By the end of the twentieth century, Brazil had ranked as one of the the ten largest economies in the world, but also being that with the fifth largest population, it is facing many obstacles in economic growth. With the 2016 Rio Olympics now upon us, we’ve collated 10 interesting facts about Brazil’s economy, from colonial times to the modern day. Let us know what you think or share your own facts in the comments below.
- Brazil has one of the world’s most unequal distributions of income. The richest 10% of the population get 47% of the income, while the poorest 10% get only 12% of the income. Around 20% of Brazilians live below the poverty line.
- Sugar and cotton were Brazil’s main exports in the colonial era, and joining them in the nineteenth century were hides, rubber, and coffee.
- By 1900, Brazil had accounted for more than one-half of the world’s coffee production, as late as the 1920s coffee still constituted 75% of Brazil’s exports.
- Brazil experienced an abrupt transition to rapid economic growth at the start of the twentieth century. This was a result of several factors; the expansion of coffee ports giving Brazil the foreign exchange earnings to improve import productivity, investments in railroads, and the elimination of slavery making Brazil more appealing to European immigrants.
- Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America, with 182 million inhabitants, by 2000 Brazil had become the world’s eighth largest economy.
- The Amazon Basin to the north and west covers more than 40% of the country, and Brazil is home to a wealth of natural resources. It has around one-third of the world’s reserves of iron ore, as well as large deposits of bauxite, coal, zinc, gold, and tin.
- Brazil makes up one of the BRIC countries along with Russia, India, and China. Their fast-growing economies are predicted to compete with the USA in global economic importance.
- Brazil has a system of conditional cash transfers, which offers payments to around one-quarter of the population for attending health clinics and sending their children to school. This should help improve access to education and health services.
- In 1565, Portuguese explorers laid the foundations for the city of Rio de Janeiro along the Atlantic shoreline. From the beginning the port activities, related to local sugar production, were based on slave labor and trade.
- Between them, the USA and Brazil account for two thirds of the world’s production of oranges for export.
Featured image credit: Brazil_flag by gaby_bra. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.