Forgotten world (74): Brazil

Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America – it takes up almost half the continent – and the fifth largest in the world in both area and population. The country was colonized by Portugal and it is the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas. It is a multiracial nation with a population totalling 188M, composed of European, Amerindian, African and Asian elements. It has the largest Roman Catholic population in the world.
Brazil has a history of economic boom and bust and its development has been hampered by high inflation and foreign debt. It has had to be bailed out in times of crisis, but economic reforms in the 1990s brought some stability to the country’s finances. Social conditions can be harsh in the big cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where a third of the population lives in favelas, or slums.
The economic giant is one of the world’s biggest democracies. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula, secured a second term in a landslide election victory in October 2006. He promised to boost economic growth and to narrow the gap between rich and poor.
Brazil includes much of the world’s biggest rain forest around the Amazon, whose exploitation has become a major environmental concern.
I visited the country in 2001 [an account here].