An introduction to Brazil

How big is Brazil?

Connect2 - Brazil MapBrazil is the world’s fifth largest country and its land mass covers 8.51 million square kilometers which makes Brazil approximately 35 times larger than the United Kingdom which covers a mere 243,600 square kilometers in comparison.

It is the largest country in South America, and the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world. It has a coastline of 7,491 km and borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile.

Who lives in Brazil?

The population of Brazil is now approximately 202 million. It was only in 1888, that slavery was abolished and approximately, four million slaves were freed; a very high proportion of the then population overall.

In colonial Brazil, identity became a complex combination of race, skin color, and socio-economic status because of the extensive diversity of the both the slave and free population.

Today 48% of the population describe themselves as White; 44% as Pardo (multiracial), with the balance being black, Asian or indigenous.

It is estimated that Brazil has 67 different uncontacted tribes, and the largest number of uncontacted peoples in the world.

In 2010, it was estimated that six per cent of the then population, or 11.4 m people, lived in urban slums or “favelas” but with population growth this is now thought to be over 13m or roughly the same size as the entire population of Zimbabwe.

Where do people live?

Population distribution in Brazil is very uneven. The majority of Brazilians live within 300 kilometers of the coast, while the interior in the Amazon Basin is almost empty.

Most people (84%) live in cities. The cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro stand out as being far larger than any other Brazilian city with populations of some 19.6 million and 11.8 million respectively.

 Where did the name Brazil come from?

The official name of the land, in original Portuguese records, was the “Land of the Holy Cross” (Terra da Santa Cruz), but European sailors and merchants commonly called it simply the “Land of Brazil” (Terra do Brasil) on account of the trade in brazil wood. Early sailors called it the “Land of Parrots” (Terra di Papaga).

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