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Brazil mini map    Brazil (Portuguese Brasil), federal republic, the largest country in South America, occupying nearly one-half of the entire area of the continent. It is bounded on the north by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and the Atlantic Ocean; on the east by the Atlantic Ocean; on the south by Uruguay; on the west by Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru; and on the northwest by Colombia. The republic has a common frontier with every country of South America except Chile and Ecuador. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world (after Russia, China, Canada, and the United States). The total area of Brazil is 8,511,965 sq km (3,286,488 sq mi); its maximum north-south distance is about 4350 km (about 2700 mi), and its maximum east-west distance is about 4330 km (about 2690 mi). Most of the people of Brazil live near the Atlantic Ocean, notably in the great cities of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro, but the capital is inland, at Brasilia. The country, which was once a Portuguese dependency, is the world's leading producer of coffee, and it also contains great mineral resources; exploitation of many of these resources intensified beginning in the 1980s.
Brazil National Flag     Some of the hotels, motels and resorts available for booking in our reservation network include, Ramada Inn, Marriott Hotels, Super 8 Motels, Econo Lodge, Holiday Inn & Holiday Inn Express, Travelodge, Hampton Inn, Sheraton, Hilton, Best Western, Hyatt and Hyatt Regency, Wyndham Inn, Ritz and Ritz Carlton, Days Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, La Quinta Inns, Comfort Inn and Comfort Suite, Embassy Suites, Quality Inn, Radisson Inn, Sleep Inn, Numerous Resorts and Resort Villas throughout the globe, along with Plaza and Plaza Suites and and array of private and Golf Clubs and Golf Resorts.
    Select a city or territory from the list below.

All Countries > Brazil

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Land and Resources
    A vast region of highlands, known as the Brazilian highlands or Brazilian plateau, and the basin of the Amazon River are the dominant physiographic features of Brazil. The plateau is an eroded tableland occupying most of the southeastern half of the country. With a general elevation of about 300 to 900 m (about 1000 to 3000 ft), this tableland is irregularly ridged by mountain ranges and dissected by numerous river valleys. Its southeastern edge, generally parallel to the coast, rises abruptly from the ocean in various areas, particularly north of latitude 10° south and south of latitude 20° south. Among the principal ranges of the Brazilian plateau are the Serra da Mantiqueira, the Serra do Mar, and the Serra Geral. Elevations in these and the other ranges average less than about 1200 m (about 4000 ft), but several of the ranges are surmounted by lofty peaks, including Pico da Bandeira (2890 m/9482 ft), in the Serra da Mantiqueira, and Pedra Açu (2232 m/7323 ft), in the Serra do Mar. Much of the tableland terrain consists of rolling prairies (known as campos), and extensive tracts are forested.
    The basin of the Amazon River occupies more than one-third of the surface of the country. Lowlands predominate in the Amazon Basin; elevations rarely exceed about 150 m (about 500 ft), and swamps and floodplains occupy vast areas of the region. Large parts of the basin are covered by tropical rain forests (selvas). Because of the impenetrability of this growth, huge areas of the Brazilian lowlands have only recently been explored. On the northern edge of the Amazon Basin is another mountainous area, part of the uplift known as the Guiana Highlands; ranges include the Serra Tumucumaque, with elevations up to about 850 m (about 2800 ft), the Serra Acaraí (maximum elevation, about 600 m/about 2000 ft), and the Serra Parima (maximum elevation, about 1500 m/about 5000 ft). Pico da Neblina (3014 m/9888 ft), at the border with Venezuela, is the highest point in Brazil.
    The Brazilian coastline, with a total length of some 7490 km (some 4650 mi), has singularly regular contours, particularly in the north, but several deep indentations provide excellent natural harbors. Especially noteworthy are the harbors of
Rio De Janeiro, Salvador, and Recife. Excluding sections in which the Brazilian Plateau projects into the Atlantic Ocean, the coast is fringed by a narrow coastal plain.
    More than two-thirds of Brazil is drained by the Amazon and Tocantins rivers, about one-fifth by the Rio de la Plata system, and the remainder by the São Francisco River and smaller streams. The Amazon with its great branches-the Negro, Japurá, and Putumayo on the north and the Javari, Purus, Juruá, Madeira, Tapajós, and Xingu on the south-and the Tocantins, which is a tributary of the Pará River, the southern distributary of the Amazon, afford a system of internal navigation comparable only to that of the Mississippi River in the United States. The length of the Amazon from Iquitos, Peru, to its mouth on the northeastern coast of Brazil is about 3700 km (about 2300 mi), all navigable by oceangoing ships.
    The most important navigable streams in the plateau region are the São Francisco and Parnaíba rivers. The former stream is interrupted about 310 km (about 190 mi) above its mouth by the Paulo Afonso Falls, but its upper course is navigable for about 1400 km (about 900 mi). The São Francisco River is also used for irrigation. The Parnaíba, which, like most of the streams traversing the highlands, contains falls and rapids, is navigable for about 640 km (about 400 mi), less than half its length. Rapids also impede navigation in the Uruguay River. One of the chief streams of the La Plata system, it flows through Brazilian territory for about 1000 km (about 600 mi) and forms most of the Brazilian-Argentine border. The other great La Plata system streams flowing through Brazil are the Paraguay and the Alto Paraná rivers, both important inland waterways.
    Climatic conditions in Brazil range from tropical to sub temperate. The average temperatures range in Belém at the mouth of the Amazon River from 22° to 31° C (72° to 88° F) in both January and July. The average range in Rio de Janeiro on the tropical east coast is 23° to 29° C (73° to 84° F) in January and 17° to 24° C (63° to 75° F) in July. Average annual precipitation in Belém is 2440 mm (96 in), and in Rio de Janeiro it is 1090 mm (43 in). Tropical conditions prevail also over most of that portion of the coastal plain lying to the north of the tropic of Capricorn, but oceanic winds have a moderating effect on the high temperatures and humidity.
     The annual rainfall in this part of the coastal belt varies between about 1000 and 2300 mm (about 40 and 90 in). In the coastal region south of the tropic of Capricorn, climatic conditions are marked by sharp seasonal variations. Winter temperatures as low as -6° C (22° F) are occasionally recorded in the extreme south, and frosts are common throughout the region. Precipitation averages less than about 1000 mm (about 40 in) annually in the southern part of the coastal belt. In the east central Brazilian uplands the climate is subtropical but, because of the higher altitudes, sharp diurnal variations of temperature occur and the nights are cool. This region is frequently subject to severe droughts. In the highlands to the south and west, precipitation ranges from adequate to abundant. Temperatures vary between subtropical and temperate in the southeastern highlands, which is the most densely populated section of the country.

"Brazil," Microsoft® Encarta® 97 Encyclopedia.
© 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Last Revised: March 12, 2009 05:35 PM.

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