Brazil, officially Federative Republic of Brazil, the largest and most populous country in South America. It fronts on the Atlantic Ocean and borders all South American mainland countries except Chile and Ecuador. Making up Brazil are 26 states and a federal district, site of the capital, Brasília.

Brazil occupies nearly half of the area of South America. Only Russia, China, Canada, and the United States are larger. In population Brazil ranks fifth among the nations of the world, after China, India, the United States, and Indonesia.

Economically, Brazil is the most advanced and influential country in Latin America. By cultural heritage Brazil is largely Portuguese; the ethnic origins of its people, however, are extremely diverse. Among those who have contributed to Brazil's complex racial and cultural makeup are Portuguese, American Indians, blacks, Italians, Germans, and Japanese.

The name of the country derives from brazilwood, an important export after the settling of the country by Europeans in the 16th century.

Brazil in brief
General information
Capital: Bras~{(*~}lia.
Official language: Portuguese.
Official name: Republica Federativo do Brasil (Federative Republic of Brasil).
Largest cities: (2000 census) Sao Paulo (10,434,252); Rio de Janeiro (5,857,904); Salvador (2,443,107); Belo Horizonte (2,238,526); Fortaleza (2,141,402); Bras~{(*~}lia (2,051,146); Curitiba (1,587,315); Recife (1,422,905); Manaus (1,405,835); Porto Alegre (1,360,590).
Symbols of Brazil:The Brazilian flag is a green flag with a yellow diamond, and a blue circle in the center of the diamond. Across the circle, a green banner bears the motto Order and Progress. The green and golden-yellow colors symbolize forests and minerals. Blue and white are Portugal's historic colors. Brazil's coat of arms commemorates the birth of the republic on Nov. 15, 1889. Branches of coffee and tobacco, two important crops, surround the central emblem.
Land and climate
Land: Brazil is the largest country in South America. It extends over almost half the continent and borders 10 other countries. The world's largest rain forest spreads across most of northern Brazil, and the Amazon and other mighty rivers wind through this region. Majestic mountains rise north of the forests and border the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast. Dry plains stretch across parts of the northeast. The low plateaus of central and southern Brazil form a rich agricultural region. Broad white beaches line seashores on the nation's long Atlantic coast.
Area: 3,287,613 mi2 (8,514,877 km2). Greatest distances~{!*~}north-south, 2,684 mi (4,319 km); east-west, 2,689 mi (4,328 km). Coastline~{!*~}4,600 mi (7,400 km).
Elevation:Highest~{!*~}Pico da Neblina, 9,888 ft (3,014 m) above sea level. Lowest~{!*~}sea level.
Climate: Most of the country has a warm to hot climate the year around. The mountains, plateaus, and some coastal areas are cooler than the lowlands. For example, Menaus, in the central Amazon region, has an average annual temperature of 81 degrees F (27 degrees C). But Sao Paulo, on a plateau, has an average daily temperature of about 73 degrees F (23 degrees C) in July. Rain falls heavily in much of Brazil. The western Amazon region receives over 160 inches (400 centimeters) of rainfall a year.
Government
Form of government: Federal republic.
Head of state and head of government: President.
Legislature: Congress of two houses~{!*~}the Chamber of Deputies (513 members) and the Senate (81 members).
Executive: President (elected by people to four-year term).
Judiciary: Highest court is the Supreme Federal Court.
Political subdivisions: 26 states, 1 federal district.
People
Population:Current estimate~{!*~}193,540,000. 2000 census~{!*~}169,799,170.
Population density: 59 per mi2 (23 per km2).
Distribution: 84 percent urban, 16 percent rural.
Major ethnic/national groups: About 55 percent of European descent, including Germans, Italians, Poles, Portuguese, and Spaniards. About 6 percent of African descent. About 38 percent of mixed African and European descent. About 1 percent American Indian and other.
Major religions: About 75 percent Roman Catholic and about 15 percent Protestant.
Economy
Chief products:Agriculture~{!*~}bananas, cacao beans, cattle, coffee, corn, oranges, rice, soybeans, sugar cane. Manufacturing and processing~{!*~}automobiles, cement, chemicals, electrical equipment, food products, machinery, paper, pharmaceuticals, steel, trucks. Mining~{!*~}bauxite, coal, diamonds, gold, iron ore, manganese, petroleum, phosphates, quartz crystals, tin. Forest products~{!*~}Brazil nuts, carnauba wax, rubber, timber.Fishing~{!*~}characins, croakers, sardinellas, shrimp, swordfish.
Money:Basic unit~{!*~}real. One hundred centavos equal one real.
International trade:Major exports~{!*~}aluminum, coffee, iron ore, iron and steel, meat, oranges and orange juice, shoes, soybeans and soy meal, sugar, transportation vehicles and parts. Major imports~{!*~}chemicals, machinery, medicines, petroleum, wheat. Major trading partners~{!*~}Argentina, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay.