Brazil: Land Of Soja

From the earliest years of colonial era, the economy of Brazil was based on export crops, which were dependent on slave labor for its production. In the beginning, it was sugar cane. Then the world trend shifted to cotton, then to cocoa, rubber and coffee. In all these products, Brazil remained one of the largest producers.

Brazil is the largest of the Latin American countries. And it covers nearly half of the continent of South America. It is the fifth largest country in the world after the Russian Federation, Canada, China and US. “We have ten neighbors,” says our friend Sandra de Carbalho, 37-year-old real estate broker, and mother of three from Sau Paulo. “Venezuela, Columbia, French Guyana and Surinam on the north; Uruguay and Argentina on the south; Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru on the west; and the Atlantic Ocean on the east”, she says. “The only two countries that do not share a border with Brazil are Ecuador and Chile but they are our nice friendly neighbors too”, she adds.

Brazil has one of the most extensive river systems in the world. The Amazon River, the world’s largest river and the second longest after the Nile, is found in Brazilian territory. The Amazon forest contains the largest single reserve of biological organisms in the world. “Nobody really knows how many species there are in the Amazon forest but scientists estimate that it amounts to 15 to 30 percent of all the species in the entire world!” says Sandra. The Pirarucus, the Tambiques and the Piranhas are among the specialized fishes in the area. The Piranhas have been dreaded as man-eaters but Sandra says the ferocity of these man-eating Piranhas has been exaggerated. She says although it is true that some species have killed large animals and people, they become aggressive only when they lack nourishment. The Amazon rain forests also contain all sorts of medicinal herbs and roots. Thus, Brazil is also known worldwide for herbal teas, rare and exotic herbs.

From the earliest years of colonial era, the economy of Brazil was based on export crops, which were dependent on slave labor for its production. In the beginning, it was sugar cane. Then the world trend shifted to cotton, then to cocoa, rubber and coffee. In all these products, Brazil remained one of the largest producers. Today, Brazil is earning more from the export of soybeans than the traditional earners like coffee, cocoa and sugar. “We are now the largest exporter of soybeans, soy sauce and soja (soya oil). Brazilian cuisine is basically cooked in soja. It is part of our daily diet”, says Sandra in her lilting Portuguese accent. Portuguese is the only language of daily life in Brazil. There are no regional dialects. And Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America.

From the earliest years of colonial era, the economy of Brazil was based on export crops…

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