in the University of São Paulo offered, besides a graduate course on Hebrew literature, Master's and Ph.D. degrees in Jewish studies.

The Jewish community in Brazil did not have a central rabbinate. Each of the two major cities had several rabbis who seldom met. The larger cities had both Sephardi and Ashkenazi synagogues. The Conservative/Liberal denomination of Judaism had the largest number of members: in Rio de Janeiro, Associação Religiosa Israelita (ari), with around 800 families and a woman as second rabbi, and the Congregação Judaica do Brasil headed by Rabbi Nilton Bonder; in São Paulo, Congregação Israelita Paulista and the Comunidade Shalom with 350 families and a female rabbi in 2005. The Orthodox movement, with many synagogues in the country and most of the synagogues in São Paulo, had a growing interest in Brazil, exemplified by Beit Chabad in São Paulo, and in the main Jewish communities around the country. The Beit Chabad organizational structure assists small communities, sending rabbis to visit them weekly and supplying whatever is needed for worship. In Petrópolis, State of Rio de Janeiro, the Orthodox Mahane Yisrael Yeshivah was in operation.

Jewish youth movements were still active, but with less adherence than in the 1930–80 period, when they maintained an active Zionist and ḥalutz ideology. The active Zionist movements were transformed in "identity ties" with Israel. Jewish youth also met in clubs and synagogues. Assimilation was a major issue, but difficult to measure, particularly because of the increasing number of mixed marriages and conversions, where the couples remain close to the Jewish community. The social and religious permeability of Brazilian culture makes it easy for the families to maintain more than one religion.

The terrorist attacks against the Israel embassy in 1992 and the Jewish Community – amia, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1994, made the Jewish communities in Brazil more cautious. They committed themselves to improving the security systems protecting Jewish institutions in a country where daily violence is on the upswing and affects the Brazilian population as a whole.

In 2001 the federal government, through the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (iphan), declared the site occupied by the synagogue of Recife (capital of Pernambuco State) during the Dutch domination in the 17th century a "federal historic site." A museum was erected in the place where the first Jewish community settled in Brazil. The "Rua dos Judeus" (Street of the Jews) and the location of the ancient synagogue became the historic tourist attractions of the city.

In 2000 a demonstration in São Paulo led by Hebraica attracted about 10,000 people supporting Israel against terrorism and also supporting the peace process. It was the largest public demonstration of the Jewish community since the festivities celebrating the foundation of Israel in 1948.

In 2002, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leader of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers' Party), was elected president. For the first time in Brazilian history a left-wing party won the national elections with a social program whose main objective was eradicating hunger in the country. The pt already governed cities like São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte. The government's political support of the Palestinians and the Arab cause did not turn into official hostility toward Israel. President Lula visited Israel before being elected and proclaimed repeatedly his admiration for the country.

Some Jews joined the higher ranks of the federal government elected in 2002, including the spokesman of the presidency, André Singer, and special advisers to the president Clara Ant and Oded Grajew, among others. The Workers' Party (pt) maintained an officially constituted "Jewish committee" for a number of years. In 2003, President Lula, the governor of the State of São Paulo, and the mayor of the city of São Paulo were present at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Hebraica club, the largest Jewish institution in Brazil – a clear sign of the importance of the Jewish community in São Paulo and Brazil.

In 2005 the official delegation accompanying President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to Rome for the burial of Pope John Paul ii consisted of only 16 people, among whom was Rabbi Henry I. Sobel of the liberal cip. This fact shows the importance and the official and public visibility of the Jewish population in Brazil.

In 2005 the main concerns of Jews in Brazil related neither to social integration nor to prejudice in a country where they could develop and progress freely, consolidating prosperous and well-integrated communities. Their main concern was the preservation of their Jewish identity in a country whose tolerance, both official and public, presents new challenges for a community searching for ways to preserve its uniqueness in the absence of external pressure.

