The form of government is that of a democratic federative republic, with a presidential system. The president is both head of state and head of government of the Union and is elected for a four-year term, with the possibility of re-election for a second successive term. The current president is Michel Temer, who replaced Dilma Rousseff after her impeachment. The President appoints the Ministers of State, who assist in government. Legislative houses in each political entity are the main source of law in Brazil. The National Congress is the Federation's bicameral legislature, consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate. Judiciary authorities exercise jurisdictional duties almost exclusively. Brazil is a democracy, according to the Democracy Index 2010.
The Brazilian Federation is the "indissoluble union" of the States, the Municipalities and the Federal District. The Union, the states and the Federal District, and the municipalities, are the "spheres of government". The federation is set on five fundamental principles: sovereignty, citizenship, dignity of human beings, the social values of labour and freedom of enterprise, and political pluralism. The classic tripartite branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial under a checks and balances system) are formally established by the Constitution. The executive and legislative are organized independently in all three spheres of government, while the judiciary is organized only at the federal and state/Federal District spheres.
All members of the executive and legislative branches are directly elected. Judges and other judicial officials are appointed after passing entry exams. For most of its democratic history, Brazil has had a multi-party system, proportional representation. Voting is compulsory for the literate between 18 and 70 years old and optional for illiterates and those between 16 and 18 or beyond 70.
Together with several smaller parties, four political parties stand out: Workers' Party (PT), Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) and Democrats (DEM). Fifteen political parties are represented in Congress. It is common for politicians to switch parties, and thus the proportion of congressional seats held by particular parties changes regularly. Almost all governmental and administrative functions are exercised by authorities and agencies affiliated to the Executive.
Brazilian law is based on the civil law legal system and civil law concepts prevail over common law practice. Most of Brazilian law is codified, although non-codified statutes also represent a substantial part, playing a complementary role. Court decisions set out interpretive guidelines; however, they are seldom binding on other specific cases. Doctrinal works and the works of academic jurists have strong influence in law creation and in law cases.
The legal system is based on the Federal Constitution, promulgated on 5 October 1988, and is the fundamental law of Brazil. All other legislation and court decisions must conform to its rules. As of April 2007, there have been 53 amendments. States have their own constitutions, which must not contradict the Federal Constitution. Municipalities and the Federal District have "organic laws" (leis orgânicas), which act in a similar way to constitutions. Legislative entities are the main source of statutes, although in certain matters judiciary and executive bodies may enact legal norms. Jurisdiction is administered by the judiciary entities, although in rare situations the Federal Constitution allows the Federal Senate to pass on legal judgments. There are also specialized military, labor, and electoral courts. The highest court is the Supreme Federal Court.
This system has been criticized over the last few decades for the slow pace of decision-making. Lawsuits on appeal may take several years to resolve, and in some cases more than a decade elapses before definitive rulings. Nevertheless, the Supreme Federal Tribunal was the first court in the world to transmit its sessions on television, and also via YouTube. More recently, in December 2009, the Supreme Court adopted Twitter to display items on the day planner of the ministers, to inform the daily actions of the Court and the most important decisions made by them.
The armed forces of Brazil are the largest in Latin America by active personnel and the largest in terms of military equipment. It consists of the Brazilian Army (including the Army Aviation Command), the Brazilian Navy (including the Marine Corps and Naval Aviation), and the Brazilian Air Force. Brazil's conscription policy gives it one of the world's largest military forces, estimated at more than 1.6 million reservist annually.
Numbering close to 236,000 active personnel, the Brazilian Army has the largest number of armored vehicles in South America, including armored transports and tanks. It is also unique in Latin America for its large, elite forces specializing in unconventional missions, the Brazilian Special Operations Command, and the versatile Strategic Rapid Action Force, made up of highly mobilized and prepared Special Operations Brigade, Infantry Brigade Parachutist, 1st Jungle Infantry Battalion (Airmobile) and 12th Brigade Light Infantry (Airmobile) able to act anywhere in the country, on short notice, to counter external aggression. The states' Military Police and the Military Firefighters Corps are described as an ancillary forces of the Army by the constitution, but are under the control of each state's governor.
