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Geography in Brazil


Brazil occupies most of the eastern part of the South American continent and its geographic heartland.

The national territory extends 4,395 kilometres from north to south (5°16'20" N to 33°44'32" S latitude) and 4,319 kilometres from east to west (34°47'30" W to 73°59'32" W longitude). It spans three time zones

Brazil possesses the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, located 350 kilometres (217 mi) northeast of its "horn", and several small islands and atolls in the Atlantic - Abrolhos, Atol das Rocas, Penedos de São Pedro e São Paulo, Trindade, and Martim Vaz.

On Brazil's east coast, the Atlantic coastline extends 7,367 kilometres. In the west, in clockwise order from the south, Brazil has 15,719 kilometres of borders with Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. The only South American countries with which Brazil does not share borders are Chile and Ecuador.

Brazil's geological formation is very old. Precambrian crystalline shields cover 36% of the territory, especially its central area. The principal mountain ranges average elevations just under 2,000 metres. The Serra do Mar Range hugs the Atlantic coast, and the Serra do Espinhaço Range, the largest in area, extends through the south-central part of the country. The highest mountains are in the Tumucumaque, Pacaraima, and Imeri ranges.

Brazil's Central Highlands include a vast central plateau (Planalto Central). The plateau's uneven terrain has an average elevation of 1,000 metres.

The rest of the territory is made up primarily of sedimentary basins, the largest of which is drained by the Amazon and its tributaries. Of the total territory, 41% averages less than 200 metres in elevation. The coastal zone is noted for thousands of kilometers of tropical beaches interspersed with mangroves, lagoons, and dunes, as well as numerous coral reefs.

Brazil has one of the world's most extensive river systems, with eight major drainage basins, all of which drain into the Atlantic Ocean. Two of these basins—the Amazon and Tocantins-Araguaia account for more than half the total drainage area. The largest river system in Brazil is the Amazon, which originates in the Andes and receives tributaries from a basin that covers 45.7% of the country, principally the north and west.

Below their descent from the highlands, many of the tributaries of the Amazon are navigable. Upstream, they generally have rapids or waterfalls, and boats and barges also must face sandbars, trees, and other obstacles. Nevertheless, the Amazon is navigable by oceangoing vessels as far as 3,885 kilometres upstream, reaching Iquitos in Peru.

The Amazon River is the widest and second longest river (behind the Nile) in the world.

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