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República Federativa do Brasil
Federative Republic of Brazil
Flag of brazil
Coat of arms of brazil
flag coat of arms
Motto : Ordem e Progresso

( Port. For "order and progress")

Official language Portuguese
capital city Brasília
State and form of government presidential republic ( federal republic )
Head of state , also head of government President Jair Bolsonaro
surface 8,515,770 ( 5th ) km²
population 211,834,000 (July 2020) ( 6. )
Population density 24 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 0.75% (2016)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 1,839 billion ( 9. )
  • $ 3,223 billion ( 10. )
  • 8,751 USD ( 77. )
  • 15,337 USD ( 88. )
Human Development Index 0.765 ( 84th ) (2019)
currency Real (BRL)
independence 1822 (declaration)
1825 ( recognized by Portugal )
National anthem Hino Nacional Brasileiro
Time zone UTC − 5 to UTC − 2
(see time zones in Brazil )
License Plate BR
ISO 3166 BR , BRA, 076
Internet TLD .br
Telephone code +55
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Brazil ( Portuguese Brasil , according articulation of Brazilian Portuguese [ bɾaziu̯ ] pronunciation ? / I ) is the area after the fifth largest with over 211 million inhabitants of the population the sixth largest country in the world. In terms of area and population, it is also the largest country in South America , of which it occupies 47.3 percent. With the exception of Chile and Ecuador , Brazil shares a border with every other South American country . The name Brazil goes back to the Portuguese name pau-brasil of the brazil wood tree ( Paubrasilia echinata ). Audio file / audio sample

The first traces of human settlement go back around 30,000 years. After the European discovery of America and the division of the South American continent by the Treaty of Tordesillas , Brazil became a Portuguese colony . This colonial period, which lasted more than three centuries, in which immigrants of various origins (voluntarily or by force) came to Brazil, contributed significantly to today's ethnic diversity in Brazil. After gaining national independence in 1822, followed by a period of constitutional monarchy , the country became a republic in 1889 as the United States of Brazil . After the military dictatorship in 1964, the country returned to democracy in 1985 with a presidential system of government .


The name Brazil goes back to the Portuguese name pau-brasil of the Brazilian wood tree ( Caesalpinia echinata ), which was an important export product from the forests of the Atlantic coast at the time of the early colonization . Brasa means “embers” and “glowing coals” in Portuguese; the adjective brasil ("glowing") refers to the color of the wood, which when cut glows red ( Brasilin ) and was used in Europe to dye fabrics.

A phantom island called Brasil, west of Ireland , has been found on maps since 1325 . According to a letter from an English agent to Christopher Columbus in 1498, it is said to have been discovered by Bristol sailors around 1480 . The author of the letter identifies it with the land discovered by the Venetian navigator Giovanni Caboto in 1497, that is, with Newfoundland .


Mount Morrão in the National Park of Chapada Diamantina

Brazil's landscape is characterized by the vast tropical rainforests of the Amazon - lowlands in the north and plateaus, hills and mountains in the south. While the agricultural base of the country is in the south and in the savannah areas of the Midwest ( Cerrado ), the majority of the population lives near the Atlantic coast , where almost all large cities are located. The coast has a length of 7,491 km, most of which are sandy beaches.

Brazil has ten neighboring countries. With the exception of Chile and Ecuador, it borders on all South American states (viewed from the northeast, counterclockwise with the border lengths): French Guiana with 730 km, Suriname with 593 km, Guyana with 1298 km, Venezuela with 1819 km, Colombia with 1645 km, Peru with 2995 km, Bolivia with 3400 km, Paraguay with 1290 km, Argentina with 1132 km and Uruguay with 985 km. The total limit length is 15,887 km. Brazil thus has the third longest land border in the world after China and Russia .

The continental part of Brazil lies in two time zones , some offshore islands belong to a third. See also: Time zones in Brazil .

Highest mountains

The highest peak is the 2994 m high Pico da Neblina (pronunciation: ˈpiku dɐ neˈblĩnɐ ), which is located in the national park of the same name near the border with Venezuela and Guyana . The second highest mountain is Pico 31 de Março (2973 m) (pronunciation: ˈpiku ˈtɾĩtɐ jũ dʒi ˈmaʁsu ). The third highest mountain - and the highest in the Brazilian mountains - is the Pico da Bandeira (2891 m) (pronunciation: ˈpiku dɐ bɐ̃ˈdejɾɐ ). More famous, however, are the 710 m high Corcovado with the 30 m high statue of the Redeemer because of its view over Rio de Janeiro and the famous 395 m high Sugar Loaf because of its conical shape .



Confluence of the Rio Negro and the Amazon (black water and white water rivers) near Manaus , Amazon .

The Amazon is / is greater also collectively referred to as the seven next-smaller world's rivers with a water flow of 209,000 m³ s the largest river on earth. The entire flow path of the Amazon measures 6448 km; in this respect it is only surpassed by the much less arid Nile in Africa. The most important tributaries, the Rio Madeira and the Rio Negro , are already comparable to the largest rivers on other continents. Other rivers of similar size are the Rio Icá and the Rio Tapajós .

Iguazú waterfalls at the border triangle Argentina / Brazil / Paraguay

The south of Brazil is part of the catchment area of ​​the rivers Uruguay (1790 km) and Paraná (3998 km) except for a narrow coastal strip . The Paraná is dammed almost continuously; in Itaipú 's second largest hydropower plant in the world is located. One of its tributaries gave the state of Paraguay its name; another is known for the Iguazú waterfalls .


The Lagoa dos Patos near Porto Alegre is the largest lagoon in Brazil with over 10,000 km² and the second largest in South America. Then comes the Laguna Merín , which is less than half the size , south of the city of Rio Grande .


Some islands in the Atlantic also belong to the Brazilian territory , e.g. For example, the Sankt-Peter-und-Sankt-Pauls-Felsen , about 800 km off the coast , which are only built with a lighthouse, and the former convict colony Fernando de Noronha , which is not far from the rock group. Both lie on the mid-Atlantic ridge . The islands of Trindade and Martim Vaz , which belong to the state of Espírito Santo, are of volcanic origin . The oval Rocas Atoll stretches for several kilometers and has been included as a World Heritage Site due to the extraordinary flora and fauna .

The largest island, however, is Marajó between the mouths of the Amazon and the Rio Pará , which belongs to the mouth of the Rio Tocantins . With an area of ​​around 48,000 km², it is larger than Switzerland, for example . However, since large parts of the island are flooded in the rainy season , only a few places are populated. Since the north bank of Marajó is a sea coast, the somewhat smaller Ilha do Bananal in the Rio Araguaia with its area of ​​20,000 km² is the largest river island in the world. It is located in a national park in the state of Tocantins and is larger than, for example, Jamaica .


The climate of Brazil, which lies between latitude 5 ° north and latitude 34 ° south, is predominantly tropical with minor seasonal fluctuations in temperatures. Only in the subtropical south is there a more moderate climate. In the Amazon basin in particular, there is abundant rainfall, but there are also relatively dry areas with sometimes long periods of drought, especially in the north-east of the country. In the higher elevations in the south of the country, precipitation occasionally falls as snow in winter.

In the south, on the border with Bolivia and Paraguay, there is an extensive wetland, the Pantanal .

Flora and fauna

Brazil is the most biodiverse country on earth, ahead of Colombia , Mexico and Indonesia . So far, around 55,000  flowering plants , over 3,000 freshwater fish, 921  amphibians , 749 reptiles and 51  primate species have been discovered. Due to the enormous biodiversity (which is the fourth highest in the world in the Atlantic coastal rainforest at the level of the Tropic of Capricorn), the large number of endemic species, genera and families and the diverse ecosystems , Brazil is one of the megadiversity countries on earth.

Above all, because the forest areas are constantly being reduced in size, a high proportion of animal species is endangered. Nevertheless, due to the large areas of largely untouched wilderness regions , the diversity of the Amazon is not yet endangered. The ecoregions Mata Atlântica (rainforest) and Cerrado (savannah), on the other hand, are counted among the biodiversity hotspots of the earth due to their high risk (see section Environment ).

The evergreen tropical rainforest of the Amazon is the largest contiguous forest area in Brazil. So far, more than 2500 tree species have been discovered there. Almost all of these up to 60 m high trees can be found in the flood-spared Eté forest of the Terra Firme , which covers 98% of the Amazon region. In this area grow among others. the rubber tree ( caucho ), various colored and precious woods (e.g. rosewood ), fruit trees (e.g. Brazil nut tree ) and medicinal plants. The 1000 different fern and orchid species are striking . In addition to the Terra firme, there is the Várzea , which is inundated during floods. Jupati and Miriti palms grow there . The Igapó area, on the other hand, is constantly flooded. The açaí palm is considered a typical plant in this area . Water lilies grow on the Amazon, but especially on its tributaries, and their flowers can be 30 to 40 cm in size. Along the Amazonian coast (with the exception of the actual Amazon estuary) there are extensive mangrove forests , although with six mangrove tree species they are relatively poor in species.

A jaguar

Parrots and toucans are particularly well known in the entire Amazon region . An extremely large number of insect and butterfly species are known. Larger forest animals are the tapir , peccary , jaguar and puma . In addition, smaller wild cats , monkeys , sloths , armadillos and anteaters populate the rainforest. Anacondas , caimans and capybaras ("water pigs" - the largest rodents in the world) and other mammals such as giant otters , river dolphins and manatees live in the deeper water on the banks and shallow waters. Numerous fish species (around 1500) are also native to the Amazon. Including one of the largest known freshwater fish in the world: the Pirarucú is 2 m long and weighs around 100 kg. An electric eel that delivers 800- volt electric shocks, and the piranhas , some species a good 30 cm long, are just as extraordinary.

The extreme northeastern Brazil, formerly also consisting of rainforest, is now almost exclusively for sugar cane - plantations and cultivation of cotton used. Mangroves and palm groves can still be found here and there.

The typical vegetation of the semi-arid mountain and highlands in the center ( Cerrado ) and in the northeast of the country ( Sertão ) is the savannah , from tree and grass savannahs to the northeast to shrub savannah interspersed with deciduous trees . Typical inhabitants of these arid zones are the giant anteater , maned wolf , pampa deer , rhea and various armadillos. All of these species and also large cats of prey such as jaguars and pumas are protected in the Emas National Park , which is a World Heritage Site.

The Pantanal has an even greater variety of animals and plants. In addition to numerous species of birds, flatland tapir, swamp deer, capybara and caiman are characteristic. The swamp region in the mid- west of the country is under water for seven months a year. Higher-lying areas of the region are predominantly savannah . As in those of the Cerrado and even in the Amazon region, cattle graze there.

The focal points of colonial development and the most densely populated areas can be found in the coastal mountains of the south and south-east. Instead of the original Atlantic rainforest , habitat for monkeys and numerous other animal species, coffee plantations dominate . The original vegetation can only be found in a few national parks.

The south shows subtropical vegetation; the original forests of araucarias , which reach a height of up to 40 m, have been largely destroyed for logging. Today, low grass steppes are more common in this region.

natural reserve

There are 62 national parks (Parques Nacionais) in Brazil . Protected areas of a similar character exist under the name Estação Ecológica. There are also protected areas at the state (Parques Estaduais) and at the municipal level. These and other areas were placed under protection because of their ecological, scientific, tourist and educational importance.

Some organizations that are committed to nature and species protection are:

  • Instituto Onca-Pintada (IOP): Brazilian NGO for the protection of the jaguar (Jaguar Concervation Fund - JCF)
  • Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC): international organization for the protection of dolphins and whales in the Amazon
  • Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA): Protected area program for the preservation of the rainforest


Destruction of the rainforest

The Amazon basin , the largest and most biodiverse rainforest in the world
Deforestation in the Amazon basin

While the Atlantic coastal rainforest has already been destroyed to around 93% and the remains are heavily fragmented, the tropical rainforest of the Amazon region is one of the largest remaining primeval forest areas in the world. Until the arrival of the Europeans, it was used extensively and sustainably by the indigenous people, so that the changes in the ecosystems that it brought about benefited rather than harmed biodiversity. Many of the modern land use changes, on the other hand, cause immense damage to forests. These are above all clearing for the creation of agricultural land, plantation-like agriculture and forestry (e.g. Jari project ), but also infrastructure projects such as roads (e.g. the Transamazônica and the Perimetral Norte ), mines (e.g. Serra dos Carajás ) and large dams (even on direct tributaries of the Amazon such as Tucuruí or Belo Monte ). It is not just the land consumption that affects the building project itself. The associated roads make the areas available for logging (now mostly illegal) .

The wood from these forests is only partially used by the local population (e.g. as firewood or for high-quality products such as plywood , cellulose or building materials that have already been manufactured in Brazil ). A large part is traded internationally. There are around 2500 companies in Brazil that buy and sell tropical hardwood . Most of them are large foreign companies. Although some tropical woods such. B. Mahogany is now legally protected, but the trade continues illegally.

According to the FAO , 60.1% of the country's area was still covered with primeval forest in 2010 , compared to 66.9% in 1990 (without taking afforested areas into account). In the period 2000–2005 the loss of primeval forest was 32,000 km² annually. In relation to the total area of ​​the forests, around 0.5% has been lost annually over the past 20 years.

From 2004 (approx. 27,000 km² annually) to 2012 the rates declined. In 2005 18,793 km² were announced, in 2006 it was 14,039 km². According to the German BMZ , the deforestation rate in 2012 was "only" around 4570 km² (slightly less than the area of ​​the Balearic Islands or 0.09% of the total rainforest area in Brazil). From August 2012 to July 2013, however, the clearing increased again to 5800 km².

The Brazilian government attributed the decline in primary forest loss to the enforcement of its environmental standards. Environmentalists see the strength of the real and falling soy prices as reasons. As a result, a government emergency cabinet discussed measures in January 2008. The authorities for the protection of the rainforest are struggling with a lack of money and personnel as well as corruption. The Amazon forest is only relatively secured within the framework of protected areas. In 2002 the world's largest protected area (Tumucumaque) of a tropical rainforest was founded in northern Brazil.

In mid-2008, Brazil set up a fund to protect the Amazon rainforest and for the first time accepted a connection between this protection and global warming . The government plans to invest several million euros by 2021 in order to develop sustainable economic foundations for the Amazon population instead of deforestation . However, the country is defensive against foreign influences in its Amazon policy. Indigenous peoples, environmentalists and human rights activists fear that deforestation will intensify under President Jair Bolsonaro , who has been in office since 2019.

