Friday, January 06, 2006

Information about Brazil

I will be studying abroad in Curitiba, Paraná in Brazil.
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Paraná is the state labeled "PR" near the south of the country. There will be two other students from my university going; one to the state directly south of Paraná, Santa Catarina, and the other in the state of Bahia, labeled BA, right below the eastern point of the country. I will be studying in Curitiba, Tiphane will be studying in Florianópolis (Santa Catarina), and Candace will be studying in Salvador (Bahia). Here is another map that shows the location of each city (just click for bigger.)
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Florianópolis is about 4 hours by bus, but Salvador would be about 36 hours by bus.

Anyway, on to the information that you all must be highly anticipating right now.
Courtesy of The US Department of State

<<<<< Background Note: Brazil


Federative Republic of Brazil

+Area: 8,511,965 sq. km. (3,290,000 sq. mi.); slightly smaller than the U.S.
+Cities: Capital--Brasilia (pop. 2.3 million). Other cities--Sao Paulo (10.8 million), Rio de Janeiro (6.1 million), Belo Horizonte (2.4 million), Salvador (2.6 million), Fortaleza (2.3 million), Recife (1.5 million), Porto Alegre (1.4 million), Curitiba (1.7 million).
+Terrain: Dense forests in northern regions including Amazon Basin; semiarid along northeast coast; mountains, hills, and rolling plains in the southwest, including Mato Grosso; and coastal lowland.
+Climate: Mostly tropical or semitropical with temperate zone in the south.

+Nationality: Brazilian.
+Population (2005 est.): 186 million.
+Annual growth rate: 1.1%.
+Ethnic groups: Portuguese, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Arab, African, and indigenous people.
+Religion: Roman Catholic (74%).
+Language: Portuguese.
+Education: Literacy--86% of adult population.
+Health: Infant mortality rate--27.5/1,000. Life expectancy--71.3 yrs.
+Work force: 79 million.

+Type: Federative republic.
+Independence: September 7, 1822.
+Constitution: Promulgated October 5, 1988.
+Branches: Executive--president (chief of state and head of government popularly elected to no more than two 4-year terms). Legislative--Senate (81 members popularly elected to 8-year terms), Chamber of Deputies (513 members popularly elected to 4-year terms). Judicial--Supreme Federal Tribunal (11 lifetime positions appointed by the president).
+Political parties: Workers' Party (PT), Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), Liberal Front Party (PFL), Social Democratic Party (PSD), Democratic Workers Party (PDT), Brazilian Labor Party (PTB), Liberal Party (PL), Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), Communist Party of Brazil (PC do B), Brazilian Progressive Party (PP). Popular Socialist Party (PPS), Green Party (PV), the Social Liberal Party (PSL), the National Mobilization Party (PMN), National Workers Party (PTN), Humanistic Solidarity Party (PHS), and the Party of the Reedification of the National Order (PRONA).

Economy (2004)
+GDP: $604.9 billion.
+Annual real growth: 4.9%.
+Per capita GDP: $3,320.
+Natural resources: Iron ore, manganese, bauxite, nickel, uranium, gemstones, oil, wood, and aluminum. Brazil has 14% of the world's renewable fresh water.
+Agriculture (10% of GDP): Products--coffee, soybeans, sugarcane, cocoa, rice, livestock, corn, oranges, cotton, wheat, and tobacco.
+Industry (36% of GDP): Types--steel, commercial aircraft, chemicals, petrochemicals, footwear, machinery, motors, vehicles, auto parts, consumer durables, cement, and lumber.
+Services (54% of GDP): Types--mail, telecommunications, banking, energy, commerce, and computing.
+Trade: Trade balance 2004--$33.7 billion surplus. Exports--$73.1 billion. Major markets--European Union 25.0%, United States 21.1%, Argentina 7.6%, China 5.6%, and Mexico 4.1%. Imports--$62.8 billion. Major suppliers--European Union 25.4%, United States 18.1%, Argentina 8.9%, China 5.9% and Nigeria 5.6%.

