History of Brazil

Explore the exciting history of Brazil

By the time Pedro Cabral arrived in 1500, the area now known as Brazil had already been inhabited by semi-nomadic populations for at least 6 000 years. There were an estimated seven million native Indians and while their lifestyles where somewhat primitive, their culture was richly developed. The arrival of the Portuguese signaled a big change in lifestyle for the local people. The people of once cannibalistic and warring local tribes started to learn new techniques and ways of thinking from the Portuguese.

Initially, the Portuguese explorers who made their ways to the shores of Brazil where not interested in conquering and expanding - they were simple sailors who desired only to expand their trade. Because of this, the interior of the country was not explored for quite some time. Initially, the Portuguese focused on the exportation of Brazil wood from which a red dye was created. However, it didn't take long to discover that sugar cane grew well in the area. An unequaled amount of slavery - mostly imports from Africa - began to take place in Brazil. There was a large degree of intermarriage between the Portuguese, the Indians and the African slaves. This greatly affected both the culture and physical aspects of what slowly became the people of Brazil.

In the 1690s, gold was discovered in the country's interior. This resulted in wide spread growth into the interior regions of the country. However, there weren't too many gold deposits and most of the country returned their focus to agriculture within the next ten years. In 1808 Queen Maria I of Portugal and her son João IV relocated to Brazil in an attempt to flee the conquering Napoleon. As a result, Brazil gained much more importance to the Portuguese. When it was safe to return to Lisbon, Dom João left the colony is the charge of his son, Dom Pedro. It didn't take long for Dom Pedro to retaliate against his father and declare Brazil and independent empire. On the 15th of November 1889, Brazil was declared a federal republic.

The late 19th century saw the boom of the coffee industry. Coffee became the countries most important export and this wave of production saw the arrival of over five million European and Japanese immigrants. In 1889, wealthy coffee tycoons backed a military coup which forced the emperor to flee the country. No longer an imperial country, the land was virtually owned and governed by the coffee planters. This position of strength crumbled when the depression brought about a lack of demand for coffee. As a result, Brazil struggled with government instability, military cops, and a dying economy. However, the Portuguese people slowly managed to regain control of the situation and Brazil is now a democracy.


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