* Irene's Country Corner * - Brasil - Historical Facts



Historical Facts


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 The settlement of what is now Brazil began many thousands of years ago with the arrival of the first tribes of Paleo-American "Indians", migrants from North America who were probably of Asian origin. Nomadic hunters and gatherers, they inhabited the less hospitable parts of the country away from the larger rivers.

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By the time of the European arrival, a second group had evolved, known collectively as the tropical forest "Indians". Outnumbering the nomadic "Indians", they were skilled farmers and fishermen who occupied the best lands of the Amazon and Paraguay river systems and most of the coastal plains, making up the bulk of more than 4.000.000 native inhabitants of Brazil at the time of the European arrival.

The first capital of Brazil was the city of Salvador, in Bahia and it was founded by the Portuguese settler Tomé de Sousa on March 29, 1549.

Salvador, Bahia 

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Rio de Janeiro, RJ

Salvador remained the capital of the country until the year of 1763 when the capital was moved to Rio de Janeiro in order to protect the country from the French invaders.

After the construction of Brasília, in the Federal District (Distrito Federal) in 1560, Rio ceased to be the capital.

Brasília, DF 

During many years Europeans invaded the country. They came in search of gold, emeralds and other natural resources. Some of them occupied parts of Brazil for many years until they were finally expelled.

Dom João VI

In November, 1807 (one day before Napoleon's troops invaded Lisbon), Dom João (later Dom João VI), king of Portugal, governing the country in the place of his mother who was mentally ill, decided to take refugee in Brazil with his family. He came with and a horde of nobles and functionaries, arriving in the Brazilian coast on January 22, in the state of Bahia.

On March 7, the royal family came to the city of São Sebastião, present Rio de Janeiro. Soon, many reforms took place which altered the status of the colony. The Bank of Brazil, and the royal printing office were established, schools were founded and the National Library was created, and one of the most important reform was the opening of Brazilian ports to direct trade with all friendly nations, abolishing the Portuguese commercial monopoly on Brazilian trade.

With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Dom João VI was asked to return to Lisbon. In the first instance he hesitated and in 1815, he even raised Brazil to the status of kingdom (Reino Unido de Portugal, Brasil e Algarve - United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves). After liberal revolts in Lisbon and Porto in 1820, the Portuguese demands became too strong for him to resist. In 1821, Dom João VI left Rio de Janeiro sailing for Lisbon, leaving his son Dom Pedro as the prince regent in Brazil.

Dom Pedro I

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On September 7, 1822, Dom Pedro called his troops and near the Ipiranga stream, in São Paulo state, he shouted "Independência ou morte" ("Independence or death"), solemnly proclaiming the independence of Brazil. One week later he returned to Rio de Janeiro, where he was acclaimed by the population. On December 1, he was crowned and was named Dom Pedro I, becoming the first emperor of Brazil.

In 1831, Dom Pedro I abdicated the Brazilian throne in favor of his son Dom Pedro de Alcântara, later Dom Pedro II, who was only 5 years old. As he could not govern at that age, three regents were appointed to rule in his place. Dom Pedro de Alcântara was emancipated at the age of 15 and remained emperor of Brazil until Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca led the military revolt that proclaimed the abrogation of the monarchy and the establishment of Brazil as a republic, on November 15, 1889, deposing the emperor Dom Pedro II.

The young Dom Pedro II

Dom Pedro II

Dom Pedro II was sent into exile in Europe with his family, where he died two years later. Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca then served as provisional president until February 1891, when he was elected Brazil's first President by the constituent assembly, a body largely controlled by the generals. The newborn republic adopted a federative system which has kept its same characteristics until today. 


You can read more detailed information about the history of Brazil HERE.

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This page was created on: January 24, 2002.
Last updated on: March 5, 2003.

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© Irene.  Not available for download.  Please, visit Graphics by Irene if you like this graphic.

Information obtained at: 1. The Encyclopædia Britannica (Web site)
2. Brasil 500 Anos. Ed. Abril, 1999.
3. Nova Enciclopédia Ilustrada Folha. Folha de São Paulo. São Paulo, 1996.
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