Rainforest soils are poor in nutrients , so the vegetation is dependent on the recycling of nutrients and minerals from the dead biomass . In the tropical, hot and humid climate, microorganisms decompose leaf litter in a very short time and return it to the plants, whereas there are hardly any soil-forming processes . However, if the forest is removed and the humus layer is unprotected against the sun and precipitation, or if no new soil can form on the infertile subsoil, it will dry out and erosion will occur . If the cleared areas are larger, the forest cannot regenerate there.

Trees bind carbon dioxide , which causes a greenhouse effect in the atmosphere . Three quarters of the greenhouse gases released in Brazil are due to slash and burn and a quarter to the burning of fossil fuels.

Other environmental problems

Another environmental problem is the bauxite and gold mining, which poison the rivers and endanger the local population. The gold diggers ( Garimpeiros ) use mercury ( amalgam process ) to wash out the gold . The poisonous vapors escape into the air and the heavy metal contaminates bodies of water, soil and groundwater, causing serious damage to human and animal health.

As everywhere else, the extraction of oil creates problems: in 2000 there was an oil spill in the Iguaçu River . A year later, what was then the world's largest drilling platform sank off the Brazilian coast and threatened the local ecosystem . Cities have to contend with air pollution and sewage problems.

In Brazil, a certain amount of alcohol is added to fuel. In addition to environmental reasons (reduction of pollutant emissions), the main reasons for this are the costs: Ethanol is significantly cheaper than automotive and aviation fuel. The proportion of ethanol in gasoline is regulated by law and was reduced in 2006 from 25% to 20%. In Brazil you can drive cars that have an ethanol, gasoline or flex-fuel engine . The three millionth flex-fuel car was sold in December 2005. The first planes also run on ethanol, which reduces overall air pollution. The world's first alcohol-powered aircraft, the EMB-202 Ipanema , was built by Embraer in Brazil in 2002 . Brazil is the fourth largest automobile and, with 12,000 aircraft, the second largest aircraft manufacturer in the world.

About the oil disaster 2019:

Environmental agreement

Brazil has participated in these environmental agreements: Ramsar Convention (1971), Washington Convention on the Protection of Species (1973), Convention on Biodiversity (1992), Basel Convention (1989), Framework Convention on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer , Kyoto Protocol (1997) .


Demographic structure

Population development × 1,000,000
Brazil is in the demographic transition
Population pyramid of Brazil in 2016

Brazil's population experienced tremendous expansion over the course of the 20th century, growing from around 52 million in 1950 to over 212 million today (2020). In the future, however, only moderate growth is expected. The Brazilian population is still very young. 23.27% are under 15 years old and only 7.8% over 64 (as of 2015). The mean age is 31.1 years, the mean life expectancy is 74.7 years. In 2015 it was 71.0 years for the male population and 78.4 years for the female population.

In 2014 the fertility rate was 15 newborns per 1000 inhabitants. The average number of children per woman was 1.8. With urbanization and increasing prosperity, the birth rate has fallen significantly. In the 1950s, the fertility per woman was still over 6 children. The death rate was six per 1000 inhabitants and is therefore very low thanks to the still young average age and increasing life expectancy.

Brazil is thus one of the countries in which fertility has fallen rapidly within a few decades. Because of earlier high fertility rates there are still a relatively large number of young people, but it is in the fifth phase of the demographic transition . In this phase the number of children per woman is below the long-term level of 2.1 necessary to keep the population constant, and the population will decrease in the long term without immigration. It is assumed that from 2025 there will be an aging population and thus a shortage of labor with a simultaneous increase in the elderly population.

In 2015, 85.7% of the population lived in cities, which are characterized by rapid growth and uncontrolled growth; In previously undeveloped areas of the cities, poor settlements known as favelas have formed.

Population density of Brazil

Distribution of the population in Brazil

About 90% of the population is concentrated in the states of the east and south coast of Brazil with a population density of 20 to over 300 inhabitants / km². The rest of Brazil, with the Amazon and the mountain regions, has by far the largest area, but only a population density of less than five to 20 inhabitants / km². The capital district Distrito Federal do Brasil as a city-state and the state of Rio de Janeiro have a population density of over 300 inhabitants / km².

Migration balance

The migration balance per 1000 inhabitants is 0. This means that roughly the same number of people immigrate to Brazil as emigrate. Although a large part of Brazil's population has historical roots abroad, today only 0.1% of the population were born outside of Brazil; this means that Brazil has one of the lowest proportions of foreigners in the world. In 2015 there were around 713,000 migrants in the country, the largest group of whom were Portuguese. In the same year, almost 20,000 people born in Germany lived in Brazil.


Composition of the ethnic groups in 2000 and 2010 according to the IBGE
Slavery in Brazil. Painting by Moritz Rugendas

Originally four population groups make up the Brazilian population. Today, however, they are so extensively mixed that a clear classification is often no longer possible. These groups are:

About half of the Brazilian population has a not inconsiderable proportion of African ancestors who were brought into the country as African slaves from the 16th to the 19th centuries. However, the blacks have mixed heavily with the European population over time. According to a genetic study from 2013, the population of Brazil is on average around 60% of European descent, around 25% of African descent and around 15% of Indian descent. European lineages are most common in the south of the country with 74% and least common in the north with 51%. African genes are most widespread in the northeast with 28% and weakest in the south with 15%. Indigenous ancestry is most widespread in the sparsely populated north of the country with 32% and least common in the south with 11%. Transitions between ethnic groups are often fluid in Brazil, as the vast majority of the population comes from more than one ethnic group. For example, Brazilians who describe themselves as white were 75% of European descent, while Brazilians who describe themselves as black were 58% of African descent.

According to a survey by the IBGE , which differentiates between five groups, in 2005 (2016) around 49.9% (45.5%) of Brazilians describe themselves as white, 43.2% (45%) as mixed race ( pardo ) and 6.3% (8.6%) as black, 0.7% (0.9%) as yellow or indigenous. Most of the Afro-Brazilian population lives in the northeast. The self-image and the relationship between the ethnic groups is not free from conflict and has not been dealt with. 70 percent of those affected by poverty are Afro-Brazilian and three quarters of those affected are dark-skinned when it comes to crime and its victims.

Indigenous population

Asháninka girls in Acre

The indigenous peoples in Brazil lived in part from hunting, fishing and collecting , and also from the fragile ecosystem of adapted soil management. A large part of the local population died in the course of European colonization , mostly from diseases that were brought in, but also as a result of forced labor or enslavement. The majority of the Indians living outside the rainforest , especially in the cities, were, insofar as they survived violence and epidemics, assimilated and mixed with the European immigrants. From an estimated five to six million Indians around 1500, the population collapsed to 100,000 by 1950.

By 1997 the indigenous population had grown again to around 300,000. According to the Brazilian embassy, ​​around 410,000 Indians live in the country today, which corresponds to around 0.2% of the population. In 2005 there were reports of a renewed increase in the number of Indians living in Brazil to around half a million. The largest indigenous people in Brazil are the Guaraní with around 46,000 members in seven states.

An isolated tribe in the Brazilian state of Acre, 2012 A typical dwelling of the indigenous people in Brazil, called Oca
An isolated tribe in the Brazilian state of Acre , 2012
A typical dwelling of the indigenous people in Brazil, called Oca

100,000 to 200,000 Indians live in cities today, which means that the Indian culture is gradually being lost. There are numerous reserves , known in Brazil as Terras Indígenas , mainly in the Amazon region , but only a few live according to their traditional culture. The deforestation of the jungle is rapidly destroying their habitat. The generated proceeds are transferred out of the Amazon region, so there is a lack of local investments, especially in compensation. Miners and gold diggers not only pollute rivers and soil with heavy equipment and toxic chemicals, they also bring disease and violence. The government is accused of complicity, as murderers are rarely prosecuted. It also issues permits for the economic use of areas (e.g. for oil production) that are inhabited by Indians. Because of these extremely bad experiences, around a hundred peoples avoid any contact as far as possible .

This contrasts with the official legal position of the indigenous people in Brazil. As early as 1988, as a result of the international debate about ILO Convention 169, they were guaranteed extensive rights in the constitution (Art. 231), which included traditional life, self-determination as well as property and usage rights to their land. In August 2017 a court protected the rights of the Indians against a "time limit" according to which they would have lost their right to uninhabited areas in 1988.

"Traditional peoples and communities"

Not only the indigenous people have valuable traditional knowledge about plants and others, but also the Afro-American quilombolas

In international comparison, Brazil has a very developed debate about so-called “traditional peoples and communities” (Povos e Comunidades Tradicionais). This originally Brazilian name summarizes all local communities that lead a way of life based on traditions and subsistence farming . It is crucial that the assignment is independent of ethnic affiliation, and this includes not only indigenous groups, but also non-indigenous groups such as the quilombolas , who descend from black slaves, or the rubber tappers, who have European and Indian ancestors.

Traditional peoples and communities are cultures which in the course of their history have positioned themselves noticeably more frequently for the preservation of the existing structures. Since this is always an active process, they are neither more primitive nor less dynamic than the "modern cultures". In addition, it must be noted that the allocation is relative, as the distinction between “traditional” and “modern” is a subjective assessment that depends on the zeitgeist and is one-sided from the perspective of the modern.

On the contrary, science today regards them as the groups that have so far contributed the least to the ecological and climatic threat to the planet. They have developed a large number of traditionally sustainable ways of living and farming that are adapted to the respective ecosystems. At the same time, it is precisely these groups that suffer particularly from economic development projects and ecological and climatic changes. The diverse and massive conflicts give rise to fears that many local communities will lose their territories and with them their specific cultural forms of expression, despite political improvements.

While indigenous land rights have played a role in politics since Brazil was founded, the debate on rights for non-indigenous local communities did not begin until the 1980s. It began with the rubber tappers in the state of Acre : They demanded secure territories and the right to sustainable regional economic activity and developed the idea of ​​collecting areas for this purpose. By 2007 these efforts led to the designation of 65 such usable reserves (Reservas Extrativistas, RESEX) in Amazonia with a total area of ​​117,720 km². Encouraged by this, other traditional communities such as the Amazon river dwellers and the Babaçu foragers soon made similar demands, which were also successful. In 2004, with the “National Commission for Traditional Peoples and Communities”, a representation was set up for the first time, which should not only benefit indigenous peoples. In 2007 the legally binding “Decree for Traditional Peoples and Communities” (Decreto 6040) was signed by the President of the Republic. In addition to the establishment of traditional rights, there is explicit reference to a sustainable development and economy, without which the long-term existence of these groups is hardly conceivable. In contrast to the land rights of the indigenous peoples and quilombolas guaranteed by the constitution, the decree does not contain any obligation to designate specific areas. There is no doubt that the legal position of local communities has improved significantly since the 1980s. However, as Brazil’s development policy is currently still based on the exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of ecosystems and destructive cultural change continue to progress dramatically, securing the territories is the decisive point for the long-term survival of local cultures.


Portuguese language in the world

Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking country in America. The Brazilian Portuguese has its own character. It differs from the European variant in pronunciation and a slightly modified spelling and grammar. (Brazilian) Portuguese is the only official language and the mother tongue of at least 97% of the population .

The Indian languages ​​are only spoken by around 0.1% of the population, including Guaraní , Makú , Tupi and Gês , the latter two of which are mainly spoken in the Amazon region, where the influence of Europeans has remained minimal. In the coastal areas, the Indian languages ​​have been almost completely displaced. Guaraní was more important during colonial times and only narrowly failed to become the country's official language. A total of 188 different languages ​​and idioms are spoken in Brazil , the dialect geography distinguishes 16 regiolects .

Non-Indian minority languages

Due to immigration, there are numerous minority languages ​​in Brazil.

Up to 1.5 million Brazilians speak German as their mother tongue. This makes German the second most common mother tongue in the country. Descendants of the emigrants from Pomerania sometimes have a much better command of East Pomeranian ( Low German ), while their High German does not reach a native speaker level. A particularly strong Pomeranian minority lives in the state of Espírito Santo .

In addition, around 500,000 people speak Italian , 380,000 Japanese, and 37,000 Korean .

It must be taken into account that the number of speakers is calculated very optimistically for the language minorities. Some of these ethnic groups were among the first settlers, and their descendants understand almost only Portuguese. Brazilian dialects of the immigrant language often emerged in the towns that were considered centers for immigrants. Examples are Talian , Brazilian Italian, and the Riograndenser Hunsrückisch , Brazilian German. Up into the 20th century there were entire communities (especially in the south) in which only German or Italian was spoken, as German emigrants and their descendants in particular had a good infrastructure of schools, clubs and the like. and mostly lived in relatively closed colonies. When a nationalization campaign was carried out during the authoritarian regime of the Estado Novo (1937–1945), the German community came under increasing pressure as the state forced the assimilation process. The entry of Brazil into the Second World War provided the appropriate occasion to forbid the languages ​​of the enemy states and to close German and Italian schools, whereupon Portuguese found its way into these places as well.

Municipalities with German as the second official language
Pomerode in Santa Catarina , one of the municipalities with an officially recognized second language. The German dialect is one of the most important languages in this region .
View of Blumenau

Sorted by state:

Espírito Santo
Minas Gerais
  • Itueta (only in the "Vila Nietzel" district)
Rio Grande do Sul
Santa Catarina
Municipalities in which German instruction is compulsory
Rio Grande do Sul

Santa Catarina

foreign languages

English is not as established as a foreign language as it is in European countries. Although English is usually taught in schools, the language has been slow to gain a foothold in Brazil. Even in the big cities, it is not a given that people speak or understand English. Usually, however, Brazilians understand at least some of the Spanish even if they don't speak the language themselves. As a result of the increased economic cooperation between the Latin American countries in Mercosul , the importance of Spanish over English will increase. In the border areas to other South American countries, the so-called Portunhol developed , a mixed language of Portuguese and Spanish that facilitates communication. This mixed language is particularly common in the border area with Paraguay, mainly because the border town Ciudad del Este is an important trading center for the Brazilian street traders ("Sacoleiros").


The statue of Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro

According to the 2010 census, 64.6% of the population profess the Roman Catholic Church . This share has been shrinking for years: While it was 91% in 1960, it decreased to 83% by 1985 and was only 73.6% in 2000. Parts of Brazilian Catholicism are heavily influenced by Afro-Brazilian traditions.

