The capital. – On April 21, 1960, following a law of 1956, Rio de Janeiro ceded its function of capital to Brasilia, a city created specifically for this purpose, in a more central position, in the state of Goiás; it is or will be connected with all the most important centers of the country, by air, by highways and by railways (see brasilia).
Explorations. – In 1951 the Smithsonian Institution sent a group of ethnologists to Brazil, headed by Dr. K. Oberg, who worked mainly in Mato Grosso, where they found two hitherto unknown Indian tribes. These live in primitive conditions, of peach and wild fruit and avoid contact with whites and even with the tribes that are related to them.
Population. – The 1950 census gave Brazil a population of 51,941,767; according to a calculation by the National Statistical Council of Brazil, on 1 January 1959 it rose to 63,844,463 residents (7.3 per km 2), with an increase, that is, in the intervening nine years, of 11,900,000 units, equal to approximately 23%. The capital, Rio de Janeiro, in 1958 had 3,030,619 residents, but the most populous city was S. Paolo with 3,315,553 residents. The strong increase in the Brazilian population, as well as the natural increase, is due to the considerable immigration, which was 55,806 individuals in 1955, 44,806 in the following year and 53,613 in 1957.
Economic conditions. – The economy of Brazil is still based on agriculture, even if the industry is spreading more and more, which is considerably modifying the economic life of the country. The 8-9 / 10 of Brazilian exports refer to agricultural products. The surface of the lands cultivated, while still representing a very low percentage of the entire national territory (2.3%), is increasingly expanding; from 18,605,069 ha cultivated in 1952, 19,095,000 have already been reached in 1956.
Coffee is still in first place in Brazilian agriculture, for which Brazil still holds the primacy among producing and exporting countries, even if currently in the exploitation of agricultural resources it is to be recorded the release from the monoculture of the pre-war period, in which the Brazil offered 60% of world coffee production, a percentage which has now fallen to 49%. Nevertheless the coffee area is still expanding, and currently it is also cultivated in the states of Pernambuco, Ceará and Goiás; in 1948-49 2,550,000 ha were cultivated with coffee, which gave a production of 10,315,000 q; in 1953 on 2,876,000 ha produced 11,180,000 q, which decreased to 10,540,000 in the following year on an area of 2,960,000 ha. This surface reached 3,265,000 ha in 1955, and production reached 13,698,000 qq; this then dropped to 10,670,000 q, while the cultivated area, in the following year, remained unchanged. The product is still mostly exported (54%) and the largest consumers of Brazilian coffee are still the United States, which absorb 60% of the export.
More and more place is being given to the cultivation of cotton, tobacco, cocoa and sugar cane. As far as cotton is concerned, its cultivation is expanding rather slowly, indeed in some years there has even been a certain decline: thus from 2,523,000 ha in 1948-49, it went to 2,486,700 ha in 1951, to 2,491 ha.000 ha in 1953, to go back to 2.617.000 ha in 1955 and 2.663.000 ha in 1956; the production in that year was 4,000,000 q of semen, exported at the rate of 4.4%. Tobacco is on the rise; from 148,900 ha in 1948-49 (with 1,158,000 q), it rises to 159,800 ha in 1951 (1,179,000 q), to 175,000 ha in 1954, and finally to 186,000 ha in 1956, with a production of 1,445,000 q.
Cocoa, grown on 258,000 ha in 1948-49 (production: 1,285,000 q), extended to 368,000 ha in 1956, producing 1,674,000 q. The Brazil thus remains in second place among the cocoa producing countries, with 18% of world production; the product is exported for 2.2% of the total. The strongest increase, however, is recorded in the sugar cane field; for sugar production, Brazil reached 13% of world production, remaining in third place, after India and Cuba; in 1948-49 15,986,000 q were produced, and the cultivated area extended over 781,155 ha; in 1954 the crop occupied 999,000 ha and in 1956 an extension of 1,124,000 ha was reached while production rose to 22,630,000 q. However, exports are around 1.4%.
