Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and the third largest in America, with a total area of 8,515,767,049 km 2 (3,287,956 square miles), which includes 55,455 km 2 (21,411 square miles) of water. It covers four time zones; from UTC – 5 that includes the state of Acre and the westernmost part of Amazonas, up to UTC – 4 in the western states, up to UTC – 3 in the eastern states (the national time) and UTC – 2 in the Atlantic islands.
Brazil is the only country in the world that has the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn that crosses it. The Brazilian topography is also diverse and includes hills, mountains, plains, highlands and bushes. Much of the land is between 200 meters (660 feet) and 800 meters (2,600 feet) in height. The main highland zone occupies most of the southern half of the country. The northwestern parts of the plateau consist of a broad, undulating terrain broken by low, rounded hills.
The southeast section is steeper, with a complex mass of ridges and ridges that reach elevations of up to 1,200 meters (3,900 feet). These intervals include the Mantiqueira and Espinhaço mountains and the Serra do Mar.
In the north, the Guayana Highlands form an important drainage division, which separates the rivers that flow south into the Amazon basin from the rivers that flow into the Orinoco River system in Venezuela to the north. The highest point in Brazil is the Pico da Neblina at 2,994 meters (9,823 feet), and the lowest is the Atlantic Ocean.
Brazil has a dense and complex system of rivers, one of the most extensive in the world, with eight large drainage basins, all of which drain to the Atlantic. The main rivers include the Amazon (the second longest river in the world and the largest in terms of water volume), the Paraná and its main tributary the Iguaçu (which includes the Iguazú Falls), the Negro, São Francisco, Xingu, The Madeira and Tapajós rivers.
Brazil’s climate encompasses a wide range of climatic conditions in a large area and a varied topography, but most of the country is tropical. According to the Köppen system, Brazil has six main climatic subtypes: desert, equatorial, tropical, semi-arid, oceanic and subtropical. The different climatic conditions produce environments that range from equatorial rainforests in the north and semi-arid deserts in the northeast, to temperate coniferous forests in the south and tropical savannas in central Brazil. Many regions have markedly different microclimates.
An equatorial climate characterizes a large part of northern Brazil. There is no real dry season, but there are some variations in the period of the year when most of the rains fall. Temperatures average 25 ° C (77 ° F), with a more significant temperature variation between night and day than between seasons.
In central Brazil, precipitation is more seasonal, characteristic of a savanna climate. This region is as extensive as the Amazon basin, but it has a very different climate, since it is located further south at a higher altitude. In the interior northeast, seasonal precipitation is even more extreme.
The semi-arid climatic region generally receives less than 800 millimeters (31.5 in.) Of rain, most of which generally falls in a period of three to five months of the year and occasionally less than this, creating long periods of drought. The Great Drought (Great Drought) of 1877-78 of Brazil, the worst in the history of Brazil, caused approximately half a million deaths. An equally devastating drought occurred in 1915.
To the south of Bahia, near the coasts, and further south of most of the state of São Paulo, the distribution of rainfall varies with rainfall throughout the year. The south enjoys subtropical conditions, with cold winters and average annual temperatures that do not exceed 18 ° C (64.4 ° F); Winter frosts and snowfall are not rare in the higher areas.