The region under review:
boundaries, geography and population
The State of Paraná is located in the south of Brazil. Its territory covers nearly
200 000 sq.km which is more than 2% of Brazil's surface. It borders the State of São Paulo (North), the State of Santa Catarina (South) and State of Mato Grosso do Sul (Northeast). It has also international borders with Paraguay in the West and Argentina in the Southwest. Paraná consists of 399 municipalities.
The State of Paraná has more than 9.5 million inhabitants, which is about 5.5% of Brazil’s population. The population is highly concentrated in the Greater Curitiba, which is the greater metropolitan area surrounding the state’s capital city. 2 million live in Curitiba.
Paraná is a multiethnic state with Polish, Italian, German, Ukrainian, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese communities. It has also migrants from the Brazilian states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais.
Figure 1: Map of the State of Paraná within Latin America
Brazil is a presidential democracy with three levels of government: federal, state and municipal. The 27 states have a fair level of autonomy, but only the federal government has the right to raise taxes.
Municipalities have the right to legislate upon matters of local interest and to supplement federal and state legislation (OECD 2008). Two thirds of the more than
5 500 municipalities are small in size and depend on transfers from the state and federal government.
The Ministry of Education is responsible for higher education and quality assurance. It is supported by the National Council of Education. The states and the Federal District can authorize, recognize, provide credentials for, supervise and evaluate the programmes conducted by the higher education institutions that they maintain. The federal, state and municipal level are expected to collaborate in the organisation of the educational systems.
The Paraná Secretariat of Science, Technology and Higher Education (SETI) is responsible for co-ordinating higher education in the state, whose educational system, in 2006, was made up of 180 HEIs, of which 22 were public and 158 private.
Paraná’s GNP is about 6% of the Brazilian GNP. The state ranks fifth in Brazil in terms of GDP. New investment in Curibita - the state's capital - comes mainly from the automobile industry.
The State of Paraná has one of the highest living standards in Brazil.
Intensive agriculture and agribusiness plays an important role in the state's economy. The main products are soybean, corn, wheat, and sugar cane.
The industrial sector consists mainly of food and beverages processing, oil refinery, manufacturing, and the auto industry.