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Brazil Table of Contents



Population: 160,960,881, according to IBGE's February 14, 1998, count. Largest part of population lives in Southeast (63 million). Northeast has 45 million people; South, 23.1 million; North, 11.1 million; and Center-West, 10.2 million. Average annual population growth rate: 1.4 percent (1992-98), as compared with 3.15 percent in 1950-55. Urbanization rate: 80 percent (1997). Projected 169 million population in 2000 and 200.3 million in 2020. Population density, 18.38 people per square kilometer (1996), although majority crowd around coastal cities.

Age Structure and Aging: Although nearly half of Brazilians are in their mid-twenties, fraction under fourteen years of age has fallen from 43 percent to 34 percent, while fraction over sixty years of age has risen from 4 percent to 8 percent. Median age: 24.3 (1995, Pan American Health Organization--PAHO/World Health Organization--WHO). Pension fund assets as percentage of gross domestic product (GDP--see Glossary): 10.

Birthrate: 21.16 births per 1,000 population (1995 estimate). Average for 1990-95: 24.6.

Death Rate: Eight deaths per 1,000 population (1995 estimate). Average for 1990-95: 7.5.

Net Migration Rate: Zero migrant(s) per 1,000 population (1995 estimate).

Infant Mortality Rate: According to 1991 census, 49.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, as compared with 69.1 per 1,000 in 1980. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) figures: 57 per 1,000 in 1993; 59.5 per 1,000 in 1994. Rate in Northeast in 1995: 122 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Life Expectancy at Birth: In 1995, 67.1 years (men, 62.1; women, 68.9). Seniors over sixty years numbered 10.9 million in 1995, or 7.4 percent of the population.

Total Fertility Rate: About 2.3 children born per woman (1995 average estimate). Population growth curtailed sharply since 1975 with one of world's most successful family planning drives. Female sterilization (tubal ligation) and birth-control pills most common forms of contraception: 27 percent of women of child-bearing age have been sterilized, and 26 percent use birth-control pills. According to the new Family Planning Law of January 12, 1996, family planning is right of every citizen.

Health: Public expenditures on health as percentage of GDP: 2.5 percent (1995). Central government health expenditures as percentage of total central government expenditures: 6.7 percent. Total health expenditures as percentage of GDP: 5.8 percent. Physicians per 10,000 people: 13 (1990). Nurses per 10,000: 3.7 (1990). Hospital beds per 1,000 people: 3.6 (1990). Maternal mortality rate: 141 per 100,000 live births (1994). Mortality rate for cancer among women: 60 percent (1995). Cholera cases: 49,956 (1993), as compared with 30,054 in 1992. Malaria cases: 577,098 (1991). Cumulative cases of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) reported to PAHO/WHO as of September 1997: 10,845 (fourth highest rate in world); total AIDS deaths: 54,813. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) estimated prevalence in 1994: 550,000.

Housing and Sanitation: Country has serious problems resulting from growing demand for new housing and basic sanitation, in part because urbanization rate has increased from 47.0 percent in 1960 to 78.2 percent in 1991. In 1991, 70.7 percent of Brazilian households served by public water supply system, with 92.2 percent having indoor plumbing equipment. In urban areas, 95 percent of dwellings receive water and sewerage service, and 98 percent have electric power. Discrepancies, such as inadequate sanitation, exist between poor and better-off favelas. Disposal systems cover 84 percent of urban areas and 32 percent of rural areas. In rural areas, only 61 percent of dwellings have water and sewerage access, and only 55 percent have electricity. Roughly 70 percent of all Brazilian households have refrigerators. Approximately one installed telephone and one automobile for every ten Brazilians.

Ethnic Groups: Portuguese, who began colonizing in sixteenth century, and various European immigrant groups--mainly Germans, Italians, Spanish, and Polish--constitute about 55 percent; mixed Caucasian and African, 38 percent; African (brought to Brazil as slaves), about 6 percent; and others--Amerindian (principally Tupí and Guaraní linguistic stock), Japanese, and other Asians and Arabs--less than 1 percent. São Paulo has largest Japanese community outside Japan, except for Hawaii.

Amerindians: Indians do not have ownership of land that they occupy permanently. Brazil has 651 Indian reservations totaling 94.6 million hectares. Largest is Yanomami (Amazonas and Roraima states), with 9.6 million hectares and a popula-tion of 18,000 members. Guaraní total 20,000 members.

Language: Portuguese, official language, spoken by all but few isolated Amerindians, who retain their languages, and immigrants who have not yet acquired proficiency in Portuguese. There are no official regional dialects. Brazil only Portuguese-speaking country in South America.

Education: Investment in education (as percentage of government budget): 2.7 percent (1995). Education system organized on three levels: primary (eight years), secondary (three years), and higher education. States and municipalities largely responsible for primary education; states control secondary education; private institutions largely administer higher education, except for federal universities. School enrollment figures reported in last census (1990) were: preschool, 3.9 million in 57,614 schools; primary, 29.4 million in 206,817 schools; and secondary, 3.7 million in 10,928 schools. Primary school free and compulsory for children between ages of seven and fourteen. Average student in Brazilian public school receives four hours or less of class time per day, although national guidelines suggest six hours per day. Primary and secondary schools enroll only 88 percent of Brazil's children. High drop-out rates and grade repetition endemic problems. Only about a third of students enrolled in primary school finish eight-year "mandatory" schooling. Estimated 5 million children and 25 percent of poorest children do not attend school. Of sixty-eight major universities in Brazil, thirty-five are federal, twenty private or church-related, two municipal, and eleven state-supported. Nearly all states and Federal District have one or more federal universities, all of which operate directly under Ministry of Education. In many states, there are also one or more state universities and one or more Catholic universities. About 800 other colleges and institutions of higher education grant degrees in areas such as engineering, medicine, agriculture, law, economics, and business administration. Three military academies train officers of Brazilian Army (Exército Brasileiro), Brazilian Navy (Marinha do Brasil), and Brazilian Air Force (Fôrça Aérea Brasileira--FAB), granting diplomas equivalent to a B.A. degree. Only army and FAB schools of engineering grant graduate and postgraduate degrees.

Literacy: Of total number of Brazilians over fifteen years of age (100.7 million), 81 percent literate; 19 percent illiterate (1991 census), as compared with a 25.9 percent illiteracy rate in 1970. By 2000 illiteracy will be estimated 16 percent.

Religion: Official statistics: Roman Catholic, 70 percent; Protestant, 19.2 percent; other, 10.8 percent. Affiliations not necessarily mutually exclusive. Practice of folk religions and Afro-Brazilian cults based on animist beliefs and slave and Indian traditions--such as umbanda and candomblé--widespread among all ethnic groups. Also significant trend in evangelism among Catholic and Protestant groups, particularly in São Paulo area. Mormon Church of Latter-Day Saints and Jehovah's Witnesses active in Brazil as well. Important Jewish communities in states of São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul, especially in respective capital cities of São Paulo and Porto Alegre, as well as in Rio de Janeiro.

Data as of April 1997

Country Listing

Brazil Table of Contents