Brazil

Where is Brazil?

Brazil is in South America, which is in the western hemisphere. In fact, Brazil is the largest country in South America, so it’s easy to spot!

There are 13 countries in South America, and only two of them don’t share part of their border with Brazil – these are Chile and Ecuador. Brazil has the fifth highest population in the world, and the capital is Brasilia.

Top 10 facts

  1. Brazil is the largest country in South America, and the fifth highest population compared to all other countries in the world (the highest is China)
  2. The official language of Brazil is Portuguese.
  3. The capital of Brazil is Brasilia, but the largest city is Sao Paulo.
  4. The population was Brazil is 196.6 million in 2012.
  5. The currency in Brazil is the ‘real’. One ‘real’ is divided up into 100 ‘centavos’ (like our pence).
  6. Brazil has 26 states and one federal district – the federal district is Brasilia.
  7. A famous holiday in Brazil is Carnival, which is a week of parades and celebrations that takes place 46 days before Easter every year.
  8. The first European settlers in Brazil were from Portugal.
  9. Brazil’s Independence Day is celebrated on 7 September.
  10. The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro.

Did you know?

  • People in Brazil speak Portuguese. It is the only country in South America that speaks Portuguese.
  • ‘Brazil’ is spelled differently in Portuguese – ‘Brasil’.
  • The capital of Brazil is Brasilia. That’s easy to remember!
  • The largest city in Brazil is Sao Paulo. Another large city in Brazil is Rio de Janeiro, which is where the Olympic Games will be held in 2016.
  • There are 196.6 million people in Brazil – that’s three times as many people that live in the United Kingdom!
  • In Brazil, people pay for things in ‘real’ (pronounced ray-al). One real is divided up into 100 centavos, and is worth about the same as 30p in the UK. You can see a picture of reals and centavos below.
  • The main religion in Brazil is Christianity.
  • Brazil has a very long coastal border with the Atlantic Ocean – it is 7,491km (4,655 miles) long. That’s as long as it would be to travel from Plymouth to Aberdeen about seven times!
  • Brazil is in the continent of South America. There are 12 other countries in South America besides Brazil, and Brazil shares a border with all but two of them – Chile and Ecuador.
  • The Amazon River runs across northern Brazil. It is the second longest river in the world and carries the largest amount of water of any river in the world.
  • Brazil is home to a part of the Amazon rainforest. This is a tropical rainforest that is home to many rare and interesting species of plants and animals, but many of them are becoming rarer and are considered ‘endangered’. Learn more about conservation and endangered species
  • Brazil’s major exports include coffee, bananas, sugar, tobacco, soya, orange juice, beef and chicken.

Look through the pictures in the gallery and see if you can spot the following:

  • The Brazilian flag
  • The Brazilian coat of arms
  • Map of Brazil
  • Map of South America
  • Real and centavos
  • Brazil’s president, Dilma Roussef
  • Pedro Alvares Cabral
  • The Southern Cross constellation
  • Dancers in the Carnival
  • A parade during Carnival
  • Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro

Gallery

gallery

About

Brazilian Independence Day is celebrated on 7 September. This is to remember that on 7 September 1822, Brazil declared independence from Portugal.

Brazil is made up of 26 states, and one federal district. Each state has its own capital. The federal district is Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.

The climate in Brazil is mostly tropical and subtropical, but temperatures vary because it has lots of different kinds of terrain.

A popular dish in Brazil is feijoada, which is a stew with beans and pork. Brazil has a good climate for growing many different kinds of foods, especially fruit.

You can find lots of different foods in Brazil because many immigrants from other countries have settled there over the years – from Europe (Portugal, Italy and Poland), Asia (Japan), Africa (because of the slave trade until the late 1800s) and the Middle East. There are also many descendants from the native tribes who lived there before settlers came.

People from Portugal were the main settlers in Brazil, which is why Portuguese is still spoken there now. The first explorer to claim land there was Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500. (To put that into context in UK history, Henry VIII  was crowned king in 1509.)

The national flag in Brazil has a green background with a dark blue sphere and yellow diamond in the centre. Each part of the flag has a special meaning:

  • Green represents the lush vegetation that can be found in Brazil.
  • Yellow represents wealth and riches.
  • The dark blue sphere represents the colour of the sky in the tropics.
  • Inside the sphere are 27 stars of different sizes, which represent the 26 states and one federal district that make up Brazil.
  • In the middle of the sphere is a banner with the words ‘ordem e progresso’ on it – this means ‘order and progress’.

Brazil also has a national coat of arms, which was made in 1889 – just after Brazil became a republic on 15 November 1889. On it are this date, the coffee plant and tobacco plant (two main crops at the time), the Southern Cross, and stars representing the 26 states and one federal district.

The Southern Cross is a constellation that you can only see when you’re in the Southern Hemisphere of the globe. Brazil is just one of the countries that has the Southern Cross on its flag – both Australia and New Zealand have it on their flags too.

One of Brazil’s most famous events is Carnival, which is held 46 days before Easter. It lasts for about a week, and each part of the country has different events. There parades, lots of music, lavish costumes, dancing and singing. People from all over the world visit Brazil during Carnival to experience the events and excitement.

Names to know

Dilma Rousseff (1947-present) – Dilma Rousseff is the president of Brazil. She is the first woman to be elected as president in Brazil.

Pedro Álvares Cabral (1467/68-1520) – In 1500, Cabral, from Portugal, was the first explorer to claim land where Brazil is now located.

João Faras – Faras was an astronomer who travelled with Pedro Álvares Cabral when he discovered Brazil in 1500. He is thought to be the first European to record the Southern Cross constellation correctly.

Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca (1827-1892) – Fonseca took over the government of Brazil on 15 November 1889 and reorganised it as a constitutional republic. Before this, Brazil had been an empire ruled by an emperor.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento (1940-present) – Better known by his nickname, Pelé, he is a famous footballer from Brazil who scored the most League goals (541).

Oscar Niemeyer (1907-present) – Neimeyer is a famous architect, and most known for the buildings he designed in Brasilia.

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Just for fun...

How quickly can you name all of the countries in South America? Hover over the map with your mouse and click on the correct country that’s named.

Links to memory games and puzzles about Brazilian flowers, art, the flag, animals and more.

Take this quick quiz about Brazil.

Find out more

Introducing Brazil

Brazil country profile

Kids Corner Brazil, including links to information on culture, plants and animals and geography

Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Brazil for kids

Links to factsheets about Brazil

Pedro Alvares Cabral

See for yourself