Relations with Israel

The Brazilian statesman Oswaldo Aranha – who, as a minister in the 1930s and 1940s, was instrumental in restricting the immigration of Jewish refugees from Europe when serving as foreign minister in the war years – presided over the 1947 General un Assembly, which voted for the partition of Palestine and the creation of the Jewish state. Apart from casting his delegation's vote in favor of the Partition Resolution, Aranha played a key role in the adoption of the resolution, preventing delaying tactics and guiding the Assembly to the conclusive vote. In appreciation of his historical role, a street in Tel Aviv and the cultural center in kibbutz Beror Ḥayil (settled by Brazilian Jews) were named after him. Brazil recognized Israel in February 1949 and from 1952 maintained an embassy in Tel Aviv; Israel had an embassy in Rio de Janeiro which later was moved to Brasilia, and a consulate general in São Paulo, which was closed in 2004.

Brazil followed the line of the Western powers on the question of Jerusalem, voting in favor of the internationalization of the city (December 1949) and against its reunification by Israel after the Six-Day War (June 1967). In the wake of the Sinai Campaign (1956), Brazil supported the creation of the un Emergency Force and contributed a contingent of soldiers. In 1967, as a member of the Security Council, Brazil was active in the negotiations and debates that followed the Six-Day War and sponsored the Latin American resolution which blocked the acceptance of anti-Israel proposals.

In 2003 commerce between the two countries was very limited relative to their total trade. Of Israel's $31.8 billion in exports $571 million went to South America and $364 million to Brazil, representing a little more than 1% of Israeli exports and around 0.7% of Brazilian imports. Israeli imports of Brazilian products amounted to $128 million in 2003 (out of $381 million from South America), representing less than 0.75% of Israel's total imports of $34.2 billion and 0.18% of Brazilian exports.

Technical cooperation existed but could have been much more intensive, especially because of Brazil's large semi-desert areas and the necessity to improve agriculture and provide water resources. The economic and commercial interests of Brazil in Arab countries, and the adoption by different governments of Third World policies, in general hostile to Israel, have been a permanent drawback to closer relations between Brazil and Israel. Despite the inroads of the Palestinian cause in Brazil, Brazilians maintain a positive image of Israel, an example of a country which has overcome difficulties and developed both economically and culturally, particularly in the field of agriculture, which remains a permanent challenge in the semi-arid northeastern region of Brazil, an area subject to extensive droughts. This region concentrates some of the poorest communities in the country.

In 2005 the Brazilian government organized in Brasilia a meeting with Arab and South American countries to improve commercial relations between the two regions. Despite Brazil's diplomatic efforts, the final document included anti-Israel rhetoric. In 2005, after the meeting in Brasilia, the Brazilian foreign minister visited Israel to tighten political and commercial relations between the two countries.

According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, a total of 9,914 Jews born in Brazil immigrated to Israel between 1948 and 2003. In 2003, 207 Jewish immigrants arrived from Brazil.


