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Brazil
Overview
Background
Following three centuries under the rule of Portugal, Brazil became an independent nation in 1822. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil has overcome more than half a century of military intervention in the governance of the country to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of the interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, Brazil is today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader. Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing problem.
Natural resources
bauxite, gold, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, platinum, tin, uranium, petroleum, hydropower, timber
Land use
arable land: 6.3%
permanent crops: 1.42%
other: 92.28% (1998 est.)
Population
182,032,604
note: Brazil took a count 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 underenumeration 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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2003 est.)
Ethnic groups
white (includes Portuguese, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish) 55%, mixed white and black 38%, black 6%, other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian) 1%
Religions
Roman Catholic (nominal) 80%
Languages
Portuguese (official), Spanish, English, French
Literacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.4%
male: 86.1%
female: 86.6% (2003 est.)
Capital
Brasilia
Government type
federative republic
Independence
7 September 1822 (from Portugal)
National holiday
Independence Day, 7 September (1822)
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