Brazil's navy, the second-largest in the Americas, once operated some of the most powerful warships in the world with the two Minas Geraes-class dreadnoughts, which sparked a South American dreadnought race between Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Today, it is a green water force and has a group of specialized elite in retaking ships and naval facilities, GRUMEC, unit specially trained to protect Brazilian oil platforms along its coast. It's the only navy in Latin America that operates an aircraft carrier, NAe São Paulo, and one of the ten navies of the world to operate one.
The Air Force is the largest in Latin America and has about 700 manned aircraft in service and effective about 67,000 personnel.
Brazil has not been invaded since 1865 during the Paraguayan War. Additionally, Brazil has no contested territorial disputes with any of its neighbours and neither does it have rivalries, like Chile and Bolivia have with each other. The Brazilian military has also three times intervened militarily to overthrow the Brazilian government. It has built a tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping missions such as in Haiti and East Timor.
Brazil's international relations are based on Article 4 of the Federal Constitution, which establishes non-intervention, self-determination, international cooperation and the peaceful settlement of conflicts as the guiding principles of Brazil's relationship with other countries and multilateral organizations.
According to the Constitution, the President has ultimate authority over foreign policy, while the Congress is tasked with reviewing and considering all diplomatic nominations and international treaties, as well as legislation relating to Brazilian foreign policy.
Brazil's foreign policy is a by-product of the country's unique position as a regional power in Latin America, a leader among developing countries, and an emerging world power. Brazilian foreign policy has generally been based on the principles of multilateralism, peaceful dispute settlement, and non-intervention in the affairs of other countries.
An increasingly well-developed tool of Brazil's foreign policy is providing aid as a donor to other developing countries. Brazil does not just use its growing economic strength to provide financial aid, but it also provides high levels of expertise and most importantly of all, a quiet non-confrontational diplomacy to improve governance levels. Total aid is estimated to be around $1 billion per year that includes:
- technical cooperation of around $480 million ($30 million in 2010 provided directly by the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC))
- an estimated $450 million for in-kind expertise provided by Brazilian institutions specialising in technical cooperation
In addition, Brazil manages a peacekeeping mission in Haiti ($350 million) and makes in-kind contributions to the World Food Programme ($300 million). This is in addition to humanitarian assistance and contributions to multilateral development agencies. The scale of this aid places it on par with China and India. The Brazilian South-South aid has been described as a "global model in waiting."
Law enforcement and crime
In Brazil, the Constitution establishes five different police agencies for law enforcement: Federal Police Department, Federal Highway Police, Federal Railroad Police, Military Police and Civil Police. Of these, the first three are affiliated with federal authorities and the last two are subordinate to state governments. All police forces are the responsibility of the executive branch of any of the federal or state powers. The National Public Security Force also can act in public disorder situations arising anywhere in the country.
The country still has above-average levels of violent crime and particularly high levels of gun violence and homicide. In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the number of 32 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest rates of intentional homicide of the world. The number considered tolerable by the WHO is about 10 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. However, there are differences between the crime rates in the Brazilian states. While in São Paulo the homicide rate registered in 2013 was 10.8 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, in Alagoas it was 64.7 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
Brazil also has high levels of incarceration and the third largest prison population in the world (behind only China and the United States), with an estimated total of approximately 700,000 prisoners around the country (June 2014), an increase of about 300% compared to the index registered in 1992. The high number of prisoners eventually overloaded the Brazilian prison system, leading to a shortfall of about two hundred thousand accommodations.
Brazil is a federation composed of 26 States, one Federal district (which contains the capital city, Brasília) and Municipalities. States have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a share of taxes collected by the Federal government. They have a governor and a unicameral legislative body elected directly by their voters. They also have independent Courts of Law for common justice. Despite this, states have much less autonomy to create their own laws than in the United States. For example, criminal and civil laws can be voted by only the federal bicameral Congress and are uniform throughout the country.