22.2% of the population are Protestants . This denomination came into the country with German immigrants since the 19th century. In the 20th century, however, North American mission churches in particular achieved success. Since around 1960 there has been an increase in Protestant sects and free churches . Today there are 35,000 free churches in Brazil. 2.0% are followers of Spiritism , 0.3% supported Afro-Brazilian religions such as Candomblé and Umbanda . According to a study from 2006, the high proportion of supporters or sympathizers of the Pentecostal movement (15 percent) is noteworthy , which is the third highest percentage in a country in the world. However, the considerable blurring of the assignment must be taken into account; Much of the classification of Pentecostal supporters is likely to overlap with the more general classification of Protestants.

Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida , São Paulo

There are also almost 1,400,000  Jehovah's Witnesses , around 225,000  Mormons , 245,000  Buddhists , mostly descendants of Japanese immigrants, 107,000  Jews (see also: History of the Jews in Brazil ), over 35,000  Muslims , mostly descendants of Syrian-Lebanese immigrants, and more than 5500  Hindus . 8.0% stated that they did not belong to any religion.

In 2000 there were around 17,100 followers of indigenous South American religions ; that is 0.01% of the Brazilians and around 4.1% of the indigenous population; Trend: sharply downward. Aggressive missionary activities - despite the prohibition of forced missioning - do not only lead to the Christian faith, but also to a significant cultural change that goes hand in hand with the destruction of people's traditional world views (including moral concepts, relationship to the environment, traditional knowledge , social structures). In addition, many missionaries disregard the current quarantine regulations, so that many indigenous people die of imported diseases. In many cases, however, there was syncretistic mixing of ethnic and Christian religion (s) and it can be assumed that a large number of indigenous people only profess Christianity externally.


Land and wealth distribution

Brazil shows a very unequal distribution of wealth . The Gini coefficient in 2000 was 0.78 (0 means complete equal distribution, 1 means that all assets belong to one household). This is related to the unequal distribution of land. Until 1998 2.8% of the farmers were large landowners with a total of 57% of the agricultural area, whereas 90% of the farmers had to share 22% of the area. Around five million families are considered landless. According to a study, the average asset ownership is per adult 17,485 US dollars . However, the median is only US $ 4,591 (world average: US $ 3,582), which indicates high wealth inequality. More than 70% of the Brazilian population has less than $ 10,000 in assets. The population, who earns only half the minimum wage , is entitled to social benefits such as the Bolsa Família . The minimum wage was set at R $ 1,100 as of January 1, 2021 .

Afro-Brazilians, who make up seven percent of the population, are disproportionately represented in the poor population. The Indians are not doing much better. An equality and anti-hunger program has been in place since 2003.

Education and Science

A lecture hall at the National University of Campinas

The country's literacy rate was 92.2% in 2015, and the school leaving age was 16 years. In Brazil, the mean school attendance of all people over 25 increased from 3.8 years in 1990 to 7.8 years in 2015. The current educational expectation is already 15.2 years. Attending school is compulsory. A similarly large part of the gross national product flows into education as in Europe; In absolute numbers, the education budget is about as large as the German one (2004). In Brazil, however, this sum is divided between a population that is more than twice as large and, on average, much younger. State schools have a bad reputation. That is why financially better off parents send their children to private schools . These differ considerably in the amount of school fees and the quality of the teaching. In the last PISA studies , Brazil was in the bottom quarter of the participating countries. In the 2015 PISA ranking , Brazilian students came 66th out of 72 countries in math, 64th in science and 60th in reading comprehension.

Almost 2.8 million students are taught in 150 universities . Slightly more than half of the universities are state-run. They are freely accessible and free of charge for all people with a qualifying school leaving certificate after an entrance examination. The private universities finance themselves through different levels of tuition fees. Their equipment and the quality of teaching fluctuates accordingly. Uniform and official entrance exams, so-called vestibulares , are held twice a year at state universities . The number of applicants usually far exceeds the number of available study places. After graduating from school, applicants therefore often prepare for the vestibular with so-called cursinhos , which are offered by private educational institutions and are therefore subject to a fee. Those who do not get a place in the vestibular can wait until the next semester and complete the vestibular again or study at one of the private universities.

The research on the use of regenerative energies , which was used, for example, in the construction of the Itaipú hydropower plant (model of the Three Gorges Dam ), is well known. Engine construction also deserves attention: the first car with an alcohol engine rolled off the production line in Brazil in 1979, and the engineer Vincente Camargo developed the first alcohol engine ( methanol ) for aircraft in 2005 , which was the first to be tested by the aircraft construction company (Neiva- Embraer ). Research on aviation receives special attention in Brazil. Alberto Santos Dumont - after whom the national airport in Rio de Janeiro is named - was an inventor and aviation pioneer around 1900.

Bless you

Health (2015 data)
Life expectancy (in years) 71 (m) / 78 (w)
Infant mortality 2.0% (m) / 1.6% (w)
Health expenses 7.9% of GNP
AIDS deaths (2003) 15,000
Reported new AIDS cases (2003) 25.123
Source: World Health Organization , UNAIDS

Since the public health system has little money available, many hospitals are in dire need of renovation and are out of date. Although only 15% of health expenditure goes to disease prevention , infant mortality has been reduced by two thirds since 1970. A doctor looks after 633 patients on average, 87% of the population receive clean drinking water. The most common causes of death are heart disease, cancer , but also accidents and violence.

From 2013 the Brazilian government brought thousands of foreign doctors into the country, mostly Cubans . Due to a dispute with President-elect Jair Bolsonaro , Cuba began withdrawing over 8,000 doctors from the country in November 2018.

In Brazil, everyone is treated in the hospital or at the doctor's without having health insurance. Still, many have private health insurance that allows them to receive treatment in private homes.

At the beginning of the decade, pharmaceutical companies from around the world sued the state for patent infringements . This was based on the demand of the Brazilian government to make expensive foreign drugs cheaper and thus also to make them accessible to sick Brazilians who cannot afford the corresponding drugs. Since the corporations did not comply with this demand, Brazil made available free drugs for antiretroviral therapy for over 100,000 of the meanwhile 660,000 HIV- infected people . However, in 2001 the lawsuit was dropped. In 2005, there was a similar dispute between Brazil and the US pharmaceutical industry.

Development of life expectancy

Period Life expectancy in
Period Life expectancy in
1950-1955 50.8 1985-1990 64.4
1955-1960 53.0 1990-1995 66.3
1960-1965 55.5 1995-2000 68.9
1965-1970 58.0 2000-2005 71.1
1970-1975 60.1 2005-2010 72.9
1975-1980 61.3 2010-2015 74.7
1980-1985 62.7

Source: UN

COVID-19 pandemic

Confirmed infected people according to WHO data. Cumulative above, daily values ​​below

Brazil has been part of the global COVID-19 pandemic since 2020 . A first case of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil was reported on February 25, 2020.

Internal security


The Rocinha district in Rio de Janeiro is predestined for the rise from a favela to a sought-after residential area due to its charming location

The crime rate is well above the global average and the homicide rate is among the highest in the world. According to statistics from 2012, at least 56,337 people died as a result of murder or manslaughter. This corresponds to a number of over 154 homicides per day. The police have to deal with murders, kidnappings, robberies and organized drug and criminal syndicates (such as the Comando Vermelho in Rio de Janeiro and the Primeiro Comando da Capital in São Paulo ) , especially in the cities . The salary of the police is low, which is why the police are particularly prone to corruption. There are also numerous cases in which police officers are accused of abuse of power, including extortion and murder. Corruption is also widespread within the judiciary. The life of small farmers and indigenous people in the countryside is endangered by conflicts with large landowners and companies looking for raw materials.

In order to reduce the high number of victims of violence, a law was proposed in January 2004 that would prohibit the private possession of weapons. This legislative proposal was rejected in a popular referendum in 2005 and was therefore suspended. One of the reasons cited was a lack of trust in the police.

According to a UNODC report dated October 7, 2011, the murder rate was 22.7 crimes per 100,000 population. São Paulo is cited in the report as a role model in combating violence. Prevention, projects and measures of repression against criminal organizations were therefore the main causes.

Despite legislation on equal rights for homosexuals , which is considered progressive , the number of violent attacks on lesbians and gays is very high in an international comparison. This is the subject of the annual Parada do Orgulho GLBT de São Paulo , the world's largest gay pride parade.

Police forces

Police units in the Rocinha favela .

All states have two agencies that do the main police work: the military police and the civil police . While the former is responsible for public order, the latter is mainly used for law enforcement purposes. In addition, some large cities have a municipal police force ( Guarda Municipal ). The Força Nacional de Segurança is made up of members of the various state police forces and can be called upon by the governors of the states for help in the event of a crisis. In addition, the Força Nacional provides fire and rescue services in some regions.

At the federal level, the Federal Police ( Polícia Federal ) is responsible for general criminal prosecution and border protection tasks . In addition, the federal government has its own police force for federal highways and railways .

Prison system

In February 2017, 650,000 people, including around 40,000 women, were detained in 1,424 prisons. The proportion was 316 prisoners per 100,000 people. In 2000 there were 232,000 prisoners. One reason for the increase is the high number (approx. 30%) of prisoners on remand who have not yet been sentenced by a court. The creation of prison places could no longer keep up with the demand in recent years. There was a shortage of at least 250,000 places in 2017. Some prisons are run by private, profit-making companies.

Many prisons are ruled by criminal gangs. The Primeiro Comando da Capital in particular is present in almost all prisons in Brazil. Organized riots, prisoner mutinies and massacres among rival gang members regularly occur .


Indigenous cultures

The oldest traces of human life were found in the Caverna da Pedra Pintada in the state of Piauí . The oldest dated finds are from around 11,700 BP . Pottery was used there around 7580 BP (Paituna phase). The Itaparica phase is also one of the oldest cultures, at Abrigo do Sol in Mato Grosso do Sul similar old traces from the time between 11,500 and 6,000 BP (Dourado tradition) were found. Skeletal finds show that the coastal areas of what is now Brazil were around 8000 BC. Were inhabited. The use of nut trees can be traced back to 8500 BC. In Amazonia, real agriculture continued between 6000 and 2700 BC. A - a lot is still unclear here. In many cases, fire promoted the growth of certain plants, such as palm trees, which provided food, a process that can be proven in the 4th or 3rd millennium BC at the latest; In addition, there was gardening and the increasing sedentariness of many groups. In the 2nd century AD, land use must have been extremely intensive, as indicated by the so-called Amazonian Dark Earth .

The early inhabitants fundamentally changed the ecosystem of the Amazon basin by planting certain types of flora and improving the soil. Their settlements - for example on the huge river island Marajó - were far larger than had long been assumed. In addition, many groups built so-called mounds, often burial mounds, which on the coast of Brazil, if they consisted of mussels, are known as sambaquis . Others were ceremonial centers or residences. The mound complex of Ibibate in the Bolivian Amazon covers 11 hectares, on Marajo alone there were 40 mounds.

In the province of Mato Grosso there were numerous planned places in which fish farming and agriculture were carried out until around 1500. The towns of up to 60 hectares in size were connected by a network of roads - although the canoe was the means of transport in most areas - there were dams and artificial ponds. As in many parts of America, the people on the Xingu are likely to have fallen victim to epidemics, especially smallpox.

Portuguese colonial times

Center of Salvador da Bahia with typical Portuguese colonial architecture

As early as 1494, Portugal and Spain decided to partition South America in the Treaty of Tordesillas . In this was with the mediation of Pope Alexander VI. established an imaginary line about 480 kilometers west of the Cape Verde Islands , and along this line the world was divided between the two sea powers. Spain was awarded all land still to be discovered in America , while Portugal was awarded to Africa and Asia . Because the line had been agreed in ignorance of the coastline of the New World, the eastern tip of South America (still generally unknown at the time) also belonged to the territory of Portugal. The prerequisite for legitimate occupation was the consistent catholization of the locals. On April 22, 1500, the Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral landed at what is now Porto Seguro (in the south of the state of Bahia) and took possession of the land for the Portuguese crown. The period from 1500 to 1530 was characterized by bartering with the locals. However, in order to put a stop to the French, who did not consider the Treaty of Tordesillas binding and who made barter deals for redwood with the Tupinambá , the Portuguese crown decided to send European settlers to Brazil.

In 1549, today's Salvador da Bahia ( São Salvador da Bahía de Todos os Santos ) was named the capital. From 1530, Indians were brought to the coast from the interior to work on the sugar cane plantations in the northeast. Because of hard work, persecution and susceptibility of the Indians to European diseases, many of them died. The colonial rulers then tried to replace the lost labor with slaves from Africa. The Africans were forcibly baptized after they were abducted, but in fact retained their traditional religions. This was the reason for the emergence of the typical Brazilian syncretistic cults Candomblé and Umbanda . By 1580 the Portuguese had effectively brought the whole country under their control.

In 1629 the Dutch settled near what is now Recife and in 1637, under the leadership of Johann Moritz von Nassau-Siegen, they conquered these growing areas, which then flourished again briefly. Until 1654 the northeast stood, v. a. the area around Pernambuco, under Dutch control. In the same year the Dutch troops were decisively defeated and driven out again at the Battle of Guararapes .

Rich baroque cities developed in the 17th century when Bandeirantes expeditions explored the hinterland and discovered gold and diamonds , among other mineral resources . In the same century, escaped slaves built simple settlements called quilombos . When revolts against the oppression of the blacks broke out in the Quilombos, all settlements were destroyed again by 1699. In 1763 Rio de Janeiro was named the capital because the economic center of the country shifted to the south. 25 years later, the officer and dentist Tiradentes led an uprising, but it failed. In 1792, today's national hero of Brazil was executed. At the same time a conflict with Spain began because the Bandeirantes expeditions moved the western border of Brazil against the agreements.

Kingdom and Empire of Brazil

Pedro I of Brazil

In 1807 French troops from Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Portugal, whereupon the Portuguese King João VI. fled to Brazil under British protection (first Bahia , later Rio de Janeiro ) and allowed foreign trade there for the first time, which had hitherto been strictly forbidden. With the relocation of the king and the entire court, Brazil received the status of an equal member of the mother country, and the capital Rio de Janeiro was in fact the center of the then Portuguese empire with the exception of French-occupied Portugal. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Brazil was put on an equal footing with Portugal.

