Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in South America and the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas. It is the world’s fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population.
Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of over 7,491 kilometres (4,655 miles). It is bordered on the north by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the French overseas department of French Guiana; on the northwest by Colombia; on the west by Bolivia and Peru; on the southwest by Argentina and Paraguay and on the south by Uruguay. Numerous archipelagos form part of Brazilian territory, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz.
Brazil was a Portuguese colony, from the arrival of Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500 until its independence in 1822. In the early days of its independence, it was known as the Brazilian Empire, but the country has been a republic since 1889, although the bicameral legislature, now called Congress, dates back to 1824, when the first constitution was ratified. Its current Constitution defines Brazil as a Federal Republic. The Federation is formed by the union of the 26 States plus the Federal District which holds the national capital, Brasília.