The states and the federal district may be grouped into regions: Northern, Northeast, Central-West, Southeast and Southern. The Brazilian regions are merely geographical, not political or administrative divisions, and they do not have any specific form of government. Although defined by law, Brazilian regions are useful mainly for statistical purposes, and also to define the distribution of federal funds in development projects.
Municipalities, as the states, have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a share of taxes collected by the Union and state government. Each has a mayor and an elected legislative body, but no separate Court of Law. Indeed, a Court of Law organized by the state can encompass many municipalities in a single justice administrative division called comarca (county).
Brazil is the largest national economy in Latin America, the world's eighth largest economy and the eighth largest in purchasing power parity (PPP) according to the 2017 estimates. Brazil has a mixed economy with abundant natural resources. After rapid growth in preceding decades, the country entered an ongoing recession in 2014 amid a political corruption scandal and nationwide protests.
Its GDP (PPP) per capita was $15,919 in 2017 putting Brazil in the 77th position according to IMF data. Active in agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors Brazil has a labor force of over a 107 million (ranking 6th worldwide) and unemployment of 6.2% (ranking 64th worldwide). The country has been expanding its presence in international financial and commodities markets, and is one of a group of four emerging economies called the BRIC countries. Brazil has been the world's largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years.
Brazil has become the fourth largest car market in the world. Major export products include aircraft, electrical equipment, automobiles, ethanol, textiles, footwear, iron ore, steel, coffee, orange juice, soybeans and corned beef. In total, Brazil ranks 23rd worldwide in value of exports.
Brazil pegged its currency, the real, to the U.S. dollar in 1994. However, after the East Asian financial crisis, the Russian default in 1998 and the series of adverse financial events that followed it, the Central Bank of Brazil temporarily changed its monetary policy to a managed-float scheme while undergoing a currency crisis, until definitively changing the exchange regime to free-float in January 1999.
Brazil received an International Monetary Fund rescue package in mid-2002 of $30.4 billion, then a record sum. Brazil's central bank paid back the IMF loan in 2005, although it was not due to be repaid until 2006. One of the issues the Central Bank of Brazil recently dealt with was an excess of speculative short-term capital inflows to the country, which may have contributed to a fall in the value of the U.S. dollar against the real during that period. Nonetheless, foreign direct investment (FDI), related to long-term, less speculative investment in production, is estimated to be $193.8 billion for 2007. Inflation monitoring and control currently plays a major part in the Central bank's role of setting out short-term interest rates as a monetary policy measure.
Between 1993 and 2010, 7012 mergers & acquisitions with a total known value of $707 billion with the involvement of Brazilian firms have been announced. The year 2010 was a new record in terms of value with 115 billion USD of transactions. The largest transaction with involvement of Brazilian companies has been: Cia. Vale do Rio Doce acquired Inco in a tender offer valued at US$18.9 billion.
Corruption costs Brazil almost $41 billion a year alone, with 69.9% of the country's firms identifying the issue as a major constraint in successfully penetrating the global market. Local government corruption is so prevalent that voters perceive it as a problem only if it surpasses certain levels, and only if a local media e.g. a radio station is present to divulge the findings of corruption charges. Initiatives, like this exposure, strengthen awareness which is indicated by the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index; ranking Brazil 69th out of 178 countries in 2012. The purchasing power in Brazil is eroded by the so-called Brazil cost.
Components and energy
Brazil's diversified economy includes agriculture, industry, and a wide range of services. Agriculture and allied sectors like forestry, logging and fishing accounted for 5.1% of the gross domestic product in 2007. Brazil is one of the largest producer of oranges, coffee, sugar cane, cassava and sisal, soybeans and papayas.
The industry – from automobiles, steel and petrochemicals to computers, aircraft and consumer durables – accounted for 30.8% of the gross domestic product. Industry is highly concentrated in metropolitan São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Campinas, Porto Alegre, and Belo Horizonte.