colonial period: A. Novinsky, Cristãos-Novos na Bahia (1972); A. Wiznitzer, Os judeus no Brasil colonial (1960); C.E. Calaça and M.C. Maio, Cristãos Novos e Judeus: Um Balanço da Bibliografia sobre o Anti-Semitismo no Brasil (2000); E. and F. Wolff, A odisséia dos judeus no Recife. São Paulo (1979); E. Lipiner, Os judaizantes nas capitanias de cima. São Pauloestudos sobre os Cristãos-Novos do Brasil nos séculos xvi e xvii (1969). modern and contemporary period: Collection of documents and journals at the Arquivo Histórico Judaico Brasileiro; A. Milgram, Os judeus do Vaticano. A tentativa de salvação de católicosnão-arianosda Alemanha ao Brasil através do Vaticano (1939–1942); idem, Precursors of Zionism in Brazil before the Turn of the 20th Century (1995); B. Kushnir, Baile de Máscaras: Mulheres Judias e Prostituição. As Polacas e suas Associações de Ajuda Mútua (1996); H. Rattner, Tradição e Ruptura (A comunidade judaica em São Paulo) (1977); J.H. Lesser, Welcoming the Undesirables: Brazil and the Jewish Question (1995); idem, Pawns of the Powerful: Jewish Immigration to Brazil 1904–1945 (1989); M.C. Maio, Nem Rotschild nem Trotsky: o pensamento anti-semita de Gustavo (1992); M.L. Tucci Carneiro, O anti-semitismo na Era Vargas: fantasmas de uma geração (1988). L. Milman (ed.), Ensaios Sobre o Anti-Semitismo Contemporâneo. Dos mitos e da crítica aos tribunais (2004); N. Falbel, Estudos sobre a comunidade judaica no Brasil (1984); R. Igel, Imigrantes Judeus Escritores Brasileiros (1997); R. Mizrahi, Imigrantes Judeus do Oriente Médio (2003); R. Decol, Imigrações urbanas para o Brasil: o caso dos judeus (1999); R. Cytrynowicz, Unibes 85 anos. Umahistória do trabalho assistencial na comunidade judaica em São Paulo (2000); idem, Integralismo e anti-semitismo nos textos de Gustavo Barroso na década de 30 (1992); S. Malamud, Documentário. Contribuição judaica à memória da comunidade judaica brasileira (1992).

[Roney Cytrynowicz (2nd ed.)]


views updated May 23 2018


Culture Name


Alternative Names

In Portuguese, Brasil; its citizens are Brasileiros or Brasileiras depending on gender.


Identification. The Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral arrived at present day Pôrto Seguro (Safe Harbor) in the state of Bahia on the Brazilian coast in April 1500 and named the new territory Ilha de Vera Cruz, Island of the True Cross, thinking he was on an island. A year later, Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci sailed to Brazil on a voyage commissioned by the Portuguese crown and returned home with a cargo of hard, reddish wood. The wood was similar to an East Indian variety called pau brasil, which was then popular in Europe for making cabinets and violin bows. Pau brasil (brazilwood), the first product to be exploited by the Portuguese in this new territory, is the origin of the country's name, Brazil.

Because of its size and diversity, Brazil is one of the nations most deserving of the name "land of contrasts." The country is often divided into five regions: Norte (North), Nordeste (Northeast), Centro-Oeste (Central-West), Sudeste (Southeast), and Su l (South). These divisions are used for administrative purposes such as the national Brazilian census and they roughly correspond to geographic, demographic, economic, and cultural variation within this sprawling nation. The Northeast has the greatest proportion of people of African descent, the South and Southeast are home to the bulk of Brazilians of European and Japanese ancestry, while indigenous peoples live largely in the North and Central-West. Still, regional migration and extensive miscegenation (racial inter-breeding) has made Brazil one of the most racially diverse nations on earth.

Aside from the official fivefold regional division of Brazil, a simpler economic distinction is made between the poor, underdeveloped North and the wealthier, more industrialized South. This distinction is sometimes referred to as the "two Brazils" or "Belindia," with the wealthy South being compared to Belgium and the poor North to India. At times these contrasts are translated into negative stereotypes as when inhabitants of São Paulo, the huge metropolis in southeastern Brazil, blame their city's poverty and high crime rate on migrants from the North.

Those who consider themselves urban sophisticatesparticularly inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulohave a long tradition of maligning people from smaller cities and towns in the Brazilian interior, calling them uneducated hicks and hillbillies. Urban, middle-class Brazilians are generally unfamiliar with the interior of their own country and misrepresent it as a region of unrelenting poverty and backwardnessa stark place of few creature comforts that is best avoided. One consequence of this attitude is that middle-class and wealthy Brazilians are more likely to have visited Miami, Orlando, or New York than to have traveled to tourist destinations in their own country.

Brazilians are aware of these regional and rural/urban distinctions and closely identify with their place of birth. One is a nordestino (northeasterner) or a mineiro (native of the state of Minas Gerais) or a carioca (native of the city of Rio de Janeiro). Nevertheless, Brazilians share a national culturemaking Brazil a true case of unity in diversity. The legacy of the Portuguese in language, religion, and law serves to unify this vast land and its people. Until the mid-twentieth century almost all Brazilians were at least nominallyCatholic and today, virtually all speak Portuguese and identify with the dominant Brazilian culture.

Location and Geography. Brazil, the world's fifth largest country in geographical expanse and the largest nation in Latin America, comprises slightly under half the land mass of the South American continent and shares a border with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador. It is the size of the continental United States excluding Alaska.

Brazil's physical environment and climate vary greatly from the tropical North to the temperate South. The landscape is dominated by a central highland region known as the Planalto Central (Brazilian Highlands, or Plateau of Brazil) and by the vast AmazonBasin which occupies overone-third of the country.The central plateau juts into theseaina few areas along Brazil's 4,500-mile-long, (7,240-kilometer-long) coast, but it more often runs parallel to the ocean, creating a fertile, lowland area.

Brazil is a land rich in natural resources, principally iron ore, bauxite, manganese, nickel, uranium, gold, gemstones, oil, and timber.

The physical environment in each region determined the types of crops grown or the resources extracted and this, in turn, influenced the populations that settled there and the social and economic systems that developed. Brazil's economic history, in fact, has been marked by a succession of cycles, each one based on the exploitation of a single export commodity: timber (brazilwood) in the first years of colonization; sugarcane in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; precious metals (gold) and gems (diamonds) in the eighteenth century; and finally, coffee in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Brazil's northeast coast with its rich soils became the most prosperous region early on as vast sugar plantations were created to supply a growing demand for that product in Europe. Beginning in the seventeenth century, African slaves were imported to provide labor for these plantations. This is why even today the Northeast is the region with the strongest African influence.

The Southeast also received large numbers of African slaves during the gold boom of the eighteenth century and the coffee boom beginning in the nineteenth century. This region also attracted new immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and Japan who established family farms and eventually urban businesses.

In contrast, the Southwith a climate unsuited to either coffee or sugarbecame the destination of many German and Italian immigrants who raised cattle and grew a variety of crops. The heritage of the Northeast coast, based on slave labor and a plantation economy, was distinct from that of the South and Southeast, where plantations existed along with small family farms. Such historical differences partly account for contemporary contrasts between these regions.

Another regional distinction, that between litoral (coast) and interior (inland), arises from the fact that settlement in Brazil has always been concentrated near the coast. To say that someone is from the "interior" usually implies that he or she is from a rural area, even though there are large cities located far from the coast. Although the gold boom of the eighteenth century and the rubber boom of the nineteenth century led to the growth of inland cities, the real movement to settle the heartland of the country began only in the late 1950s with the construction of the new national capital, Brasília, in the Central-West.

Brazil is probably best known as the land of the Amazon, the world's largest river in area drained and volume of water and second only to the Nile in length. The Amazon forest contains the world's largest single reserve of biological organisms, and while no one knows how many species actually exist there, scientists estimate the number could be as high as five million, amounting to 15 to 30 percent of all species on earth.

Although now a focus of Brazilian and international media attention because of the negative ecological consequences of development, the Amazon region had long been isolated from national culture. Still, early in colonial times Jesuit missionaries traversed the Amazon River and its major tributaries and established settlements at Manaus and Belem. Both became thriving urban centers during the rubber boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Beginning in the 1970s with the construction of the Trans-Amazon Highway and other feeder roads, the migrant flow into the Central-Westthe site of Brasíliaexpanded into the Amazon region.

Demography. The population of Brazil was about 170 million in 2000, the sixth largest in the world after China, India, the United States, Indonesia, and the Russian Federation. Despite its large population, Brazil's demographic density is relatively low. Although there has been significant population movement into the interior in recent decades, about 80 percent of all Brazilians still live within two hundred miles of the Atlantic coast.

