Brazil (officially the Federative Republic of Brazil) is the largest country in both South America at 3.2 million square miles) with a population of 208 million people – as such, it is the world's fifth-largest country by area and sixth most populous. The capital city is Brasília. The federation is made up of 26 states, the Federal District, and 5,570 municipalities. Brazil is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse countries in the world.
Brazil’s eastern coastline is 4,655 miles long and meets the Atlantic Ocean. The rest of the country borders all other South American countries apart from Ecuador and Chile. Brazil covers 47.3% of the continent's land area and features the Amazon River basin, a vast tropical rainforest famed for its wildlife and constant battle against deforestation.
Brazil has the eighth largest GDP in the world and has been the largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years. It has the largest share of global wealth in Latin America. Brazil is regarded as an emerging global power and potential future superpower; it is a founding member of the United Nations, the G20, BRICS, Union of South American Nations, Mercosul, and the Organization of American States.
The Brazilian national government is referred to as the Federal Government of Brazil. It is divided into three branches: the executive (overseen by the President and the cabinet), the legislative (with powers bestowed by the National Congress), and the judiciary (empowered by the Supreme Federal Court). The government is based in the capital city Brasília.
The Government is based on a democratic federative republic, and features a presidential system. The President is head of state and of the Government, and, like the United States, is elected for a four-year term with the possibility of re-election for a second term. Michel Temer is the current President – he replaced Dilma Rousseff following her impeachment. The President is responsible for appointing the Ministers of State.
The Federative Republic of Brazil is made up of the Union, the states, the Federal District, and the municipalities; these collectively make up the “spheres of government.” The Brazilian federation is informed by five fundamental principles: sovereignty, citizenship, dignity of human beings, the social values of labour and freedom of enterprise, and political pluralism.
Members of the executive and legislative branches of government are elected, whereas Judges are appointed through entry exams. Brazil has a multi-party system using proportional representation. Voting is compulsory for the everyone between 18 and 70 years old; it is optional for those who are illiterate and those between 16 and 18 or beyond 70 years of age.
Four main political parties dominate the Government: the Workers' Party, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement, and the Democrats. In total, fifteen political parties are represented in the Brazilian Congress.
The President of the Federative Republic of Brazil is the head of state and of government; he leads the executive branch and is also the commander-in-chief of the Brazilian Armed Forces. The Constitution of Brazil details the requirements, powers, and responsibilities of the President.
The President of Brazil has substantial lawmaking powers, and has the right to appoint and dismiss ministers of state, veto bills, maintain relations with foreign States, exercise supreme command of the armed forces, declare war, make peace, and abolish government positions, among others.
The President serves a four-year term in office, and may be re-elected for a single consecutive term. Interestingly, the two-term limit is not a lifelong measure – a former president can run for office again in future, even if two terms have been served. The Brazilian Vice-President serves as acting-President when the President is abroad on foreign soil.
The Cabinet, National Congress and Justices
The Brazilian Cabinet is made up of the Ministers of State and senior advisors to the executive branch. The President of Brazil appoints and dismisses Cabinet officers. There are twenty-two Ministries and five other Ministry-level offices in the Cabinet at present, including the Chief of Staff, Secretary of Government, General-Secretary of the Presidency, Institutional Security Cabinet, and Central Bank.
The National Congress consists of the Federal Senate (81 seats) and the Chamber of Deputies (513 seats). Proportional representation is used to elect federal deputies, who each serve four-year terms. There are currently 15 political parties in Congress.
Superior Court Justices are appointed by the President for lifelong roles (until the age of 70), and are approved by the Senate. All judges and justices are required to be law graduates.