Brazil is the world’s leading producer of coffee, oranges, papayas, sugarcane, and sisal.


Historically, Brazil has been an agricultural nation with a boom-and-bust economy based on world demand for such crops as sugarcane, rubber, cotton, and coffee. Large-scale industrialization and development of resources, however, have brought profound change. Today, although agriculture remains important, Brazil is a world industrial power with a diversified economy.

Brazil's rapid economic growth has been accompanied by several problems, including rampant inflation and a mounting foreign debt. Brazil's lack of sufficient mineral fuels, especially petroleum, has required huge expenditures on imports. Much effort has been directed at developing hydroelectric power, nuclear energy, and alcohol fuel for motor vehicles. In developed hydroelectric power Brazil is one of the world leaders. The giant Itaipu dam and power project, a joint Brazilian-Paraguayan undertaking on the Paraná River, is the world's largest water-power project.

Brazil's economy is based mainly on private enterprise, but there is substantial government ownership and operation, particularly in basic industries such as steel manufacturing, mining, electric power generation, transportation, and communication. Heavy foreign investment in manufacturing helped double industrial output during the latter half of the 20th Century. Brazil has one of the highest GDP's in South America.


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