Brazil is a Federal Republic
with a multipartite regime.
The Congress has two Assemblies : the Senate and
the Chamber of Deputies.
The country is divided into 23 states, a federal
district and three territories.
This is all amalgamated into 5 regions.
The President, who is elected
to a four year term of office, is M Fernando
The Vice President is M Marco Antonio de Oliveira
The Senate is composed of 81
members (3 per state) elected for 8 years, a third
or two thirds of whom are renewed every 4
The Chamber of Deputies is made up of 506 members
elected for a four year term of office by general
Each of the 27 states has its
It is responsable for education, justice and wide
The members are in office for a four year, non
The towns in Brazil are managed by 4,972 Mayors,
elected by general election.
Brazil was discovered by the
Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral in
In 1822 Brazil became a sovereign state, from 1500
to 1822 it had been a Portuguese colony.
In 1889 Pedro II, son of Pedro I, proclaimed
himself Emperor, under the name of John VI.
He was overthrown in a military uprising, and a
Republic was created, the United States of
Since then many events have disrupted the country
and the political world has seen some difficult
situations in relation to the organization of the
constitution (dictatorships under Vargas from 1930
1956-1960 A social democratic President was
elected, Juscelino Kubitscheck and his Vice
President Joao Gaulart.
1946-1964 The Marshal Dutra was President.
1961-1963 An attempt to transform the presidential
republic into a parliamentary republic.
1964 On 31st March a coup put the army in
1967 A new constitution was set up.
1968 The constitution was suspended.
1970 Era of big projects, like the
1974 General Ernesto Geisel set up a
1978-85 15th October 78 General Figueiredo was
1989 17th December 89, M Fernando Color was elected
1992 M. Itamar Franco became President.
1995-1997 M Fernando Henrique Cardoso was elected
for a 4 year term of office on 31st October 94.
- Geographical situation
Brazil is part of
Latin America. It covers 8,511,968 square
kilometers, nearly half (48%) of the South American
continent. It is about 16 times the size of
It is made up of the Amazonian plain, the tropical
zone of the sierras, internal plateaus and
In the north of the country
there is the enormous Amazon bassin.
The surrounding plain stretches for about 4 million
square kilometers with a central plateau rising in
the south of the great river.
The highest summit in Brazil
is the Pico da Nibla with an altitude of 3,014 m,
it is situated in the north near the Venezuelan
The water from the Rio Negro
and the Rio Solimoes meet and form the Amazon,
which is 6577 kms long, and has the biggest volume
of water after the Nile in Egypt.
The Mavilhanas is the biggest
archipelego in the world, 90 kms long and 15 kms
wide, with 350,018 inhabitants. It is made up of
400 islands, lakes, rivers and canals (called
igapos and igarapes).
Brazil is the fifth biggest
country in the world, after the URSS, Canada, China
and the USA. It has shared borders with all the
countries in South America, except for Ecuador and
Brazil today is rated the
eighth economy in the world.
The internal economic
results are better than foreseen after the monetary
crisis in January 1999 : inflationary pressure was
contained, the country did not sink into recession,
in fact the economy showed signs of revival (the
growth forecast for the GDP in 2000 is +4%) and the
budgetary objectives have been adhered to.
In spite of the devaluation of the Real, Brazil
recorded a slight growth and the fact that the
capacity of the agricultural sector has been able
to substitute for the declining industrial sector
partially explains this result, the solidity of the
financial system has equally been
The potential of the internal
market continues to attract foreign investors and
the country has the advantage of being backed by
the international financial community.
After the energy sector, the mines and
telecommunications, it is the turn of the banks to
Rio de Janeiro is benefiting most from the
The foreign investment which accompanies the
privatizing contributes to the revival of the
Evolution of direct foreign
investment (in millions of dollars) :
1991 : 89 ...........1992 : 1 924 ........ 1993 :
801 ........ 1994 : 2 035 ......... 1995 : 3 475
.......... 1996 : 9 123
1997 : 18 601 .......... 1998 : 22 500
The debt ratio is reaching
excessive levels (the debt represents 400% of the
profits from exports and nearly two thirds of these
profits are absorbed by it).
The enormity of the liquidation of the debt means
that the need for external financing remains very
great. In 1999 the IDB loaned Brazil 250 million
dollars to improve the poorest districts in the big
A little over 10 years ago Brazilian trade was
protected by extremely high customs duties.
