Brazil is the largest of the Latin American countries. Covering nearly half (47.3 percent) of the continent of South America, it occupies an area of 3,286,470 sq. miles (8,511,965 sq. km). It is the fifth largest country in the world after the Russian Federation, Canada, China, and the United States.


Brasilia

Except for a small number of islands, Brazil consists of a single, unbroken land mass. On a map of the globe, it can be seen that the eastern bulge of Brazil conforms to the concave curve of the west coast of Africa. According to the theory of continental drift, this is no accident; Africa and South America once abutted each other, but drifted apart over millions of years.


Rio Grande do Sul, Land of the Gaucho

The Equator passes through the north of the country near Macapá; the Tropic of Capricorn passes through the south near São Paulo. Brazil’s greatest width, 2,684 miles (4,319.4 km), is almost the same as its greatest distance from north to south, 2,731 miles (4,394.7 km).

Brazil has 10 neighbors: the Department of French Guiana and the countries of Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, and Colombia bound Brazil on the north. Uruguay and Argentina are on the south, and on the west are Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru. Ecuador and Chile are the only two countries of continental South America that do not share a border with Brazil. The Atlantic Ocean extends along the entire eastern side of the country, giving it a coastline of 4,578 miles (7,367 km).


São Paulo, the largest city in South America

POPULATION

In 1997 Brazil’s population reached 159.9 million, the fifth largest in the world after that of China, India, the United States, and Indonesia. The Brazilian population is predominately young with 62 percent under 29 years of age.


Coqueiral do Cristo, at the Farol da Barra, Salvador

Although Brazil is the fifth most populous nation, its nationwide demographic density is low compared to other countries. The population is concentrated along the Atlantic coastal areas of the southeastern and northeastern states. Industrial activity is concentrated in the southeastern region, with 50 percent of the industrial production located in the state of Sao Paulo.


Alagoas

Migration from the northeast to the southeast, as well as from rural to urban areas, has been heavy since 1970. More recently, the population flow has turned towards the less inhabited central-western and northern regions.


Recife

CLIMATE

Average Annual Temperatures:

Although 90 percent of the country is within the tropical zone, more than 60 percent of the population live in areas where altitude, sea winds, or cold polar fronts moderate the temperature.


Beach Park at the Porto das Dunas Beach, Fortaleza

There are five climatic regions in Brazil: equatorial, tropical, semi arid, highland tropical, and subtropical. Plateau cities such as São Paulo, Brasília, and Belo Horizonte have very mild climates averaging 66°F (19°C). Rio de Janeiro, Recife, and Salvador on the coast have warm climates balanced by the constancy of the Trade Winds.


Parque Bariqui, Curitiba, at the beginning of winter

In the southern Brazilian cities of Porto Alegre and Curitiba, the subtropical climate is similar to parts of the U.S. and Europe with frosts occurring with some frequency. In this region temperatures in winter can fall below freezing.


Foz do Iguaçú, Paraná

Despite the popular image of the Amazon as a region of blistering heat, temperatures of more than 90°F (32°C) are rarely experienced there. In fact, the annual average temperature in the Amazon region is in the range of 72 79°F (22-26°C), with only a very small seasonal variation between the warmest and the coldest months.


Porto Seguro, Bahia

The hottest part of Brazil is the northeast where, during the dry season, between May and November, temperatures of more than 100°F (38°C) are recorded frequently. The northeast has greater seasonal variation in temperatures than does the Amazon region. Along the Atlantic coast from Recife to Rio de Janeiro, mean temperatures range from 73°F to 81°F (23 27°C).


Goiania, Goiás

Inland, on higher ground; temperatures are lower, ranging from 64°F to 70°F (18 21°C). South of Rio, the seasons are more noticeable and the annual range of temperature greater. The average temperature for this part of the country is in the range between 63°F to 66°F (17 19°C).