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Brazil Table of Contents



Brazil has a good system of telecommunications, including extensive microwave radio-relay facilities. In 1995 the country had 13,237,852 telephones. It has as many as 3,171 broadcast stations. These include 1,265 FM, 1,572 medium-wave, and eighty-two tropical-wave radio stations and 257 television stations.

In 1995 the Roman Catholic Church organized a UHF satellite television channel broadcasting to eight states under the aegis of the Brazilian Institute of Christian Communication. The Brazilian government founded the Brazilian Radio Broadcasting Company (Empresa Brasileira de Radiodifusão--Radiobrás) in 1975 to unite all existing state-owned broadcasting stations and to create new radio and television services capable of reaching the Amazon region.

Until the 1988 constitution, the president had the exclusive prerogative to allocate radio and television concessions. In 1981, after canceling the Tupi Network concessions, the military government very capriciously selected political allies to set up new networks--Manchete, Bandeirantes, and the Brazilian Television System (Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão--SBT)--and passed over other communications enterprises (the newspaper Jornal do Brasil and the publisher Editora Abril, for example). From 1985 through 1988, television and radio con-cessions became the "currency of political negotiation" as President Sarney tried to maintain majorities in Congress. As a result, many evangelical (born-again Christian) organizations acquired radio and television concessions, much to the dissatisfaction of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1988 Radiobrás and the official Brazilian News Agency became a single organization under the name Brazilian Communications Company (Empresa Brasileira de Comunicação), which retained the Radiobrás acronym. Today, Radiobrás stations can be heard all over the country and abroad. Its television programs also are transmitted throughout the country by Brazil Network (Rêde Brasil). Brazil has six principal television networks: Globo (owned by Roberto Marinho), Manchete (Adolfo Bloch), Bandeirantes (João Jorge Saad), the SBT (Sílvio Santos), Record (pentecostal Bishop Edir Macedo), and TV-Gaúcha S.A. There is also an embryonic system of pay television (cable, microwave, and satellite). Brazil is connected internationally by three coaxial submarine cables, three Atlantic Ocean International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat) earth stations, and sixty-four domestic satellite earth stations.

Brazilian Telecommunications, Inc. (Telecomunicações Brasileiras S.A.--Telebrás), a state-owned company with monopoly control over Brazilian telecommunications, oversees Brazil's telecommunications. According to Telebrás, the Brazilian government is developing an indigenous cellular telephone project, called Eco-8, which by 1998 is supposed to enable telephone contact between anywhere in Brazil and some Central American countries. A 1995 constitutional reform proposal allowed for the privatization of Telebrás.

Brazil leads Latin America with at least 161 Internet networks; second-place Mexico has 105 networks. Almost 80 percent of Brazil's largest nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are connected with each other and with the Internet. According to the Brazilian Telecommunications Company (Empresa Brasileira de Telecomunicações--Embratel), in early 1995 the Internet became available to any Brazilian with access to a telephone and a modem. Until then, the Internet had been available only to researchers linked to educational institutions or NGOs.


Brazil's natural wonders include the Amazon; the wildlife-packed Pantanal wetlands; 8,850 kilometers of superb Atlantic coastline, including 3,200 kilometers of white sand beaches in the Northeast running from São Luís in the north to the Bahia Basin in the south; and the waterfalls at Foz do Iguaçu. Brazil has one of the world's most spectacularly located cities, Rio de Janeiro, which hosts the annual Mardi Gras Carnaval (Carnival); one of the largest cities, São Paulo; one of the most modernistic, Brasília; and one of the most ecologically advanced, Curitiba. Other popular cities include Salvador, Ouro Prêto, and Manaus.

Traditionally, Brazilian politicians have regarded travel and tourism as elitist and an unnecessary luxury. This view has been changing, however, as politicians have begun to see travel and tourism as a major industry. In the early 1990s, about 6 million jobs were linked to Brazil's travel and tourism industry. The industry is one of the country's biggest employers, involving one in every eleven workers. It contributes an estimated 8 percent to the country's GDP. This figure compares favorably with Latin America's average of 5.1 percent, but it is well below the world average of 10.2 percent.

Since the United Nations-sponsored Rio Earth Summit (Eco-92) in 1992, the Brazilian government has targeted ecotourism as a priority. For example, the government is encouraging foreign investment in tourist facilities in Amazônia. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism includes a cabinet-level official in charge of tourism policies. The National Secretary of Tourism and Services, the National Tourism Board, and the state and municipal tourist authorities are responsible for the day-to-day administration of the sector.

The development of tourism in the seven states that make up the impoverished Northeast has received special attention. More than 3 million Brazilian and foreign visitors boosted hotel occupancy in the Northeastern states from 43 percent in 1991 to 67 percent in 1993.

In 1992 some 2,235,000 passengers flew to Brazil, an increase of 14.5 percent from 1991, and the same number flew out of Brazil. About 513,000 of these visitors flew between Argentina and Brazil, and according to Brazil's Civil Aviation Department (Departamento de Aviação Civil--DAC), more than 541,000 passengers flew between the United States and Brazil, an increase of 10.4 percent from 1991. The Brazilian Tourism Agency (Empresa Brasileira de Turismo--Embratur) found that 72.6 percent of those who came to Brazil in 1992 came for tourism; the rest came for business, conferences, and conventions, including Eco-92. In 1993 about 1.6 million foreign visitors traveled to Brazil.

Data as of April 1997

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Brazil Table of Contents