When he was elected, President Fernando Collor
started opening up the borders.
Customs duties dropped and the Brazilian automobile
production rose to 1,500,000 vehicles in 1994. Most
Brazilian towns opened shops offering imported
Ricardo Carneiro, a Brazilian
economist, affirms that the choice to import is
within the line of neo-liberal enterpreneurial
policy in the major Latin-American countries, and
that the choice is to be competitive or
From 1995 on, the government
of President Fernando Henrique Cardos determined to
modernize and facilitate the system of public
Among other things the distinction between
Brazilian companies with foreign capital and
Brazilian companies with national capital was
Very few foreign capital restrictions still exist
(nuclear energy, commercial airlines, the press,
television and radio stations).
Foreign investments play a
considerable role in strengthening the cycle of
1.1 million people are employed by the 1,200
foreign companies that are set up in
Mercosul, Mercosur and
Mercosud are the three names given to the South
American economic and commercial grouping which
reunites Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and
It was set up to strengthen the economies and
encourage their growth.
Mercosur opens up a large export market for Brazil,
Brazil alone earns 45% of the Latin American GDPand
31% of Argentina's exports go to Brazil.
The economic crisis has caused a considerable
slowing down of the integration process, commercial
barriers and other conflicts have emerged.
Market competitivity has grown spectacularly.
But these problems should not overshadow the
achievements : trade expanded from 5 billion
dollars in 1990 to 20 billion in 1997.
Brazil still has to find a
social and economic balance.
Reforms of the social and taxation systems are
The austerity measures which were taken at the
beginning of 1999 to avoid runaway inflation were
painful, but financial stability was secured and
without that stability there is no way that
progress could be made socially and inequalities
Unfortunately the social
situation remains very preoccupying, (unemployment
is on average around 8% but in the San Paolo area
reaches 18%, and the social security system is
nearly non-existent for the unemployed) the
enormous dispartities between the rich and poor
have created a rapid rise in the rate of violence,
both in the large towns undermined by drug dealing
and in certain areas of the countryside where the
claims of the landless peasants are brutally
On top of that it is well known that the police
force is corrupt.
The agricultural sector represents about 11% of the
GNP (25% of the working population).
It is an important activity, prime materials make
up more than half of the country's exports.
Brazil exploits nearly 366,000 square kilometers of
arable land (twice as much as France).
The 9% growth registered by the agricultural sector
in 1999 goes a long way to explain why Brazil did
not suffer from a recession.
The main crops are maize
(32.178 million tons in 1999), sugar cane (333.314
million tons -the leading world production) and
rice (11.779 million tons). 400,000 people are
directly employed in orange growing (19.399 million
tons) and fruit juice production.
Soya (2nd biggest producing
country in the world) and coffee are essential
crops for the country, grown for primarily for
export. Brazil is the leading coffee producing
country, growing a third of the world
Stock raising in Brazil is
done on a bigger scale than in France (2.7 times
more per capita).
In 1999, there were 163.47 million head of cattle
and exports are rapidly increasing with the 'mad
cow' crisis in Europe.
As for forestry, the biggest
tropical forest in the world yielded nearly 198
million cubic meters of timber in 1998.
Brazil has a wealth of natural resources with a
diversified related economy.
The currently expanding sectors are
telecommunications, energy (petrol, gas and
electricity), computer sciences, foodstuffs, the
ports and the iron and steel processing
Mining (per millions
of tons, gold and silver per ton, diamonds per
thousands of carats)
The attribution of new
licences for petrol exploitation attracted numerous
candidates, both local (Petrobras) and foreign
(Shell, Exxon, Texaco).
Brazilian industry cannot be
compared to one of an under-developed country,
there are important manufacturing sectors such as
transport and machinery, which represent 22% of the
industrial added value.
Brazil is the 9th biggest car
manufacturer in the world.
The monetary devaluation has added to the
competivity of the production, several important
companies have announced their decision to increase
their production in Brazil : Fiat, Peugeot,
Volkswagen, Renault and Nissan.
The national aeronautical
construction company Embraer registered a record
turnover in 1999, due largely to the devaluation,
and so did the major breweries (making Brazil now
the 3rd biggest beer producing country).