After the withdrawal of the French troops from Portugal, King João VI. Return to Portugal against his will in 1821 to secure his claim to the throne. He left the rule of Brazil to his son Pedro . Pedro I declared Brazil's independence from Portugal on September 7, 1822 in São Paulo and made himself the first Brazilian emperor on September 22. Two years later, targeted German immigration to Brazil began with the establishment of the first colony of São Leopoldo in Rio Grande do Sul . In 1828 the province of Uruguay , which had been annexed to Argentina as the Cisplatin Province in 1821 , dissolved after three years of war between Brazil and Argentina and declared its independence from Brazil. Three years later there was a military uprising, which is why Emperor Pedro I abdicated and transferred the rule to his five-year-old son Pedro II . The former Emperor Pedro I went back to Portugal and took over the inheritance of his father as the Portuguese King Pedro IV.

An additional point in the constitution created in 1822 enabled some reforms on the day of Pedro I's abdication. So it was decided to appoint a single regent. In the Farrapen Revolution in 1835, another province split off with Rio Grande do Sul , which from then on formed the Republic of Piratini until it was reintegrated into the Empire after a ten-year war with government troops. During the rainy season, there were a number of other uprisings in the north and northeast, which were suppressed relatively quickly and, above all, many poor people lost their lives.

Second Empire of Brazil

Pedro II of Brazil

In 1840, before he came of age, Pedro II was crowned emperor. 1864 declared Paraguay Brazil the war . After five years, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina defeated Paraguay's troops in the bloodiest war in Latin American history. Although the war years hit the country, Brazil experienced good economic development due to the rubber boom . Brazil had a monopoly on rubber and was therefore able to generate large revenues from its export.

The slavery was in 1888 by Crown Princess Isabella , daughter of Pedro II., The "Golden Law" ( Lei Áurea officially abolished). Although slavery had been outlawed since 1853, the ban led to uprisings by landowners and the army. As a result, the military seized power, whereupon the emperor went into exile in Paris on November 15, 1889, clearing the way for the first republic.

Republic and Oligarchy

Marshal Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca proclaimed the Republic on November 15, 1889 in the Praça Quinze de Novembro in Rio de Janeiro and headed the provisional government that adopted the first republican constitution on February 24, 1891 as the United States of Brazil ( República dos Estados Unidos do Brasil ). In the period that followed, an oligarchic system was established. Prosperity seemed secured by the great demand for coffee and the economy was concentrated on this branch, but it soon ran into crises. In the First World War , Brazil officially entered on the side of the Allies against Germany, but did not take an active part. During the war years, the demand for coffee fell sharply. In the 1920s, large parts of the population called for an end to the oligarchy . This first or old republic lasted from the proclamation of the republic in 1889 to 1930 and went down in history as República Velha , superseded by the Getúlio Vargas era.

Getúlio Vargas era and subsequent period

When coffee prices collapsed again in 1930, Getúlio Vargas , the "father of the poor", led an uprising and became president. In the first few months of his reign, Brazil's economy grew noticeably. The women's suffrage , secrecy of voting and proportional representation were first in Brazil with the election law introduced in 1932, with the proclamation of the Estado Novo canceled in 1937 and renewed 1945th In 1937 the rule of Vargas was established as a “benevolent dictator”, and in 1942, under pressure from the USA, he declared war on the Axis powers . He sent a 25,000-strong contingent ( Força Expedicionária Brasileira ) to Italy , which was used, among other things, in the Battle of Monte Cassino . After the end of World War II , Vargas was deposed from the army.

Headquarters of the National Congress of Brazil in 1959 during the construction of the new federal capital.

Five years later, the people elected him again as president. Because the United States opposed the socialist policies of Brazil and then demanded the right and the army Vargas' resignation, he committed suicide in 1954. With the help of the Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro (PTB), Vargas' successor, Juscelino Kubitschek , attracted new foreign investors who boosted the Brazilian economy in the late 1950s. In 1960 Jânio da Silva Quadros was elected President. After taking office in 1961, he tried to break the dependency on the United States and to consolidate the deficit budget. After only a few months in office, he resigned and was succeeded by Vice-President João Goulart shortly after the new capital Brasília was inaugurated after three years of construction. Goulart was also controversial among the population, which is why his powers were restricted in the first three presidential elections.

Period of the military dictatorship

Brazil was ruled by the military from 1964 to 1985. During this time, the Indians in particular suffered from human rights violations , the economy was supported, but at the same time large prestige projects ( Transamazônica , the Itaipú hydropower station , the Angra dos Reis nuclear power station , motorways) were initiated. The consequence of this policy was high public debt and unprofitable state-owned companies.

In 1964 the military staged a coup and deposed João Goulart. The new regime under Marshal Humberto Castelo Branco suppressed the left opposition and deprived around 300 people of their political rights. A law passed in 1965 restricted civil liberties, gave the national government additional powers and determined the election of the president and vice-president by Congress.

Former War Minister Marshal Artur da Costa e Silva , candidate of the ruling party ARENA (Aliança Renovadora Nacional; German: Alliance for National Renewal), was elected President in 1966. The Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB, Movimento Democrático Brasileiro), the only legal opposition party, refused to run a candidate in protest because the government had refused to accept any serious candidate. In 1966, the ARENA also won the national and parliamentary elections. The year 1968 was marked by student unrest and strikes. The military regime responded with political purges and censorship. In August 1969, Costa was ousted. The military appointed General Emílio Garrastazu Médici as his successor, and Congress elected him President. Under Médici, the repression was intensified and as a result revolutionary activities increased. The Roman Catholic clergy raised their critical voice more and more often and denounced the conditions of the poor population.

In 1974 General Ernesto Geisel , after his military career President of Petrobras , the state oil monopoly, was elected President of Brazil. Due to the relative political stability and targeted promotion of industry, the time of the military rulers was also a time of economic boom; many investors - including from Germany - invested in Brazil in the 1970s. So São Paulo advanced to the "largest German industrial city outside of Germany" at the time.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the military government significantly weakened the repression until finally, in 1985, due to a lack of options from the military cadre and already in the midst of an economic crisis with galloping inflation, free elections were allowed.

Democracy since 1985

Last session of the constituent parliamentary assembly in 1988

From 1985 the Nova República (Sixth Republic) followed. The election winner Tancredo Neves was hospitalized in Brasília shortly before his inauguration. He was operated on seven times for a stomach ulcer. He died on April 21, 1985 from infections that he contracted during the operation. José Sarney, who was elected vice-president, then became president . Sarney had to struggle with enormous foreign debts, hyperinflation and corruption, which he first tried quite successfully with the "Plano Cruzado". In addition, he had to stabilize the new democracy.

Fernando Collor de Mello was elected Sarney's successor in 1990 democratic elections . He spent the first few months of his tenure fighting inflation , which at times reached 25% a month. Mercosur ( Mercosul in Portuguese ) was founded on April 26, 1991 . This common market of the south , which the states Argentina , Paraguay and Uruguay founded together with Brazil, is a single market with more than 230 million inhabitants, which should strengthen the economy of the member countries and thereby the position of Latin America in the world.

In 1992, Collor was charged with corruption by his brother Pedro, which led to investigations by Congress and the press. The increasing evidence of corruption and embezzlement of state funds gave rise to mass demonstrations and unrest in the major cities of Brazil. In October of the same year, Congress voted for Collor's removal, who then resigned. Constitutionally, Vice President Itamar Franco succeeded him.

In 1993, the people of Brazil were able to decide in a referendum on both the state and the form of government. The choice fell clearly on a republic (instead of a monarchy) with a presidential (instead of a parliamentary) system of government. In 1994 a comprehensive currency reform was decided, whereby the hyperinflation could be ended. Fernando Henrique Cardoso was primarily responsible for the introduction of the new currency and a number of other measures (collectively referred to as " Plano Real ") . In order to reorganize the budget, the parliament decided to privatize state monopolies, nevertheless the national debt rose from 28.1% to 55.5% of the gross domestic product under the presidency of Cardoso. From 2003 to 2011 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the PT Workers' Party was President of Brazil. He attached importance to reducing the national debt, but also implemented social programs such as Fome Zero ("Zero Hunger") and Bolsa Família ("Wallet for Families"). In 2004, Brazil led UN peacekeeping forces for the first time in its history , with the military sending 1,470 soldiers to Haiti .

In 2011 Dilma Rousseff was elected head of state of Brazil as the first woman. Despite her controversial, tough style of government, which is very different from that of her mentor Lula, her approval ratings were 72 percent in March 2012, and in March 2013 they had risen to 79 percent. However, in mid-June, a group of young people opposed to public transport increases in São Paulo began to protest. The violent repression with which the police responded to the demonstrators sparked a chain of protests across the country : In the weeks that followed, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets. There were also fights against the hosting of the soccer World Cup in 2014 , corruption and a poorly social policy, which includes the increasing disregard for the rights of indigenous peoples, women and homosexuals. President Rousseff responded with the promise of a "great pact" for a better Brazil. From June to July, President Rousseff's approval ratings fell to 31 percent.

However , Dilma Rousseff was re-elected in the 2014 presidential election.

The rise in the cost of living and the declining economic output in Brazil in the wake of falling raw material prices also led to large-scale demonstrations across the country in 2015 and 2016.

The deep crisis of confidence in the political system was not resolved with the impeachment of Rousseff in 2016, but intensified, since the impeachment itself was a coup designed to sabotage investigations into the Lava Jato corruption scandal in its own favor by changing power. Roussef's successor, Michel Temer , lost six of his ministers to corruption charges within six months, while the country was stuck in recession for the second year in a row . In May 2017, the Supreme Court also began investigating President Temer for the Lava Jato corruption scandal. Not only the state oil company Petrobras , but also the construction company Odebrecht and the world's largest meat trader JBS were involved in the corruption.

Presidency of Jair Bolsonaro (since 2018)

In the 2018 presidential election, the two most promising candidates were the far-right ex-military Jair Bolsonaro and the left-wing liberal ex-president Lula da Silva . However, Lula da Silva could not run for election because the Chief Justice Sergio Moro sentenced him to a total of 12 years in prison on charges of alleged corruption. His party PT then named Fernando Haddad as a substitute candidate, who, however, lost the election to Jair Bolsonaro. Under the leadership of President Jair Bolsonaro, the human rights situation in Brazil has deteriorated further.

Justice Scandal (2019)

In 2019, the investigative journalist network The Intercept published private chat histories and recordings of conversations between judge Sergio Moro and the senior public prosecutors. These publications show that the legal process and the relevant verdict against Lula da Silva was carried out without sufficient evidence and must therefore be classified as a political show trial. The verdict against Lula da Silva prevented his presidential candidacy in 2018 and thus paved the way for Bolsonaro's election victory. After winning the presidential election, Bolsonaro appointed Sergio Moro as his Minister of Justice. In the wake of the publications, Lula da Silva was released from prison in November 2019 after Lula's lawyers filed an appeal with the Supreme Court for bias of then Judge Sergio Moro.


President Jair Bolsonaro , 2019
The Congress Building in Brasília

Brazil is a presidential federal republic. It consists of the federal, state and local authorities. The legislative power in the Federation is exercised by the National Congress (Chamber of Deputies and Senate). The 513 deputies are elected for 4 years, the 81 senators for 8 years. The constitution was adopted on October 5, 1988 and has been amended several times since then.

The federal government consists of the head of state (also head of government), the vice-president and the currently 26 federal ministers. The president is elected directly by the people with an absolute majority for a four-year term of office. The person can then be re-elected once (or again after an interruption). She has extensive executive power, is head of state and government and puts together the cabinet.

Brazil is divided into 26 states as well as the federal district with the capital Brasília. The states have their own constitutions and laws that must conform to the principles of the federal constitution. The heads of state of the states, the governors, are directly elected for 4 years.

The last presidential, gubernatorial and parliamentary elections took place at the end of 2018, the last local elections ( Eleições municipais ) in November 2020 (first ballot on November 15, runoff elections on November 29).

Brazilian Democracy - Corruption

Only party members can be elected. Forming a party requires, among other things, at least 500,000 signatures from at least a third of all states.

A political problem in Brazil is weak parties without ideologically based programs. These form coalitions that have only lasted for a short time so far, so laws usually have to be passed through agreements. Many small parties and corruption (in 1992 the then President Fernando Collor de Mello was removed from office for this reason) lead to a politically very unstable situation and to a public administration that is almost doomed to inactivity.

houses of Parliament

The Brazilian Parliament, the National Congress or Congresso Nacional , consists of two chambers :

  • The Bundessenat , in Portuguese Senado Federal do Brasil , consists of 81 senators. In each of the 26 states and the federal district, three senators are elected by majority vote for terms of eight years. The list of Senators in Brazil currently (July 2019) includes 16 parties and two non-party members; most of the senators are represented by the MDB with 12 senators.
  • The Chamber of Deputies , in Portuguese Câmara dos Deputados do Brasil , has 513 seats. The deputies are elected for terms of office of four years after a modification of the proportional representation. A voter from the smallest state has about as much influence as eight to nine voters from the largest. After the elections in 2018, 25 parties and one non-party made it into the Chamber of Deputies, of which 14 parties with 350 deputies are assigned to the government-loyal bloc and 8 parties with 141 deputies to the opposition, 22 deputies are classified as independents. The largest parliamentary groups are the Partido Social Liberal (PSL) and the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), each with 55 members.

Political indices

Political indices issued by non-governmental organizations
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 73 of 120 75 of 178 Stability of the country: increased warning
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 6.92 out of 10 49 of 167 Incomplete democracy
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 75 out of 100 --- Freedom status: free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 36.25 out of 100 111 of 180 Difficult situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 38 out of 100 94 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020


In domestic politics in Brazil, parties play a less central role than in Germany, for example. The party landscape is very fragmented.