Brazil is the world's tenth largest energy consumer with much of its energy coming from renewable sources, particularly hydroelectricity and ethanol; the Itaipu Dam is the world's largest hydroelectric plant by energy generation. The first car with an ethanol engine was produced in 1978 and the first airplane engine running on ethanol in 2005. Recent oil discoveries in the Pre-salt layer have opened the door for a large increase in oil production. The governmental agencies responsible for the energy policy are the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the National Council for Energy Policy, the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels, and the National Agency of Electricity.
Tourism in Brazil is a growing sector and key to the economy of several regions of the country. The country had 6.36 million visitors in 2015, ranking in terms of the international tourist arrivals as the main destination in South America and second in Latin America after Mexico. Revenues from international tourists reached US$6 billion in 2010, showing a recovery from the 2008–2009 economic crisis. Historical records of 5.4 million visitors and US$6.8 billion in receipts were reached in 2011.
Natural areas are its most popular tourism product, a combination of ecotourism with leisure and recreation, mainly sun and beach, and adventure travel, as well as cultural tourism. Among the most popular destinations are the Amazon Rainforest, beaches and dunes in the Northeast Region, the Pantanal in the Center-West Region, beaches at Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina, cultural tourism in Minas Gerais and business trips to São Paulo city.
In terms of the 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), which is a measurement of the factors that make it attractive to develop business in the travel and tourism industry of individual countries, Brazil ranked in the 28st place at the world's level, third in the Americas, after Canada and United States.
Brazil's main competitive advantages are its natural resources, which ranked 1st on this criteria out of all countries considered, and ranked 23rd for its cultural resources, due to its many World Heritage sites. The TTCI report notes Brazil's main weaknesses: its ground transport infrastructure remains underdeveloped (ranked 116th), with the quality of roads ranking in 105th place; and the country continues to suffer from a lack of price competitiveness (ranked 114th), due in part to high ticket taxes and airport charges, as well as high prices and high taxation. Safety and security have improved significantly: 75th in 2011, up from 128th in 2008.
According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), international travel to Brazil accelerated in 2000, particularly during 2004 and 2005. However, in 2006 a slow-down took place, and international arrivals had almost no growth in 2007–08.
In spite of this trend, revenues from international tourism continued to rise, from USD 4 billion in 2005 to 5 billion in 2007, despite 330 000 fewer arrivals. This favorable trend is the result of the strong devaluation of the US dollar against the Brazilian Real, which began in 2004, but which makes Brazil a more expensive international destination. This trend changed in 2009, when both visitors and revenues fell as a result of the Great Recession of 2008–09. By 2010, the industry had recovered, and arrivals grew above 2006 levels to 5.2 million international visitors, and receipts from these visitors reached USD 6 billion. In 2011 the historical record was reached with 5.4 million visitors and US$6.8 billion in receipts.
Despite continuing record-breaking international tourism revenues, the number of Brazilian tourists travelling overseas has been growing steadily since 2003, resulting in a net negative foreign exchange balance, as more money is spent abroad by Brazilians than comes in as receipts from international tourists visiting Brazil. Tourism expenditures abroad grew from USD 5.8 billion in 2006, to USD 8.2 billion in 2007, a 42% increase, representing a net deficit of USD 3.3 billion in 2007, as compared to USD 1.5 billion in 2006, a 125% increase from the previous year. This trend is caused by Brazilians taking advantage of the stronger Real to travel and making relatively cheaper expenditures abroad. Brazilians traveling overseas in 2006 represented 4% of the country's population.
In 2005, tourism contributed with 3.2% of the country's revenues from exports of goods and services, and represented 7% of direct and indirect employment in the Brazilian economy. In 2006 direct employment in the sector reached 1.9 million people. Domestic tourism is a fundamental market segment for the industry, as 51 million people traveled throughout the country in 2005, and direct revenues from Brazilian tourists reached USD 22 billion, 5.6 times more receipts than international tourists in 2005.
In 2005, Rio de Janeiro, Foz do Iguaçu, São Paulo, Florianópolis and Salvador were the most visited cities by international tourists for leisure trips. The most popular destinations for business trips were São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre. In 2006 Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza were the most popular destinations for business trips.
