Brazil is a federation composed of 26 states, a federal district and the 5570 municipalities. The states have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a portion of the taxes collected by the federal government. They have a governor and a unicameral legislative body directly elected by their voters. They also have independent courts of justice for common justice. Despite this, states have much less autonomy to create their own laws than in the United States. For example, criminal and civil laws can be voted only by the federal bicameral Congress and are uniform throughout the country.
The states and the federal district can be grouped into regions: north, northeast, center-west, southeast, and south. The Brazilian regions are simply geographical divisions, not political or administrative, and have no specific form of government. Although they are defined by law, the Brazilian regions are useful mainly for statistical purposes and also to define the distribution of federal funds in development projects.
The municipalities, like the states, have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a portion of the taxes collected by the Union and the state government. Each has a mayor and an elected legislative body, but there is no separate court of justice. In fact, a court of justice organized by the state can encompass many municipalities in a single administrative division of justice called county (county).
According to estimates for 2017, Brazil is the largest national economy in Latin America, the eighth largest economy in the world and the eighth largest in purchasing power parity (PPP). Brazil has a mixed economy with abundant natural resources. After rapid growth in previous decades, the country entered into an ongoing recession in 2014 amid a scandal of political corruption and protests across the country.
The country has been expanding its presence in international financial and commodity markets, and is one of a group of four emerging economies called BRIC countries. Brazil has been the largest coffee producer in the world for the last 150 years.
The Itaipu dam on the Paraná River, located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay, is the second largest in the world (the first is the Three Gorges Dam, in China). Approximately 75% of the Brazilian energy matrix, one of the cleanest in the world, comes from hydroelectric power.
Brazil’s diversified economy includes agriculture, industry and a wide range of services. Agriculture and related sectors such as forestry, logging and fishing accounted for 5.1% of gross domestic product in 2007. Brazil is one of the largest producers of oranges, coffee, sugar cane, cassava and sisal, soybeans and papayas.
The industry, from automobiles, steel and petrochemical products to computers, aircraft and consumer durables, represented 30.8% of the gross domestic product. The industry is highly concentrated in the metropolitan area of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Campinas, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte. Brazil has become the fourth largest automobile market in the world. The main export products include aircraft, electrical equipment, automobiles, ethanol, textiles, footwear, iron ore, steel, coffee, orange juice, soybeans and corned beef. In total, Brazil ranks 23rd in the world in export value.