The following parties are currently represented in the Senate in the 56th legislative period (as of January 2019) (number of senators in brackets):

  • MDB (12), no clear ideology, known as Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (PMDB) from 1980 to 2017
  • PSDB (8), political center
  • PSD (7), political center
  • PT (6), moderate political left, close to trade unions
  • DEM (6), center-right, conservative and economically liberal
  • PP (6), political rights, right-wing conservative
  • REDE (5), center-left, environmentally active
  • PODE (5), political center, nationalist, known as Partido Trabalhista Nacional (PTN) until 2016
  • PDT (4), center-left, social democratic, populist
  • PSL (4), right to right-wing extremist
  • PTB (3), political center, national-populist
  • PSB (2), political left, social democratic, reformist
  • PPS (2), center-left / political left, social democratic, socialist
  • PHS (2), political center, humanistic, distributistic, Christian democratic
  • PL (2), political center, republican, social liberal, protectionist, known as Partido da República (PR) from 2006 to 2019 and renamed after the 2018 election
    • one senator each comes from the following six parties: SD , PROS , PRP , PTC , PRB and PSC
    • one senator is non-party, of the 81 senators 13 are women.

    There are currently 25 parties in the House of Representatives in the 56th legislative period (as of 2019) (number of seats in brackets):

  • PSL (55), right to right-wing extremist
  • PT (55), moderate political left, close to trade unions
  • PP (39), political right, right-wing conservative
  • PL (38), renamed, previously Partido da República (PR)
  • PSD (36), political center
  • MDB (34), renamed, previously PMDB
  • PSB (32)
  • PRB (31)
  • PSDB (30)
  • DEM (28)
  • PDT (28)
  • SD (14)
  • PODE (11)
  • PTB (11)
  • PSOL (10)
  • PROS (10)
  • PCdoB (8)
  • PPS (8)
  • NOVO (8)
  • PSC (8)
  • AVANTE (7), renamed from Partido Trabalhista do Brasil (PTdoB) in 2017
  • PATRI (5), renamed from Partido Ecológico Nacional (PEN) in 2017
  • PV (4)
  • PMN (1)
  • SPEECH (1)
  • Non-party: 1
  • Important parties of the last century that have now been dissolved:

    Domestic politics

    Mass protests against corruption in Brazil, 2016

    The 2002 election, which ended in a clear victory for the left workers' party PT, was of great importance for the development of the still young democracy, because it was the first time that a major change in power took place. In the first year of government economic stabilization was achieved, and the resumption of inflation and other problems were consistently counteracted. A pension reform was also decided against protests from within the ranks. The fight against poverty has been approached with various programs and mixed results.

    The Lula's government experienced the worst crisis of the legislative period in the summer of 2005. The PTB, a coalition party in the government, was accused of corruption , which its chairman Roberto Jefferson massively denied and similar allegations were made against two other governing parties. They would receive a monthly allowance and then collectively approve the legislative proposals. This is allegedly financed by donations from large companies that have received government contracts. As a result, the police and investigative committees of the Congress opened an investigation, which was able to uncover more and more financial side business of the politicians. Dozens of politicians - including advisers to the president and ministers of the ruling parties, in particular the PT, which until then had presented itself as "clean" - resigned their mandate in Congress. Even if personal involvement has not yet been proven, the president's reputation suffered greatly from the allegations. Reforms to the electoral and party funding system have been started but not yet decided.

    Anti-Americanism is present in some parts of the population. Some Brazilians see US politics as "neo-imperialist" or at least " hegemonic " and fear that the USA will exert too much influence on Latin America . For his part, Lula campaigned for a strong Latin America and kept a cautious distance from American politics. In previous foreign policy, however, an open dispute with the USA has been avoided. At the same time, however, Lula distanced himself from the socialist / Marxist course of the former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez , although economic relations were intensified in the following years. Dilma Rousseff , however, slightly weakened relations with Venezuela under Maduro , sometimes because of the continued tense economic, political and human rights situation in Venezuela. After the American presidential election in 2016, Michel Temer reaffirmed American-Brazilian relations and is committed to intensifying economic cooperation.

    Even under Rousseff's government after Lula, the domestic political situation with regard to the economy and the security situation did not change significantly. This and the perceived standstill in the country led, among other things, to social tensions and protests in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. After the Senate finally voted in favor of the removal of Rousseff in a vote on August 31, 2016 after ongoing scandals and strong opposition criticism, Michel Temer took over the position of head of state with a liberal-conservative government until the next election in 2018. After taking office Temer announced cuts , Layoffs, privatizations, a pension reform and the liberalization of the labor market in order to counteract the recession and difficult economic situation as well as to relieve the state budget. A rapidly growing part of the state budget of over 10 percent is spent on pensions alone.

    More than a hundred murders occurred in the small state of Espirito Santo in southeast Brazil during a police strike for higher wages in February 2017.

    Human rights

    In 2014, the National Truth Commission published a number of human rights violations in its final report that had been committed during the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. Due to the amnesty law of 1979 there is no legal review.

    The most serious current human rights violations are trafficking in human beings , highlighting the sexual exploitation of children and young people, then the excessive use of force by police and prison staff, to torture and illegal executions, most of which go unpunished. The conditions of detention are also described as unreasonable. Marginalized people and residents of the favelas are the most common victims of these acts of violence. In several states, forced labor and child labor are found in a report .

    Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities are discriminated against. Conflicts over land resulted in numerous killings, and thousands were evicted. The processing of human rights violations is slow or silted up.

    Foreign policy

    Locations of the diplomatic missions (embassies and consulates , excluding honorary consulates)

    As the largest country in Latin America (area, population, economy), Brazil takes on a regional and global leadership role. The main goals and priorities of Brazilian foreign policy include:

    • Maintaining relationships with the countries in the region, for example within the framework of the regional organizations UNASUR and MERCOSUL, as well as the traditional partners in North America and Europe, including Germany. In addition, Brazil is pursuing goals of economic cooperation within the framework of the so-called BRICS states (together with Russia, India, China and South Africa).
    • Structural strengthening of the influence of Brazil as the voice of the South on the shaping of globalization, namely through reform of the UN (permanent seat for Brazil in a UN Security Council to be expanded) and by filling leadership positions in international organizations.
    • Participation in shaping the content of politics on global issues, in addition to financial and economic policy, namely also environmental, climate and development policy.

    Brazil is a member, inter alia. the following international organizations:


    Soldiers of the Brazilian Armed Forces
    Mirage 2000 (airborne) and AMX fighter aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force
    The Brazilian Navy (F48) frigate Bosisio fires at a drone during a maneuver with the American and Mexican Navy.

    After the decades of military dictatorship , there is a certain degree of caution towards the armed forces in politics and the population. Furthermore, the country does not face any real external threat. The Latin American states are militarily allied with one another, which strengthens security and stability in the region.

    There is general conscription for men over 18 years of age. After peaking in 2014 at $ 25 billion in 2016, the Department of Defense's budget was just over $ 23 billion. and since 2006 in the range of 1.3 to 1.5 percent of GDP . In 1992 spending had fallen to 8 billion compared to 14 billion in 1988.

    With around 190,000 men, the army is by far the largest armed force in Brazil. With around 500 battle tanks and 1,500 armored vehicles , the country would hardly be able to secure the vast and difficult-to-access hinterland in an emergency. In peacetime, the army is also used for disaster control and rescue services as well as for scientific services (at the Antarctic research station Comandante Ferraz ). In addition, the federal highways are being built by the military. Domestic threats such as crime and terrorism are a matter for the police in Brazil. At the request of the governor in the affected state, the military can also be used for police activities, provided the state of emergency is declared, e.g. B. in the city of Rio de Janeiro in 2008 and 2017.

    The Air Force employed 73,500 people in 2005, making it the largest in Latin America. Due to its great importance due to the huge land areas and vast sea areas, the air force is modernly equipped. Airplanes and helicopters mostly came from the USA or Europe, but also from the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer in order to make the military independent of foreign imports. The navy is also modern and well equipped. Due to the large river system that extends far inland, the marine can also be used inland. She therefore owns many patrol boats and light combat ships that secure the inland waters. In this role, the Navy also supports the Brazilian army and owns amphibious vehicles and even battle tanks. Several combat ships are available for use on the high seas, as well as some modified German -made submarines . Brazil also maintains an aircraft carrier.

    Brazil is the fifth largest arms exporter in the world. A long-term, secret nuclear weapons project existed during the military dictatorship. Germany was Brazil's most important partner in the field of (peacefully used) nuclear energy and supported the country, among other things, with the delivery of nuclear reactors and facilities for uranium enrichment . How much German knowledge and experience actually went into the nuclear weapons program and to what extent the German government knew about the Brazilian nuclear project is difficult to say. There was probably also cooperation with Argentina , which also had a secret nuclear program. In the 1980s, the nuclear weapons project was very well developed.

    With the transition to democracy, Brazil finally gave up the plan to use nuclear energy for military purposes. The nuclear weapons program was officially ended with the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1998.

    In 2004, for the first time in its history, the country assumed greater responsibility and role in a UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti . 1,470 soldiers were stationed in the Caribbean country, and in July 2004 Brazil took over the command of the international troops until the withdrawal in 2017.

    On July 10, 2007, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced that he would expand the Brazilian nuclear program, including the enrichment of uranium and the possible construction of a nuclear submarine. A total of 1.040 billion real (around 395 million euros) is planned in the budget for this until 2015.

    Administrative structure

    Uruguay Argentinien Paraguay Peru Chile Kolumbien Venezuela Guyana Surinam Frankreich Bolivien Amapá Roraima Acre Amazonas Pará Rondônia Maranhão Piauí Ceará Rio Grande do Norte Paraíba Pernambuco Alagoas Sergipe Tocantins Mato Grosso Espírito Santo Distrito Federal do Brasil Bahia Rio de Janeiro Goiás Mato Grosso do Sul Minas Gerais São Paulo Paraná Santa Catarina Rio Grande do Sul
    Regions and states of Brazil

    Brazil is divided into 26 states and a federal district ( Distrito Federal ). These are divided into five regions:

    Acre , Amapá , Amazonas , Pará , Rondônia , Roraima , Tocantins
    The north makes up 45.27% of the area of ​​Brazil. At the same time, it is the region with the fewest inhabitants. The northwest is comparatively underdeveloped industrially and not very well developed. In return, it is home to the largest ecosystem on earth, the Amazon basin .
    Alagoas , Bahia , Ceará , Maranhão , Paraíba , Pernambuco , Piauí , Rio Grande do Norte , Sergipe
    Almost a third of Brazilians live in the northeast. The region is culturally very diverse. It is shaped by the Portuguese colonial rule, by the African culture of the former slaves and, last but not least, by Indian influences.
    Goiás , Mato Grosso , Mato Grosso do Sul , Distrito Federal do Brasil
    The region owes its importance primarily to its wealth of raw materials. However, the Midwest is not particularly well developed. Intensive efforts are being made to strengthen the region, including moving the capital to Brasília.
    Espírito Santo , Minas Gerais , Rio de Janeiro , São Paulo
    More people live in the Southeast than in any other South American country. With the metropolitan areas of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, this region is the country's economic engine.
    Paraná , Santa Catarina , Rio Grande do Sul
    The south is the smallest region in Brazil. The climatic conditions correspond roughly to those of southern Europe. The region shows clear cultural influences from German and Italian immigrants, who preferred to settle in this area. About 85% of the residents are white.

    Federal District

    During the Brazilian Empire, Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil and had the status of Município Neutro (Neutral City), which is roughly equivalent to a capital district. With the creation of the federal state and the associated conversion of the provinces into states in 1889, the Município Neutro became a Distrito Federal (federal district). In 1960 the capital was moved to Brasília , as was the Federal District. The special district around Rio de Janeiro was temporarily converted into the state of Guanabara until Guanabara was incorporated into the state of Rio de Janeiro in 1975 .

    The Federal District has a special meaning. It is enshrined in the constitution and reports directly to the Brazilian government.

    Major cities and metropolitan areas

    75% of Brazil's population live in cities.

    The most populous metropolitan areas (each with their capital) are São Paulo with around 21.4 million inhabitants (2017), Rio de Janeiro with around 12.2 million (2017), Belo Horizonte with around 5.9 million (2017), the capital district Brasília with around 4.4 million (2017), Porto Alegre with around 4.2 million (2017), Salvador da Bahia with around 4.0 million (2017), Fortaleza and Recife with around 3.9 million each (2017) and Curitiba with about 3.5 million inhabitants.

    São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, South America and at the same time the largest in the southern hemisphere and the economic engine of Brazil. São Paulo is the largest German investment center outside the EU and the USA. As the industrial center of the country, the city continuously attracts immigrants, so that the number of inhabitants has doubled in 40 years. This rapid population growth gave the city a prime position in terms of finance, culture and science, but also traffic problems, pollution and crime.

    Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil for almost 200 years until Brasília was named capital in 1960 . Nevertheless, Rio de Janeiro is the most famous city in the country. It is popular with tourists because of the carnival and the beaches, which are among the most beautiful in the world. Tourism has a high economic value in Rio, but manufacturing industry is also at home in the city. Aside from the holiday centers, the city has to struggle with the typical problems of a big city, primarily with crime and the poverty of large sections of the population.

    The capital Brasília was built in the 1960s within three years. It is a classic planned capital , was planned by Lúcio Costa on behalf of the then President Kubitschek , and Oscar Niemeyer designed the government buildings. Brasília was originally intended to serve as a shining urban model. However, the development did not proceed as planned in important points, and so Brasília is now also characterized by favelas in the outer districts . Today the city has almost 200,000 inhabitants, the metropolitan region has around 4.4 million people.


    At the head of the Brazilian jurisdiction is the Supremo Tribunal Federal , based in the capital Brasília.


    Economic structure

    Economic indicators

    economic indicators
    Gross Domestic Product (Atlas) 1.798 billion US $ (2016)
    Gross domestic product per capita 8,727 US $ (2016)
    Gross national product 1787 billion US $ (2016)
    Economic growth −2.5% (2016)
    inflation rate 8.7% (2016)
    Unemployment rate 11.8% (2017)
    Poverty rate 7.4% (2014)
    economic structure (2014)
    Agriculture 10.4%
    Industry 40.0%
    Services 49.6%
    Balance sheets (2016)
    Exports US $ 217.7 billion
    Imports US $ 217.8 billion
    trade balance −0.1 billion US $
    Source: World Bank

    With a gross domestic product (GDP) of around 1,800 billion USD (2016), Brazil is the ninth largest economy in the world. The per capita income at the same time was around $ 8,700. The economic structure of Brazil is characterized by the core sectors services with approx. 65%, industry with 17% and agriculture with approx. 6.7% of GDP (“agribusiness” / production and processing of agricultural raw materials totaling 25% of GDP).

