Brazil: Key facts and figures
Brazil is Latin America's largest country and the fifth most populous in the world with nearly 193 million people. Its economy is forecast to grow 6.5% this year. A social welfare scheme introduced by President Lula in 2003 has transformed the lives of millions of poor people, although the gap between rich and poor remains high.
Geographically, Brazil's richest states are located in a strip running along the coast line, where most of its cities and key ports are located. These states were home to the first European colonialists, and where industry and commerce first flourished.
Brazil's last census results are from 10 years ago. Urban centres on the eastern coast have the highest population while rural areas and the Amazon rainforest remain relatively sparsely populated. The most recent estimate put the total population at 191 million people.
A WELFARE STATE
Bolsa Familia translates as "family grant". Since it began in 2003, the scheme has benefited millions of the country's poorest people.
Payments are usually made to a leading female member of each family.
Families earning less than 140 reais per capita ($73) a month receive a monthly payment of 22 reais ($12) per child.
Families whose per-capita income is less than 70 reais per month, the program gives an additional flat sum of 68 reais per month.
Brazil's perennial title of "country of the future" has become something of a cliche, but its politicians and business leaders are confident that it is on course to become the world's fifth largest economy by 2026.
Brazil is often bracketed with India, China and Russia as a grouping of countries developing rapidly and with similar economic potential.
The graph below shows how the IMF forecasts their comparative GDP/Purchasing Power Parity figures could grow over the next five years.