Another Brazil

This essay Another Brazil has a total of 3130 words and 19 pages.

Another Brazil

Brazil: National Context Geography Brazil occupies almost

one-half of the entire South America continent, and is the

fifth largest country in the world. It borders all Latin

American countries except Chile and Ecuador. The

9,170km coastline and the 50,000km navigable inland

waterways provide great potentials for water transportation

which has not been well developed. Brazil is topographically

relatively flat. 40% of the land is under the Amazon Rain

Forest. Most of the arable land is found in the South, but the

process of land development for agriculture is pushing into

the Central-West and the North as well. The climate is

mainly tropical and sub-tropical, and is particularly humid

and rainy in the Amazon region and along the coast.

Temperate climate is found in the south and on the higher

lands. The nation is free from earthquakes, hurricanes and

cyclones, but rainstorms, drought and frost occasionally

cause considerable damage. Demography and Social

Patterns Population is around 155 million and growing at

about 2% per year. It is concentrated in the southern states

of Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, and Parana. Almost 60% of the

total population live on 20% of the land.(See Table 1) 80%

of the population is urban and 20% are rural dwellers. 55%

is under 20 years of age and less than 10% is over 60. The

average life expectancy is 63 years old. The majority of

Brazilians are of European or African descent. Besides the

original Portuguese settlers, other significant ethnic groups

include Africans, Germans, Italians, and Japanese. The

official language is Portuguese, but English is widely used in

the business community. The predominant religion is Roman

Catholicism. There is religious freedom, and religion is not a

source of social unrest. The general level of education

requires much improvement. About 75% of children above

ten years old are considered to be literate. Around 5% of

enrolled students go on to higher education. As a result,

most of the labor force are semiskilled or unskilled. There is

a shortage of managerial, supervisory, and technical

personnel. Living Standards The gross domestic

product(GDP) per capita in 1993 was about US$3,000 per

annum. There exists a wide income gap, with \'1% of

population stinking rich, 20% stinking poor\'. 10 million

families are roofless, while the 12 million homeless peasants

seek shelters in peasant squatters in the countryside where

land is so unequally distributed. Substantial funding are

needed for public housing, health care, schools, and

infrastructure. Other major social problems include violent

crime and corruption. Resources Brazil is rich in natural

resources. It has some of the largest iron ore deposits in the

world and is now one of the biggest gold producers. Other

metals and minerals are also mined on an increasing

scale.(See Table 2) The extensive river system provides

great hydroelectric potential, as evident in the Itaipu dam

project. Since the oil crisis in the 70s, Brazil embarked upon

the ProAlcohol program for alcohol fuel manufacture from

sugar cane to reduce the country\'s reliance on foreign oil. As

for agriculture, Brazil is a major exporter of soybeans and

orange juice in addition to the traditional coffee and cocoa.

The fishing potential along the coastline is significant but has

not been fully exploited.(See Table 3) The natural scenery

and favorable climate also foster a prosperous tourist

industry. Political Climate and Forces Brazil remained a

Portuguese colony for more than 300 years until it became a

republic(Federative Republic of Brazil)in 1889. The latest

Constitution was promulgated in 1988, and it is still under

review. Brazil is composed of 27 states and the Federal

District of Brasilia, the capital city. The states are divided

into municipalities, which are further divided into districts.

The federal government consists of three branches: the

executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. The executive

branch is headed by the President under whom are several

executive departments and independent regulatory agencies.

The appointed heads of the executive departments form the

Cabinet. The legislative branch, the Congress is made up of

the elected Senate and the House of Representatives. The

judicial branch consists of a system of federal, state, and

local courts throughout the country, headed by the Supreme

Court. There are many political parties, but ideologies are

not well developed as a democratic system returned only in

1985. Parties normally represent specific economic groups

and interests within the country. After the industrialization

resulting in fierce inflation and foreign debt, Brazil went

through a period of military autocratic regime through 1964

to 1989, until the first popularly elected president since

1960, Fernado Collor de Mello. Although the chance of the

military having a coup is slim, they still remain a strong

political force. President Collor had significant support and

vowed on reform on the much needed economic policy. He

planned to lower tariffs, control inflation, promote

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