Brazil is a huge country and so diversified that you can find the whole world on it. It takes up almost half of the South American continent and spans four time zones. In its 8.5 million sq kilometers (or 5.2 million sq miles), Brazil presents fantastic landscapes ranging from semi-desert to the rainforest, one of the richest biodiversity of the planet into different ecosystems.
The country is relatively flat; the highest mountain "Pico da Neblina" is located in the north of Amazon and has 3,014 m (10,000 ft). Other important chain of mountains is the "Serra da Mantiqueira", between Rio and São Paulo and the "Catarinense Plateau" in the south of the country.
Brazil shares border with almost all countries in South America (except Chile and Ecuador).
The Amazon Tropical Rain Forest is located in the Northwest and accounts for almost 42% of its total area. Other important ecosystems are the flood areas of Pantanal in the West, the green plains of Pampas, in the South, the semi-desert Cerrado, in the Mid-West plateau and the arid Caatinga, in the Northeast.
Despite its huge size the population inhabit only a very small part of the country. Great part of the population is urban (over 80%) and based in the coast, mostly in Southeast, where are located the largest cities - São Paulo (17 million), Rio de Janeiro (10 million) and Belo Horizonte (3 million). Other important cities are Brasília (the Capital), Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Salvador, Fortaleza, Manaus and Belém.
Brazil has 26 states plus Federal District and is divided in 5 regions below.
The North Region is made up of 7 states: Amazonas, Pará, Acre, Rondônia, Roraima, Amapá and Tocantins. Including most of the magnificent Amazon, it is sparsely populated and most people live in the major cities like Manaus and Belém.
The Northeast Region is made up of 9 states: Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe and Bahia. It contains only 30% of the Brazilian population where during colonization period very important centers took place. The rich folklore and music tradition, remain from the past, making this beautiful coast line with white sand beaches, even more special.
The Mid-West Region has only 6% of the Brazilian population. Until 1960, when Brasília (Brazil’s capital) was founded, there were only extensive savannas and tropical grassland all over it. Ever since, the region has been experiencing some growth with the establishment of new industries throughout its 4 states: Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás and Distrito Federal. Three ecosystems, Pantanal, Cerrado and Amazon rainforest (southern), meet here.
The Southeast Region is the economic hub of the country with highly industrialized areas around the largest cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. Here concentrates 45% of country’s population. The Southeast provides a sophisticated variety of hotels, nightlife, restaurants and shopping. In the coast zone there are some pleasant getaways. This is where you find some of the most important remnants of Atlantic Rainforest. The historic Estrada Real links the interior (Baroque Minas) to the coast mountain chain (Serra do Mar). The region is made up of 4 states: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo.
The South Region contains around 15% of Brazilian inhabitants, among which, a high rate of German, Italian, Swiss and Eastern European immigrants. The South presents a good balance between rural and manufacturing sectors. On the border, between Brazil and Argentina, is located Cataratas do Iguaçu (Iguassu Falls), with 19 large falls superior to Niagara and Victoria in size and attractiveness. This area is also home of Lagamar estuary, great canyons, old Jesuit missions and good wineries. This region is made up of 3 states: Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul.