This information can be used in conjunction with the Mission, Worship, and Education resources in discussions about church and society in other cultures and to inform IOH teams.
Currently, Brazil is a Federative Republic, with a bicameral legislature and separation of powers. Elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has focused his reforms on the tax system, recovering the value of Brazilian currency, raising minimum wage, and reforming the pension system. Slight progress has been made on a “Zero Hunger” initiative that hopes to help the people of Brazil have three meals a day. As of 2011, Brazil's President is Dilma Rousseff.
The Shade and Fresh Water Project addresses this situation by providing school materials, healthful food, and activities that reinforce school for 8,600 needy children and adolescents in various Brazilian cities throughout the year.
The existence of a social apartheid in urban areas of Brazil is posited by France Winddance Twine, Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University; Aloizio Mercadante, São Paulo Congressman; Michael Löwy, a French-Brazilian sociologist, and others. This social idea further excludes disenfranchised street children. The Shade and Fresh Water Project seeks to provide these children with a refuge of nurturing and love away from drugs and gangs.
According to Gordon and Teca Greathouse, GBGM missionaries in Brazil, the Shade and Fresh Water Centers are an important resource for children in Brazil, a place to relax and learn about God’s love, away from the harsh realities they face on the streets:
• Millions have little contact with their parents who work long hours, are working away from home or have abandoned their children.
• Brazil has the second largest number of children involved in prostitution in the world.
• Several years ago, death squads were killing hundreds of street children.
• Children from broken families or from families where the parents are out of the house for most of the day, often go to the streets and are involved with people who lead them into crime, drugs and prostitution.
Christianity has a large following in Brazil — 89% identify as Christian, of which 64% are Roman Catholic and 22.2% are Protestant. The government is often very sensitive to the church; separation of church and state is weak. The rest of the population identifies with various beliefs: spiritualist, 1.3%; Bantu/Voodoo, 0.3%; other, 1.8%; unspecified, 0.2%; none 7.4%.
As of July 1, 2009, 1 US Dollar = 2.02 Brazilian Real
When Portuguese settlers arrived in Brazil, they estimated that the native Indians numbered around seven million. Most tribes were peripatetic, with only limited agriculture and temporary dwellings, although villages often had as many as 5000 inhabitants. Cultural life appears to have been richly developed, although both tribal warfare and cannibalism were ubiquitous. Today, fewer than 200,000 of Brazil's indigenous people survive, most of whom inhabit the jungle areas.
The Portuguese in Brazil were much less focused at first on conquering, controlling, and developing the country. Most were impoverished sailors, who were far more interested in profitable trade and subsistence agriculture than in territorial expansion. The country's interior remained unexplored.
Nonetheless, sugar soon came to Brazil, and with it came imported slaves.
The move to open the country's interior coincided with the discovery in the 1690s of gold in the south-central part of the country. Gold was a short-term fascination and the focus returned to agriculture.
In 1807, as Napoleon threatened Lisbon, Portugal, Prince Regent Dom Joao and his court fled to Brazil. Dom Joao soon returned to Portugal, leaving his son Dom Pedro I in charge in Brazil. When Dom Joao tried to subordinate Brazil as a colony, his son declared independence.
Coffee plantations rose to economic prominence in the 19th century, and lured in a wave of immigrants from Europe. This influenced the formation of the Brazilian Republic as the coffee barons supported a coup against the imperial government in 1889. Coffee demand dropped during the worldwide depression and Brazil struggled with instability in the government and the economy. In 1989, the first democratic elections were held.
Brazil’s main industries include textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, other machinery and equipment. Brazil’s agricultural products include coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugar cane, cocoa, citrus and beef.