Portuguese is an international language--the sixth most widely spoken language in the world, with approximately two hundred million speakers of Portuguese throughout the world. Portuguese is spoken in Europe (Portugal); South America (Brazil); Africa (Cape Verde, São Tomé e Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique); and Asia (Macau, a territory of China, the Indian State of Goa, and East Timor). Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere, with an area of 8.514.876 km2.

Brazil's cultural legacy has also attained worldwide recognition. Afro-Brazilian cultural manifestations such as Capoeira, Candomblé, and Carnival fascinate people all over the world and attract a great deal of academic interest. Brazilian music alone promotes Brazilian culture globally, drawing attention from musicians and music lovers everywhere. Musical genres such as Bossa Nova, Samba, Forró, MPB, Chorinho, and Axé Music are among Brazil's most successful cultural exports. Brazilian intellectuals and artists have also made an impact internationally: Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed has exerted a tremendous influence on educational research and practice across the globe. The repertoires of composers Ernesto Nazareth, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Antônio Carlos Jobim have long been part of the world canon and are performed in concert halls worldwide. Authors such as Machado de Assis, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, and Clarice Lispector (to cite just three of the major Brazilian literary laureates) produced world-renowed literature.

Apart from their cultural vibrancy and natural splendor, Portuguese speaking countries also represent an increasing force in the global economy, in spite of the chronic economic problems they face. Brazil, a leading Mercosul member, is South America's strongest and most diversified economy (and among the world's largest economies). Brazil's export economy is particularly strong in agriculture, food processing, steel, aviation, machinery parts, footwear, textiles and lumber.

The Portuguese program at Penn offers a range of courses in Portuguese language and in Brazilian culture, introducing students to the linguistic, historical, and cultural resources that will enable them to mine this rich field of study. The study of Portuguese language and Brazilian culture offers a fascinating route toward cross-cultural competency, preparing students for careers in business and finance, banking, economics, food sciences, biology, foreign affairs, international relations, education, healthcare, social services, agronomy, and technology.