Friday, 3 February 2017

BRAZIL: About Brazil

Explore the map of Brazil, the largest country in South America. The country got its name from the 'brazilwood' tree that was grown along the Brazil's coast. Ecuador and Chile are the only South American countries that do not share the border with Brazil. It is the only Lusophone (Portuguese speaking) country in America and also the largest in the world.

Brazil was inhabited by indigenous people since at least 8,000 years ago. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Brazil, which was discovered by Pedro Alvares Cabral in April 1500. He claimed the territory for the Kingdom of Portugal.

However, Portugal was preoccupied with lucrative trade with India, China, and Indonesia, so Brazil was mostly ignored from the time of discovery until about 1529. During this time, invasions by the French and Dutch were mostly unsuccessful. In the mid-16th century, Brazil was a major producer and exporter of sugar, leading to the import of slaves from Africa to meet labor requirement for the sugar industry.

During the Peninsular War in 1808, the Portuguese government fled Napoleon's invasion by moving its operations to Brazil, setting up the capital in Rio de Janeiro, which lasted for 13 years. When King Joao VI returned to Portugal, he left his son Pedro I to govern Brazil.

Pedro I led Brazil in a war of independence from Portugal in 1821, declaring independence and becoming Emperor Pedro I in 1822. The monarchy was overthrown in 1889, and the government was re-established as a Federal Republic. Throughout the following decades, Brazil was plagued by revolts and political instability, a period of military rule, before first civilian president got elected in 1985.

Brazil's economy suffered during these regimes with persistently high inflation rate. Notable leaders during this period include Getulio Vargas, who led first as a dictator and later elected as a president. Another leader of eminence was President Juscelino Kubitschek, who helped in reviving the economy. The country began the process of redemocratization in the 1980s.

In 1989, Fernando Collor de Mello became the first directly elected president since 1960, attempting to reform the economic system, but failing. President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, elected in 1994, continued Collor's reforms, and introduced controversial reforms. More recently, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was elected to confront the wealth disparity. Dilma Vana Rousseff took over the presidency in 2011. Brazil's political scene has been fairly stable in recent years.

Brazil is the largest country in South America, and the fifth largest country in the world. Located in eastern South America along the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil borders Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Because of its large size, Brazil is endowed with diverse landscapes. Though the country is mostly flat, there are mountain ranges and highlands, as well as coastal regions. Many rivers flow through Brazil, which has mostly tropical climate. The Amazon is the second largest river in the world that flows through this country. About 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest is within Brazil, which has suffered deforestation and drought in recent years.

Brazil is a Federal Democratic Republic, which is true for all levels of government: federal, states, and cities.The President of Brazil is both the chief of the state and the head of the government, who appoints the cabinet and the Ministers of State. Brazil has a bicameral National Congress, and its two branches are the Federal Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Brazil is divided into 26 states and one federal district, the capital, Brasilia. Each state enjoys a high degree of autonomy, with their own governors, legislators, and courts. The municipalities of Brazil also have autonomy, with their own tax collection, mayors, and legislators.

Brazil sprawls over half of South America and is considered one of South America's main travel destinations. The country is distinctly known for its white-sand beaches, tropical islands, and spectacular sites like Atlantic Ridge Forest,secluded beaches of Fernando de Noronha, cascading waterfalls, and Amazon rainforest with untouched wilderness. One of the breathtaking and extraordinary natural wonders of the world is Iguazu Falls, which is situated between the border of Argentina and Brazil. It is wider than Victoria Falls and higher than Niagara Falls. The most stunning of them all is the popular Devil's Throat, a long chasm with 14 different falls.

The Christ the Redeemer, is Corcovado is a major landmark of Brazil. This beautiful statue is made up of Soap stone and reinforced concrete. It is allowed to visit the top of the place to have an excellent view. Brasilia is the only city of the 20th century that was granted the status of World Heritage Site.

Major cities of Brazil such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia always brim with activities. From culinary delights to music and dancing, these big cities are unique and vibrant.

The federal government handles the education system in Brazil through the Ministry of Education. While the standards are set nationwide, the municipalities of Brazil are responsible for carrying out the regulations.

Brazil's education system is structured into a few different levels, roughly based on the age of the students. Preschool is available for children under six years, but attendance at preschool is optional. Elementary school is required for children aged between six and 14, and is split into two sections: I and II. Elementary school covers the general education requirements, including Portuguese language, mathematics, science, history, and arts. The second-half of elementary education in Brazil usually incorporates a second language, such as English or Spanish.

Once students have finished their elementary education, they can continue to a school for secondary education. From this juncture, the focus shifts to the core curriculum, which includes science courses like Chemistry and Biology. Secondary school lasts around three years, and are only mandatory for students who move on to higher education.

Higher education in Brazil is similar to many other countries, with undergraduate and graduate levels and about four years of coursework to complete a bachelor's degree. Professional degrees such as engineering and medicine take longer, with five or six years of classes, and often requires an internship or fieldwork.

- Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas.
- Brazil borders every South American country except Chile and Ecuador.
- Brazil is one of three modern nations in the Americas (along with Mexico and Haiti) to have had an indigenous monarchy, which it had for almost 90 years.
- The Amazon rainforest in Brazil has the most diverse ecosystem in the world. There are an estimated 10 to 15 million species of insects in the country.
- Brazil has won the FIFA World Cup five times (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002).
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