    Up until a few years ago, high growth rates and solid employment growth significantly increased global economic interest in Brazil. Thanks to the explosion in global commodity prices, rising wages and improved access to consumer credit, GDP expanded strongly.

    However, when the end of the economic boom was announced a few years ago in view of falling commodity prices, rising private sector debt and very low productivity, the government tried to artificially keep economic growth high through higher government spending and subsidies - with the result of a dramatic budget gap (fiscal deficit is approx. 10%) and an increasingly eroding trust from entrepreneurs, investors and consumers. Brazil is now in a severe recession.

    After GDP fell by 3.8% in 2015, it is likely to have contracted significantly again in 2016 (−3.4%). A slight recovery in economic output of around 0.5% is expected for 2017. The situation on the labor market has also deteriorated significantly over the past two years. A year ago unemployment was 8.6% and is now over 12%. With over 200 million inhabitants, the strong domestic market remains the main economic driver with over 80% of GDP. With around 20% of GDP, foreign trade plays a comparatively minor role. A particularly big challenge for economic growth is the very low and falling investment quota of well below 20% of GDP, also in international comparison. Brazil is a founding member of the BRICS countries . The biggest problems in the country are, on the one hand, the drop in raw material prices, the corruption scandal surrounding the state-owned company Petrobras , the general high level of corruption in the country, low company productivity and poor infrastructure. In 2017, Brazil could return to growth.

    The unemployment rate was 11.8% in 2017 and has increased significantly in recent years. In the same year 9.4% of the total workforce worked in agriculture, 58.5% in the service sector and 32.1% in industry. The total number of employees is estimated at 104.2 million for 2017.

    The South American customs union Mercosul strengthens the market in Latin America, but besides Brazil, other Latin American countries also have economic problems, such as B. Argentina, Venezuela and Ecuador. In addition to the Latin American countries, the People's Republic of China , the USA and the European Union are the most important trading partners. In foreign trade, the People's Republic of China overtook the USA as Brazil's most important trading partner in March 2009.

    A particular growth spurt was expected from the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 , but the costs of both major events by far exceed the income. That is why there were massive protests against the events in the run-up to the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

    In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Brazil ranks 80th out of 137 countries (as of 2017-18). In 2017, Brazil ranked 140th out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index .

    "Brazil costs"

    The main problem in exploiting this economic potential, however, is the so-called “Brazil costs ” ( Portuguese: Custo Brasil ). These include above all costs due to corruption, the poor logistical infrastructure as well as high taxes and financing costs combined with a shortage of skilled workers in the country. According to the industry association CNI, wage costs rose by 5.1 percent in 2012, twice as much as company sales in Brazil. High logistics costs burn up 20 percent of the company's sales. The Custo Brasil basically means high taxes. Subsidies to promote investment are granted regionally, especially in the hinterland. Another problem is high financing costs. The central bank has cut interest rates significantly since mid-2011, which also corrected the overvaluation of the national currency, the real. Long-term low-interest loans at a level of 5 percent p. a. is only awarded by the national development bank BNDES. Financing costs for foreign companies in Brazil are higher than for national companies.

    Economic development

    A KC-390 from the aircraft manufacturer Embraer

    Until the end of the 19th century, the population lived mainly from the export of agricultural products. Then there was an increasing labor shortage due to the beginning of industrialization of the country, which had worsened after the abolition of slavery in 1888. This attracted a large number of immigrants, the largest groups among them, besides Portuguese and Spanish , were Germans , Italians , Poles and Japanese .

    During the First World War , the country fell into an economic crisis because the most important export items (coffee, sugar, etc.) were affected by an enormous drop in prices. Aid came through capital and immigrants from Great Britain . With the exception of the First World War, the economy and the transport network grew steadily in the first 30 years of the 20th century.

    In 1917 the first large waves of strikes broke out in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro , to which the government responded with repression. In the 1920s, workers' parties and unions were formed, but this did not result in a stronger position in the state as they had no representation in the upper classes. Even the Tenentismo lieutenant movement from 1922 onwards could not change that, as attempts at a revolution failed.

    A current problem of the Brazilian economy is the increasing urbanization and immigration of the rural population into the cities. In Brasilia alone it is increasing by three percent a year, which has catastrophic effects in the slums.

    With large, well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors on the one hand and a large supply of labor on the other, the Brazilian economy is now the strongest in South America and is gaining importance in the world market. The main export products are coffee , cocoa , tropical fruits, soybeans , sugar and iron ore . 40% of Brazilian agricultural exports go to the EU, 17% to the USA.

    At the beginning of 2011 the area under cultivation for soy was 24.08 million hectares (240 800 km²). An increase of 611,000 hectares compared to the 2009/2010 harvest year . In 2020, Brazil exported almost its entire soybean harvest to China.

    The sugar industry in Brazil is an important economic factor in the country. With a production of more than 500 million tons of sugar cane , which is processed in roughly equal parts into sugar and bioethanol and a small part into sugar cane schnapps, the sugar industry in Brazil is by far the largest in the world. The conditions on the sugar cane plantations, which are mostly dominated by "sugar barons", are extremely poor. People sometimes work in slave-like conditions in huge monocultures .

    Inflation and the gap between a wealthy, well-educated minority and the poorly educated majority, most of whom live on the verge of subsistence, remain some of the major challenges facing the Brazilian economy . There is a large movement of landless people, the Movimento dos sem terra (MST), who are fighting for land reform.

    Development of important economic indicators

    The key economic indicators of gross domestic product, inflation, budget balance and foreign trade have developed as follows in recent years:

    Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real in% compared to the previous year
    year 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
    Change in% yoy 0.4 0.3 4.3 1.3 2.7 1.1 5.7 3.2 4.0 6.1 5.2 −0.2 7.5 3.9 1.9 3.0 0.1 −3.8 −3.4 1.0
    Source: IBGE , Allianz Economic Research & Corporate Development
    Development of GDP (nominal)
    absolute (in billion US $) per inhabitant (in thousands of US $)
    year 2014 2015 2016 2017 year 2014 2015 2016 2017
    GDP in billions of US $ 2,456 1,804 1,794 2,056 GDP / inh. in thousands of US $ 12.0 8.7 8.6 9.8
    Source: World Bank
    Development of the inflation rate Development of the national debt
    in% compared to the previous year in% of GDP
    year 2013 2014 2015 2016 year 2014 2015 2016 2017
    inflation rate 5.2 5.3 9.0 8.7 Indebtedness 62.3 72.6 78.4 84.0
    Source: World Bank, IMF
    Main trading partner (2016)
    Export (in%) to Import (in%) of
    China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 19.0 United StatesUnited States United States 17.5
    United StatesUnited States United States 12.6 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 17.0
    ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 7.2 GermanyGermany Germany 6.6
    NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 5.6 ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 6.6
    GermanyGermany Germany 2.6 Korea SouthSouth Korea South Korea 4.0
    JapanJapan Japan 2.5 ItalyItaly Italy 2.7
    ChileChile Chile 2.2 FranceFrance France 2.7
    other countries 48.3 other countries 42.9
    Source: GTAI
    Main products of foreign trade (2005)
    Export goods (share in%) Imported goods (share in%)
    Transportation equipment 16.2 Chemicals and chemical products 19.9
    Metals and metal goods 10.7 Fuels 18.3
    soy 8.0 machinery 13.7
    Petroleum and petroleum products 7.7 electronics 11.9
    meat 6.8 Automotive and automotive parts 5.7
    Iron ore 6.8 Electrical engineering 5.4
    chemical products 6.3
    machinery 5.9
    Source: bfai
    Development of foreign trade in billion US $ and its change compared to the previous year in%
    2014 2015 2016
    Billion US $ % yoy Billion US $ % yoy Billion US $ % year-on-year
    import 229.1 −4.5 171.4 −25.5 137.6 −19.7
    export 225.1 −7.0 191.1 −15.1 185.2 −3.1
    balance −4.0 19.7 47.7
    Source: GTAI


    Coffee plantation in Brazil

    Brazilian agriculture is of great importance not only for the country itself, but also for the rest of the world. In theory, Brazil could feed around a billion people, which is why it is considered the breadwinner of the world. On average, 40% of the gross domestic product is generated with agriculture and the branches of industry related to it, and around 43% of all exports are agricultural goods. There is a total of 248 million hectares of agricultural land in Brazil, to which about 2 million hectares of virgin land are added every year. In central Brazil in particular, there are farms that cultivate areas of 100,000 hectares or more. They have made Brazil the cost leader in agricultural bulk commodities such as sugar, soybeans, corn, coffee, orange juice, beef, pork and poultry. The agricultural sector in Brazil has not yet exhausted its potential, there are still large reserves of land and by intensifying agriculture, the yields could be increased even further. The development of agriculture is limited primarily by deficiencies in the country's infrastructure, the distance between the cultivation areas and the export ports for agricultural products and the high capital expenditure for fertilizing the fields.

    Brazilian agriculture has been criticized for using huge amounts of artificial fertilizers and pesticides , that products for export are grown in monocultures on very large areas and that the working conditions for farm workers are very poor. Numerous fields are used today for the cultivation of export products or plants for energy generation instead of growing food for the local population on them. Furthermore, ownership is highly concentrated: around 50 companies, some of them foreign, dominate agriculture in Brazil and its upstream and downstream industrial sectors, while 150,000 farm worker families do not own any land.

    Important companies

    The P-51 oil rig of the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras .

    Important Brazilian companies are Petrobras (petroleum), Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (mining), Gerdau (metal processing), Embraer (aircraft construction), Organização Odebrecht (construction) and BRF (food). Large foreign companies also chose Brazil as the focus of their South American activities, such as the Volkswagen Group ( Volkswagen do Brasil ), Nestlé , Parmalat , Anheuser-Busch InBev ( Ambev ) and the Fiat Group. The Daimler AG (2016) and the Bavarian Motor Works (2014) have Iracemápolis or Araquari set up car production.

    The oil company Petrobras is a state-owned company and one of the largest energy companies in the world. Since 2014, the group has been repeatedly shaken by the biggest corruption scandal in the history of Brazil. The group is badly affected by the collapse of the oil price, with a loss of € 8.6 billion in 2015. This makes Petrobras one of the few large energy companies that is making losses.

    The mining company Vale is the largest iron ore producer in the world. In addition to mines and loading ports, he also owns a large part of the Brazilian rail network. In 1997 the state enterprise was privatized. Indirectly, however, the public sector still has a great deal of influence through state pension funds and the investment bank BNDES. In 2007, Vale, led by Roger Agnelli (1959 / 60–2016), took over Canadian competitor Inco, the world's largest nickel producer. In the wake of the drop in commodity prices, especially iron, Vale was also in dire straits. The group posted a loss of $ 13.2 billion in 2015.

    The aircraft manufacturer Embraer also has a state background, but is now mostly owned by private owners. Under Mauricio Botelho, the group escaped a serious crisis. Today, Embraer produces regional and business jets as well as regional jets and military trainers with turboprop engines that have been converted for military purposes. Since Boeing and Airbus only sell planes larger than the size of Embraer machines, Embraer jets are now an integral part of global scheduled aviation. Lufthansa CityLine or Air Dolomiti fly with the E-195. Air France Régional and Air France subsidiary CityJet fly ERJ135.

    Natural resources

    Brazil's steel production compared to that of the USA. Almost 2.5% in a world comparison

    The following raw materials are mined in Brazil: iron , manganese , coal , bauxite , nickel , crude oil , tin , silver , diamonds , gold , natural gas , uranium . 1.5 million barrels of crude oil are extracted every day , uranium is available in the interior of the country, the bauxite opencast mining pollutes the rivers and thus endangers the environment. Brazil is the world's largest supplier of iron. The deposits should cover the earth's iron needs for the next 500 years. In tantalum Brazil's second-largest exporter. About 60% of all processed gemstones (excluding diamonds) come from Brazil. Brazil also has significant steel production, although this has been reduced by the intervention of the USA. Brazil was only allowed to produce steel of inferior quality, which US companies did not want to process.

    See also: Aluminum Industry in Brazil



    Tourism is not yet very important in Brazil and only accounts for around 0.5% of the gross national product . The global average is 10%. The annual number of visitors is around 4.8 million. The beaches and the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro , the capital Brasília , the Amazon basin , the northeast with its beaches and culture and the Iguazú waterfalls are particularly popular . The relatively small number of tourists (there are 37 locals for one visitor in Brazil, only about 4.6 in Germany) is due to various factors. The infrastructure is not conducive to tourism, domestic and international flights are expensive as there are only a few charter flights in the whole country.

    Financial market

    The Brazilian financial market is increasingly integrated into the international financial system. The focus of the Brazilian financial market is formed by the international and national banks and the stock market. The latter is characterized by a high level of transparency (compared to other BRICS countries ) and the participation of international actors. Brazilian companies are also traded using ADRs in America and Europe . Today's central bank in Brazil is the Banco Central do Brasil . The former central bank Banco do Brasil gave up this function in 1986 and is now the largest bank in Brazil. The largest regional bank is also the Banco do Estado de São Paulo . The largest private banks in Brazil include Banco Bradesco , Itaú Unibanco , HSBC and Banco Real . The largest banks are now mostly internationally active. In addition, there are local banks ( caixa ) that can be assigned to the states or districts or have been privatized.

    Many of the major German banks such as Deutsche Bank , Commerzbank , Landesbank Baden-Württemberg , WestLB and BHF-Bank are now also represented in Brazil.

    There are few barriers to international capital. The Brazilian real can float freely against other currencies, but the government can exert influence on it through so-called open market actions through the central bank.

    Local asset managers such as Maua Investimentos, who are increasingly contributing to the independent development of Brazilian hedge funds and private equity companies, are playing an increasingly important role. In this way, you reduce the dependency on international managers and expand the derivatives market . Many of these Brazilian investees also have projects in other Latin American countries.

    In addition to the political framework, an important basis for further development lies in university education. Some universities, such as the PUC in Rio or the USP in São Paulo, have strong links with local financial players and have a good reputation in Latin America.

    Foreign direct investment (FDI) reached US $ 18.2 billion in 2004 and Brazil rose to seventh place on AT Kearney's list of the most attractive FDI countries.

    State budget

    The state budget in 2015 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 641.2 billion . This was set against income of the equivalent of 631 billion US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of 0.6% of GDP . The national debt was 67.3% of GDP in 2015.

