For each region you should be able to discuss its physical, cultural, economic and historical geography (the four themes).
For the region of Brazil read pp. 254-262.
Also, carefully examine these maps:
Brazil is the largest and most populated of South American countries in the world. (It is the fifth largest and fifth most populated [ww10pop], see: http://geography.about.com/library/weekly/aa051198.htm). Its large physical area borders every South American country [smreg] except Ecuador and Chile. It is resource rich and a world agricultural leader. In spite of this, Brazil is not yet a fully developed country because of domestic corruption, a huge foreign debt and an explosive economy based on deriving maximum wealth in a short period of time without regard for building a stable, long-term economic base.
The state of Sáo Paulo is Brazils most modern and productive region. Per capita income exceeds the modern average and almost one third of the nations GDP is produced here. Sáo Paulo state accounts for almost two-thirds of the countrys industrial output, producing practically all of Brazils motor vehicles and leading the nation in the manufacture of textiles, cement, shoes, paper products, processed coffee, pharmaceuticals and electronic products. It is also an agribusiness center for coffee, soy bean, beef, sugarcane, cotton, peanuts, track crops and rice as Sáo Paulo lies within one of the most productive farmlands in the world. Sáo Paulo is also a leading financial center and generates 55 percent of the nations manufacturing with over 30,000 factories.
Sáo Paulo's economic growth (over 18 million people) has come at a social cost. Much in migration from rural areas, mostly semi-skilled to illiterate live in various degrees of poverty in barrios or favelas that surround the city. Commuting to work is difficult due to the large population and congested roads. Sáo Paulo is one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world and water pollution is severe.
Southern Brazil is the most Europeanized region of Brazil with a significant population of Italians and Germans. Japanese are also moving here. Agriculture is the economic livelihood of this region. Cattle ranching, mechanized wheat and soy bean farming, and coffee plantations (not as prevalent as further north because of winter freezes) prevail. Hog raising and vineyards reflect the European influence. Recently, this are has expressed a desire for independence reflecting devolutionary forces that are weakening nation states around the globe.
Rio de Janeiro is the focal point of development in this region. Situation around one of the most recognized harbors in the world, it grew rapidly during the early part of the twentieth century due to its proximity to the inland gold and diamond fields of Minas Gerais. The southeast contains one of the most mineralized areas of the world, the Mineral Triangle which includes gold, diamonds, molybdenum, manganese, tungsten, chromium, nickel and iron ore, the latter the most significant. Today, Brazil is the leading steel producer in South America and the ninth largest steel maker in the world as a result of these deposits.
The Northeast was once the center of Brazilian culture and its the most developed part. That status was based on the plantation regime (sugarcane) which used African slaves and on the regions location as the part of Brazil closest to Portugal. This advantage was lost with the invention of steamships. Today, although sugarcane is still grown, the region is no longer prosperous and suffers from poverty and unpredictable droughts. Thousands of people in the area have migrated to other parts of Brazil adding the economic pressures in larger cities further south.
Since the 1960s the government has launched several development projects in this region such as hydroelectric projects, irrigated agriculture and improvement of roads. Despite the investments the region remains the poorest in Brazil.
This region of Brazil which consists of the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul is the subregion that Brazils planners and developers have sought to become the nations productive heartland. In the 1950s the national capital was relocated from Rio de Janeiro to Brasília (an example of a forward capital) in an attempt to show its commitment to economically develop this hinterland. The vast cerrado is a subtropical fertile savanna whose agricultural productivity is equal to that of the Pampas and the U.S. Great Plains. Rainfall is more reliable here than either of the other two and one of its main advantages is it facilitates large scale mechanization with little use of labor and less (although there are some) environmental degradation which is prevalent in the Amazon Basin. The growth of an efficient transportation network is necessary in order to accompany the opening of this frontier.
This is the largest and most rapidly developing subregion and the most remote from the rest of Brazil. This is a region of boom and bust cycles most notably the rubber trees which produced huge profits until the rubber trees which produced huge profits until the boom ended in the early twentieth century. The Brazilian government is overseeing two development projects, the Grande Carajás Project in eastern Pará State for the mining of large deposits of iron ore and the Palonoreset Plan which is near the Bolivian border and is settlement for agricultural purposes. Both of these schemes are examples of growth-pole activities, where a set of industries, given a start, will expand and generate widening economic growth in the surrounding hinterland.
These development projects are not without cost. Environmental degradation due to clear cutting of forests and logging have resulted in decreasing soil fertility (remember in these tropical climates leaching from heavy precipitation removes valuable nutrients) and has dislocated some of the native peoples of the Amazon (such as the Yanomami) whose way of life is increasingly being threatened by these development projects. Amazon development also has wider implications, it accounts for over half of all tropical deforestation.
For more information you may want to visit this site: Brazil
[The text of the above was written by Scott Girhard, San Antonio College from his online course GEOG 1301 World Geography. Used with permission.]