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General information Brazil
Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is a country in South America. It is the fifth-largest country by geographical area, the fifth most populous country, and the fourth most populous democracy in the world. The official language is Portuguese. Catholicism is the predominant religion.
Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of over 7,367 kilometres. Brazil borders every nation on the South American continent except Ecuador and Chile: Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and the department of French Guiana are to the north, Colombia to the northwest, Bolivia and Peru to the west, Argentina and Paraguay to the southwest, and Uruguay to the south. Numerous archipelagos are part of the Brazilian territory, such as Penedos de São Pedro e São Paulo, Fernando de Noronha, Trindade and Martim Vaz and Atol das Rocas.
Brazil is crossed by both the Equator and Tropic of Capricorn, and as such is home to a vast array fauna and flora, natural environments, as well as extensive natural resources. The Brazilian population is concentrated along the coastline and in a few large urban centers in the interior. While Brazil is one of the most populous nations in the world, population density drops dramatically as one moves inland.
Brazil was a colony of Portugal from its discovery by Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500 until its independence in 1822. Initially independent as the Brazilian Empire, the country has been a republic since 1889, although the bicameral legislature (now called Congress) dates back to 1824, when the first constitution was ratified. Its current Constitution defines Brazil as a Federative Republic. The Federation is formed by the indissoluble association of the States, the Federal District, and the Municipalities. There are currently 26 States and 5,564 Municipalities.
Brazil is the world's 8th largest economy in terms of purchasing power and the 10th largest economy at market exchange rates. The country has a diversified middle-income economy with wide variations in development levels and mature manufacturing, mining and agriculture sectors. Technology and services also play an important role and are growing rapidly. Brazil is a net exporter, having gone through free trade and privatization reforms in the 1990s. In spite of important economical achievements, many social issues still hamper development.