Brazil may have lost badly to Germany in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Semifinals on Tuesday, but they are still competing on the world stage and may soon contend with Germany and other more established countries in the global economy. Indeed, a new book by Michael Reid argues that Brazil deserves consistent international recognition and attention, as it may well be one of the world’s most influential nations by 2030. In Brazil: The Troubled Rise of a Global Power, The Economist‘s Latin American columnist describes the country’s tumultuous history, notes its achievements, and assesses the challenges that face Brazil if it is to live up to its potential.
Tom Jobim, the composer of “The Girl from Ipanema,” once said that “Brazil is not for beginners,” and Reid‘s book is both a guide for the perplexed and an insightful meditation for the already informed. To initiate the wholly uninitiated—and to whet your appetite—here are a few key pieces of information about Brazil’s economy and culture.
- The nation is the world’s fifth largest country by area. It is in equal in size to the United States, and all twenty-eight countries of the European Union would fit comfortably inside Brazil’s territory.
- Brazil is a deeply religious country, with a mix of Christian and African religions. Many Brazilians pray to both a Catholic saint and an African orixá (deity).
- The country’s population of 200 million makes it the world’s fourth most populous democracy.
- Brazilians love football so much that on days when the national team is playing in the World Cup, the country completely shuts down, and the streets of major cities effectively fall silent.
- Brazil has the seventh-largest economy, but it is the third-largest exporter of food and the six-biggest manufacturing power.
- In Brazil, loyalty to the family is key, and the family is in some ways the central institution of Brazilian society.
- Brazilians devote more of their disposable income to beauty and personal care products than anyone else in the world.
- The nation is both self-sufficient in oil and the world leader in plant-based fuels.
If you are interested in learning more about Brazil’s past, present, and possible future, don’t miss your chance to win a copy of Brazil: The Troubled Rise of a Global Power through our Goodreads giveaway. Make sure to enter by the end of the month!