Country Profile: Brazil

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Federative Republic of Brazil (República Federativa do Brasil), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Brazil’s Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status.

Country Background

Brazil is located in Eastern South America. It is bounded by Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The capital of Brazil is Brasilia. The official language is Portuguese. The country’s population in 2016 was approximately 206 million. Brazil is a predominantly Christian country, with about 65% of the population Roman Catholic. Brazil is an observer state of the Arab League, owing to its large Arab population (~9 million, 7 million of whom are of Lebanese ancestry). Brazil also requested observer status in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in 2011.

Constitution & Legal Structure

Brazil is referred to as a federal presidential republic. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. It is a civil law system with the last civil code enacted in 2002.

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no constitutional status in Brazil.

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in Brazil.

Dominant School of Islamic Law

Brazil has no official school of Islamic law. 

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

 Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English and Arabic translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].