Science and technology
Technological research in Brazil is largely carried out in public universities and research institutes, with the majority of funding for basic research coming from various government agencies. Brazil's most esteemed technological hubs are the Oswaldo Cruz Institute, the Butantan Institute, the Air Force's Aerospace Technical Center, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation and the INPE. The Brazilian Space Agency has the most advanced space program in Latin America, with significant resources to launch vehicles, and manufacture of satellite. Owner of relative technological sophistication, the country develops submarines, aircraft, as well as being involved in space research, having a Vehicle Launch Center Light and being the only country in the Southern Hemisphere the integrate team building International Space Station (ISS).
The country is also a pioneer in the search for oil in deep water, from where it extracts 73% of its reserves. Uranium is enriched at the Resende Nuclear Fuel Factory, mostly for research purposes (as Brazil obtains 88% from its electricity from hydroelectricity) and the country's first nuclear submarine was delivered in 2015 (by France). Brazil is one of the three countries in Latin America with an operational Synchrotron Laboratory, a research facility on physics, chemistry, material science and life sciences, and Brazil is the only Latin American country to have a semiconductor company with its own fabrication plant, the CEITEC. According to the Global Information Technology Report 2009-2010 of the World Economic Forum, Brazil is the world's 61st largest developer of information technology.
Brazil also has a large number of outstanding scientific personalities. Among the most renowned Brazilian inventors are priests Bartolomeu de Gusmão, Landell de Moura and Francisco João de Azevedo, besides Alberto Santos-Dumont, Evaristo Conrado Engelberg, Manuel Dias de Abreu, Andreas Pavel and Nélio José Nicolai. Brazilian science is represented by the likes of César Lattes (Brazilian physicist Pathfinder of Pi Meson), Mário Schenberg (considered the greatest theoretical physicist of Brazil), José Leite Lopes (only Brazilian physicist holder of UNESCO Science Prize), Artur Ávila (the first Latin American winner of Fields Medal) and Fritz Müller (pioneer in factual support of the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin).
Brazilian roads are the primary carriers of freight and passenger traffic. The road system totaled 1.98 million km (1.23 million mi) in 2002. The total of paved roads increased from 35,496 km (22,056 mi) (22,056 mi) in 1967 to 184,140 km (114,419 mi) (114,425 mi) in 2002.
The first investments in road infrastructure have given up in the 1920s, the government of Washington Luis, being pursued in the governments of Getúlio Vargas and Eurico Gaspar Dutra. President Juscelino Kubitschek (1956–61), who designed and built the capital Brasília, was another supporter of highways. Kubitschek was responsible for the installation of major car manufacturers in the country (Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors arrived in Brazil during his rule) and one of the points used to attract them was support for the construction of highways. With the implementation of Fiat in 1976 ending an automobile market closed loop, from the end of the 1990s the country has received large foreign direct investments installing in its territory other major car manufacturers and utilities, such as Iveco, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Honda, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Hyundai, Toyota among others. Brazil is the seventh most important country in the auto industry.
Brazil's railway system has been declining since 1945, when emphasis shifted to highway construction. The total length of railway track was 30,875 km (19,185 mi) in 2002, as compared with 31,848 km (19,789 mi) in 1970. Most of the railway system belonged to the Federal Railroad Corporation RFFSA, which was privatized in 2007. The São Paulo Metro was the first underground transit system in Brazil. The other metro systems are in Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Recife, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Teresina and Fortaleza.
The country has an extensive rail network of 28,538 kilometres (17,733 miles) in length, the tenth largest network in the world. Currently, the Brazilian government, unlike the past, seeks to encourage this mode of transport; an example of this incentive is the project of the Rio–São Paulo high-speed rail, that will connect the two main cities of the country to carry passengers.
There are about 2,500 airports in Brazil, including landing fields: the second largest number in the world, after the United States. São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport, near São Paulo, is the largest and busiest airport with nearly 20 million passengers annually, while handling the vast majority of commercial traffic for the country.
For freight transport waterways are of importance, e.g. the industrial zones of Manaus can be reached only by means of the Solimões–Amazonas waterway (3,250 kilometres (2,020 miles) with 6 metres (20 feet) minimum depth). The country also has 50,000 kilometres (31,000 miles) of waterways.
