Brazil Overview

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In a global comparison, the large emerging country Brazil is in the top 5 in terms of the number of students and in the top 10 in terms of spending on research and development (R&D). In education and research, Brazil is Germany’s most important partner country in Latin America. The focus is on environmental and sustainability research, bioeconomy and research on strategic economic raw materials. More recent measures take up the topic of digital change and provide impetus for technology transfer.

brazil population - fertility rate

Population / geography

Country name República Federativa do BrasilFederative Republic of Brazil
Capital Brasília
Land area 8.5 million km²; 47% of the area of ​​South America
Population 209 million(2018)
Life expectancy 74 years
Age structure 0-14 years: 22.3%15-64 years: 69.4%

65 years and older: 8.3%


Growth of population 0.7% (2017)
Population groups Since Brazil was a former immigration country, there is now an ethnic diversity and mix in the population. There are around 800,000 indigenous people. The four population groups that have dominated Brazil since the country was settled are so mixed that it is often no longer possible to clearly assign them to a particular ethnic group. Today’s population mix in Brazil consists – to a very small extent – of the various Indian groups, the original Portuguese colonialists, the descendants of Africans who were brought to Brazil as slaves, and the various immigrant groups, mainly from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
National languages Portuguese in the Brazilian variant (official language)
Religions Predominantly Roman Catholic (approx. 68%); increasingly Protestant groups and sects; spreads syncretistic-animistic cults
National day September 07, Independence Day
Time zones Acre Time: CET – 6 (UTC – 5)Amazon Time: CET – 5 (UTC – 4)

Brazil Time: CET – 4 hours (UTC – 3)

Fernando de Noronha Time: CET – 3 hours (UTC – 2)

Independence 07 September 1822 from Portugal
Currency 1 real BRL / 100 centavosCurrent exchange rate at – Currency converter (see links below)
Prefix +55



Politics / Administration

Country name República Federativa do BrasilFederative Republic of Brazil
Form of government Presidential Federal Republic
Head of state Jair Messias BOLSONARO – President, also head of government – of the Social Liberal Party PSL, since 01.01.2019
Capital Brasília
Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, since January 1st, 2019
Minister of Education Abraham Weintraub, since April 10, 2019
Science Minister Marcos Pontes, since 01/01/2019
Houses of Parliament National Congress (Congresso Nacional), consists of: House of Representatives (Câmara dos Deputados, 513 MPs) andSenate (Senado Federal, 81 senators).

Last presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018

Ruling parties Coalition of a wide range of 17 parties:

  • MDB – Democratic Movement of Brazil (51 MPs, 18 Senators)
  • PP – Progressive Party (50 MPs, 6 Senators)
  • PSDB – Brazilian Social Democracy Party (49 MPs, 12 Senators)
  • DEM – Democrats (43 MPs, 5 Senators)
  • PR – Republicans (40 MPs, 4 Senators)
  • PSD – Social Democrats (37 MPs) (5 Senators)
  • PRB – Republican Party of Brazil (21 MPs, 2 Senators)
  • PTB – Labor Party (16 MPs, 2 Senators)
  • 9 other smaller parties (together 56 MPs, 3 senators)
Opposition parties 6 parties led by:

  • PT (Workers’ Party) – 61 MPs, 9 Senators
Administrative structure 26 states and one federal district, over 5,500 parishes (municípios)
Independence day 07 September 1822 from Portugal
National holiday September 07, Independence Day

Political system

Brazil is a presidential federal republic. It consists of federal, state and local authorities. The legislative power in the Federation is exercised by the National Congress (Chamber of Deputies and Senate). The 513 MPs are elected for four years and the 81 senators for eight years. The constitution entered into force on October 5, 1988.

The President or the President is having an absolute majority of votes for a term of four years, elected directly by the people. He or she can then only be re-elected once (or again after an interruption). The federal government consists of the head of state (also head of government), the vice president and the federal ministers. The last presidential, gubernatorial and parliamentary elections took place in late 2018.

Brazil is divided into 26 states as well as the federal district with the capital Brasília. The states have their own constitutions and laws that must conform to the principles of the federal constitution. The heads of state of the states, the governors, are directly elected for 4 years.

In domestic politics in Brazil, parties play a less central role than in Germany. The political party landscape is very fragmented.

The newly elected government under President Jair Bolsonaro took office on January 1, 2019. Seven former soldiers are represented in the cabinet, almost a third of the cabinet. Bolsonaro has announced that the fight against corruption and crime and the stimulation of the economy will be the focus of his policy. Brazil is facing major challenges: revelations from the legal processing of numerous bribery scandals in which high-ranking politicians are involved, as well as a severe economic crisis, have led to great dissatisfaction among the population in recent years. President Bolsonaro has announced an extensive program to solve the pressing problems (source: Federal Foreign Office).

Business information

Brazil is the ninth largest economy in the world. The per capita income is approximately $ 8,650 . The Brazilian economy shows a relatively high degree of diversification. Around 69 percent of gross value added is generated in the service sector, around 25 percent in industry and around 6 percent of GDP share in agriculture.

Up until a few years ago, high growth rates and solid employment growth significantly increased global economic interest in Brazil. Thanks to high global raw material prices, rising wages and improved access to consumer credit, GDP rose sharply.

When the end of the economic boom announced a few years ago in the face of falling commodity prices, rising private sector debt and very low productivity, the government tried to artificially keep economic growth high by increasing government spending. However, the growth of the economy slowed significantly, in 2015 and 2016 Brazil’s GDP contracted.

Trade with Germany

Brazil’s foreign trade balance is positive (imports $ 137 billion versus exports of $ 185 billion in 2016). German imports from Brazil in 2016 amounted to around 8 billion euros. The most important German import goods from Basel are raw materials (33 percent) and food (30 percent). German exports to Brazil have declined slightly in recent years (from a value of 10.4 billion euros in 2014 to 8.5 billion euros in 2016). The three most important German export goods are machinery (21.9 percent), chemical products (10.5 percent) and motor vehicles and motor vehicleParts (10.4 percent). From a Brazilian perspective, Germany ranks third among the main supplier countries with a share of 6.6 percent, behind the USA (17.9 percent) and China (17.0 percent) and just ahead of Argentina (6.6 percent). Brazil ranks 30th for German exports and 26th for German imports (source: Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI): Brazil Economic Data Compact, November 2017).

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