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Country Overview
Brazil is the largest country in South America, covering 3,300,171 square miles. It has a population of 167,660,687.

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese. In Portuguese the country name is Brasil. Brazil's chief unit of currency is called the real. The capital is Brasilia.

Brazil is a federative republic that achieved its independence from Portugal in 1822.

Brazil's chief executive is the President, who serves one, four-year term. Brazil's judicial branch consists of the Brazilian National Congress, an 81-member senate, each elected to 8-year terms, and the 513-member Chamber of Deputies, who serve 4-year terms.

Brazilians can vote at age 16, and are obliged to do so from age 18 onwards.
Brazil's constitution prohibits torture, allows for popular votes on major issues, allows for freedom of speech, and protects citizens' right to privacy and to strike. The military reserves the right to intervene to preserve law and order.

There are 26 states in Brazil and each has a local government.

Brazil is known for its diverse regions. The North is famous for the Amazon Rainforest. Many of Brazil's indigenous people live in this area, and tourism is a major industry here. The rainforest climate is very hot, wet, and tropical. In the Southeast, highlands keep the temperature dry and cool. The majority of the population is centered in the Southeast; the cities of Rio de Janeiro and S„o Paulo are located here. The Southeast is Brazil's industrial hub, and a major agricultural region. The South and Midwest have temperate climates and are mainly farm and cattle-ranching areas.

The South and southeastern regions of Brazil are known for their cultural mix, as people from all over the world have settled there. The majority of Brazil's population, 54, is of Portuguese descent. People of mixed Asian, European, African-European, and European-Native American heritage make up 39. Members of Brazil's indigenous tribes are a minority. Most Brazilians are Catholic.

The African-Portuguese influence in Brazil has created world-renowned musical styles such as Samba and Bossa Nova. The annual Carnival festival draws visitors from around the world.

Brazil produces nuts, tropical fruit, sugar cane, cocoa, coffee, rubber, cattle, gold, precious stones, and petroleum.

A typical diet contains an abundance of beans and rice. The most commonly used meat is beef, but chicken, fish, and pork find their way into traditional dishes. Brazilians also enjoy a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Cooking in the north and northeastern regions tends to be very spicy.

Education in Brazil is free and compulsory. Many children attend nursery school at age three and four and begin kindergarten at age five or six. The student usually completes the primary education at age 14 or 15, then attends high school for three years.

A typical high school day in Brazil begins at 7:15 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. Students generally have 6 classes per day. They study 14 different subjects and have between 200- 220 days of school per year. The long vacation is in December and January.

There are compulsory subjects that must be studies all three years of high school in order for students to be eligible for college. They are science (physics, biology, chemistry), Portuguese, Portuguese composition, math, English, history, geography, physical education, and philosophy. Some schools also offer optional courses like sewing, art, journalism, and typing. Students who wish to attend college after high school must pass a difficult comprehensive exam that covers everything they've learned since first grade.

Brazilian high schools are very academically oriented.

Brazilian schools don't normally offer team sports. Teens interested in playing sports usually join community sports clubs. Popular teen sports are soccer, volleyball, basketball, and handball. Swimming and surfing are also popular.

Brazilian schools also tend not to offer music classes or band, so students interested in learning a musical instrument must take private lessons. Favorite instruments to learn are piano and guitar.

Teens all over the world wear jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers and Brazilians are no exception.

Brazilian teens normally begin dating around age 14. The age for getting a driver's license is 18.

Teenagers in Brazil generally stay out later and enjoy a bit more freedom than teens in the U.S., however curfews and rules can vary greatly from family to family.

Teenagers in Brazil gather at dance clubs and parties, and enjoy going to movies, shopping, and meeting friends at restaurants and pubs. On the weekends many teens go to the beach or out to the country.

Business hours vary, but most stores are open between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Recycling is not as common as it is in the U.S., but is a growing trend.

It is not common for teens to be involved with volunteer and civic activities.
Family It is fairly common for both parents to work outside the home.

Brazilian families tend to be very close-knit.

An average family has 2 to 3 children.

Dogs, cats, and birds are the most popular pets.

Most Brazilian teenagers continue to live with their parents after they graduate from high school and often remain in their parent's home until they marry.

It is not common for grandparents to live with the family, although big extended family gatherings are quite frequent.

Live in maid service is common in Brazil. Often a family will have more than one live-in maid. Daily maids and weekly or monthly maid service is also common.

Kisses and hugs are often exchanged when greeting friends. Men usually shake hands when introduced.

Religious observance and church attendance varies from family to family.
Major holidays are Carnival (February), Easter, Christmas and New Year. September 7th is Brazilian Independence Day.

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