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Brazil, See : Flags, Maps

Brazil (South America)

Introduction ::Brazil


Following more than three centuries under Portuguese rule, Brazil gained its independence in 1822, maintaining a monarchical system of government until the abolition of slavery in 1888 and the subsequent proclamation of a republic by the military in 1889. Brazilian coffee exporters politically dominated the country until populist leader Getulio VARGAS rose to power in 1930. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil underwent more than half a century of populist and military government until 1985, when the military regime peacefully ceded power to civilian rulers. Brazil continues to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of its interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, it is today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader, one of the first in the area to begin an economic recovery. Highly unequal income distribution and crime remain pressing problems. In January 2010, Brazil assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2010-11 term.

Geography ::Brazil

View Larger Map


Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean

Geographic coordinates:
10 00 S, 55 00 W

Map references:

South America


total: 8,514,877 sq km country comparison to the world: 5 land: 8,459,417 sq km

water: 55,460 sq km

note: includes Arquipelago de Fernando de Noronha, Atol das Rocas, Ilha da Trindade, Ilhas Martin Vaz, and Penedos de Sao Pedro e Sao Paulo

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than the US

Land boundaries:

total: 16,885 km

border countries: Argentina 1,261 km, Bolivia 3,423 km, Colombia 1,644 km, French Guiana 730 km, Guyana 1,606 km, Paraguay 1,365 km, Peru 2,995 km, Suriname 593 km, Uruguay 1,068 km, Venezuela 2,200 km

Postcard 746 : BR-108600


7,491 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin


mostly tropical, but temperate in south


mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north; some plains, hills, mountains, and narrow coastal belt

Rio de Janeiro Postcard Apr 2010

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

highest point: Pico da Neblina 2,994 m

Natural resources:

bauxite, gold, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, platinum, tin, rare earth elements, uranium, petroleum, hydropower, timber

Land use:

arable land: 6.93%

permanent crops: 0.89%

other: 92.18% (2005)

Irrigated land:

29,200 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

8,233 cu km (2000)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 59.3 cu km/yr (20%/18%/62%)

per capita: 318 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards:

recurring droughts in northeast; floods and occasional frost in south

Rio (13) - Ipanema Beach

Environment - current issues:

deforestation in Amazon Basin destroys the habitat and endangers a multitude of plant and animal species indigenous to the area; there is a lucrative illegal wildlife trade; air and water pollution in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and several other large cities; land degradation and water pollution caused by improper mining activities; wetland degradation; severe oil spills

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living
Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate
Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered
Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the
Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution,
Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

largest country in South America; shares common boundaries with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador

People ::Brazil


201,103,330 country comparison to the world: 5 note: Brazil conducted a census in August 2000, which reported a population of 169,872,855; that figure was about 3.8% lower than projections by the US Census Bureau, and is close to the implied underenumeration of 4.6% for the 1991 census (July 2010 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 26.7% (male 27,092,880/female 26,062,244)

15-64 years: 66.8% (male 65,804,108/female 67,047,725)

65 years and over: 6.4% (male 5,374,230/female 7,358,082) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 28.9 years

male: 28.1 years

female: 29.7 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.166% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 108

Birth rate:

18.11 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 108

Death rate:

6.35 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 154

Net migration rate:

-0.09 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 125


urban population: 86% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 1.8% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 21.86 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 93 male: 25.39 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 18.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 72.26 years country comparison to the world: 123 male: 68.7 years

female: 76 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.19 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 112

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.6% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 66

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

730,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 16

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

15,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 25


noun: Brazilian(s)

adjective: Brazilian

Ethnic groups:

white 53.7%, mulatto (mixed white and black) 38.5%, black 6.2%, other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian) 0.9%, unspecified 0.7% (2000 census)


Roman Catholic (nominal) 73.6%, Protestant 15.4%, Spiritualist 1.3%, Bantu/voodoo 0.3%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.2%, none 7.4% (2000 census)


Portuguese (official and most widely spoken language); note - less common languages include Spanish (border areas and schools), German, Italian, Japanese, English, and a large number of minor Amerindian languages


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 88.6%

male: 88.4%

female: 88.8% (2004 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 14 years

male: 14 years

female: 14 years (2008)

Education expenditures:

5.2% of GDP (2007) country comparison to the world: 61

Government ::Brazil

Country name:

conventional long form: Federative Republic of Brazil

conventional short form: Brazil

local long form: Republica Federativa do Brasil

local short form: Brasil

Government type:

federal republic


name: Brasilia

geographic coordinates: 15 47 S, 47 55 W

time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins third Sunday in October; ends third Sunday in February

note: Brazil is divided into three time zones, including one for the Fernando de Noronha Islands

Administrative divisions:

26 states (estados, singular - estado) and 1 federal district* (distrito federal); Acre, Alagoas, Amapa, Amazonas, Bahia, Ceara, Distrito Federal*, Espirito Santo, Goias, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Para, Paraiba, Parana, Pernambuco, Piaui, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Rondonia, Roraima, Santa Catarina, Sao Paulo, Sergipe, Tocantins


7 September 1822 (from Portugal)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 7 September (1822)


5 October 1988

Legal system:

based on Roman codes; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


voluntary between 16 and 18 years of age and over 70; compulsory over 18 and under 70 years of age; note - military conscripts do not vote

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Dilma ROUSSEFF (since 1 January 2011); Vice President Michel TEMER (since 1 January 2011); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Dilma ROUSSEFF (since 1 January 2011); Vice President Michel TEMER (since 1 January 2011)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single four-year term; election last held on 3 October 2010 with runoff on 31 October 2010 (next to be held on 5 October 2014 and, if necessary, a runoff election on 2 November 2014)

election results: Dilma ROUSSEFF (PT) elected president in a runoff election; percent of vote - Dilma ROUSSEFF 56.01%, Jose SERRA (PSDB) 43.99%

Legislative branch:

bicameral National Congress or Congresso Nacional consists of the Federal Senate or Senado Federal (81 seats; 3 members from each state and federal district elected according to the principle of majority to serve eight-year terms; one-third and two-thirds of members elected every four years, alternately) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camara dos Deputados (513 seats; members are elected by proportional representation to serve four-year terms)

elections: Federal Senate - last held on 3 October 2010 for two-thirds of the Senate (next to be held in October 2014 for one-third of the Senate); Chamber of Deputies - last held on 3 October 2010 (next to be held in October 2014)

election results: Federal Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PMDB 20, PT 13, PSDB 10, DEM (formerly PFL) 7, PTdoB 6, PP 5, PDT 4, PR 4, PSB 4, PPS 1, PRB 1, other 3; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PT 87, PMDB 80, PSDB 53, DEM (formerly PFL) 43, PP 41, PR 41, PSB 34, PDT 28, PTdoB 21, PSC 17, PCdoB 15, PV 15, PPS 12, other 18

Judicial branch:

Supreme Federal Tribunal or STF (11 ministers are appointed for life by the president and confirmed by the Senate); Higher Tribunal of Justice; Regional Federal Tribunals (judges are appointed for life); note - though appointed "for life," judges, like all federal employees, have a mandatory retirement age of 70

Political parties and leaders:

Brazilian Democratic Movement Party or PMDB [Federal Deputy Michel
TEMER]; Brazilian Labor Party or PTB [Roberto JEFFERSON]; Brazilian
Renewal Labor Party or PRTB [Jose Levy FIDELIX da Cruz]; Brazilian
Republican Party or PRB [Vitor Paulo Araujo DOS SANTOS]; Brazilian
Social Democracy Party or PSDB [Senator Sergio GUERRA]; Brazilian
Socialist Party or PSB [Governor Eduardo Henrique Accioly CAMPOS];
Christian Labor Party or PTC [Daniel TOURINHO]; Communist Party of
Brazil or PCdoB [Jose Renato RABELO]; Democratic Labor Party or PDT
[Carlos Roberto LUPI]; the Democrats or DEM [Federal Deputy Rodrigo
MAIA] (formerly Liberal Front Party or PFL); Freedom and Socialism
Party or PSOL [Heloisa HELENA]; Green Party or PV [Jose Luiz de
Franca PENNA]; Humanist Party of Solidarity or PHS [Paulo Roberto
MATOS]; Labor Party of Brazil or PTdoB [Luis Henrique de Oliveira
RESENDE]; Liberal Front Party or PFL (now known as the Democrats or
DEM); National Mobilization Party or PMN [Oscar Noronha FILHO];
Party of the Republic or PR [Sergio TAMER]; Popular Socialist Party
or PPS [Federal Deputy Fernando CORUJA]; Progressive Party or PP
[Francisco DORNELLES]; Social Christian Party or PSC [Vitor Jorge
Abdala NOSSEIS]; Workers' Party or PT [Jose Eduardo DUTRA]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Landless Workers' Movement or MST

other: labor unions and federations; large farmers' associations; religious groups including evangelical Christian churches and the Catholic Church

