Brazil is officially divided into five regions: North, Northeast, Center-West, Southeast and South. This article gives an overview of each of them, presenting their main aspects.
Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fifth-largest in the world, with an area of 8,515,767 km² . The country is subdivided in 26 States and the Federal District. During the 20th century, Brazil was divided by IBGE into three different areas: the meso-regions, the micro-regions and the macro-regions.
The macro-region division is the official division adopted by the Brazilian government. Differing from the meso-region and micro-region, this type of division is an administrative and scientific regionalization that obeys the limits of the boundaries between the Brazilian states. It's comprised of five macro-regions: North, Northeast, Center-West, Southeast and South. They have been created according to physical, political, social and economic similarities.
The North region is the largest region of Brazil, which borders six different South American countries.
| Amazonas (AM) |
The states comprising this region have their territories predominantly covered by the Amazon rainforest and subsequently an equatorial climate: high temperature and high rainfall levels.
Despite being the second least populated region of Brazil, the North is home to a diverse population of indigenous tribes, migrants from the Northeast and South and the local descendants of colonies. The place is also marked by huge properties and the constant and violent conflict between landowners and indigenous tribes.
Its economy is driven by the extraction of raw materials from the Amazon forest and by the mining, highlighting the Serra dos Carajás (Pará), from which the highest amount of iron ore is extracted in the country and the Serra do Navio (Amapá) a major producer of manganese.
Even having the smallest contribution to the Brazilian GDP, the North has a huge industrial concentration thanks to the Manaus Free Trade Zone, which provides tax incentives to foreign and national companies developing business activities in the region. The free trade zone makes the place a technology hotspot in Brazil.
Northeast is the Brazilian region with the largest coastline of the country, which makes the region very appealing to tourists around the world. They are a very important source of income for the Northeast, thousands of foreign and Brazilian tourists visit the Northeast annually in search of beautiful beaches, vistas and sun.
| Maranhão (MA) |
Rio Grande do Norte (RN)
Composed by many states, the Northeast presents not one type of climate, but four different ones. In the interior of the states there is a semi-arid climate, while in the south of Bahia and in the center of Maranhão the climate is tropical. Coastal areas are humid and coastal climate accompanies them while the humid equatorial climate can be found in the west of Maranhão.
The Northeast region was the first place effectively colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century and that explains the ethnic diversity presented there. When Portugal caravelas arrived in the northeastern lands, indigenous people were already established there, which promoted a cultural meeting between the natives and Portuguese, and with time, Africans slaves were brought. The ethnic and cultural mix of these three groups still marks the composition of the Northeastern population today.
The beginning of Brazilian economy is historically based on activities linked to Pau-Brasil extraction and sugarcane production, both initiated in Northeast. These activities predominated the country's economy for many years making the region the richest one of Brazil until the mid of the XVIII century. However, over the years, the economy has stagnated.
In the 21st century, the Northeastern economy started to recover, being currently the third largest economy among the five Brazilian regions. Many industries have left the Southeast and settled in the Northeast in the search of tax benefits. Activities related to IT, oil extraction, raising goats, agriculture of tropical fruits, honey production and shrimp fishing are two very strong sectors of the Northeast economy as well.
The Center-West is the second largest region of Brazil by area, but in terms of population it's the least populated one. It's the only region that has borders with all other Brazilian regions and also with other countries. That's why military bases were constructed there in the past in order to defend the Brazilian frontiers. The borders and the construction of Brasília helped to populate this interior region.
| Mato Grosso (MT) |
Mato Grosso do Sul (MS)
Distrito Federal (DF)
In the Center-West the tropical semi-humid climate dominates, with the presence of two well defined seasons: a wet summer, with rainfall between the months of March and October and a dry climate during the winter months between April to September with temperatures ranging around 25 and 19 degrees. The countryside climate is very common in this region.
