Brazil Geography

Brazil’s geography is a fascinating one. As the home of the acclaimed Amazon Rainforest, as well as the Brazilian Highlands and vast stretches of coastline, this South American country continues to impress visitors in its natural splendour and complexity. Brazil has a total surface area of 8 514 877 square kilometres (3 287 612 square miles) of which 8 459 417 square kilometres (3 266 199 square miles) is land and 55 460 square kilometres (or 21 410 square miles) is water. As such, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world (both in terms of area and population) and occupies almost half of the entire South American continent. The coastline stretches for 7 491 kilometres (or 4 655 miles), and continues to be a major tourist attraction for the country. The shore is made up of mangroves, lagoons, dunes and spectacular coral reefs.

Brazil has claims to the following islands:

• Fernando de Noronha
• Rocas Atoll
• Saint Peter and Paul Rocks
• Trindade and Martim Vaz Islands

Brazil has borders with Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. In fact, Chile and Ecuador are the only South American countries with which Brazil does not share its borders. As a country, it is split into five official regions; namely Central-West, Northeast, North, Southeast and Southern Brazil. These are then split into 26 states and a Federal District.

The Amazon Rainforest is a very important part of the world’s natural resources. It is home to an estimated one-third of all known animal species and makes up about half of the world’s rainforests. The Amazon River carries more water into the Atlantic Ocean than any other river does to any other body of water. This river winds for more than 3 200 kilometres (2000 miles) within the country and holds about one-fifth of the world’s fresh water. At its narrowest point, the river is 1.6 kilometres wide, and some 48 kilometres at its widest during the wet season. The Amazon Basin occupies about two-thirds of the country’s area. Brazil is particularly abundant in rivers and boasts eight major drainage basins. These basins direct their water into the Atlantic Ocean. There are 12 major hydrographic regions in Brazil, seven of which have dominant rivers, while the remaining five do not. These are:
1. Amazonas
2. Paraguai
3. Paraná
4. Parnaíba
5. São Francisco
6. Tocantins
7. Uruguai
8. Atlântico Nordeste Ocidental (Western North-east Atlantic)
9. Atlântico Nordeste Oriental (Eastern North-east Atlantic)
10. Atlântico Leste (Eastern Atlantic)
11. Atlântico Sudeste (South-east Atlantic)
12. Atlântico Sul (South Atlantic)

The Brazilian Highlands (also known as the Brazilian Plateau) are, in general, under 4 000 feet (or 1 220 metres) above sea level. They cover most of the central, eastern and southern parts of the country and are home to an astounding array of fauna and flora. The highest point in Brazil is Pico de Neblina, which measures an impressive 9 888 feet, which is equivalent to 3 014 metres. The huge central plateau (Planalto Central) is approximately 1 000 metres or 3 281 feet above sea level.

The majority of the coastline comprises the Great Escarpment, which gives those looking at the shore from the sea the impression of looking at a huge, imposing wall.

São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are two of the largest cities in the world, and are both prominent destinations in Brazil. They enjoy a rich culture and heritage as well as modern amenities and established infrastructures.

The climate of Brazil depends on the various areas’ elevation and proximity to the ocean. However, most of the country can be defined as being tropical and sub-tropical. In general, this means hot, humid conditions, although some areas can be fairly dry and even fall victim to the occasional droughts. Many areas experience only a wet season and a dry one, instead of four distinct seasons.

Brazil boasts five marked eco-systems:

• The tropical rainforest
• The Pantanal (a tropical wetland)
• The Cerrado (a tropical savannah)
• The Mata Atlantica (the “Atlantic forest”)
• The pampas (fertile plains)

Central Brazil is made up mostly of woodland savannah.

Brazil’s natural resources include: gold, iron ore, manganese, bauxite, nickel, phosphates, uranium, petroleum, platinum, tin, hydropower and timber.

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