International organization participation:

AfDB (nonregional member), BIS, CAN (associate), CPLP, FAO, FATF,
G-15, G-20, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM,
IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, LAS (observer), Mercosur,
Paris Club (associate), PCA, RG, SICA (observer), UN, UN Security

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Mauro Luiz Iecker VIEIRA

chancery: 3006 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

note: temporary address - 1025 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, Suite 300 W, Washington, DC 20007

telephone: [1] (202) 238-2805
FAX: [1] (202) 238-2827

consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas A. SHANNON

embassy: Avenida das Nacoes, Quadra 801, Lote 3, Distrito Federal Cep 70403-900, Brasilia

mailing address: Unit 7500, DPO, AA 34030

telephone: [55] (61) 3312-7000
FAX: [55] (61) 3225-9136

consulate(s) general: Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo

consulate(s): Recife

Flag description:

green with a large yellow diamond in the center bearing a blue celestial globe with 27 white five-pointed stars; the globe has a white equatorial band with the motto ORDEM E PROGRESSO (Order and Progress); the current flag was inspired by the banner of the former Empire of Brazil (1822-1889); on the imperial flag, the green represented the House of Braganza of Pedro I, the first Emperor of Brazil, while the yellow stood for the Habsburg Family of his wife; on the modern flag the green represents the forests of the country and the yellow rhombus its mineral wealth; the blue circle and stars, which replaced the coat of arms of the original flag, depict the sky over Rio de Janeiro on the morning of 15 November 1889 - the day the Republic of Brazil was declared; the number of stars has changed with the creation of new states and has risen from an original 21 to the current 27 (one for each state and the Federal District)

National anthem:

name: "Hino Nacional Brasileiro" (Brazilian National Anthem)

lyrics/music: Joaquim Osorio Duque ESTRADA/Francisco Manoel DA SILVA

note: music adopted 1890, lyrics adopted 1922; the anthem's music, composed in 1822, was used unofficially for many years before it was adopted

Economy ::Brazil

Economy - overview:

Characterized by large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, Brazil's economy outweighs that of all other South American countries, and Brazil is expanding its presence in world markets. Since 2003, Brazil has steadily improved its macroeconomic stability, building up foreign reserves, and reducing its debt profile by shifting its debt burden toward real denominated and domestically held instruments. In 2008, Brazil became a net external creditor and two ratings agencies awarded investment grade status to its debt. After record growth in 2007 and 2008, the onset of the global financial crisis hit Brazil in September 2008. Brazil experienced two quarters of recession, as global demand for Brazil's commodity-based exports dwindled and external credit dried up. However, Brazil was one of the first emerging markets to begin a recovery. Consumer and investor confidence revived and GDP growth returned to positive in 2010, boosted by an export recovery. Brazil's strong growth and high interest rates make it an attractive destination for foreign investors. Large capital inflows over the past year have contributed to the rapid appreciation of its currency and led the government to raise taxes on some foreign investments. President Dilma ROUSSEFF has pledged to retain the previous administration's commitment to inflation targeting by the Central Bank, a floating exchange rate, and fiscal restraint.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$2.194 trillion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 8 $2.041 trillion (2009 est.)

$2.045 trillion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$2.024 trillion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

7.5% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 15 -0.2% (2009 est.)

5.1% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$10,900 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 104 $10,300 (2009 est.)

$10,400 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 6.1%

industry: 26.4%

services: 67.5% (2010 est.)

Labor force:

103.6 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 6

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 20%

industry: 14%

services: 66% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate:

7% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 71 8.1% (2009 est.)

