Brazil is a country of continental proportions and ranks as the fifth biggest country in the world, approximately one hundred times the size of Ireland. Its population, at the last count, was 205 million, which puts it in fifth place also in the population rankings.. There are various climate zones, ranging from equatorial in the north through tropical in much of the country and temperate in the extreme south. Portuguese is the language spoken throughout the country.
There is a lot more to life in Brazil than football and samba even if they are very popular and in a world cup year football occupies a huge amount of space in all forms of the media. Many people feel that far too much money is being spent in preparation for the world cup and that it could be more usefully spent on health and education projects. Currently there is a strong spirit of protest in the air.
The Redemptorists have been in the country since 1893 when some Dutch confreres arrived to be followed a year later by a group from Munich. As of 2014 there are nine units of the congregation in Brazil, five provinces and four vice-provinces, one of which is the Vice-Province of Fortaleza. Situated in the northeast the city of Fortaleza is about equidistant from the frontier with Uruguay in the south and from the frontier with Peru in the west. The vast majority of redemptorists in the country are Brazilian born.
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The redemptorist Vice-Province of Fortaleza has nearly fifty members. The most of these live and work in the northeastern states of Ceará, Piauí and Maranhão. It has responsibility for parishes in Fortaleza, Aracati, Teresina and Araiozes. In Fortaleza there are also two formation houses as well as a community in a shanty town and the administrative centre. A further three confreres of the vice-province live and work in Mozambique.
63% of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholic and this is a significant decrease when compared to the figures for 1970 when around 90% would have so identified themselves. In the interim the Evangelical churches have increased their membership.
In general terms the southeast – São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais –is the most industrialized and prosperous part of the country. Agriculture is very significant throughout the country and Brazil is one of the biggest exporters of beef in the world The production of soya beans has increased hugely in recent years, while rice, beans, coffee and sugar are also produced in big quantities.
In the northeast, which is the poorest region, the industrial base is growing but farming – rice, beans and maize are amongst the leading crops – is very prominent. It should be stated that the northeast is subject to occasional and sometimes prolonged droughts. In 2012 and 2013 the rains were very infrequent and 2014 is not proving to be much better.
Tourism, both internal and foreign, is on the increase. Rio de Janeiro has been on the tourist trail for many years but is not the only destination sought by holiday makers. Places such as Gramado and Foz de Iguaçu in the south, Manaus in the Amazon area, Fortaleza and Salvador in the northeast are amongst places increasingly visited by tourists.
For photos of Brazil you could look at www.redentoristasfortaleza.blogspot.com.br