Aside from the official fivefold regional division of Brazil, a simpler economic distinction is made between the poor, underdeveloped North and the wealthier, more industrialized South.This distinction is sometimes referred to as the "two Brazils" or "Belindia," with the wealthy South being compared to Belgium and the poor North to India.
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At times these contrasts are translated into negative stereotypes as when inhabitants of São Paulo, the huge metropolis in southeastern Brazil, blame their city's poverty and high crime rate on migrants from the North.
Those who consider themselves urban sophisticates—particularly inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo—have a long tradition of maligning people from smaller cities and towns in the Brazilian interior, calling them uneducated hicks and hillbillies.
The Amazon forest contains the world's largest single reserve of biological organisms, and while no one knows how many species actually exist there, scientists estimate the number could be as high as five million, amounting to 15 to 30 percent of all species on earth.
Although now a focus of Brazilian and international media attention because of the negative ecological consequences of development, the Amazon region had long been isolated from national culture.
Brazil's physical environment and climate vary greatly from the tropical North to the temperate South.
The landscape is dominated by a central highland region known as the Planalto Central (Brazilian Highlands, or Plateau of Brazil) and by the vast Amazon Basin which occupies overone-third of the country.
Urban, middle-class Brazilians are generally unfamiliar with the interior of their own country and misrepresent it as a region of unrelenting poverty and backwardness—a stark place of few creature comforts that is best avoided.
One consequence of this attitude is that middle-class and wealthy Brazilians are more likely to have visited Miami, Orlando, or New York than to have traveled to tourist destinations in their own country.
This region also attracted new immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and Japan who established family farms and eventually urban businesses.