The indigenous people were the first inhabitants of Center-West Region and they still a very strong presence there nowadays, but they weren't the only ones to live in the region. The Brazilian-Portuguese – known as bandeirantes – arrived after the indigenous people. They came to found a series of villages due to the discovery of gold the region. Farmers from Minas Gerais and São Paulo also occupied Center-West, where they organized huge farms for cattle creation. According to studies, Center-West is composed of 66.6% European descendants, 21.7% African descendants and 12% indigenous descendants.
The Center-West region has a relatively large urban population, while in rural areas the predominant population densities are low, indicating that extensive livestock is the most important activity. Commercial agriculture, in turn, has gained great prominence in recent years and now exceeds vegetable and mineral extraction.
The Industrial activities are still not very extensive; however, it's remarkable that the agro-industrial district of Annapolis is where the largest industrial park in the Center-West of Brazil is located. The area’s main highlights are the production actives for the pharmaceutical and fertilizers industry.
The Southeast is the vital center of the country, where the largest cities, the highest population density, the largest deposits of iron ore, the largest hydropower plants, the largest rail network and the best ports are concentrated. It's the most important industrial, commercial and financial region of Brazil, employing 70% of the Brazilian working class.
| São Paulo (SP) |
Rio de Janeiro (RJ)
Espírito Santo (ES)
Minas Gerais (MG)
The region has several types of climate, being the tropical climate the one that prevails in the coastal areas of Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, the north of Minas Gerais and west of São Paulo. Usually the temperatures are high with two well-defined seasons: the summer – marked by heavy rain – and the winter – very dry.
The Southeast population might be considered the most diverse of Brazil, composed of all kinds of nationalities, ethnicities and skin colors. The region was inhabited by indigenous tribes when the Portuguese occupation occurred. With the coffee expansion in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Southeast received immigrants from different parts of the world, mainly Italian, Japanese, Germans, Syrians and Lebanese to work in the coffee plantations.
The migration flow to the region has never ceased, later Spanish, Korean, Polish, Swiss, Dutch, French and many others came to the Brazilian Southeast. It's estimated that more than 70 different nationalities compose the Southeastern population. Besides the foreign immigrants, the southeastern states, in particular São Paulo, attracts hundreds of thousands of migrants from others Brazilian regions.
Economically, the Southeast stands out as the most developed regions of the country, housing the largest Brazilian industrial park. The industry is quite diverse, operating in segments of steel, metallurgical, automotive, computer technology, food, petrochemical, and many others.
The livestock is practiced with modern techniques, which increases productivity. Another important source of funding is the service sector, with banks, capital markets and tourism, especially in the coastal city of Rio de Janeiro and business center of Sao Paulo.
The South may be the smallest area of the Brazilian territory, but its population is twice as large as the number of inhabitants of North and Center-West regions. With a relatively equal development in primary, secondary and higher education sectors, this population presents the highest literacy rates recorded in Brazil, which explains the social and cultural development of the region.
| Paraná (PR) |
RIo Grande do Sul (RS)
Santa Catarina (SC)
The South is the only Brazilian located almost entirely below the Tropic of Capricorn, therefore, this region is the coldest of Brazil. At higher elevations, there is occasional snowfall and frosts. The seasons are well defined and rains are usually distributed in large quantities throughout the year.
The indigenous, as in all Brazilian regions, were the first inhabitants of South, but with the colonization of the country European foreigners started to occupy the region. The southern forests were colonized by German, Italian and Slav immigrants, which made the region, have a European appearance in architecture and physical characteristics of its population. The southern region of fields was, since the colonization, occupied by landowners.
The southern forests are characterized by medium-sized farms with poly-cultural agricultural activities; the fields are used for extensive livestock production and for the cultivation of wheat and soybeans. Nowadays, with the rural exodus and agriculture innovations the land concentration has increased a lot.
Most of the South’s income originated through services and industrial areas such as the metallurgy, textile, automobile and food sectors being very strong. There is also a predominant presence of extraction activities and electricity generation, mainly through the Itaipu Hydroelectric Power Plant, the second largest in the world.