Bibliographic data

Azevedo, Aroldo de: Geografia do Brasil. São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 5th rev. and updated ed.; 1st ed. 1969 [5. überarb. u. aktual. Aufl.; 1. Aufl. 1969], 1972, 16–18.

"Intersection for global transportation routes"

[p. 16]

Hence we must, without succumbing to an absurd optimism or pessimism, assert this first fact taught by Brazilian geography: we have at our disposal an entire continent, which we must know how best to exploit.

Intersection of global travel routes

Brazil’s location meant that until approximately 50 years ago it was more or less on the margins of the large civilisation centres concentrated around the North Atlantic. From political, military and economic perspectives the world

[p. 17]

appeared to be divided into two parts: Europe and the United States in one side, in a position of uncontested supremacy; and on the other, unmistakably second, was the rest of the world, including our country.

As they were separated from these centres by the vast ocean (which could only be crossed by deep draught ships on monotonous journeys of two or more weeks) and did not use any of the riches upon which modern economy is based, the situation could never have been any different.

The present situation, however, is very different.

On the one hand, the era of aviation initiated a profound change in the relationship between populations and it did not take long for the effects to reach us. An aeroplane can now put us on the ground in Europe or the United States in approximately 10 hours. The Second World War (1939-45) demonstrated, even more than the previous (1914-18), that we would struggle to separate ourselves from the events taking place in the northern hemisphere.

On the other hand, the increasing mining of our natural resources (including mineral oil, manganese and iron), the rapidly advancing process of industrialisation , the diversification of agriculture and livestock production and the subsequent population growth have placed Brazil in a prominent position in the so-called Third World.

These factors were supported by the unusual geographical situation of our country, with its prominent position in relation to the whole of the Atlantic ocean, which today has become an enormous ‘lake’ of crucial importance to global relations, both in times of war and in peace.

Brazil is a genuinely Atlantic country , both in terms of its physical properties and in terms of the human and economic perspectives as it faces the waters of this ocean with a coastline of approximately 6,000 km, acting as a large ‘window wide open to the outside world’ – in the words of DELGADO DE CARVALHO. The country will therefore not be able to avoid continuing to play a significant role in the fate of this part of the world.

Furthermore our sovereignty has expanded since 1971 to include a further 200 miles of coast – known as the coastal waters or oceanic sovereign territory , a band 370 km wide. a

[p. 18]

[Map of Brazil showing the country’s time zones, extremities and territorial waters]

DIAGRAM 1 – time zones, official time, outer borders and coastal waters

Moreover: as soon as aviation advances enough to be able to traverse the icy deserts b of Antarctica (as has already happened in the case of the artic regions, for example), it c will transform itself into a key hub for air routes, aimed at connecting the United States and Europe with the Maritime countries of Southeast Asia d and with Australia.

Confirming these advantages made possible by the geographical situation, one needs to emphasise the stability of our borders relative to those of countless other countries, such as the UK, Australia, Italy, and Canada, which reinforces the advantages of our geographical location. Our land borders are as extensive as our coastal borders, supporting the prediction that Brazil will occupy a prominent role as a continental power .

For all the above reasons, it does not seem utopian to maintain that Brazil will become one of the superpowers of the 21st century.

[a] Translator’s note: In March 1970 the Brazilian government passed a law, the subject of which was the expansion of Brazilian oceanic sovereign territory to 200 miles. See Lemos Campos Carvalho, Gustavo de: O mar territorial brasileiro de 200 milhas. Estratégia e soberania. 1970-1982, in: Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional 42/1 (1999), (20.07.2016).

[b] Translator’s note: Literally: The icy solitude .

[c] Translator’s note: Meaning Brazil.

[d] Translator’s note: The Portuguese term insulíndia refers to the islands of Southeast Asia, a series of island nations between the Indian ocean and the Pacific, also known as Maritime Southeast Asia or the Mayalsian archipeligo. This includes, among others, the Phillipines, Indonesia and Singapore. See Wikipedia, (20.07.2016).


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