Fertility rates have dropped dramatically in Brazil in the last three or four decades of the twentieth century, with the completed fertility rate at the turn of the twenty-first century down to an average of 2.1 children per woman. Nevertheless, the population will continue to grow in the first twenty or thirty years of the twenty-first century because of the nation's current youthful age structure.

The Brazilian population has three major components. Somewhere between 2.5 and 5 million Brazilian Indians inhabited Brazil when the Portuguese first arrived in the early sixteenth century. Divided into many different cultures with distinct institutions, Brazilian Indians spoke a large number of languages. Today they comprise only about .02 percent of the country's population. Their numbers fell rapidly as a result of displacement, warfare and, most importantly, the introduction of European diseases against which they had no immunity. By 1955, only 120,000 Brazilian Indians were left and they were thought to be on the road to extinction. This downward trend has been reversed, however. Their numbers are now increasing owing to improved health care, lower incidence of disease, declining infant mortality, and a higher fertility rate. Contemporary estimates of the indigenous population range from 280,000 to 300,000; the population may reach 400,000 early in the new millennium.

Afro-Brazilians, the descendants of millions of slaves brought primarily from West Africa to Brazil over a three-hundred-year period, are the second major component of the national population. Afro-Brazilians and people of mixed racial ancestry account for at least 45 percent of the Brazilian population at the end of the twentieth century.

Brazil also has a large population of mixed European, mainly Portuguese, descent. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Brazil was the destination of many immigrants from Italy, Germany, and Spain. During the same era smaller numbers of immigrants arrived from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Rounding out the demographic picture are, Japanese-Brazilians, descendants of Japanese who came to Brazil in the first decades of the 20th century, and Koreans who began arriving in the 1950s. Still, Brazil is among the most racially heterogeneous countries on earth and these distinct categories are somewhat misleading in that many, perhaps most, Brazilians are of mixed ancestry.

Linguistic Affiliation. Nearly all Brazilians speak Portuguese, a Romance language, belonging to the Indo-European language family. The Portuguese language was introduced to Brazil by the Portuguese in the early sixteenth century. Prior to the arrival of the Portuguese, the native population spoke languages belonging to at least four major language families: Arawakan, Gê, Carib, and Tupi-Guarani. Tupi-Guaraniwhich was spoken by coastal Indians, the first to come into extensive contact with the Portugueseserved as the basis for lingua geral, a language developed by the Jesuits for their missionary work with the Indian population.

Aside from a small number of recently contacted indigenous peoples, all Brazilians speak Portuguese. Brazilian Portuguese differs somewhat in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation from the language of Portugal. Brazilian Portuguese contains a large number of indigenous terms, particularly Tupi-Guarani words for native plants, animals, and place-names that are not found in continental Portuguese. While regional accents exist in Brazil, they are not very pronounced and native Portuguese speakers from one region have no difficulty understanding those from other regions. The vast majority of Brazilians are monolingual in Portuguese, although many middle-class and elite Brazilians study English and to a lesser extent Spanish, French, and German. Brazilians are very proud of their linguistic heritage and resent that many foreigners, particularly North Americans, think Brazilians speak Spanish.

Symbolism. Most Brazilians would agree that the symbols that best characterize their nation are the exuberant revelry of the pre-Lenten celebration of carnival and the wildly popular sport of soccer, called futebol in Brazil.

Carnival is a four-day extravaganza marked by parades of costumed dancers and musicians, formal balls, street dancing, and musical contests, a truly national party during which Brazilians briefly forget what they call the "hard realities of life." Carnival is symbolic of the national ethos because it plays to many of the dualities in Brazilian life: wealth and poverty, African and European, female and male. The key to carnival's popularity is its break with and reversal of the everyday reality. Through the use of costumenotably called fantasia in Portugueseanyone can become anybody at carnival time. Class hierarchies based on wealth and power are briefly set aside, poverty is forgotten, men may dress as women, leisure supplants work, and the disparate components of Brazilian society blend in a dizzying blaze of color and music.

