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Wednesday, May 12, 2010



Officially named the Federative Republic of Brazil, BRAZIL (Brasil) boasts plenty of geographic superlatives. For example, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country. With the world's largest Portuguese-speaking population, Brazil is the largest country of South America and the Southern Hemisphere. Located in northern and northeastern South America, Brazil borders 11 of the 13 South American countries; the exceptions are Chile and Ecuador. Brazil's currency is the Brazilian Real, and its ISO 4217 currency code is BRL. Famous for its towering Christ the Redeemer (O Cristo Redentor) statue, Rio de Janeiro hosted the thirty-first Summer Olympics competition in August 2016, starting with the Opening Ceremony on the 5th (Friday).

People and Places
Most of Brazil's major cities are found along the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean, including Belém, Fortaleza, João Pessoa, Macapá, Maceió, Natal, Olinda, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, São Luís, São Paulo, and Vitória. Sao Paulo is the most popular city with about 10.7 million residents as of 2016, followed by Rio de Janeiro (5.95 million) and Salvador (2.49 million). The capital with about 2.5 million residents (2016) is Brasília, located in southeast-central Brazil and in the Distrito Federal (Federal District) — surrounded by the states of Goías (north, south, and west) and Minas Gerais (east). Other major inland cities besides Brasília include Belo Horizonte, Campo Grande, Cuiabá, Goiânia, Ji-Paraná, Manaus, and Maraba.

Portuguese is Brazil's official language, and it is universally spoken in the country. Meanwhile, 2,000,000 total Brazilians speak Italian, German, and other European languages. Native indigenous groups and their respective languages include Canela, Guajajára, Guaraní (currently the largest tribe in Brazil), Hixkaryána, Jamamadí, Kaiwá, Maxakalí, Ticuna, Tucano, Xavánte, and Yąnomamö. Meaning "land of the palm trees," Pindorama is the Guaraní name for Brazil. The literacy rate of Brazil — as of the year 2015 — is 91.5%. Over 90% of Brazilians are Christians, followed by Spiritism (5%), Buddhism (0.25%), and Judaism (0.21%).

Land Features
Brazil encompasses a large central and eastern portion of the Amazon Rainforest, subjected to deforestation and conversion to farmland but recovering in some areas. The Amazon River (Rio Amazonas, also Rio Solimões) flows about 2,845 kilometers and 1,768 miles through Brazil and for a total length of about 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles). In Brazil, this mighty river begins its journey near the tri-state border at Brazil, Colombia, and Peru in the state of Amazonas. The Amazon River flows eastward along the border of Amapá and Pará states into the Atlantic Ocean. Near the coastal city of Macapá, the Amazon diverts itself into an estuary connected to the Atlantic Ocean. Amazon River tributaries include Juruá, Madeira, Tapajós, and Xingu.

Located in the Guiana Highlands and specifically in northwestern Brazil near Venezuela, Pico da Neblina is Brazil's highest point and stands about 2,995 meters and 9,825 feet in elevation. Essentially named Ducks Lagoon in English, Brazil's largest lake is Lagoa dos Patos (Patos Lagoon), which is situated northeast of Uruguay and in between the cities of Porto Alegre (northern shore), Pelotas (southern shore), and Rio Grande (southern shore). The name may come from the notion that 16th-century Jesuit missionaries wanted to conduct duck breeding operations in this lagoon. The 14,000-square-mile lagoon's southern outlet to the Atlantic Ocean is more than 1 kilometer in width and is typically cloudy with sediments and pollution.

This post was updated with more information and a new map on August 17th, 2016.

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