In size, Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world and the single largest country in South America. It covers almost half of the subcontinent of South America and is larger than the continental United States. With over 200 million people, it has the 5th largest population in the world. Brazil’s Atlantic seacoast stretches for more than 4,500 miles along its eastern border, creating some of the most beautiful beaches in the world (over 4,000 in all). There are also more than 25,000 miles of navigable waterways within the interior of the country (more than any other country in the world).
Because of its enormous size, Brazil shares a border with every country in South America, except Chile and Ecuador. Geographically, it is divided into five different regions which provide Brazil with a unique diverse range of climates as well as one of the largest number of species of flora and fauna found anywhere in the world. The population of Brazil is derived mainly from Portuguese, German, French, Italian and Dutch immigrants and the descendants of freed African slaves and indigenous Indians. This diverse group of people have joined together to create a uniquely, homogenous culture peculiar to Brazil. This is due in part to the acceptance of Portuguese as the national language and of Catholicism as the dominant religion. Yet, unlike the Portuguese spoken in Portugal, the language in Brazil is spoken with its own rhythmic intonations and is sometimes referred to as Brazilian rather than Portuguese. Although Brazil has not recognized any official religion since its independence from Portugal, the vast majority of the population is Catholic (despite often being mixed with the exotic traditions and beliefs brought from Africa by the black culture).