Brazilian History

Fossil records show that Brazil was populated for over 8,000 years before the arrival of Europeans in the 15th - 16th centuries. Little is known about this era of Brazilian history, but it’s estimated that at this time around 2,000 indigenous tribes lived in the country.
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Pedro Alvarez Cabral who discovered Brazil
The beginnings of Brazil as it’s known today are disputed,
as are the origins of the name, but what is known is that in April 1500 by a Portuguese fleet commanded by Pedro Alvares Cabral landed on the shores of the country and claimed it in the name of Portugal.
Because of good international ties and trade with Indonesia and China, Portugal initially took little interest in Brazil, and as such it was the victim of many invasion attempts.
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In order to combat this, Brazil was divided into smaller strips, which were then occupied by Portuguese noblemen, who had the obligation to defend their area. This helped keep down the costs of maintaining a country Portugal weren’t interested in, but largely failed and only two noblemen successfully occupied their areas.
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Slave Trade in BrazilNonetheless, the Portuguese kept on and began developing sugarcane factories to become the largest source of income for the country. In the beginning the Portuguese attempted to make slaves of the locals, but finding them unsuitable turned to Africa, from where they important millions of slaves who suffered awful conditions and many fatalities. From this first influx of slaves comes Brazil’s first taste of the African culture that would so richly influence their own.

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=> Slavery was abolished in 1888, but long before then many Africans had become assimilated into society and given working rights alongside European-Brazilians.
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=> The Portuguese colonisation withstood many invasion attempts from the Spanish and Dutch, but remained in power apart from in selected areas that became occupied by the Dutch.
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In 1808 the Portuguese court established themselves in Rio de Janeiro. From here the Portuguese King, João VI of Portugal, ruled his huge empire for 13 years.  In 1815 the King announced a united kingdom which included Portugal, Brazil and Algarve. When the King returned to Portugal in 1921 he invested his eldest son, Pedro, with the head position in Brazil. Just one year later Pedro led the Brazilian War of Independence, introduced a monarchy and announced himself as Emperor Pedro I of Brazil.

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=> Know more about what happens next
in our Modern History of Brazil article
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