Population below poverty line:

26% (2008)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.1%

highest 10%: 43% (2007)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

56.7 (2005) country comparison to the world: 10 60.7 (1998)

Investment (gross fixed):

18.5% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 105

Public debt:

60.8% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 31 59.5% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

4.9% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 140 4.9% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

15.17% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 9 20.48% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

44.65% (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 2 47.25% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$165.8 billion (31 December 2010 est) country comparison to the world: 21 $125.3 billion (31 December 2009 est)

Stock of broad money:

$1.522 trillion (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 11 $972.8 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of domestic credit:

$2.104 trillion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 11 $1.542 trillion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$1.167 trillion (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 15 $589.4 billion (31 December 2008)

$1.37 trillion (31 December 2007)

Agriculture - products:

coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus; beef


textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, other machinery and equipment

Industrial production growth rate:

11.5% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 10

Electricity - production:

438.8 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 10

Electricity - consumption:

404.3 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 10

Electricity - exports:

2.034 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - imports:

42.06 billion kWh; note - supplied by Paraguay (2008 est.)

Oil - production:

2.572 million bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 9

Oil - consumption:

2.46 million bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 7

Oil - exports:

570,100 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 27

Oil - imports:

632,900 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 21

Oil - proved reserves:

13.2 billion bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 17

Natural gas - production:

10.28 billion cu m (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 41

Natural gas - consumption:

18.72 billion cu m (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 36

Natural gas - exports:

NA (2009 est.)

Natural gas - imports:

8.44 billion cu m (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 25

Natural gas - proved reserves:

364.2 billion cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 36

Current account balance:

-$52.73 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 186 -$24.3 billion (2009 est.)


$199.7 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 23 $153 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities:

transport equipment, iron ore, soybeans, footwear, coffee, autos

Exports - partners:

China 12.49%, US 10.5%, Argentina 8.4%, Netherlands 5.39%, Germany 4.05% (2009)


$187.7 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 22 $127.7 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery, electrical and transport equipment, chemical products, oil, automotive parts, electronics

Imports - partners:

US 16.12%, China 12.61%, Argentina 8.77%, Germany 7.65%, Japan 4.3% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$290.9 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 5 $238.5 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$310.8 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 25 $273.7 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$349.2 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 13 $319.9 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$131 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 22 $117.4 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange rates:

reals (BRL) per US dollar - 1.77 (2010), 1.9976 (2009), 1.8644 (2008), 1.85 (2007), 2.1761 (2006)

Communications ::Brazil

Telephones - main lines in use:

41.497 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 6

Telephones - mobile cellular:

173.959 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 5

Telephone system:

general assessment: good working system including an extensive microwave radio relay system and a domestic satellite system with 64 earth stations; mobile-cellular usage has more than tripled in the past 5 years

domestic: fixed-line connections have remained relatively stable in recent years and stand at about 20 per 100 persons; less expensive mobile-cellular technology has been a major driver in expanding telephone service to the lower-income segments of the population with mobile-cellular teledensity approaching 90 per 100 persons in 2009

international: country code - 55; landing point for a number of submarine cables, including Americas-1, Americas-2, Atlantis-2, GlobeNet, South Amrica-1, South American Crossing/Latin American Nautilius, and UNISUR that provide direct connectivity to South and Central America, the Caribbean, the US, Africa, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean region east), connected by microwave relay system to Mercosur Brazilsat B3 satellite earth station (2009)

Broadcast media:

state-run Radiobras operates a radio and a television network; more than 1,000 radio stations and more than 100 TV channels operating - mostly privately owned; private media ownership highly concentrated (2007)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

19.316 million (2010) country comparison to the world: 5

Internet users:

75.982 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 4

Transportation ::Brazil


4,072 (2010) country comparison to the world: 2

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 726

over 3,047 m: 7

2,438 to 3,047 m: 28

1,524 to 2,437 m: 176

914 to 1,523 m: 460

under 914 m: 55 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 3,346

1,524 to 2,437 m: 87

914 to 1,523 m: 1,617

under 914 m: 1,642 (2010)


13 (2010)


condensate/gas 62 km; gas 9,989 km; liquid petroleum gas 353 km; oil 4,517 km; refined products 4,465 km (2009)


total: 28,857 km country comparison to the world: 10 broad gauge: 5,709 km 1.600-m gauge (459 km electrified)

standard gauge: 194 km 1.440-m gauge

narrow gauge: 22,954 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)


total: 1,751,868 km country comparison to the world: 4 paved: 96,353 km

unpaved: 1,655,515 km (2004)


50,000 km (most in areas remote from industry and population) (2010) country comparison to the world: 3

Merchant marine:

total: 126 country comparison to the world: 45 by type: bulk carrier 19, cargo 18, chemical tanker 6, container 12, liquefied gas 12, passenger/cargo 10, petroleum tanker 42, roll on/roll off 7

foreign-owned: 26 (Chile 1, Denmark 3, Germany 6, Greece 1, Norway 3, Spain 12)

registered in other countries: 27 (Argentina 1, Bahamas 1, Ghana 1, Liberia 20, Marshall Islands 1, Panama 3) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

cargo ports (tonnage): Ilha Grande (Gebig), Paranagua, Rio Grande, Santos, Sao Sebastiao, Tubarao

container ports (TEUs): Santos (2,677,839), Itajai (693,580)

Transportation - note:

the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the Atlantic Ocean as a significant risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; crews have been robbed and stores or cargoes stolen

Military ::Brazil

Military branches:

Brazilian Army (Exercito Brasileiro, EB), Brazilian Navy (Marinha do
Brasil (MB), includes Naval Air and Marine Corps (Corpo de
Fuzileiros Navais)), Brazilian Air Force (Forca Aerea Brasileira,
FAB) (2010)

Military service age and obligation:

21-45 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 9 to 12 months; 17-45 years of age for voluntary service; an increasing percentage of the ranks are "long-service" volunteer professionals; women were allowed to serve in the armed forces beginning in early 1980s when the Brazilian Army became the first army in South America to accept women into career ranks; women serve in Navy and Air Force only in Women's Reserve Corps (2001)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 52,942,805

females age 16-49: 53,038,688 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 38,518,822

females age 16-49: 44,560,717 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 1,712,427

female: 1,652,491 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

1.7% of GDP (2009) country comparison to the world: 88

Transnational Issues ::Brazil

Disputes - international:

unruly region at convergence of Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay borders is locus of money laundering, smuggling, arms and illegal narcotics trafficking, and fundraising for extremist organizations; two uncontested boundary disputes with Uruguay over Isla Brasilera at the tripoint with Argentina at the confluence of the Quarai/Cuareim and Uruguay rivers, and in the 235 square kilometer Invernada River region over which tributary represents the legitimate source of the Quarai/Cuareim River; the Itaipu Dam reservoir covers over a once contested section of Brazil-Paraguay boundary west of Guaira Falls on the Rio Parana; an accord placed the long-disputed Isla Suarez/Ilha de Guajara-Mirim, a fluvial island on the Rio Mamore, under Bolivian administration in 1958, but sovereignty remains in dispute

Illicit drugs:

second-largest consumer of cocaine in the world; illicit producer of cannabis; trace amounts of coca cultivation in the Amazon region, used for domestic consumption; government has a large-scale eradication program to control cannabis; important transshipment country for Bolivian, Colombian, and Peruvian cocaine headed for Europe; also used by traffickers as a way station for narcotics air transshipments between Peru and Colombia; upsurge in drug-related violence and weapons smuggling; important market for Colombian, Bolivian, and Peruvian cocaine; illicit narcotics proceeds are often laundered through the financial system; significant illicit financial activity in the Tri-Border Area (2008)

page last updated on January 20, 2011


@British Indian Ocean Territory (South Asia)

Introduction ::British Indian Ocean Territory


Formerly administered as part of the British Crown Colony of Mauritius, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) was established as an overseas territory of the UK in 1965. A number of the islands of the territory were later transferred to the Seychelles when it attained independence in 1976. Subsequently, BIOT has consisted only of the six main island groups comprising the Chagos Archipelago. The largest and most southerly of the islands, Diego Garcia, contains a joint UK-US naval support facility. All of the remaining islands are uninhabited. Between 1967 and 1973, former agricultural workers, earlier residents in the islands, were relocated primarily to Mauritius, but also to the Seychelles. Negotiations between 1971 and 1982 resulted in the establishment of a trust fund by the British Government as compensation for the displaced islanders, known as Chagossians. Beginning in 1998, the islanders pursued a series of lawsuits against the British Government seeking further compensation and the right to return to the territory. In 2006 and 2007, British court rulings invalidated the immigration policies contained in the 2004 BIOT Constitution Order that had excluded the islanders from the archipelago, but upheld the special military status of Diego Garcia. In 2008, the House of Lords, as the final court of appeal in the UK, ruled in favor of the British Government by overturning the lower court rulings and finding no right of return for the Chagossians.

