• Short Summary

    Brazil is the world's fifth largest country, and one of the fastest developing. I will?

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    Brazil is the world's fifth largest country, and one of the fastest developing. I will start a five year term under a new President, General Joao Baptista Figueiredo, on the 15th of March.

    SYNOPSIS: He was elected last October -- though by indirect elections which excluded most of Brazil's voters. General Figeuiredo, until recently the country's intelligence chief, was the choice of the outgoing President, Ernesto Geisel as his successor. There has been military rule for fifteen years though General Figeuiredo had promised a return to democracy.

    The prospects, and problems, are enormous. Brazil is growing fast. Sao Paulo, the largest city is adding half a million a year to its seven million population.

    It is a country with vast, and as yet largely unexploited natural assets. Few people live in the interior, the Amazon basin. Ninety percent of the population live in one third of the country, the Atlantic states. The government has been encouraging development of the Amazon in an effort to move people from the over-crowded coastal cities. The port of Manaus, one thousand four hundred kilometres (900 miles) inland on the Amazon River has more than doubled its population in a decade to over a third of a million.

    Conservationists in Brazil are worried that too-rapid exploitation could turn the virgin forest area into a wasteland. The government defends the development, saying it is the only way to cope with a population that is expected to almost double to two hundred million by the year 2,000
    Agriculture provides Brazil with a large proportion of its export earnings. It is the world's second largest exporter of agricultural products -- the most important of which is coffee. One million people work in the industry.

    Mineral reserves are vast. The country produces a fifth of its petroleum requirements and exploration is continuing. Discovery of other minerals is attracting investment from European. American and Japanese companies. All are interested in having a stake in what has become one of the fastest developing world economies.

    Brazil, too, is having to cope with the growth. Near these falls on the Parana River the world's largest hydro-electric plant is being built -- to cope with the demand for electricity that has been doubling every seven years. The project has also given Brazilian industry a boost. Most of the equipment for the plant is Brazilian-made....a change from twenty years ago when it all had to be imported. It reflects the transformation of the economy to one that is now based on manufactured goods.

    Industrialisation has brought its problems -- sprawling shanty towns on the edges of cities. People have been drawn by the promise of work, but with nowhere to live... except in makeshift homes like these. The Brazilian authorities have taken action to rehouse some in new houses, but the problem is huge. Around the capital Rio, over a million live in shanty towns.

    The past fifteen years of right-wing, often repressive military rule have seen Brazil change rapidly to a consumer society. In the next five years there is the promise of a return to democracy.

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