    In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:


    Transport networks

    Road traffic

    BR-116 in Fortaleza , Ceará

    At around 1.5 million km, the road network in Brazil is the fourth longest in the world, and almost 350,000 km are paved. The Brazilian name for trunk road is Rodovia . According to assumptions, more than 1.2 billion travelers use the highways every year, only 80 million fly.

    However, the roads are often in a disastrous condition, generally worse in the north than in the south. Borracharias (breakdown points for tires) are located on the side of the road on all major highways . Buses run between all major cities at regular intervals and are reasonably reliable between smaller cities. There are different price categories from the simple coach to the fully air-conditioned bus with TVs and travel companions.

    There is right-hand traffic. The names of the highways include the state in which they are located and the direction in which they go. A special case are highways that lead to Brasília:

    • Motorways with the numbers 000-099 lead to Brasília
    • Highways with the numbers 100-199 run from north to south
    • Highways with the numbers 200–299 run from west to east
    • Highways with the numbers 300-399 run diagonally (from northwest to southeast or from northeast to southwest)
    • Highways with the numbers 400-499 are highways of regional importance. They usually only connect one city to a major highway nearby.

    For example, the SP-280 motorway is located in the state of São Paulo and runs from west to east. In addition to their official names, some road links are also named after famous people.

    Road traffic is considered unsafe. In 2013, there were a total of 23.4 road deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants in Brazil. For comparison: In Germany there were 4.3 deaths in the same year. In total, more than 41,000 people were killed in traffic. After India and China, Brazil was the country with the most road deaths. The rate of road deaths is much higher when you compare it with the country's average motorization rate. In 2016 there were 249 vehicles for every 1,000 inhabitants in the country (in Germany there were 610 vehicles).

    Rail transport

    The rail connections have been thinned out, but there is still a rail network of almost 30,000 km in length. At the beginning of the 20th century, the railroad was particularly important for the economic upswing. With the rapid expansion of the road network, it lost this prominent position. In the meantime, this is of little or no importance in Brazil. Freight traffic is carried out with trucks or ships; buses are normally used for long-distance public transport. Nostalgic trains that serve as tourist attractions still run on routes through the mountain landscape.

    Air traffic

    Because of the very long distances, air travel within Brazil is also becoming increasingly important. However, the cost is too high for most Brazilians to take long trips by bus. More and more airlines are establishing themselves, however, offering affordable flights within the country based on the example of European low-cost airlines. The largest airport in the country is the Aeroporto Internacional de São Paulo / Guarulhos in Guarulhos near São Paulo with almost 40 million passengers annually. In order to relieve the two congested airports in São Paulo, the expansion of the Viracopos airport there to become the largest airport in Latin America with an annual capacity of up to 55 million passengers is being planned in Campinas , 80 km away from São Paulo.


    The inland waterways have a total length of around 50,000 km. The merchant and cargo fleet consists of around 475 ships. The largest Brazilian ports are in Belém , Fortaleza , Ilhéus , Imbituba , Manaus , Paranaguá , Porto Alegre , Recife , Rio de Janeiro , Rio Grande , Salvador , Santos and Vitória . List of seaports in Brazil.


    In Brazil there were 39.7 million telephones in 2005, an increase of 20 million systems compared to 1997. There are also around 80 million cell phones in circulation. Here, too, the increase compared to 1997 (4 million cell phones) is clear. The phone system works fine. Local calls are sometimes free. There are three coaxial - Deep-sea cable, national radio-relay system is well developed, and the satellite system works well.


    Wind turbines in Parnaíba , Piauí

    Electricity generation in Brazil is largely based on the use of renewable sources , in particular on the use of hydropower , which was responsible for around 80% of total electricity production in 2011. The other renewable energies had a share of 6.6%, fossil energies were around 10% and nuclear energy was just under 3%. The originally planned new construction of four nuclear power plant blocks was rethought after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima ; instead, wind energy is now to be expanded considerably (see also the energy transition ).

    In 2001 more than 90% of the electricity generated came from hydropower plants , but their expansion potential has now been largely exhausted. Recurring two to three-year periods of drought , which in 2001 and 2002 led to power outages and social and political problems, also turned out to be problematic. In addition, economic growth is leading to a sharp rise in demand for electricity, which makes it necessary to expand power plant requirements. For this reason, Brazil is relying heavily on the expansion of wind energy in order to diversify its generation structure, which, particularly in northern Brazil, is complementary to hydropower and therefore complements it very well. In addition, Brazil has a very large wind energy potential with high wind speeds, both onshore and offshore . In 2001, the PROEOLICA program was launched, which was supplemented in 2004 by the PROINFA program, which provides for the general expansion of renewable energies (small hydropower, biomass, solar), which were subsidized for this purpose with feed-in tariffs . At the end of 2013, more than 3.3 GW of wind energy capacity was installed in more than 140 wind farms in Brazil. At the end of 2017, wind turbines with a total output of 12,763 MW were installed in Brazil, placing Brazil in 8th place worldwide.

    Wind energy is one of the cheapest forms of electricity generation in the country due to the favorable location conditions. Worldwide, too, Brazil is one of the countries in which the use of wind energy is one of the cheapest in an international comparison. The electricity production costs of wind turbines are now under 60 US dollars / MWh, the equivalent of around 53.1 euros / MWh. In tenders for energy contracts, rock-bottom prices of up to US $ 50.2 / MWh are achieved for wind energy projects . By 2020, wind turbines should cover 10% of electricity production.

    In addition, Brazil has significant oil reserves and has been promoting ethanol production using sugar cane since the 1980s . As a result, Brazil has long been the world's most important bioethanol producer .

    In Brazil, crude oil pipelines are almost 3000 km long, crude oil products are transported in a pipeline network with a length of almost 5000 km and the natural gas pipelines have a total length of about 4250 km.


    See: Brazilian packaging market


    Brazilian feature film production
    year Quantity
    1975 90
    1985 83
    1995 18th
    2005 90


    In 2002, the constitution was changed so that the shares of foreign companies in the national media must not exceed 30%.

    There are around 530 daily newspapers in Brazil with an estimated total circulation of 6.5 million copies. The most famous of them are Folha de São Paulo , Estado de São Paulo , O Día and O Globo . The latter belongs to the Globo Group , which dominates the Brazilian media landscape and which is accused of favoring individual parties or candidates. Rede Globo is also one of the market leaders when it comes to the production of telenovelas . Around 80% of the productions are exported. Your current position is threatened by international corporations and the Internet . A state radio station was available in 1997, along with over 2,900 private stations, for all of Brazil with around 70 million radios. In addition, there are 19 state and around 250 private television stations. The reach of the medium of television is relatively large in Brazil: 90.3% of households had a television in 2003. In 2018, 70 percent of Brazil's residents used the internet. There is no censorship of the online offer.

    A major obstacle to media independence and freedom of the press is that almost all of the country's major media groups are in the hands of a few people.


    Georg Grimm: Vista do cavalão , headland in Niterói

    In Brazil, art developed in close association with religion. Sacred art was dominant during the colonial period . Among other things, numerous churches were artistically designed. The collaboration between wood carvers, stonemasons and painters was so close that the choice of colors was also coordinated and the churches are now among the most beautiful in America. The churches were lavishly furnished as early as the 17th century, but the largest and most valuable works of art were not created until the 18th century.

    Alejandro Ciccarelli , who was born and trained in Naples , stands out among the classicist painters . Giovanni Battista Castagneto, also from Italy, was one of the early impressionists . The representatives of the informally so-called Grupo Grimm around the German landscape painter Johann Georg Grimm consolidated open-air painting in Brazil around 1880 . But it was not until the 20th century that Impressionism gained importance towards Europe with a delay.

    The art museum " Museu de Arte de São Paulo " (MASP)

    Important artists of the interwar period were Anita Malfatti , Manuel Santiago (1897–1987) and José Pancetti (1902–1958), but Cândido Portinari was even more respected . He himself is considered to be the greatest artist in Brazil of the last century. Because he painted with highly toxic paints, he fell ill with cancer and died early. His famous works of art hang in buildings like the UN headquarters in New York . According to art critics, his works best highlight the originality of Brazil. Social realism developed in the 1940s and 1950s . Portinari's works of art with social themes are assigned to this style.

    Cândido Portinari: The Coffee Worker (1939), Museu de Arte de São Paulo

    An important group of Brazilian artists gave themselves their name Gruppe der 19 ( grupo dos dezenove ) after an exhibition in 1947. They include, among others. the surrealistic- expressive painters and graphic artists Mario Gruber (* 1927) and Otavio Araujo . The graphic artist and draftsman Marcelo Grassman (1925–2013), also one of the 19, was influenced by Alfred Kubin . He made stitches in medieval technique. The fourth known member of the 19 is Lena Milliet , who was among the first Brazilian women to find recognition in the arts. Luís Andreatini paints in a cubist style.

    Nora Beltran has caricatured the political and social conditions in Brazil since the 1950s. From the abstract art of the 1960s to 1980s, the brothers Thomaz and Arcangelo Ianelli and the graphic artist Fayga Ostrower stand out. Antonio Dias became known as a multimedia artist of this time, and Lygia Clark as the creator of interactive installations . A representative of Neopop is Romero Britto , and Beatriz Milhazes is a representative of colorful folkloric-ornamental pop . Gustavo Rosa (1946–2013) created cheerful, ironic two-dimensional pictures.

    Nowadays, the São Paulo Biennale is the largest art event in Brazil. The focus of this event is on paintings by internationally renowned artists. Even Rio de Janeiro is an art center. Smaller, lesser-known places are also highly regarded by experts, for example the central Brazilian town of Goiás . Recife is known for João Câmara and Gilvan Samico . Fortaleza is known for Raimundo Cela and Antonio Bandeira . Brazil's most famous and in the eyes of many best wood carvers is Maurino Araujo , which is why his hometown Minas Gerais is known among art lovers.

    The art of the Indians is made of natural materials and therefore very ephemeral. Elaborate body painting often takes several days, but the colors rarely last much longer. The colorful feather headdress is also rarely seen in museums. Numerous objects are exhibited in the Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia of the University of São Paulo.


    Brazilian music has been influenced by Portuguese, African and indigenous musical traditions. Little is known about the indigenous music of the pre-colonial period, the first description dates from 1568. A French pastor described the dances and songs of the indigenous people in a book about his trip to the country. The music changed under the influence of European settlers and African slaves.

    The art music is in Brazil as música erudita called, taught music. For a long time it was limited to church music and during this epoch, known as barocco mineiro , it concentrated on Minas Gerais and, to a lesser extent, Rio de Janeiro. Between 1760 and 1800 there were almost 1,000 musicians in Minas Gerais, many of them free mulattos. One of these was José Maurício Nunes Garcia (1767–1830), whose work mainly comprised church music, but also some secular works and who was influenced by the Viennese classicism .

    Brazilian music experienced a significant development boost when the Portuguese court fled to Rio de Janeiro in 1808 due to the Napoleonic war . The royal family now employed numerous local musicians and the new residence also attracted European musicians. In this way new, worldly musical impulses came into the country. The return of the Portuguese court to Lisbon in 1822 caused a serious crisis for the música erudita .

    Since the middle of the 19th century, musical life began to flourish again as a result of the increased immigration of European immigrants to Brazil. After various music societies and a conservatory had been founded in Rio in the 1830s, several theaters were built in the larger cities, four of which had their own orchestra. In the capital Rio in particular, European and above all Italian operas were played shortly after their first performance. With the opera A Noite de São João by Elias Álvares Lôbo , the first Brazilian opera was premiered in 1860. In 1870 the opera O Guarani by Antônio Carlos Gomes even premiered at La Scala in Milan and was then performed all over Europe. Further premieres of his operas in Milan followed in the next few years.

    Before the turn of the century, Brazilian musicians increasingly oriented themselves towards German and French art music, even if Italian opera continued to enjoy great success with audiences. Chamber music and symphonic music now came to the fore . Almost all composers in Europe had received their training.

    The Lundu is one of the forerunners of the Samba .

    In 1922 the Semana de Arte Moderna (Week of Modern Art) led to a musical revolution. With Heitor Villa-Lobos at the helm, a group of new composers emerged who incorporated elements of Brazilian folklore into their more modern songs. Bossa Nova came up in the 1950s . This style of music is considered the "Brazilian variant of jazz": it is based on North American jazz , but remains shaped by South American and African rhythms. As well tester representatives and co-founder of Bossa Nova applies Antônio Carlos Jobim . Together with singer / guitarist João Gilberto and lyricist Vinícius de Moraes, he helped the style to great international success in the 1960s, not least because of the most famous song of Brazilian origin, "Garota de Ipanema ". Jobim became so important for Brazil that the international airport of Rio de Janeiro was named after him.

    The band leader and pianist Sérgio Mendes had one of the biggest hits of bossa nova in the 1960s with his version of the Jorge Ben composition Mas que nada . This title has been copied countless times. Today the bossa nova is mainly heard by the older Brazilians. The Tropicalia (also Tropicália ) originated in the late 1960s during the military dictatorship. Musically it is a mixture of bossa nova, folk and rock ; the essential element, however, is a shared political awareness among the artists. Their aversion to the dictatorship and the restriction of their rights found expression in tropicalismo . The texts are therefore generally critical of the regime. Quite a few musicians had to go into exile. Important representatives are Gilberto Gil and Chico Buarque , who with clever encryption of their song texts even managed to circumvent the censorship and publish their songs in Brazil. Gilberto Gil was Minister of Culture of Brazil from January 1, 2003 to July 30, 2008; its aim was to democratize access to culture. He travels to remote areas of the country to tell the people there that they are important bearers of Brazilian culture.

    Contrary to its name, the Música Popular Brasileira , often abbreviated to MPB , has little in common with what is understood by pop music in this country . The name includes a multitude of styles, which always take up typical elements from individual regions of the country. In Brazil, MPB is an expression of the musical and national self-image. In this sense, MPB represents a further development of Brazilian folklore, so to speak.

    Tom Jobim and Chico Buarque at the International Song Festival (FIC), 1968

    Probably the best known Brazilian form of music is the samba . It originated from the music of the population of African descent and is very rhythm-heavy. The samba became popular through the annual carnival in Rio de Janeiro . There the largest and most renowned samba schools present themselves in huge parades in the competition for the title of "best samba school in Brazil". In addition to the parades during carnival time, the bands sometimes play on the streets or support political demonstrations and strikes with their music.

