Aerial view of Rio de JaneiroArea:
8,547,403 sq km (3,300,170 sq miles).

190.8 mn (2010 census)

Population Density:
19.2 per sq km.

Brasília. Population: 1,821,946 (1996).

Brazil covers almost half of the South American continent and it is bordered to the north, west and south by all South American countries except Chile and Ecuador; to the east is the Atlantic. The country is topographically relatively flat and at no point do the highlands exceed 3000m (10,000ft). Over 60% of the country is a plateau; the remainder consists of plains. The River Plate Basin (the confluence of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, both of which have their sources in Brazil) in the far south is more varied, higher and less heavily forested. North of the Amazon are the Guiana Highlands, partly forested, partly stony desert. The Brazilian Highlands of the interior, between the Amazon and the rivers of the south, form a vast tableland, the Mato Grosso, from which rise mountains in the southwest that form a steep protective barrier from the coast called the Great Escarpment, breached by deeply cut river beds. The population is concentrated in the southeastern states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The city of São Paulo has a population of over 9 million, while over 5.5 million people live in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Federal Republic. Head of State and Government: President Dilma Rousseff

The official language is Portuguese, with different regional accents characterising each State. Spanish, English, Italian, French and German are also spoken, particularly in tourist areas. Three linguistic roots survive in the indigenous areas: Gê, Tupi-guarani, Aruak and Karib.

There is no official religion, but approximately 70% of the population adhere to Roman Catholicism. A number of diverse evangelical cults are also represented, as are animist beliefs (particularly spiritism, umbanda and candomblé).

Brazil spans several time zones:

Eastern Standard Time: GMT – 3 (GMT – 2 from third Sunday in October to third Saturday in March).

North East States and East Parà Time: GMT – 3.

Western Standard Time: GMT – 4 (GMT – 3 from third Sunday in October to third Saturday in March).

Amapa and West Pará Time: GMT – 4.

Acre State: GMT – 5.

Fernando de Noronha Archipelago: GMT – 2.

Bahia (Salvador) and Manaus 127 volts AC, 60Hz; Brasília and Recife 220 volts AC, 60Hz; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo 110 or 220 volts AC, 60Hz. Plugs are of the 2-pin type. Most hotels provide 110-volt and 220-volt outlets, transformers and adaptors.