the Steidingers
Steidinger family

Brazil

Map of Brazil

Geography

Brazil is the largest country in South America taking up nearly half the continent. It extends 2,965 miles north-south and 2,691 east-west and borders every country in South America except Chile and Ecuador. It comprises almost 3.3 million square miles (in comparison, the United States is 3.79 million square miles). Geographically, Brazil can be divided into two areas; the Brazilian Highlands in the south and the Amazon River Basin in the north. Over a third of Brazil is drained by the Amazon River and its 200 tributaries. At the city of Santarem (where Project AmaZon is based), the Amazon River is 26 miles wide. The Amazon is so deep that ocean liners can travel 2,300 miles upriver to Iquitos, Peru.

The Amazon River is 11 times the volume of the Mississippi River. During the rainy season, the mouth of the Amazon is 300 miles wide and in one day, the Amazon River could provide 9 years worth of water for New York City! The force of the flow causes the Amazon River to continue flowing 125 miles into the Atlantic Ocean before mixing with the sea water.

Population

Brazil is the 5th most populated country in the world estimated at 201 million in 2010 (the United States is 3rd at 312 million). Brasilia is the capital city of Brazil, but Sao Paulo is probably the most well known because it is the 3rd most populated city in the world with 17.7 million people (only Tokyo and New York City have more people).

Religion

“In 1996 about 80% of the population declared themselves Roman Catholics. Many Brazilians are baptized and married in the Catholic Church, however, they don't attend Sunday Mass very often. Candomblé is a religion that was brought to Brazil by the slaves from Nigeria and Benin. According to the slave-owners and Catholic officials, African slaves had to be converted to Christianity and were therefore prohibited from performing their Candomblé rituals. In order to continue their traditional practices while still contenting their owners, the slaves coupled their deities with corresponding personalities in Catholicism. For instance, Oxalá, a male god of procreation and harvest, was identified with Jesus; and Iemanjá, goddess of the sea, was associated with "Our Lady of Conception". The Catholic Church was content to let matters lie, hoping that over the years, African traditions would eventually die out and that Christian beliefs would be strengthened. However, this has not been the case. Today, especially in the North- East, many Brazilians of all socio-economic classes practice both Catholicism and Candomblé. Umbanda, a religion derived from candomblé coupled with the Christian and spiritist beliefs found in Kardecism, is also practiced widely.

In recent decades, Protestantism has grown rapidly in Brazil. According to the 2000 Census, approximately 15 percent of the population identify themselves as Protestants, an estimated 85 percent of which are Pentecostal/Evangelical. These Evangelical churches have different denominations which include the Assembly of God and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Lutherans and Baptists make up the bulk of the remaining Protestants and are centered in the southern part of the country, where the majority of German and northern European immigrants concentrated during the 19th and early 20th centuries.”

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