Brazil: State of Awakening

Germany's Ruhr, the great Pittsburgh and Ohio Valley complex, Russia's Do nets Basin — the areas where vast resources and power combine—long ago made their fabulous mark. Another of the world's great areas, in the eyes of geopoliticians, is just beginning to touch its potential. It sprawls, bigger than France, in Brazil's temperate heartland (see map). It is called Minas Gerais (pronounced mee-nesh jer-aye-eesh). However exotic the words sound in Portuguese, they simply mean General Mines—a most pedestrian description of a land of beauty and wealth.

One of the largest of Brazil's 22 states, Minas Gerais has black mountains of...

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