Brazil: The Sleeping Giant

You need permission to watch streaming videos.

This video program features case studies on two very different places in Brazil --Sao Paulo: The Outer Ring and A Second Chance for Amazonia?

The first case study, Sao Paulo: The Outer Ring, shows how a small Portuguese settlement grew into the world's third largest city and the largest city on the South American continent. Located in southeastern Brazil, the city has long been a leading center for Brazil's manufacturing sector as well as the site of heavy industry, financial organizations, and petroleum refining. In addition, the Sao Paulo region leads Brazil's coffee production, producing more than one-third of the country's total output.

The recent growth of Sao Paulo into a mega-city is part of a trend of urbanization across South America. Over seventy percent of the continent's population now live in urban areas, nearly 20 million people in Sao Paulo alone. Looking across the cityscape reveals the scale of the city. Shanties ring the city for miles and miles, full of new immigrants from northeastern Brazil. These new settlers build with whatever materials they are able to find and afford, but receive little help from the cosmopolitan heart of the city. Most of the homes in the shanty areas are built by squatters with no legal ownership of the land, and no public services are provided by the city.

The update to this case study includes new data on Sao Paulo's growth and new interview segments.

The second case study, A Second Chance for Amazonia?, explores how humans gauge their impact on the environment. The case study uncovers a new use for geographic data collection techniques -- to monitor sustainable development policies in the rain forests of northeastern Brazil's state of Para. There, research on the location of deforestation activity may hold clues to future forest management practices that balance agriculture, ranching, and forest land-use prospects.

Updates to this video program include maps and commentary from ecologist Dr. Daniel Nepstad, discussing in part how better logging techniques can preserve the rainforest.

Find additional resources, including primary source materials, interactives, and downloadable print materials, at:

Curricular Information
Teacher Guide
Video Information
Production Company: