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Regions of Brazil

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Brazil is currently divided into five regions (also called macroregions) by the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE). These divisions are composed of states with similar cultural, economical, historical and social aspects, and, although information given by this type of division is not very accurate from the scientific point of view, this division is the most widely used in Brazil because official information given by the IBGE uses this system.

North Region

  • Area: 3,869,637.,9 km² (45.27%)
  • Population: 12,833,383 (3.31 people/km²; 6.2%)
  • GDP: ~$9.6 billion (2%)
  • HDI: ~0.764
  • Climate: Equatorial (high temperatures and high annual precipitation)
  • States: Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins
  • Largest Cities: Manaus (1,403,796); Belém (1,279,861); Ananindeua (392,947); Porto Velho (314,525); Macapá (282,745); Santarém (262,721); Rio Branco (252,885); Boa Vista (220,383); Palmas (208,000).
  • Economy: Iron, Energy production, electronic manufacturing, latex, tourism.
  • Transport: Mainly rivers (which are abundant in the region). Highways are scarce and present mainly in the east. Airplanes are commonly used in small remote communities and sometimes in the larger cities.
  • Vegetation: Almost the entire region is covered by the Amazon Rainforest, except the state of Tocantins, which has savanna-like vegetation (cerrado). Although most of the native vegetation still remains, the region suffers from critical problems due to the growing deforestation of the area.
  • Notable characteristics: Presence of the Amazon Rainforest, which is the vegetation dominant in every state but Tocantins. Cities are spread far apart in the region, and it has the lowest population density of the country. There are very few paved highways in the region, as it is almost isolated from the rest of the country. It is also the biggest region of Brazil, being responsible for almost half of the Brazilian territorial extension. Economic growth above national average (especially in Amazonas and in Tocantins).

Northeast Region

  • Area: 1,561,177 km² (18.3%)
  • Population: 47,700,000 (30.55 people/km²; 27%)
  • GDP: ~$48.1 billion (~12%)
  • HDI: ~0.716
  • Climate: Very hot all the year long. Tropical near the coast and semi-arid in the interior; semi-equatorial in the far west of the region.
  • States: Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte, Sergipe
  • Largest Cities: Salvador (2,892,625); Fortaleza (2,138,234); Recife (1,421,993); São Luís (868,047); Maceió (796,842); Natal (789,836); Teresina (714,583); João Pessoa (595,429); Jaboatão dos Guararapes; (580,795); Feira de Santana (481,137); Aracaju (461,083); Olinda (368,666); Campina Grande (354,546).
  • Economy: Tourism, cocoa, machinery manufacturing, textiles.
  • Transport: Mainly highways, which are more abundant along the coast, although transport by sea is also important.
  • Vegetation: Mainly desert-like vegetation, with tropical forests along the coast and in the west and savanna-like vegetation in the southwest.
  • Notable characteristics: This region was the first part of Brazil discovered by the Portuguese, and the first Brazilian capital, Salvador, was founded here. It has the lowest levels in the country in many social indicators, but it had the best economic growth (above national average) between 2000 and 2003.

Central-West Region

  • Area: 1,612,077.2 km² (18.86%)
  • Population: 11,616,750 (7.2 people/km²; 6.4%)
  • GDP: ~$40 billion (8%)
  • HDI: ~0.818
  • Climate: Savanna climate (hot, with relative little precipitation) northeast and the east; Tropical in the east and in the west; Equatorial in the north.
  • States: Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Distrito Federal (Federal District).
  • Largest Cities: Brasília (national capital) (2,043,169); Goiânia (1,090,737); Campo Grande (662,534); Cuiabá (483,044); Aparecida de Goiânia (335,849); Anápolis (287,666).
  • Economy: Livestock, Soybeans, tourism.
  • Transport: Highways where they are present (mostly in the center and east regions); transport by rivers is common in the north and in the east; airplanes are used in remote and smaller communities.
  • Vegetation: Mainly savanna-like vegetation, including the Pantanal (Chaco, in Paraguay), flooded areas in the west, equatorial rainforests in the north.
  • Notable characteristics: With a low population density, most of the land in the region is used for grazing instead of agriculture. The region is also the least industrialized in the country, based mainly in food & meat processing.

