Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil is the largest country in both South America and the Latin American region. It is the world’s fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population. It is the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world, and the only one in the Americas.
Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 km (4,655 mi). It borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and occupies 47.3 percent of the continent of South America. Its Amazon River Basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. This unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, and is the subject of significant global interest and debate regarding deforestation and environmental protection.
Brazil was inhabited by numerous tribal nations prior to the landing of traveler Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500, who claimed the area for Portugal. Brazil remained a Portuguese colony until 1808, when the capital of the empire was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro after French forces invaded Portugal. In 1815, it was elevated to the rank of kingdom upon the formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Its independence was achieved in 1822 with the creation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. The country became a presidential republic in 1889, when a military coup d’état proclaimed the Republic, although the bicameral legislature, now called Congress, dates back to the ratification of the first constitution in 1824. An authoritarian military junta had led the nation from 1964 until 1985. Brazil’s current Constitution, formulated in 1988, defines it as a federal republic. The Federation is composed of the union of the Federal District, the 26 states, and the 5,570 municipalities.
The country’s economy is the world’s eighth largest by nominal GDP and seventh largest by purchasing power parity, as of 2015. Brazil until 2010 had one of the world’s fastest growing major economies, with its economic reforms giving the country new international recognition and influence. Brazil is a founding member of the United Nations, the G20, CPLP, Latin Union, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the Organization of American States, Mercosul and the Union of South American Nations. Brazil has been the world’s largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years.