Among cereals, the first place still goes to maize, and Brazil is now in second place in world production; this was cultivated on 4,460,000 ha (production: q 56,503,000) in 1948-49: in Ios3 its surface was extended to 5,062,000 ha and to 6,051,000 in 1953 when production reached 77,070. 000 q. The cultivation of rice is also spreading and from 1948-49 onwards it has registered a continuous rise; from 1,736,000 ha cultivated on that date, it goes to 1,967,200 ha in 1951, and to 2,512,000 ha in 1954; the production of this last year was 37,375,000 q, which rose to 44,480,000 in the following year while the cultivated area was reduced to 2,383,000 ha. The place occupied by wheat is still irrelevant, as it is therefore mostly imported, even if we are trying to extend its cultivation; in 1956 it was grown 1,339,538 ha which gave 12,956,640 q. The beans. for which the Brazil is in first place among the producing countries, offering as much as 26% of the world production, they were cultivated in 1952 on 1.838.000 hna and in 1954 on 2.199.000, with a product, respectively, of 1.152.000 and 1,544,000 t; in 1957 they were already extended on 2,335,000 ha, and gave a production of 1,685,000 t. Also the area cultivated with cassava (whose production is absorbed almost completely within the country, both for food and for industries) has been continuously increasing since 1948-49; in fact from 913.022 ha, it increased in 1957 to 1.186.313 ha with a production of 15.822.309 t.
Jute, also in constant expansion, produced in 1957 a product of 34,367 t out of 26,426 ha. The production of castor is also very noteworthy, which records an average annual production of 180,000 t. Among the other oil plants, a significant increase is also noted for the peanut which from 53,000 t produced in 1947 has seen its yield more than tripled with 185,000 t in 1956.
The cultivation of pepper has been resumed mainly by Japanese immigrants, which currently produces an average annual product of about 1300 t.
In the state of São Paulo, then, an experiment in fruit growing started by an Italian is having great fame, who is also turning his attempts, apparently with good results, also to the cultivation of the olive tree. The Brazil remains in first place in the world for the production of bananas, of which it supplies 47% of the world production and whose cultivation is in continuous expansion (in 1948, in fact, the cultivation of the banana extended just over 95,600 ha, which became 129,519 in 1952 and a good 166,000 in 1957, the year in which 46,880,000 q) were produced and in second place, after the USA, in the production of citrus fruits. The export of these two products is only around 7%, being absorbed for the rest by internal consumption.
The forest resources, on the other hand, are very large, indeed, they are increasing considerably. According to recent FAO statistics, the Brazilian forests, which occupied an area of 377 million ha in 1950, reached 480 million ha in 1957, of which 120 million are economically exploitable; araucaria timber, for example, produced 816,972 tons in 1957, almost totally absorbed by exports.
For rubber, on the other hand, appropriate government measures were necessary in order to increase its production; however there is a slight recovery, which brought production from 32,183 t of crude material in 1954 to 34,128 in 1956.
The zootechnical patrimony also records a very considerable increase, especially in the sector of cattle, pigs in particular and sheep. The data relating to the years 1950, 1956 and 1957 are reported: cattle: 47.088.000 heads, 66.695.000 and 69.548.000; Horsepower: 5,257,000: increased to 7,935,000 and 8,128,000; pigs: 23,034,000, 41,416,000 and 44,190,000; goats: 6,363,000, 10,338,000 and 10,640,000; sheep 13,073,000, 18,866,000 and finally 20,164,000; donkeys and mules 2,503,000, 5,451,000 and 5,727,000. Consequently, the production of wool has increased, which currently averages 28,000 t per year, as well as that of meat which in 1956 was 1,260,400 t, and leather (155,032 t, again in the same year); milk products are on average around 250,000 tons per year. In the’ in the last decade, sericulture has also assumed considerable importance, mostly in the state of São Paulo; the 1957 production was 1,023,000 kg of cocoons.
Finally, in the last decade, fishing has also made great progress; while in 1948 the fish production was 145.000 t, in 1956 it was 208.285 t; especially the states of São Paulo, Rio Grande, Maranhão, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catharina and the Federal District are dedicated to this activity.