Geography ::British Indian Ocean Territory


archipelago in the Indian Ocean, south of India, about halfway between Africa and Indonesia

Geographic coordinates:

6 00 S, 71 30 E; note - Diego Garcia 7 20 S, 72 25 E

Map references:

Political Map of the World


total: 54,400 sq km country comparison to the world: 127 land: 60 sq km; Diego Garcia 44 sq km

water: 54,340 sq km

note: includes the entire Chagos Archipelago of 55 islands

Area - comparative:

land area is about 0.3 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:

0 km


698 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 3 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


tropical marine; hot, humid, moderated by trade winds


flat and low (most areas do not exceed two meters in elevation)

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

highest point: unnamed location on Diego Garcia 15 m

Natural resources:

coconuts, fish, sugarcane

Land use:

arable land: 0%

permanent crops: 0%

other: 100% (2005)

Irrigated land:

0 sq km

Natural hazards:

Environment - current issues:

Geography - note:

archipelago of 55 islands; Diego Garcia, largest and southernmost island, occupies strategic location in central Indian Ocean; island is site of joint US-UK military facility

People ::British Indian Ocean Territory


no indigenous inhabitants

note: approximately 1,200 former agricultural workers resident in the Chagos Archipelago, often referred to as Chagossians or Ilois, were relocated to Mauritius and the Seychelles in the 1960s and 1970s; in November 2004, approximately 4,000 UK and US military personnel and civilian contractors were living on the island of Diego Garcia

Government ::British Indian Ocean Territory

Country name:

conventional long form: British Indian Ocean Territory

conventional short form: none

abbreviation: BIOT

Dependency status:

overseas territory of the UK; administered by a commissioner, resident in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London

Legal system:

the laws of the UK where applicable apply

Executive branch:

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)

head of government: Commissioner Colin ROBERTS (since July 2008); Administrator Joanne YEADON (since December 2007); note - both reside in the UK and are represented by the officer commanding British Forces on Diego Garcia

cabinet: NA (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; commissioner and administrator appointed by the monarch

Diplomatic representation in the US:

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Diplomatic representation from the US:

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Flag description:

white with six blue wavy horizontal stripes; the flag of the UK is in the upper hoist-side quadrant; the striped section bears a palm tree and yellow crown (the symbols of the territory) centered on the outer half of the flag; the wavy stripes represent the Indian Ocean; although not officially described, the six blue stripes may stand for the six main atolls of the archipelago

Economy ::British Indian Ocean Territory

Economy - overview:

All economic activity is concentrated on the largest island of Diego Garcia, where a joint UK-US military facility is located. Construction projects and various services needed to support the military installation are performed by military and contract employees from the UK, Mauritius, the Philippines, and the US. There are no industrial or agricultural activities on the islands. The territory earns foreign exchange by selling fishing licenses and postage stamps.

Electricity - production:

NA kWh; note - electricity supplied by the US military

Electricity - consumption:

NA kWh

Exchange rates:

the US dollar is used

Communications ::British Indian Ocean Territory

Telephones - main lines in use:

Telephone system:

general assessment: separate facilities for military and public needs are available

domestic: all commercial telephone services are available, including connection to the Internet

international: country code (Diego Garcia) - 246; international telephone service is carried by satellite (2000)

Broadcast media:

Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) broadcasts over 3 separate frequencies for US and UK military personnel stationed on the islands (2009)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

827 (2010) country comparison to the world: 169

Transportation ::British Indian Ocean Territory


1 (2010) country comparison to the world: 232

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 1

over 3,047 m: 1 (2010)


note: short section of paved road between port and airfield on Diego Garcia

Ports and terminals:

Diego Garcia

Military ::British Indian Ocean Territory

Military branches:

no regular military forces

Military - note:

defense is the responsibility of the UK; the US lease on Diego Garcia expires in 2016

Transnational Issues ::British Indian Ocean Territory

Disputes - international:

Mauritius claims the Chagos Archipelago including Diego Garcia; in 2001, the former inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago, evicted in 1967 and 1973 and now residing chiefly in Mauritius, were granted UK citizenship and the right to repatriation; in May 2007, the UK Court of Appeals upheld the May 2006 High Court of London judgment reversing the UK government's 2004 Orders of Council that banned habitation on the islands; a small group of Chagossians visited Diego Garcia in April 2006; repatriation is complicated by the exclusive US military lease of Diego Garcia that restricts access to the largest viable island in the chain


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