In recent years, Brazil has generated a level of international interest and excitement that was wholly unexpected and unpredictable as little as 10 years ago. As one of the so-called BRIC countries -- the emerging powers of Brazil, Russia, India and China -- Brazil has been drawing increasing attention on a variety of fronts.
Brazil's economy has been growing steadily and solidly since roughly 2002, with low inflation, expanding trade, and gradually declining public debt. As a consequence, the country has been an inviting location for both foreign direct and portfolio investment.
Internationally, Brazil has been in the forefront in South America as well as a leader among developing nations. In addition, Brazil arguably has become the most important interlocutor in Latin America for the United States, in particular as a balance to Hugo Chávez's oil-financed efforts to build an anti-U.S. coalition. At the head of this array of successes is President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva -- the Teflon-coated, storybook icon of the workingman who rose from poverty to become the leader of the region's largest, richest nation. President Lula is possibly the only world leader who is equally at home and welcome at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the World Social Forum.