Brazil is the fifth largest nation in the world and yes, the largest in South America. It forms an enormous triangle on the eastern side of the continent with a 7,400 kilometers (4,500 mile) coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. It shares its boundaries with all South American countries.
The Brazilian landscape is very varied. It is well known for its dense forests, including the Amazon, the world’s largest jungle, in the north. But there are also dry grasslands (called Pampas), rugged hills, pine forests, immense plateaus, sprawling wetlands and a long coastal plain. Southeastern Brazil was once completely covered with dense forest. Now it is the country’s industrial capital, home to Brazil’s biggest cities: Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. It covers only 11% of the country but houses 43% of its population.
It is the most populous country in Latin America 5th largest populous country in the world. Although nearly 70% of the population is Roman Catholics, there is no official religion. Islam was earlier practiced by African slaves but today the Muslim population is mainly compromised of Arab immigrants. The Japanese immigrants contribute to Buddhism, the largest in Latin America. Daoism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Shamanism are also practiced throughout the country.
Portuguese is the country’s official language and a primary medium in colleges, schools, government, newspapers, radio and TV. Spanish is a close second while English, German, French and Italian are mostly spoken in tourist areas. The landscape is as diverse as those who inhabit it. Although English is a part of the educational curriculum, very few are fluent in it.
Brazilians trace their origins from four sources: Amerindians, Europeans, Africans and Asians. The main ethnic groups of Brazil include:
- Malay 50.4%
- Chinese 23.7%
- Indigenous 11%
- Indian 7.1%
- Others 7.8%
From the population of 200 million, 29% is between the ages of 0-14 years, 66% is aged between 15-64 years and a mere 5% is over 65 years old. The dawn of the 16th century seen a sudden surge of Europeans into Brazil from Portugal. The population structure of Brazil was greatly determined by the immigration structure.