Brazilians are also passionate about soccer and are rated among the best players of the sport in the world. Every four years when the world's best teams vie for the World Cup championship, Brazil virtually shuts down as the nation's collective attention turns to the action on the playing field. And when Brazil wins the World Cupas it has on more occasions than any other countrythe delirium of the populace is palpable. Brazilian flags are hoisted aloft, everyone wears green and yellow (the national colors), and thousands of Brazilians, seemingly intoxicated with pride, take to the streets in revelry.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. In 1530 the Portuguese began to colonize the new land of Brazil, but during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries their hold on this vast territory remained tenuous as they struggled with an unfamiliar environment, indigenous peoples, and with French and later Dutch attempts to undermine Portuguese control.

A useful exercise is to compare the early colonization of the United States and Brazil since it sheds light on the ensuing differences between the two modern nations. Both countries imported large numbers of African slaves, but in Brazil the practice began earlier, lasted longer, and involved the importation of two to three times more slaves than in the United States. Estimates range from three to four million Africans forcibly taken to Brazil. Moreover, in contrast to the large number of families who came to settle in the North American colonies, the Portuguese colonists were more often single males. Thus, in the early 1700s, when the importation of slaves into North America was just beginning, the proportion of Africans to Europeans was much smaller in the United States than in Brazil, where the slave trade had been operating for more than a century. The smaller ratio of Portuguese colonists to slave and indigenous peoples in Brazil and the resultant tendency of single men to take African or indigenous women as concubines or wives led to the great racial mix that characterizes Brazilian society today. Extensive miscegenation occurred in Brazil among Africans, Portuguese, and indigenous peoples during colonial times, and later with the arrival of new immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

National Identity. While many people today see Brazil's racial and cultural diversity as one of the nation's strengths, foreign visitors and Brazilians themselves have at times drawn a connection between extensive racial mixing and Brazil's "backwardness." The belief that Brazil was less able to develop due to its racial heterogeneity was at the root of governmental decisions regarding immigration. Nineteenth century government-sponsored colonization schemes, for example, hoped to attract white immigrants, especially northern Europeans. And, in the early twentieth century, when theories of eugenics were popular in many parts of the world, Brazilian elites were straightforward about their desire to "whiten" the country so that it would develop economically.

Others dissented from this view. In the 1930s well-known Brazilian anthropologist, Gilberto Freyre, argued that the richness of Brazilian society lay precisely in its mixed racial heritage. The Portuguese, he argued, had laid the foundation for a "new world in the tropics," a blending of African, Indian, and European elements that made Brazilian culture unique. While later criticized as a conservative romantic who downplayed the harsh realities of life for people of color in Brazil, Freyre nevertheless was instrumental in recasting discussions of the nation's multiracial heritage, making it a source of pride, rather than shame.

Historically the emergence of Brazilian national identity followed a pattern common to many other European colonial territories. During the colonial period (15001822), individuals born in Brazil were subject to rules and taxes that were decided in distant Portugal and most of the top posts in colonial administration were held by those born in the mother country. The relative lack of power over their own affairs encouraged the creation of a distinct identity among native-born Brazilians, albeit one made up of diverse elements.

In terms of wealth and power, colonial Brazil was dominated by a small white elite of Portuguese ancestry who owned sugar plantations worked by Indian and later, African slaves. Portuguese of more humble backgrounds and free people of color held the intermediate positions in colonial society; they were plantation foremen, artisans, small shopkeepers, low-level government bureaucrats, and members of militias.

Following Brazil's proclamation of independence from Portugal in 1822, Brazilian national identity was thrown into sharper relief, but its constituent parts remained largely unchanged. A small European elite still dominated Brazil's political and economic life, although gold had replaced sugar as the principle source of wealth (coffee would later replace gold). But the Brazilian masses still consisted of black slaves and free people of color who labored in gold mines, on coffee plantations, and as poverty-stricken sharecroppers and subsistence farmers.

Until the 1870s, in fact, Brazil was primarily a nation of people of color. In the first national census in 1872 over 60 percent of the population was classified as black or of mixed ancestry. Then a massive wave of immigration from Europeeventually reaching some 2.5 millionhelped shift the racial balance. At first a few thousand immigrants arriving from Germany and Spain added to the nation's existing ethnic melange, but once slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888, immigration really took off. It reached a peak in the 1890s with over one million Italians settling in the South and Southeast and additional tens of thousands emigrating from Portugal. During those years immigrants from Eastern Europe, including many Jews, also came to Brazil. In the early 1900s, as the coffee economy continued to expand, new waves of immigrants arrived from the Middle East (mainly Lebanon) and Japan.

While some cities in southern Brazil swelled with burgeoning immigrant populations, other immigrants, especially Germans and Japanese, established themselves in isolated rural communities. In many small towns and rural areas in the South and Southeast during the 1920s and 1930s, children were educated in German or Japanese and Portuguese was rarely spoken. But when it was disclosed that the German government was aiding anti government groups in Brazil, the Brazilian authorities ordered the closing of schools in which the principal language of instruction was not Portuguese.

After World War II Brazil followed a pattern of assimilation common to many nations with a high percentage of immigrants. As the second and third generations settled in and moved up the economic ladder, they became "Brazilian" to varying degrees. They intermarried, no longer spoke the language of their ancestors, and came to think of themselves primarily as Brazilian.

Contemporary Brazilians not only share a common culture, they insist on distinguishing themselves linguistically and ethnically from other Latin Americans, a stance rooted in a sense of cultural pride, in the distinctiveness of their "race" as they call it. Brazilians have long been indifferent to their South American neighbors, dismissing their shared Iberian roots as of no particular consequence. As Brazilian anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro once remarked, "Brazil and Spanish America are divided into two worlds, back to back to each other."

Ethnic Relations. Brazilians have a strong national ideology that their land is a "racial democracy," one without prejudice towards its darker skinned citizens. The ideology, although patently untrue, nevertheless shapes the contours of interracial behavior and discourse in Brazil, smoothing its edges. While racial prejudice and discrimination do, indeed, exist in Brazil, their expression is more subtle than in the United States and perhaps, therefore, more difficult to combat.

Unlike in the United States, in Brazil there is no "one drop" rulethe custom that defines anyone with any known or suspected African ancestry as "black." The Brazilian system of racial classification is both more complex and more in keeping with biological reality. First, Brazil has never had two discrete racial categoriesblack and whiteand Brazilians recognize and have words for a wide variety of racial types. Moreover, how individuals are classified racially does not depend solely on their physical appearance, their skin color, hair type, and facial features or on those of their relatives. Social class, education, and manner of dress all come into play in assigning someone to a racial category. As Brazilians put it, "money whitens"that is, the higher the social class, the lighter the racial category to which an individual belongs. A well dressed, well educated woman with dark skin and Negroid features might be referred to as a moreno (roughly, brunette), while an illiterate sharecropper with light skin might be assigned to a darker racial category than his physical appearance alone would warrant.

Ironically, some evidence suggests that since the 1960s Brazil has been moving toward a system of racial classification similar to that of the United States. That is, the multitude of racial terms commonly used by Brazilians may be giving way to a bifurcate system of branco and negro white and black.

Whatever the trend in racial classification, Brazil is far from being a "racial paradise" as Freyre claimed. Some statistics bear this out. Dark-skinned people in Brazil are more likely to be poor than light skinned-people and whites have average monthly incomes almost two and a half times greater than nonwhites. Nonwhites have fewer years of schooling than whites, with illiteracy rates of 30 percent and 12 percent respectively.