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Brazil Brazil


The largest country in South America, Brazil covers almost half the continent. From the 16th to 19th centuries it was ruled by the Portuguese, who named it after the brazilwood tree. The country contains deserts in the northeast, rain forests in the north and west, and rolling grasslands in the south. Because the climate is so varied, it is possible to grow almost any crop. Brazil has crowded modem cities - and areas that have never been explored. In the south, the forces of the Paranâ and Paraguay rivers have been harnessed to form the world's largest hydroelectric project, the Itaipû Dam


The population of Brazil is a mixture of peoples. Some are descended from native Indians who have always lived in Brazil, others from the Portuguese who ruled there for 300 years. Many Brazilians have African ancestors who were brought over in the 17th century to work as slaves on the sugar plantations. At the beginning of this century many Japanese sailed to Brazil to escape crop failures at home. Also during this century, large numbers of European migrants have settled in the south of the country.



For four days and nights before Lent each year (February or March), it is carnival time in Brazil. People corne from ail over thé world to join thé célébration in Rio de Janeiro, where there are street parties, balls, and a contest for thé best costume. Day and night thé streets are crammed with people in wonderful costumes moving to thé rhythm of music. A parade of brightly colored floats, organized by neighborhood samba schools, is the highlight of the carnival.


Brazil is the world's major producer and exporter of coffee, which is grown on huge plantations, mostly in the states of Paranâ and Sâo Paulo. However, coffee is only one of the country's main crops; soy beans, sugarcane, and cotton are also produced on a large scale. Brazil is one of the world's main producers of oranges, bananas, and cocoa beans as well. About one-third of Brazilians work in agriculture, although the size of farms varies from tiny plots of land to vast estates. Many people work in the fields for little pay, while a few rich landowners benefit from huge profits.


Everyone in Brazil plays or watches soccer, and there is a stadium in every city. The huge Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro was built for the 1950 World Cup, and holds 200,000 spectators. Brazil has won the World Cup more times than any other country, most recently in 1994. Many Brazilian stars play soccer abroad for teams in England, Spain, and Italy.




The Amazon River starts life in thé Andes Mountains of Peru and flows for 4,001 miles (6,439 km) across South America until it gushes into thé Atlantic Océan. For more than half of its length, thé Amazon flows •T    through Brazil. It is thé country's most important waterway, and large boats can travel inland as far as the  modern city of Manaus, about 994 miles(1600 Km) from the sea. Everyy year the river floods and deposits  fertile silt on the land.


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