Following three centuries under the rule of Portugal, Brazil became an independent nation in 1822 and a republic in 1889. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil overcame more than half a century of military intervention in the governance of the country when in 1985 the military regime peacefully ceded power to civilian rulers. Brazil continues to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of its interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labour pool, it is today South America’s leading economic power and a regional leader. Highly unequal income distribution and crime remain pressing problems.

Location: Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean
Geographic coordinates: 10 00 S, 55 00 W
Population: 199,321,413 (July 2012 est.)

note: Brazil conducted a census in August 2000, which reported a population of 169,799,170; that figure was about 3.3% lower than projections by the US Census Bureau, and is close to the implied under enumeration of 4.6% for the 1991 census; estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)

Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.2% (male 27,219,651/female 26,180,040)

15-64 years: 67% (male 67,524,642/female 68,809,357)

65 years and over: 6.7% (male 5,796,433/female 7,899,650) (2011 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: Federative Republic of Brazil

conventional short form: Brazil

local long form: Republica Federativa do Brasil

local short form: Brasil

Government type: federal republic
Capital: name: Brasilia

geographic coordinates: 15 47 S, 47 55 W

time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins third Sunday in October; ends third Sunday in February

note: Brazil is divided into four time zones, including one for the Fernando de Noronha Islands

Telephones – main lines in use: 43.026 million (2011)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 242.232 million (2011)
Airports: 4,105 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 713

over 3,047 m: 7

2,438 to 3,047 m: 28

1,524 to 2,437 m: 174

914 to 1,523 m: 449

under 914 m: 55 (2012)

Military branches: Brazilian Army, Brazilian Navy (Marinha do Brasil (MB), includes Naval Air and Marine Corps (Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais)), Brazilian Air Force (Forca Aerea Brasileira, FAB) (2011)
Military service age and obligation: 21-45 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation – 9 to 12 months; 17-45 years of age for voluntary service; an increasing percentage of the ranks are “long-service” volunteer professionals; women were allowed to serve in the armed forces beginning in early 1980s when the Brazilian Army became the first army in South America to accept women into career ranks; women serve in Navy and Air Force only in Women’s Reserve Corps (2001)

Economy:Characterized by large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, Brazil’s economy outweighs that of all other South American countries and is expanding its presence in world markets. Having weathered 2001-03 financial turmoil, capital inflows are regaining strength and the currency has resumed appreciating. The appreciation has slowed export volume growth, but since 2004, Brazil’s growth has yielded increases in employment and real wages. The resilience in the economy stems from commodity-driven current account surpluses, and sound macroeconomic policies that have bolstered international reserves to historically high levels, reduced public debt, and allowed a significant decline in real interest rates.
Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: unruly region at convergence of Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay borders is locus of money laundering, smuggling, arms and illegal narcotics trafficking, and fundraising for extremist organizations; uncontested dispute with Uruguay over certain islands in the Quarai/Cuareim and Invernada boundary streams and the resulting tripoint with Argentina
Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis; trace amounts of coca cultivation in the Amazon region, used for domestic consumption; government has a large-scale eradication program to control cannabis; important transhipment country for Bolivian, Colombian, and Peruvian cocaine headed for Europe; also used by traffickers as a way station for narcotics air transhipments between Peru and Colombia; upsurge in drug-related violence and weapons smuggling; important market for Colombian, Bolivian, and Peruvian cocaine; illicit narcotics proceeds earned in Brazil are often laundered through the financial system; significant illicit financial activity in the Tri-Border Area