Southeast Region

  • Area: 927,286 km² (10.85%)
  • Population: 72,300,000 (77.96 people/km², 38%)
  • GDP(nominal): ~$320 billion (58,5%)
  • HDI: ~0.817
  • Climate: Tropical in the northwest (warm, relatively dry in the winter and wet in the summer); Semi-arid in the north; Temperate in the south
  • States: Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo
  • Largest Cities: São Paulo (10,405,867); Rio de Janeiro (5,851,914); Belo Horizonte (2,232,747); Guarulhos (1,071,268); Campinas (968.172); Nova Iguaçu (915,366); São Gonçalo (889,828); Duque de Caxias (770,865); São Bernardo do Campo (701,289); Osasco (650,993); Santo André (648,443); Contagem (600,236); São José dos Campos (610,965); Ribeirão Preto (505,053); Uberlândia (500,488); Sorocaba (494,649); Niterói (458,465); Juiz de Fora (456,432); Santos (412,243), Vila Velha (357,952), Jundiaí (340,907), Bauru (310,000), Vitória (291,941)
  • Economy: Manufacturing (machinary, electronics, automobilive and aviation), coffee, sugar cane, tourism, petroleum, textiles, energy production (not sufficient, however, to fulfill its demand). It is the business-economic center of Brazil, and most large companies present in Brazil have constructed their headquarters in this region
  • Transport: The region is heavily covered by highways, and, to some extent, railways. Railways and rivers are used mainly for freight, and used where they are present. The region also contains several airport hubs which provide many domestic and international air routes.
  • Vegetation: Mainly tropical-like semideciduous forests (Mata Atlântica); semi-arid in the north, with almost no vegetation; savannah-like vegetation in the west and in the northwest (Cerrado). Very little of the native vegetation still remains (~2%, mostly in parks)
  • Notable characteristics: The southeast region is the major powerhouse of the Brazilian economy, being responsible for 58% of the Brazilian GDP (approximately $320 billion). It is also the most populous region in the country, and has the three most important national metropolitan regions (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte) as well as many other large cities (Campinas, Santos, Juiz de Fora, Uberlândia).

South Region

  • Area: 577,214 km² (6.75%)
  • Population: 25,800,000 (43,46 people/km², 12.5%)
  • GDP: ~$91.5 billion (16.5%)
  • HDI: ~0.831
  • Climate: Subtropical in almost all of the entire region, hot to moderately hot in the summer, mild (though cold for Brazilian standards) and very humid winters. Snow is extremely rare except for the highlands where some occasional light snow might fall. The northeast part of the region has a tropical climate, being hot in the summer and warm/cool during the winter.
  • States: Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina
  • Largest Cities: Curitiba (1,828,092); Porto Alegre (1,441,554); Londrina (446,822); Joinville (429,004); Caxias do Sul (360,223); Florianópolis (341,781); Pelotas (323,034); Canoas (305,711); Maringá (288.,465); Ponta Grossa (281,000); Blumenau (277,500); Cascavel (273,000); Foz do Iguaçu (269,585); Santa Maria (243,396), Rio Grande (238,000)
  • Economy: Machinery and automobile industries, textiles, tourism, energy production, information technology, orange, apple, grapefruit.
  • Transport: There are many developed highways and railways throughout the region, although the latter is mainly used for freight. Rivers are used when possible.
  • Vegetation: Rainforests along the coast (Mata Atlântica), tropical semiciduous in the north and west (Araucárias) and prairie-like vegetation in the south (Pampas). Little native vegetation still remains due to deforestation.
  • Notable characteristics: The South region is characterized by its high standard of living, with the best social indicators of the country. This region contains the cities with the highest HDI levels: Florianópolis has an HDI of 0.875; Porto Alegre has an HDI of 0.865; Curitiba has an HDI of 0.856 (information accurate as of 1996). The region, along with the state of São Paulo, is also also characterized by its strong immigrant presence, with many inhabitants descended from Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Polish, Japanese, Arabic, Ukrainian and Lithuanian immigrants, and have added to the local culture, especially in architecture, cuisine and forms of agriculture.