    There is an unmanageable number of typical regional music styles that have developed according to the different cultural peculiarities of the respective areas. Música Nordestina is a collective term for the music from the northeast , which has a particularly large musical variety. Instruments such as the accordion and guitar are predominant here. Recife in particular is known for the Frevo , which also has influences from military music. Forró is played by trios with drum, triangle and accordion. A traditional Afro-Brazilian style is maracatu , which is played with large drums, bells and rattles.

    Salvador da Bahia plays a special role as a source of musical inspiration. Afoxé -Blocos have been taking part in the carnival parades here since 1949 , which have their roots in the music of Candomblé and can also be seen in connection with the freedom movement of the Afro-Brazilian population. Samba reggae has emerged in Salvador since the 1980s.

    Instruments of African origin are used particularly in the music styles typical of the region , for example the berimbau , an arched rhythm instrument with a hollow pumpkin at one end, or the xequerê , a shaking instrument equipped with shells.

    In recent years, the Axé music style has become particularly popular among young people , especially in the state of Bahia . Axé is a mixture of samba , pagoda and pop , extremely rhythmic and easy to dance to. It is more and more preferred over samba (except during the carnival season). Well-known Axé singers are Daniela Mercury , Ivete Sangalo and Claudia Leitte . In the open cafes in Brazil, where the audience is mostly around 30 or 40 years old, the pagoda is primarily played.

    In the Brazilian hinterland, the Música Sertaneja (or "Música Caipira ") is a popular and typically Brazilian style of music. It shows influences from Portuguese music and is played with the viola caipira , a twelve-string variant of the guitar . Well-known singers of the “Música Sertaneja” are Sérgio Reis , Renato Teixeira and Almir Sater , as well as duos such as Zezé di Camargo & Luciano , Chitãozinho & Xororó and César Menotti & Fabiano .

    In the state of Rio Grande do Sul there is a special musical tradition of the gauchos with influences from Uruguay and Argentina .

    At the end of the 90s, “Brazilectro” developed, a mix of English drum and bass and Brazilian bossa nova.


    Machado de Assis; Photo from 1890

    The first surviving document that can be described as Brazilian literature is a letter from Pero Vaz de Caminha to Manuel I of Portugal , in which Brazil was described in 1500. In the next two centuries, descriptions by travelers of "Portuguese America" ​​and its inhabitants made up Brazilian literature, for example the reports of the German soldier Hans Staden became famous. Religious literature has also been found from this period. Neoclassicism was widespread in the mid-18th century. In the colonial era, the state of Minas Gerais, known for its gold mines, was the center of literature. From around 1836, Romanticism influenced Brazilian literature. During this time, the first standard works of national literature were created. Romanticism was followed by realism , in which Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis stood out as the best and most popular Brazilian writer. No uniform style can be identified between 1895 and 1922, but there were already some features of modernity, so that this period is called “pre-modern”. Since the Semana de Arte Moderna (Week of Modern Arts) in 1922, modernism has become the dominant style.

    The most famous authors of this period are Mário de Andrade and Oswald de Andrade ; Jorge Amado has also achieved international fame . The successful Brazilian author Paulo Coelho is currently the world's most widely read author. In 2004 Lygia Bojunga Nunes received the important Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize for children's literature.

    Brazil: with 108 licenses in 2004, Germany's second most important license buyer on the American continent (after the USA with 175 licenses). A lack of language skills and high translation costs are still barriers. The São Paulo Book Fair is perhaps the most important in South America.

    In 2013, Brazil is the guest country at the Frankfurt Book Fair - as the second country for the second time.


    Bolo de rolo , the cake is typical of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco

    Because of the size of the country, it is difficult to define Brazilian cuisine. It is certain that it was influenced by the Portuguese colonization. The national dish is feijoada , a bean stew made from black beans with all kinds of meat. Feijoada is usually served with rice, farofa (a cassava flour ) and orange slices. Because of the great distance between the locations, the refreshment stations on highways are important. A distinction is made between commercially operated snack bars with a large range of sandwiches and other simple dishes and small, family-style stops that usually only offer one dish (rice, potatoes or beans with one type of meat).


    Interior view of the São Francisco Church and Convent in Salvador , Bahia , one of the richest expressions of the Brazilian Baroque .

    In the Amazon basin, the primitive Indian huts predominate, in other states, for example Minas Gerais , on the other hand, there are magnificent and historical cities, built in the Baroque era , and equally magnificently decorated churches ( Ouro Preto , Mariana , Congonhas ). Colonial architecture still defines the picture in some coastal cities in the northeast ( Olinda ). The country's greatest architects Oscar Niemeyer , who is considered to be the pioneer of Brazilian architecture, his former lecturer Lúcio Costa and Roberto Burle Marx designed the most beautiful Brazilian residential park “ Pampulha ” in Belo Horizonte . The initiator at the time was the future President Juscelino Kubitschek , who in one of his first official acts as the most powerful man in the state called the three-person team together again to resolve the Brasília project. Because the capital Brasília is the highlight of Brazilian architecture, it was only built in the 1960s and is subject to a precise plan. After an invitation to tender, in which the winner with Lúcio Costa was already certain, Costa planned the construction of the city, Niemeyer was responsible for most of the buildings, as in Pampulha, and Burle Marx designed squares and parks. Brasília is now famous for modernist buildings.

    The masterpieces of Brazilian modernism also include the buildings Paulo Mendes da Rocha , who received the Pritzker Prize in 2006, and in the decades from 1954 the image of the metropolis of São Paulo by the Club Athletico Paulistano (1958), the chapel of St. Peter in Campos de Jordão, Brazil (1987) and the Museu Brasileiro de Escultura - Brazilian Sculpture Museum in São Paulo (1988). This avant-garde style, which is characterized by strictly geometric concrete buildings, is incorrectly referred to as “Brazilian brutalism”.


    Honor lap of the Brazilian national team after the 1958 World Cup final

    The national and national sport of the country is football . The first soccer game took place in 1894, around 10 years later the first players who had no European ancestors should have played. The Brazilian national soccer team is a five-time world champion and thus the most successful national team in the world. In addition, Brazil won the Copa America , the South American championship, eight times . For many football fans, Pelé is also considered to be one of the best footballers of all time. Other players like Arthur Friedenreich , Garrincha and Zico were also among the best of their time. The award as World Footballer of the Year also went to Romário , Ronaldo , Rivaldo , Ronaldinho and Kaká . Many internationally known stars also play in the current team. The women's national team is also among the best in the world, even if it has not yet won a World Cup or Olympic gold, and with Marta Vieira da Silva has arguably the best player in the world in its ranks. However, a large part of the population plays football under simpler conditions, for example in the favelas on clay courts (Campos). For many children and young people in the favelas, the prospect of becoming a professional soccer player is one of the few ways to escape poverty.

    Futsal , a popular variant of indoor football that has meanwhile been recognized by FIFA as the official indoor version of football, was largely developed in Brazil and is enjoying great popularity there. The national team belongs like football best in the world.

    Within a good two years, Brazil hosted the two most important sporting events in the world: in 2014, the soccer World Cup was held in Brazil . The country was the only applicant to host the World Cup. In 2016 the Summer Olympics took place in Rio de Janeiro . This was the first ever Olympic Games to be held on the South American continent.

    Volleyball is also very popular . The men's national team became world champions in 2002, 2006 and 2010, and the women’s Olympic champions in 2008 and 2012. The South American country is particularly known for beach volleyball ; it has won more medals at world championships than any other country. In addition, footvolley , a mixture of football and volleyball, was invented in Brazil.

    Another popular team sport is basketball . The men's national team became world champions twice, the women's national team won the world title in 1994. Well-known NBA players include Leandro Barbosa , Nenê and Tiago Splitter .

    Motorsport is also very popular and has a long tradition: Brazil hosts the Brazilian Grand Prix , currently one of two Formula 1 races in Latin America and the only one in South America. With Emerson Fittipaldi , Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna, the country has produced three multiple world champions; other successful Formula 1 drivers are Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa . Ayrton Senna's funeral in 1994 met with strong sympathy among the population. Two racetracks were used for Formula 1 races: the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet near Rio de Janeiro and the Autódromo José Carlos Pace near Interlagos. Alex Barros is a successful former motorcycle racer and with 276 starts was at times the record holder for most world championship starts.

    The most successful tennis player in Brazil is Gustavo Kuerten , who won the French Open three times and was at the top of the world rankings in men's singles for 43 weeks. The country's most important athlete was the triple jumper and two-time Olympic champion Adhemar da Silva . The Olympic champion and multiple world champion César Cielo is the most successful swimmer in the country. Brazil is also successful in sailing. With Rodrigo Pessoa , 2004 Olympic champion and 1998 world champion, and his father Nelson , 1966 European champion, Brazil also has successful show jumpers .

    Capoeira can be described as typically Brazilian , which is better categorized with the term combat dance than with martial arts . Capoeira was practiced by the black population. Since the slaves were not allowed to carry any kind of weapons, they developed Capoeira as a form of self-defense: It combines elements of combat with acrobatics, games and dance. In the past few decades a certain fashion around capoeira has developed. It is now widespread throughout the Brazilian population and is also popular abroad. In the course of the growing spread of martial arts from mixed martial arts (MMA) in recent years , especially grappling , Vale Tudo , Luta Livre and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) have achieved great international recognition.

    Rugby Union has been played in Brazil since at least 1888, making it almost as old as football, but never reaching the same level of popularity. In recent years rugby has been one of the fastest growing sports in Brazil and is mainly played at universities. However, the Brazilian national team has not yet qualified for a Rugby Union World Cup . Brazil is considered to be the fourth strongest team in South America after Argentina , Uruguay and Chile .

    public holidays

    Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida , Our Lady of God, patron saint of Brazil
    date Surname German name Remarks
    January 1st Confraternização Universal New Year
    January 20th São Sebastião Saint Sebastian only in Rio de Janeiro
    January 25th Aniversario de São Paulo Establishment of the city of São Paulo only in São Paulo
    movable Carnaval carnival officially only Tuesday, but Carnival Monday is practically always included, schools usually have the whole carnival week off
    movable Quarta-feira de Cinzas Ash Wednesday only until noon
    movable Sexta-Feira Santa Good Friday
    movable Páscoa Easter (Easter Sunday) 7th Sunday after Ash Wednesday
    April 21 Tiradentes Memory of Joaquim José da Silva Xavier , known as Tiradentes (national hero of Brazil)
    April 23 São Jorge Saint George only in Rio de Janeiro
    1st of May Dia do Trabalho Labor Day / May Day
    movable Ascensão do Senhor Ascension of Christ 2. Thursday before Pentecost
    movable Pentecostes Pentecost 7th Sunday after Easter
    movable Corpus Christi Corpus Christi 2nd Thursday after Pentecost
    July 9 Revolução Constitucionalista constitutional revolution only in the state of São Paulo
    August 28th Dia Nacional de Combate e Prevenção ao Escalpelamento Control and prevention of escalpelamento Federal Law 12.199/2010
    7th of September Independence do Brasil Brazil Independence Day
    12th of October Nossa Senhora Aparecida Appearance of the Virgin Mary (patron saint of Brazil) very popular because it is also celebrated as Children's Day (Dia das Crianças)
    November 2 Finados All Souls
    15th of November Proclamação da República National holiday (proclamation of the republic)
    20th November Zumbi dos Palmares, Dia da Consciência Negra Zumbi of Palmares ,
    Black Awareness Day
    Public holiday in over 1000 cities and in the states of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Amazonas, Amapá, Mato Grosso and in Mato Grosso do Sul
    25 December natal Christmas

    See also

    Portal: Brazil  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of Brazil


    • The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics (The Latin America Readers), ed. by James N. Green, Duke UP, Second edition, 2019
    • Michael Reid : Brazil: The Troubled Rise of a Global Power . Yale University Press, New Haven 2014, ISBN 978-0-300-16560-9 .
    • Jens Glüsing: Brazil. A country portrait . Ch. Links, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-86153-742-7 .
    • Ursula Prutsch , Enrique Rodrigues-Moura: Brazil: a cultural history . Transcript, Bielefeld 2013, ISBN 978-3-8376-2391-8 .
    • Moritz Lamberg: Brazil: Country and People. Salzwasser Verlag, Paderborn, 2011, ISBN 978-3-86195-995-3 .
    • Dietrich Briesemeister , Gerd Kohlhepp , Ray-Güde Mertin, Hartmut Sangmeister, Achim Schrader (eds.): Brazil today. Politics - economy - culture. (= Biblioteca Iberoamericana. 53). Vervuert, Frankfurt am Main 2nd edition 2010, ISBN 3865275907 .
    • Christian Hausser. On the way of civilization. History and concepts of social development in Brazil (1808–1871). (= Contributions to European overseas history. 96). Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-515-09312-5 .
    • Geane Alzamora, Renira Gambarato, Simone Malaguti (eds.): Cultural dialogues between Brazil and Germany: design, film, literature, media. Ed. Tranvía, Verlag Frey, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-938944-19-6 .
    • Walther L. Bernecker , Horst Pietschmann, Rüdiger Zoller: A Brief History of Brazil. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-518-12150-2 .
    • Robert M. Levine: The History of Brazil. St. Martin's, New York 1999, ISBN 1-4039-6255-3 .

    Web links

    Wiktionary: Brazil  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Commons : Brazil  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
    Wikimedia Atlas: Brazil  geographic and historical maps
    Wikisource: Brazil  - Sources and full texts
    Wikivoyage: Brazil  Travel Guide

    Individual evidence

    1. a b c Brazil. In: CIA World Factbook. Retrieved August 17, 2016 .
    2. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE): População do Brasil (July 2020) Continuous counter of the estimated population, growth rate: one new inhabitant every 19 seconds. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
      Note: The population was 190,732,694 according to the last official census of 2010. After that, only estimates are published on July 1st of each year until the next census. Different information from different organizations such as the CIA or IMF always relate to their estimation calculation formulas at a certain , not always uniform point in time, which do not have to agree with those of the National Statistics Institute.
    3. rounded value; the more precise value is: 23.80 inhabitants per km².
    4. . Retrieved 2017.
    5. International Monetary Fund : World Economic Outlook
    6. Table: Human Development Index and its components . In: United Nations Development Program (ed.): Human Development Report 2020 . United Nations Development Program, New York 2020, ISBN 978-92-1126442-5 , pp. 344 (English, [PDF]).
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