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Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil [bɾaˈziw]), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: República Federativa do Brasil, About this sound listen ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the sixth most populous. The capital is Brasília, and the most populated city is São Paulo. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas, besides being one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to the strong immigration from various places in the world. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 kilometers (4,655 mi). It borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and covers 47.3% of the continent's land area. Its Amazon River basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. This unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, and is the subject of significant global interest and debate regarding deforestation and environmental protection.

Brazil was inhabited by numerous tribal nations prior to the landing in 1500 of explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed the area for the Portuguese Empire. Brazil remained a Portuguese colony until 1808, when the capital of the empire was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. In 1815, the colony was elevated to the rank of kingdom upon the formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Independence was achieved in 1822 with the creation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. The ratification of the first constitution in 1824 led to the formation of a bicameral legislature, now called the National Congress. The country became a presidential republic in 1889 following a military coup d'état. An authoritarian military junta came to power in 1964 and ruled until 1985, after which civilian governance resumed. Brazil's current constitution, formulated in 1988, defines it as a democratic federal republic. The federation is composed of the union of the Federal District, the 26 states, and the 5,570 municipalities.

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The battleship Minas Geraes in 1910
Credit: Brazilian Navy
The Minas Geraes class, spelled Minas Gerais in some sources, consisted of two battleships built for the Brazilian Navy by the British company Armstrong Whitworth. The ships were named Minas Geraes, after the Brazilian state, and São Paulo, which honored both the state and city. They were intended to be Brazil's first step towards becoming an international power.

In 1904, Brazil began a major naval building program that included three 11,800-long-ton (12,000 tonne) small battleships. Designing and ordering the ships took two years, but these plans were scrapped after the revolutionary dreadnought concept rendered the Brazilian design totally obsolete. Two of these dreadnoughts were ordered instead, making Brazil became the third country to have ships of this type under construction, before traditional powers like Germany, France or Russia. As such, the ships caused quite a stir among the major countries in the world, many of whom incorrectly speculated the ships were actually destined for a rival nation.

Soon after their delivery in 1910, both Minas Geraes and São Paulo were embroiled in the Revolt of the Lash (Revolta da Chibata), in which the crews of four Brazilian ships demanded the abolition of corporal punishment in the navy. The ships surrendered four days after it began, when a bill was passed granting amnesty to all involved. In 1922, the two battleships put down a revolt at Fort Copacabana. Two years later, lieutenants on São Paulo mutinied but found little support from other military units, so they sailed to Montevideo, Uruguay, and requested asylum. Minas Geraes was modernized in the 1930s, but both battleships were too old to actively participate in the Second World War, and instead were employed as harbor defense ships in Salvador and Recife. São Paulo was sold in 1951 to a British shipbreaker, but was lost in a storm north of the Azores while being towed to her final destination. Minas Geraes was sold to an Italian scrapper in 1953 and towed to Genoa the following year.

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Beberibe
Credit: Luciaccoelho

Beberibe is a municipality in the state of Ceará in Brazil. It's estimated population in 2006 is 46,439. The current mayor (Prefeito) of Beberibe is Marcos de Queiroz Ferreira. His term ends in 2008. The municipality was created on June 5, 1892, and incorporated July 18, 1892. The name 'Beberibe' means "where the sugar cane grows".

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Brazil is bigger than Europe, wilder than Africa, and weirder than Baffin Land.

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Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Credit: Agência Brasil
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Portuguese pronunciation: [feʁˈnɐ̃dʊ ẽˈʁikɪ kaʁˈdozʊ], (born June 18, 1931) – also known by his initials FHC – was the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil for two terms from January 1, 1995 to January 1, 2003. He is also an accomplished sociologist. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he has lived in São Paulo most of his life. Cardoso is a widower (he was married to Ruth Valença Correia Leite Cardoso until her death on June 24, 2008) and has three children.

Educated as a sociologist, he was a Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Universidade de São Paulo. He was President of the International Sociological Association (ISA), from 1982 to 1986. He is a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), an honorary foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has penned several books. He was also Associate Director of Studies in the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and then visiting professor at the Collège de France and later at the Paris Nanterre University.

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Ottomar Pinto
Credit: Agência Brasil

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Panorama of Brasilia from the TV tower
Credit: Uri R

Brasília is the capital of Brazil. It presents a sui generis status in Brazil, given it is not a municipality like nearly all cities in Brazil. Instead, Brasília is the first of several Administrative Regions within the Distrito Federal (Federal District) — which, constitutionally, cannot be divided into municipalities. Informally, however, Brasília is referred to as coterminous with the Federal District.

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