The origin of the country name Brasil (with Z in English) is that Portuguese explorers found trees with a red hue which was then called Pau-Brasil (in Portuguese “pau” is “wood or timber” and the word Brasil came from word “brasa” which means ember).
The topography is diverse, including hills, mountains, plains, highlands, and scrublands. Much of Brazil lies between 200 metres (660 ft) and 800 metres (2,600 ft) in elevation. Brazil has a dense and complex system of rivers, one of the world’s most extensive, with eight major drainage basins, all of which drain into the Atlantic Ocean. Major rivers include the Amazon, the largest river in terms of volume of water, and the second-longest in the world; the Paraná and its major tributary, the Iguaçu River, where the Iguazu Falls are located; the Negro, São Francisco, Xingu, Madeira and the Tapajós rivers.
Brazil’s large territory comprises different ecosystems, such as the Amazon Rainforest, recognized as having the greatest biological diversity in the world; the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado, which together sustain some of the world’s greatest biodiversity. Other biomes are the Pantanal, the Pampas, the Caatinga and the coastal zone which includes the marine diversity.
The rich wildlife of Brazil reflects the variety of natural habitats. Much of it, however, remains largely unknown, and new species are found on nearly a daily basis. Scientists estimate that the total number of plant and animal species in Brazil could approach four million. Larger mammals include pumas, jaguars, ocelots, rare bush dogs, and foxes. Peccaries, tapirs, anteaters, sloths, opossums, and armadillos are abundant. Deer are plentiful in the south, and monkeys of many species abound in the northern rain forests.