5 Regions of Brazil


North Region

Amazonas, Pará, Acre, Rondônia, Roraima, Amapá, and Tocantins.

This region lies mostly within the Amazon basin. Lush, tropical, rain forests largely cover it. As well as the Amazon, there are also numerous other rivers in the area. By volume, this area has the largest concentration of fresh water in the world and one fifth of all the earth's fresh water reserves. There are two main Amazonian cities: Manaus, capital of the State of Amazonas, and Belém, capital of the State of Pará.

The Amazon basin has, since its discovery, offered Europeans a tantalizing vision of ready wealth and natural bounty. Until the mid 19th century, however, the region languished as an economic backwater. The Amazon boomed with the rising demand for rubber in the late 19th century. The population grew more than six times and regional income some 12 times between 1850 and 1910, when the rubber market collapsed.

There was renewed interest in the Amazon's mineral wealth and agricultural potential in the 1960's and 1970's. Changes in legislation governing mineral concessions and the readiness of state companies to form joint ventures with foreign corporations increased exploration and mining. The government sponsored a variety of colonization schemes, all based on the idea that the unpopulated Amazon forest could be a safety valve to satisfy the land-hungry peasants of the northeast.

The government incentives to encourage farming in the Amazon resulted in the region becoming increasingly threatened by environmental problems. Development projects and domestic migration during the 1970's and 1980's led to deforestation of 328,700 sq. km of the region. Fires in the forest became an issue of worldwide concern.

Accordingly, the Brazilian government launched various policies to control development. Fiscal incentives and official credits to livestock and agricultural projects in the area were suspended.

Exportation of timber was also prohibited. Since 1989, the pace of deforestation has been reduced by half, leaving 91.5 percent of the Amazon intact. Today, protection of the Amazon is being monitored by satellite and domestic efforts are being reinforced by the international community through the Pilot Programme for the Protection of the Brazilian Rain Forest, which is sponsored by the European Community, the United States, and a dozen other countries.


North East Region

Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Bahia, Alagoas and Sergipe.

Vast stretches of this region, which contains nearly 30 percent of the Brazilian population, are chronically subject to drought. The area has important economic possibilities, however, including sizable oil fields, and in recent years the Federal Government (through the Superintendency for the Development of the Northeast [SUDENE]) has been giving the northeast special attention. Large resources have been allocated to its improvement with considerable success.

Pernambuco and Bahia were the first major centres of colonial Brazil and they still exert a very strong influence on Brazilian culture. Much of what is characteristically Brazilian in music, folklore, cuisine, and social habits originated in this region. The two largest cities in the northeast are Recife and Salvador.

West Central

Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás and the Distrito Federal.

This region, covered with extensive savannas and tropical grasslands, is still sparsely populated. Once one of the more isolated areas of the country, this region has experienced a rapid expansion of its rural production and established new industries. The nation's capital, Brasília, founded in 1960, is located in this region. The federal government has set aside vast areas as reservations in the west central region for the native Indian tribes that originally lived on them. Also in this region is the wildlife paradise, the Mato Grosso swamplands (Pantanal Mato-grossense). 

South East Region

Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo

The highly industrialised areas around the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte form the economic hub of Brazil. The majority of the country's population is concentrated in this region.

São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are the traditional base for manufacturing and commerce in Brazil although their dominance has reduced. São Paulo in particular remains the commercial centre of the country.

The area is rich in minerals and its agriculture is the most advanced in the country, producing coffee and grains for export, as well as a variety of both fresh and processed foodstuffs, milk, and meat for domestic consumption.

South Region

Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul.

This region is highly developed. As in the South East Region, there is a balance between the rural and the manufacturing sectors. Toward the south, the plateau drops to the wide plains called pampas, where the traditional grazing activities produced the gaúcho, the Brazilian equivalent of the cowboy. In the west, located on the border between Brazil and Argentina, is Iguaçu Falls, one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world.

Less than 12 miles (20 km) away, on the Paraná River that separates Brazil and Paraguay is Itaipu, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world. The largest city in this region is Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state.