Only a few years ago, Brazil seemed poised to fulfill its potential as a global powerhouse. Almost as big as the continental United States and with a population of nearly 206 million, it boasted the world's eighth-largest economy. Thanks to robust economic growth and spending on social programs, millions had moved out of poverty, and the nation's middle class was growing. But plummeting demand for Brazil's commodity exports and a massive corruption scandal have plunged Brazil into the worst recession in its history. Last summer, just after Brazil hosted the first-ever Olympic Games in South America, an event meant to showcase its progress to the world, President Dilma Rousseff was impeached on charges of political malfeasance. Scores of other politicians and business officials also have been accused or convicted of wrongdoing. Now, analysts say Brazil must pursue major reforms before it can regain its momentum. Meanwhile, government plans to radically expand hydropower along the Amazon River have sparked resistance from environmentalists and indigenous peoples.