This ex-Portuguese colony is the 5th largest country in the world and the only American country with Portuguese as its official language. Almost half of the country is covered by the immense Amazon rainforest which is under constant threat of exploitation. This has become an international issue due to the rainforest’s function as a regulator of the climate and the thousands of species of animals and plants which live within the rainforest. In spite of having one of the most powerful economies in Latin America and being one of the emergent global economies, Brazil is still characterized by its economic inequality and the wide gap between the rich and the poor.
Brazil is currently for the first time in its history ruled by a woman, Dilma Rousseff, who fought with the underground resistance during the military dictatorship in 1964 and who was captured and jailed for three years, but who was also the favoured successor of ex-president Lula, one of the most admired figures in Latin American politics. He started social programs like Bolsa Familia and Fome Zero, to eradicate hunger and to help improve the harsh social conditions of cities like Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo where a third of the population lives in favelas, or slums. This reality is portrayed in the film City of God directed by Fernando Meirelles. Anselmo Duarte’s The Prayer of Promises, which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, also offers a glimpse of poverty in Brazil and how it relates to religion.
Regarding its literature, Brazil has given us many important writers such as Clarice Lispector, who belonged to the ‘Generation of ‘45’ group of Brazilian modernists; her most famous novels are The Passion According to G.H. and The Hour of the Star. Nélida Piñón is also a widely recognized Brazilian writer who won the Spanish ‘Príncipe de Asturias’ Prize for her work which is based ‘in reality, memory and also fantasy and dreams’. Her most famous novel is The Republic of Dreams, a book about her grandparent’s immigration from Spain to Brazil. But Paulo Coelho is by far the most successful Brazilian novelist. He is the bestselling Portuguese author of all time, and has sold more than 100 million books in over 150 countries worldwide; his works have also been translated into 71 languages. The Alchemist, Veronica Decides to Die or Brida are all examples of his work, which mixes reality, spirituality and magic.