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Many are ignorant of Brazil's status as a developing nation

During trips in Europe and the United States I was always asked these questions: Do you live in the trees? Do you have monkeys in the streets? Europeans and Americans seem to think that Brazil is Rio de Janeiro with a big Amazon forest surrounding it. If these people were more careful and would take a look at the world map, they would recognize that the world is not just the United States and Europe. Indeed, Brazil is much more than a rain forest.

In Brazil there are 140 million people. The biggest city is Sao Paulo with 15.3 million people, followed by Rio de Janeiro (10.2 million) and Belo Horizonte (3.1 million).

Brazil is the fifth largest country in area in the world. We are classified as a developing country and rank as the eighth economy of the world. We produce almost everything in all fields: from automobiles to orange juice, from computers to shoes, from aircraft to coffee, and we have even produced our own nuclear reactor.

The development of new technologies is constantly increasing in our country. One of the best examples of this is the solution for the petroleum crisis faced by the nations all over the world in 1973 and 1980. Brazil was the only nation to switch successfully from petroleum to a renewable resource of energy for automobile fuel. Now more than half of all our automobiles run on alcohol from sugarcane. That was the world's most successful alternative energy plan. Nowadays the petroleum price has returned to a reasonable level, but we are the only country in the world that could "run" without the use of petroleum.

Another example is the developing of technologies in the aerospace industry. Brazil builds aircraft that are sold in more than 37 countries. These aircraft were recognized by experts as well designed and their prices are extremely competitive.

The heavy construction industry is recognized world wide and Brazilian companies can be seen working in South America, Africa, and Asia. Even in Brazil we still have lots of work to do, like building dams for the water supply, hydropower generation, roads, houses, airports and ports.

In terms of tourism, Brazil is one of the countries with a big potential to be developed. We need to improve our ads in the media, so the country can be well known all over the world. For Americans or Europeans, once you get there, it iss quite inexpensive to travel around because of the high value of the dollar (in the so called black market a tourist can exchange his dollar with a value of about 50% higher than that of the official market). The prices are so low that it could sound quite unbelievable. For example, a Coke costs about $.10 and you can have lunch for $1.00 eating meat, rice, beans, egg and vegetables. There is an air ticket that enables one to fly all over the country during one month for just $300, the same price as a Eurail pass, but using airplanes.

The weather is always good. WE do not have earthquakes, tornados, or snow. In the same trips in Europe and in the United States when I met people that had already been in Brazil, they seemed very happy to meet me and start speaking about how nice the weather is in our country. In Brazil, we practically don't use the weather broadcast since the weather is quite invariable. In some parts of the country we need to do cooling since the temperature can reach more than 110 F, but usually all the environments are naturally temperate.

Rio de Janeiro is well known all over the world for its carnival, famous beaches and beautiful girls, but we have much more than Rio. The carnival is excellent to see, but if you want to join the party you must go to the small cities in the interior of the state of Minas Gerais (Sao Joao Del Rei, Diamantina, etc.) or to the Northeast (Salvador, Recife, Olinda, etc.). In these cities you will feel how nice it is to play in the biggest party in the world.

In Minas Gerais we also have Ouro Preto (Black Gold), a historical city recognized as an UNESCO's world heritage city. ouro Preto is a unique city because of its homogeneous colonial architechture. The city is considered a monument by itself and nobody can build or destroy any buildings. As the name says, lots of gold was found in this city during the colonial period. In the neighborhoods we can find all kinds of precious stones that vary from diamonds to amethysts at a reasonable price.

In the Northeastern region we have the most beautiful beaches of the country, like Maceio and Fortaleza, and it is summer all year. This region of the country has been discovered by the Brazilian tourists, and year after year, more and more people are going for vacations in this area.

The Iguacu Falls on the border of Argentina are a spectacle that cannot be found anywhere else in this world. They are bigger than Niagara Falls. Near the Iguacu Falls one can visit Itaipu, the biggest hydropower plant in the world. It's a landmark in engineering construction.

The capital of Brazil moved in 1960 from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia. The new city was entirely built with this special purpose, and the result was a surprisingly beautiful and modern city, where the typical problems of the big cities were resolved. You can drive all around the city without problems, like finding a place to park or waiting in the overcrowded lanes of traffic. This city was a dream of former President Juscelino Kubitschek, as he wanted the country to develop to the interior instead of being concentrated in the border.

In terms of politics, Brazil is right now emerging as a new democracy. The transition was started with the election of the actual president, who was the last elected by the so-called electoral college (no popular vote). The new constitution was promulgated in October of this year, and at the end of the next year we will be finally allowed to choose our president, installing the democracy definitively.

We have good relationships with countries all over the world and we have the so-called "politics of no interference," or, in other words, we agree that the problems of one country must be solved by the people of that country without the interference of other countries.

We do have the forest, but it is limited to the north of the country. The forest, of course, will not remain intact since the Amazon area has to be developed. This area has the biggest potential for hydropower generation in Brazil. What is better: to build a dam in the forest or to build a nuclear power plant? Of course the exploration of Amazonas cannot continue in the way it has been done during the last 20 years. We need to have in mind that development is not destruction and pollution. We also need to take more care and build a plan of development for this area. I hope the next president will be concerned with this aspect that is not just important for Brazil, but also for the world. The so called "greenhouse effect" is around us to prove that we must take more care of our environment.

Brazil is not just a rain forest, but also a country that is in process of development, a country that will shortly achieve the standard of the so-called developed nations.

Rodrigo Antonia de Paiva G->