Background: Following more than three centuries under Portuguese rule, Brazil gained its independence in 1822, maintaining a monarchical system of government until the abolition of slavery in 1888 and the subsequent proclamation of a republic by the military in 1889. Brazilian coffee exporters politically dominated the country until populist leader Getulio VARGAS rose to power in 1930. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil underwent more than half a century of populist and military government until 1985, when 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 labor pool, it is today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader, one of the first in the area to begin an economic recovery. Highly unequal income distribution and crime remain pressing problems. In January 2010, Brazil assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2010-11 term.
Location: Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean
Area land: 8,459,417 sq km
Area water: 55,460 sq km
Coastline: 7,491 km
Country name conventional long form: Federative Republic of Brazil
Country name conventional short form: Brazil
Country name former: Federative Republic of Brazil
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.);
Population growth rate: 1.134% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 17.79 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 6.36 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.09 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female; total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 21.17 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 24.63 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 17.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.53 years; male: 68.97 years; female: 76.27 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 2.18 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA;
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA;
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA;
Nationality: noun: Brazilian(s); adjective: Brazilian;
Ethnic groups: white 53.7%, mulatto (mixed white and black) 38.5%, black 6.2%, other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian) 0.9%, unspecified 0.7% (2000 census);
Religions: Roman Catholic (nominal) 73.6%, Protestant 15.4%, Spiritualist 1.3%, Bantu/voodoo 0.3%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.2%, none 7.4% (2000 census);
Languages: Portuguese (official and most widely spoken language); note - less common languages include Spanish (border areas and schools), German, Italian, Japanese, English, and a large number of minor Amerindian languages;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 88.6%; male: 88.4%; female: 88.8% (2004 est.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $2.194 trillion (2010 est.); $2.041 trillion (2009 est.); $2.045 trillion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $2.024 trillion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 7.5% (2010 est.); -0.2% (2009 est.); 5.1% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $10,900 (2010 est.); $10,300 (2009 est.); $10,400 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 6.1%; industry: 26.4%; services: 67.5% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 26% (2008);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.1%; highest 10%: 43% (2007);
Labor force: 103.6 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 20%; industry: 14%; services: 66% (2003 est.);
Unemployment rate: 7% (2010 est.); 8.1% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $464.4 billion; expenditures: $552.6 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, other machinery and equipment;
Industrial production growth rate: 11.5% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 438.8 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 404.3 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 2.034 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - imports: 42.06 billion kWh; note - supplied by Paraguay (2008 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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(weekly celebrity magazine), São Paulo
(Left-wing magazine), São Paulo
(Science monthly), São Paulo
(Centrist), Porto Alegre
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By 2022, the top 1 percent in Latin America will have more wealth than the remaining 99 percent, and social policies are needed to reverse this trend.
A half-century since the U.S.-backed coup, Washington continues to interfere in Brazil's domestic politics, operating mostly in shadow.
University students in São Paulo have organized a series of demonstrations and been met with fierce resistance from the establishment.
Social spending policies that have helped reduce inequality and poverty in Latin America for the past decade should be strengthened and regionalized.