Brazil: Country Profile

GEOGRAPHY

Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, contains 8.5 million square kilometers (approximately 3,281,000 square miles) of territory and occupies 47% of the South American land mass.
It is located between the 5º North and 32º South parallels, and hence is a predominantly tropical country -- only the far South can be described as having a temperate climate. Average temperatures fluctuate between 23º C and 29º C in the hottest months and between 17º C and 24º C in the cooler season.

Excluding the Amazon region, the geological formation of Brazil is extremely old. Extensive plateaux and average altitudes below 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) mean that most of the land is suitable for cultivation. Benefiting further from hydrographic basins which have large catchment areas and are partially navigable, Brazil is one of the countries in the world with the highest amounts of potable water per inhabitant.


DEMOGRAPHY

With a population approaching 156 million inhabitants, Brazil is one of the six most populous countries in the world. In the last five years, average population growth has been 1.2% per year. The vast majority --71% of its people -- live in urban areas and São Paulo, with 15 million inhabitants, is far and away ahead of other population centers in sheer numbers of residents. In second place is Rio de Janeiro (9.8 million), followed by Belo Horizonte (3.4 million), Porto Alegre (3 million), Recife (2.8 million), and the Federal Capital of Brasilia (1.6 million).
It is a predominantly young country and the bulk of the population (70%) is less than 30 years old.
Income distribution is quite unequal, with the richest 20% of the population possessing 63% of the nation's wealth. This scenario is reflected geographically, as the South-East Region, which encompasses São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, accounts for 50% of the GDP.