Land Transport

From its earliest colonial history, transportation has always been a challenge for Brazil because of its size and topography. In the last 30 years this challenge has finally been met: a systematic approach has been adopted to plan and implement a national system of integrated surface transport - road, rail, and water.

Since the 1970's, the Government has given funding priority to roads and highways, which transport about 85 percent of Brazil's population and goods. Brazilian highways are of modern design. Paved roads link practically all the state capitals. São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and other major cities have modern metropolitan expressways. The overall total of roads and highways in Brazil is approximately 1.1 million miles (1.5 million km), reflecting an increase of more than 300 percent in the last two decades. The railway network is, in proportion to highways, relatively small. However, some special projects have been implemented, such as the Steel Railway (Ferrovia do Aço) to connect the inland iron ore mining areas to steel mills and port facilities on the south-eastern coast.

River and Sea Transport

Brazil's long coastline and vast waterways in most of the hinterland offer a good potential for economic use of waterborne transport. (Brazil transports more than 350 million tons annually by water.) However, this mode of transport has not been fully exploited due to the initial investments required and especially because of its low speed. Although the merchant marine has increased in the last three decades, its long-range capabilities are still not in proportion to the volume and growth rate of Brazil's overseas trade. In 1989, approximately two percent of waterborne goods were transported in containers. There are 16 fully equipped harbours in Brazil. Among the busiest ports are Santos, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre. Two waterways are improving river transport inside Brazil and with its south and southwest neighbouring countries: The "Paraná-Paraguay" and the "Tieté-Paraná" waterways, the later also called the "Mercosur Waterway".

Air Transport

Brazil's physical size and the need for fast economic growth led (starting in the 1930's) to the establishment of a vast network of air services. These routes and many more new ones are operated by a number of commercial airlines, both at the commuter (or feeder level) and at the medium to long range level, increasingly using Brazilian-designed and built planes.

There are now ten international airports, fully operational and offering high standards of comfort and efficiency. Besides direct air connections to all other South American countries, several in Central America, and many destinations in the three countries of North America, Brazil is linked by air routes to every continent. All airlines registered in Brazil are private enterprises, some of them allowing foreign equity participation.


Brazil is being rediscovered as a tourist destination. Apart from the obvious delights of Rio de Janeiro, the rest of the country was not popular with European tourists until the late 1990s. As might be expected in a country of its size, there is a vast range of places to visit and things to do.
With a mainly tropical climate, the beaches of the Atlantic coast are being developed for visitors - for example new resorts around Costa do Sauúpe in the Northeast.

The coastline is adjacent to many of the attractions of the interior highlands, especially in the south-eastern part of the country.

Apart from new resorts, accommodation ranges from back street inns to world-class hotels.

Nature-based holidays are particularly appropriate both in the Amazon and areas such as the Pantanal swamplands.