Despite modernization of the labour market in areas from agriculture to manufacturing, mining, service industries and the financial sector, Brazil still faces some entrenched problems, notably the very wide gap between rich and poor.
Much of Brazil's most useful arable land is owned and controlled by a small number of the country's most wealthy families. Unable to effect changes to this system, ordinary people leave rural areas for the major cities such as Sao Paulo (now one of the world's largest) in the hope of a better life.
Yet rural-urban migration often simply displaces poverty from countryside to city. Some of Brazil's most modern urban centres are fringed by huge favelas (slum areas and shanty towns), where life for ordinary people can be hard and dangerous, as well as impoverished.
Perhaps above all however, Brazil remains synonymous around the world with the Amazon river and rainforest, whose depletion through logging and other environmental damage has been a cause for global concern. There are now positive signs that this is slowing.
Christians in Brazil
During recent decades in Brazil (which, by number of adherents, is the world's largest Catholic country), there have been major movements to re-awaken the Christian church and (in areas where this is prevalent) break down the oppressive forces of spiritism.
In many instances in Brazil, God has particularly blessed evangelistic efforts that have been characterized by intensive prayer.