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Geography—note: largest country in South America; shares common boundaries with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador

total: 8,511,965 sq km
land: 8,456,510 sq km
water: 55,455 sq km
note: includes Arquipelago de Fernando de Noronha, Atol das Rocas, Ilha da Trindade, Ilhas Martin Vaz, and Penedos de Sao Pedro e Sao Paulo

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than the US

Coastline: 7,491 km

Climate: mostly tropical, but temperate in south

Terrain: mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north; some plains, hills, mountains, and narrow coastal belt

Natural resources: bauxite, gold, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, platinum, tin, uranium, petroleum, hydropower, timber

Environment—current issues: deforestation in Amazon Basin destroys the habitat and endangers the existence of a multitude of plant and animal species indigenous to the area; air and water pollution in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and several other large cities; land degradation and water pollution caused by improper mining activities 
Population: 169,806,557 (July 1998 est.)
note: Brazil took a census in August 1996 which showed a total of 157,079,573; this figure is about 5% lower than projections by the US Census Bureau, which is close to the implied underenumeration of 4.6% for 1991; since the full results of the census have not been released for analysis, the numbers shown for Brazil do not take into consideration the results of this 1996 census

Age structure:
0-14 years: 30% (male 26,090,859; female 25,132,122)
15-64 years: 65% (male 54,199,642; female 55,769,122)
65 years and over: 5% (male 3,499,272; female 5,115,540) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.24% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 20.92 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 8.53 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 36.96 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 64.36 years
male: 59.39 years
female: 69.59 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.33 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Ethnic groups: white (includes Portuguese, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish) 55%, mixed white and black 38%, black 6%, other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian) 1%

Religions: Roman Catholic (nominal) 70%

Languages: Portuguese (official), Spanish, English, French

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.3%
male: 83.3%
female: 83.2% (1995 est.)

National capital: Brasilia

Independence: 7 September 1822 (from Portugal)

National holiday: Independence Day, 7 September (1822)

Constitution: 5 October 1988

Suffrage: voluntary between 16 and 18 years of age and over 70; compulsory over 18 and under 70 years of age

Political parties and leaders: Brazilian Democratic Movement Party or PMDB [Paes DE ANDRADE, president]; Liberal Front Party or PFL [Jose JORGE, president]; Workers' Party or PT [Jose DIRCEU, president]; Brazilian Workers' Party or PTB [Rodrigues PALMA, president]; Democratic Labor Party or PDT [Leonel BRIZOLA, president]; Brazilian Progressive Party or PPB [Espiridiao AMIN, president]; Brazilian Social Democracy Party or PSDB [Artur DA TAVOLA, president]; Popular Socialist Party or PPS [Roberto FREIRE, president]; Communist Party of Brazil or PCdoB [Joao AMAZONAS, chairman]; Liberal Party or PL [Alvaro VALLE, president]

Economy—overview: Possessing large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, Brazil's economy outweighs that of all other South American countries and is expanding its presence in world markets. Prior to the institution of a stabilization plan—the Plano Real (Real Plan) in mid-1994, stratospheric inflation rates had disrupted economic activity and discouraged foreign investment. Since then, tight monetary policy has brought inflation under control—consumer prices increased by less than 5% in 1997 compared to more than 1,000% in 1994. At the same time, GDP growth slowed from 5.7% in 1994 to about 3.0% in 1997 due to tighter credit. The strong currency, another cornerstone of the Real Plan, has encouraged imports—contributing to a growing trade deficit—and restrained export growth. Brazil's more stable economy allowed it to weather the fallout in 1995 from the Mexican peso crisis relatively well. Record levels of foreign investment have flowed in, helping support the Real Plan through financial shocks in October-November 1997 that occurred in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. These shocks caused Brazil's foreign exchange reserves to drop by $8 billion to $52 billion and the stock market to decline by about 25%, although it still ended up more than 30% for the year. President CARDOSO remains committed to defending the Real Plan, but he faces several key challenges domestically and abroad. His package of fiscal reforms requiring constitutional amendments has progressed slowly through the balkanized Brazilian legislature; in their absence, the government continues to run deficits and has limited room to relax its interest and exchange rate policies if it wants to keep inflation under control. Some foreign investors remain concerned about the viability of Brazil's exchange rate policy because of the country's fiscal and current account deficits. The government thus has to contend with the possibility of capital flight or a speculative attack that could draw down foreign reserves to a critical level and force a devaluation.

GDP—real growth rate: 3% (1997)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 13%
industry: 38%
services: 49% (1995)

Agriculture—products: coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus; beef

total value: $53 billion (f.o.b., 1997)
commodities: iron ore, soybean bran, orange juice, footwear, coffee, motor vehicle parts
partners: EU 28%, Latin America 23%, US 20%, Argentina 12% (1996)

total value: $61.4 billion (f.o.b., 1997)
commodities: crude oil, capital goods, chemical products, foodstuffs, coal
partners: EU 26%, US 22%, Argentina 13%, Japan 5% (1996)

Debt—external: $192.9 billion (December 1997)

Currency: 1 real (R$) = 100 centavos

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 46,620,486 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 31,337,037 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $15.1 billion (1997)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 1.9% (1997)

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