With its estimated 186 million inhabitants, Brazil has the largest population in Latin America and ranks fifth in the world. The majority of people live in the south-central area, which includes the industrial cities of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte. Urban growth has been rapid; by 2005, 81% of the total population was living in urban areas. This growth has aided economic development but also has created serious social, security, environmental, and political problems for major cities.

Six major groups make up the Brazilian population: the Portuguese, who colonized Brazil in the 16th century; Africans brought to Brazil as slaves; various other European, Middle Eastern, and Asian immigrant groups who have settled in Brazil since the mid-19th century; and indigenous peoples of Tupi and Guarani language stock. Intermarriage between the Portuguese and indigenous people or slaves was common. Although the major European ethnic stock of Brazil was originally Portuguese, subsequent waves of immigration have contributed to a diverse ethnic and cultural heritage.

From 1875 until 1960, about 5 million Europeans immigrated to Brazil, settling mainly in the four southern states of Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul. Immigrants have come mainly from Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, Poland, and the Middle East. The largest Japanese community outside Japan is in Sao Paulo. Despite class distinctions, national identity is strong, and racial friction is a relatively new phenomenon. Indigenous full-blooded Indians, located mainly in the northern and western border regions and in the upper Amazon Basin, constitute less than 1% of the population. Their numbers are declining as contact with the outside world and commercial expansion into the interior increase. Brazilian Government programs to establish reservations and to provide other forms of assistance have existed for years but are controversial and often ineffective.

Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. About three quarters of all Brazilians belong to the Roman Catholic Church; most others are Protestant or follow practices derived from African religions.

Pedro Alvares Cabral claimed Brazil for Portugal in 1500. The colony was ruled from Lisbon until 1808, when Dom Joao VI and the rest of the Portuguese royal family fled from Napoleon's army, and established its seat of government in Rio de Janeiro. Dom Joao VI returned to Portugal in 1821. His son declared Brazil's independence on September 7, 1822, and became emperor with the title of Dom Pedro I. His son, Dom Pedro II, ruled from 1831 to 1889, when a federal republic was established in a coup led by Deodoro da Fonseca, Marshal of the Army. Slavery had been abolished a year earlier by the Regent Princess Isabel while Dom Pedro II was in Europe.

From 1889 to 1930, the government was a constitutional republic, with the presidency alternating between the dominant states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. This period ended with a military coup that placed Getulio Vargas, a civilian, in the presidency; Vargas remained as dictator until 1945. Between 1945 and 1961, Jose Linhares, Gaspar Dutra, Vargas himself, Café Filho, Carlos Luz, Nereu Ramos, Juscelino Kubitschek, and Janio Quadros were elected presidents. When Quadros resigned in 1961, Vice President Joao Goulart succeeded him.

Goulart's years in office were marked by high inflation, economic stagnation, and the increasing influence of radical political elements. The armed forces, alarmed by these developments, staged a coup on March 31, 1964. The coup leaders chose as president Humberto Castello Branco, followed by Arthur da Costa e Silva (1967-69), Emilio Garrastazu Medici (1969-74), and Ernesto Geisel (1974-79), all of whom were senior army officers. Geisel began a democratic opening that was continued by his successor, Gen. Joao Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo (1979-85). Figueiredo not only permitted the return of politicians exiled or banned from political activity during the 1960s and 1970s, but also allowed them to run for state and federal offices in 1982.

At the same time, an electoral college consisting of all members of congress and six delegates chosen from each state continued to choose the president. In January 1985, the electoral college voted Tancredo Neves from the opposition Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) into office as President. However, Neves became ill in March and died a month later. His Vice President, former Senator Jose Sarney, became President upon Neves' death. Brazil completed its transition to a popularly elected government in 1989, when Fernando Collor de Mello won 53% of the vote in the first direct presidential election in 29 years. In 1992, a major corruption scandal led to his impeachment and ultimate resignation. Vice President Itamar Franco took his place and governed for the remainder of Collor's term culminating in the October 3, 1994 presidential elections, when Fernando Henrique Cardoso was elected President with 54% of the vote. Cardoso took office January 1, 1995, and pursued a program of ambitious economic reform. He was re-elected in October 1998 for a second four-year term. Luiz Inacio da Silva, commonly known as Lula, was elected president in 2002, after his fourth campaign for the office.