Coastal shipping links widely separated parts of the country. Bolivia and Paraguay have been given free ports at Santos. Of the 36 deep-water ports, Santos, Itajaí, Rio Grande, Paranaguá, Rio de Janeiro, Sepetiba, Vitória, Suape, Manaus and São Francisco do Sul are the most important. Bulk carriers have to wait up to 18 days before being serviced, container ships 36,3 hours on average.
The Brazilian public health system, the Unified Health System (SUS), is managed and provided by all levels of government, being the largest system of this type in the world. On the other hand, private healthcare systems play a complementary role. Public health services are universal and offered to all citizens of the country for free. However, the construction and maintenance of health centers and hospitals are financed by taxes, and the country spends about 9% of its GDP on expenditures in the area. In 2012, Brazil had 1.85 doctors and 2.3 hospital beds for every 1,000 inhabitants.
Despite all the progress made since the creation of the universal health care system in 1988, there are still several public health problems in Brazil. In 2006, the main points to be solved were the high infant (2.51%) and maternal mortality rates (73.1 deaths per 1000 births). The number of deaths from noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases (151.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants) and cancer (72.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants), also has a considerable impact on the health of the Brazilian population. Finally, external but preventable factors such as car accidents, violence and suicide caused 14.9% of all deaths in the country. The Brazilian health system was ranked 125th among the 191 countries evaluated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2000.
The Federal Constitution and the Law of Guidelines and Bases of National Education determine that the Federal Government, States, Federal District and municipalities must manage and organize their respective education systems. Each of these public educational systems is responsible for its own maintenance, which manages funds as well as the mechanisms and funding sources. The constitution reserves 25% of the state budget and 18% of federal taxes and municipal taxes for education.
According to the IBGE, in 2011, the literacy rate of the population was 90.4%, meaning that 13 million (9.6% of population) people are still illiterate in the country; functional illiteracy has reached 21.6% of the population. Illiteracy is highest in the Northeast, where 19.9% of the population is illiterate.
Higher education starts with undergraduate or sequential courses, which may offer different options of specialization in academic or professional careers. Depending on the choice, students can improve their educational background with courses of post-graduate studies or broad sense.
Attending an institution of higher education is required by Law of Guidelines and Bases of Education. Kindergarten, elementary and medium educations are required of all students, provided the student does not hold any disability, whether physical, mental, visual or hearing.
The University of São Paulo is the third best university in Latin America, according to recent 2018 QS World University Rankings. Of the top 20 Latin Americans universities, eight are Brazilian. Most of them are public.
Media and communication
The Brazilian press had its beginnings in 1808 with the arrival of the Portuguese royal family to Brazil, hitherto forbidden any activity of the press – was the publication of newspapers or books. The Brazilian press was officially born in Rio de Janeiro on 13 May 1808, with the creation of the Royal Printing, National Press by the Prince Regent Dom João.
The Gazeta do Rio de Janeiro, the first newspaper published in the country, began to circulate on 10 September 1808. The largest newspapers nowadays are Folha de S.Paulo (from the state of São Paulo), Super Notícia (Minas Gerais 296.799), O Globo (RJ 277.876) and O Estado de S. Paulo (SP 235.217).
Radio broadcasting began on 7 September 1922, with a speech by then President Pessoa, and was formalized on 20 April 1923 with the creation of "Radio Society of Rio de Janeiro."
Television in Brazil began officially on 18 September 1950, with the founding of TV Tupi by Assis Chateaubriand. Since then television has grown in the country, creating large public networks such as Globo, SBT, Record and Bandeirantes. Today it is the most important factor in popular culture of Brazilian society, indicated by research showing that as much as 67% of the general population follow the same daily soap opera broadcast. Digital Television, using the SBTVD standard (based on the Japanese standard ISDB-T), was adopted 29 June 2006 and launched on 2 November 2007. In May 2010, Brazil launched TV Brasil Internacional, an international television station, initially broadcasting to 49 countries.