Would you classify Brazil as a large or a small country?

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By Kristy Tolley

Brazil’s size and classification

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, both by land area and population. However, when it comes to classification, there is no consensus whether Brazil should be considered a large or small country. This article will explore the various factors that determine a country’s size, and assess whether Brazil can be classified as a large or small country.

Defining "large" and "small" countries

The classification of a country as large or small depends on several factors, including land area, population, economy, political and cultural significance, and membership in international organizations. However, there is no universal agreement on the definition of a large or small country. For some, a country that is among the top 10 in the world in terms of land area or population can be considered large, while for others, a country that is not among the top 5 can be classified as small. Similarly, some consider a country with a strong economy or global influence to be large, while others focus on physical size or population.

Population of Brazil and its relevance

Brazil has a population of over 210 million, making it the sixth most populous country in the world. While this is a significant number, some argue that population alone does not determine a country’s size. For example, China and India have over a billion people each, but their land areas are much larger than Brazil’s. Additionally, Brazil’s population density is relatively low compared to other countries, with only about 25 people per square kilometer.

Brazil’s land area and its impact

Brazil has a land area of approximately 8.5 million square kilometers, which is larger than the contiguous United States. This vast territory includes diverse ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest, the Pantanal wetland, and the Atlantic Forest. Brazil’s size has a significant impact on its economy, politics, and culture. For example, Brazil’s large agricultural sector is a result of its vast arable land, and the country’s regional diversity and decentralization are influenced by its size and complex geography.

Comparing Brazil’s size with other countries

When compared to other countries, Brazil’s land area is only slightly smaller than China and the United States and is larger than India and Australia. In terms of population, Brazil is smaller than China, India, the United States, Indonesia, and Pakistan but is larger than Bangladesh, Russia, Japan, and Mexico. Depending on how size is defined, Brazil can be considered a large or small country compared to other nations.

GDP and economy of Brazil

Brazil has the world’s ninth-largest economy by nominal GDP and is one of the BRICS countries, along with Russia, China, India, and South Africa. The country is known for its diversified economy, including agriculture, manufacturing, and services. However, Brazil has also faced economic challenges in recent years, including high inflation, inequality, and political instability.

Brazil’s political and cultural significance

Brazil is often recognized for its cultural and political significance in Latin America and globally. The country is home to diverse ethnic and cultural groups and has a rich history of indigenous, African, and European influences. Brazil has also played a significant role in regional politics, such as its leadership in the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Brazil’s membership in international organizations

Brazil is a member of various international organizations, including the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the G20. The country has also been a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council five times. Brazil’s participation in these organizations reflects its global influence and engagement in international affairs.

Brazil’s role in regional politics and economy

Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and has played a critical role in regional politics and economy. The country is a member of the Mercosur trade bloc, along with Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, and has signed numerous bilateral and multilateral agreements. Brazil has also been a mediator in regional conflicts, such as its role in the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Pros and cons of classifying Brazil as large/small

There are pros and cons to classifying Brazil as a large or small country. On the one hand, classifying Brazil as large recognizes the country’s physical size, population, and global influence. This classification can also help to position Brazil as a leader in regional and global affairs. On the other hand, classifying Brazil as small acknowledges the country’s challenges, such as inequality, political instability, and economic vulnerabilities.

Conclusion: Brazil’s complexity and uniqueness

In conclusion, Brazil’s size and classification are complex and multifaceted. Depending on the factors considered, Brazil can be classified as either a large or small country. Regardless of classification, Brazil’s size and diversity make it a unique and significant player in regional and global affairs. Understanding Brazil’s complexities and unique characteristics is crucial for engaging with the country and promoting global cooperation.

References and further reading

  • Brazil. (n.d.). World Bank. Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/country/brazil

  • Brazil Population 2021. (n.d.). Worldometer. Retrieved from https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/brazil-population/

  • Brazil: The Geography of a Giant. (2018). National Geographic. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/article/brazil-geography-giant/

  • Chaturvedi, S. (2018). The Pros and Cons of Classifying India as a ‘Small’ or a ‘Large’ Country. The Diplomat. Retrieved from https://thediplomat.com/2018/06/the-pros-and-cons-of-classifying-india-as-a-small-or-a-large-country/

  • O’Neill, J. (2001). Building Better Global Economic BRICs. Goldman Sachs. Retrieved from https://www.goldmansachs.com/insights/archive/archive-pdfs/build-better.pdf

  • Soares, A. S. (2019). Brazil Beyond Rio: The Role of Brazil in Regional and Global Governance. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.gjia.georgetown.edu/2019/07/02/brazil-beyond-rio-the-role-of-brazil-in-regional-and-global-governance/

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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