President Lula, a former union leader, is Brazil's first working-class president. Since taking office he has taken a prudent fiscal path, warning that social reforms would take years and that Brazil had no alternative but to maintain tight fiscal austerity policies. The real is strong, and in 2005, Brazil enjoyed more robust growth that yielded increases in employment and real wages.

Brazil is a federal republic with 26 states and a federal district. The 1988 constitution grants broad powers to the federal government, made up of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The president holds office for four years, with the right to re-election for an additional four-year term, and appoints his own cabinet. There are 81 senators, three for each state and the Federal District, and 513 deputies. Senate terms are eight years, staggered so that two-thirds of the upper house is up for election at one time and one-third four years later. Chamber terms are four years, with elections based on a complex system of proportional representation by states. Each state is eligible for a minimum of eight seats; the largest state delegation (Sao Paulo's) is capped at 70 seats. This system is weighted in favor of geographically large but sparsely populated states.

Fifteen political parties are represented in Congress. Since it is common for politicians to switch parties, the proportion of congressional seats held by particular parties changes regularly. The major political parties are:

+Workers' Party (PT-center-left)
+Liberal Front Party (PFL-right)
+Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB-center)
+Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB-center-left)
+Progressive Party (PP-right)
+Brazilian Labor Party (PTB-center-right)
+Liberal Party (PL-center-right)
+Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB-left)
+Popular Socialist Party (PPS-left)
+Democratic Labor Party (PDT-left)
+Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB-left)

President Lula was elected with the support of an alliance composed of his own leftist Workers' Party (PT), the center right Liberal Party (PL), the leftist National Mobilization Party (PMN), which currently only has two Deputies in the Chamber, the leftist Popular Socialist Party (PPS, formerly the PCB), and the leftist Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB). The PPS as well as the large PMDB party left the PT-led governing coalition in December 2004. With these withdrawals, the coalition has a small majority in the Chamber of Deputies and a minority in the Senate. In June 2005, a domestic political scandal surfaced which has absorbed most parliamentary attention and derailed the legislative agenda and schedule. It has also led to a number of party switches by parliamentarians and at least three ongoing congressional investigations. Party loyalty is weak, and deputies and senators who belong to the parties comprising the government coalition do not always vote with the government. Conversely, the government may also attract support from members who are not in the governing coalition. For example, a substantial wing of the PMDB continues to vote with the government coalition and the PMDB has ministries in Lula's cabinet.

Because of the mandatory revenue allocation to states and municipalities provided for in the 1988 constitution, Brazilian governors and mayors have exercised considerable power since 1989. Presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial elections last took place in October 2002. President Lula won the election with 61% of the vote. His challenger in the run-off was Jose Serra of the PDSB, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso's party. The next presidential elections will be held in October 2006. Municipal elections occurred in October 2004.

Chief of State and Cabinet Members
+President--Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
+Vice President--Jose Alencar Gomes da Silva

If anyone wants to follow along on the map I thumbnailed above, you can do so. Here is a list of all the cities I HOPE to visit during my stay in Brazil.

+Porto Velho
+Rio Branco
+Rio de Janerio
+São Paulo
+Foz do Igauçu
+Porto Alegre

I also hope to visit a few cities in other countries, so hopefully I'll be able to visit:

+Lima, Peru
+La Paz and Sucre, Bolivia
+Asunción, Paraguay
+Córdoba and Buenos Aires, Argentina
+Santiago, Chile
+Montevideo, Uruguay

Theoretically, I will have an entire month once the semester ends to travel around the continent. Since it's only 8 cities, I should be able to visit each city and spend at least one full day in each. I say one full day because I would likely travel by bus the entire time to save money and also see lots of other places and cities during stopovers. All of the cities in Brazil I should definitely be able to see during the semester, as we will have long weekends, vacation times, etc. So it should definitely be an exciting time and I will be posting millions of pictures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Zach I hope that you are having fun!! Love ya, Alex, Jaden, Hope, and Ginger!!