Albert Eckhout (Dutch), Tapuias (Brazil) dancing, 17th c.

Indigenous peoples in Brazil

9000 BCE Jan 1
, Brazil

The history of Brazil begins with indigenous people in Brazil. Some of the earliest human remains found in the Americas, Luzia Woman, were found in the area of Pedro Leopoldo, Minas Gerais and provide evidence of human habitation going back at least 11,000 years.

The dating of the origins of the first inhabitants, who were called "Indians" (índios) by the Portuguese, is still a matter of dispute among archaeologists. The earliest pottery ever found in the Western Hemisphere, radiocarbon-dated 8,000 years old, has been excavated in the Amazon basin of Brazil, near Santarém, providing evidence to overturn the assumption that the tropical forest region was too poor in resources to have supported a complex prehistoric culture". The current most widely accepted view of anthropologists, linguists and geneticists is that the early tribes were part of the first wave of migrant hunters who came into the Americas from Asia, either by land, across the Bering Strait, or by coastal sea routes along the Pacific, or both.

The Andes and the mountain ranges of northern South America created a rather sharp cultural boundary between the settled agrarian civilizations of the west coast and the semi-nomadic tribes of the east, who never developed written records or permanent monumental architecture. For this reason, very little is known about the history of Brazil before 1500. Archaeological remains (mainly pottery) indicate a complex pattern of regional cultural developments, internal migrations, and occasional large state-like federations.

At the time of European discovery, the territory of current day Brazil had as many as 2,000 tribes. The indigenous peoples were traditionally mostly semi-nomadic tribes who subsisted on hunting, fishing, gathering, and migrant agriculture. When the Portuguese arrived in 1500, the Natives were living mainly on the coast and along the banks of major rivers.

The 2nd Portuguese India Armada's landing in Brazil. | ©Oscar Pereira da Silva

Discovery of Brazil

1500 Apr 22
, Porto Seguro

In 1500, the Portuguese explorer Pedro Cabral set out on a voyage to India, under the command of King Manuel I of Portugal. He was instructed to explore the coast of Africa and establish a trade route to India. On April 22, 1500, Cabral encountered the land of Brazil. This was the first European sighting of the South American continent. Cabral and his crew were the first Europeans to sight and explore the region, and they claimed it for Portugal. Cabral named the land Ilha de Vera Cruz, or the Island of the True Cross. He then sailed around the coast, claiming it for Portugal and sending reports of his discoveries back to the King of Portugal. Cabral’s voyage marked the beginning of the Portuguese colonization of Brazil, which would last for over 300 years.

Brazilwood Trade

Brazilwood Trade

1500 May 1
, Brazil

Starting in the 16th century, brazilwood became highly valued in Europe and quite difficult to get. A related wood, sappanwood, coming from Asia was traded in powder form and used as a red dye in the manufacture of luxury textiles, such as velvet, in high demand during the Renaissance. When Portuguese navigators landed in present-day Brazil, they immediately saw that brazilwood was extremely abundant along the coast and in its hinterland, along the rivers. In a few years, a hectic and very profitable operation for felling and shipping all the brazilwood logs they could get was established, as a crown-granted Portuguese monopoly. The rich commerce which soon followed stimulated other nations to try to harvest and smuggle brazilwood contraband out of Brazil, and corsairs to attack loaded Portuguese ships in order to steal their cargo. For example, the unsuccessful attempt in 1555 of a French expedition led by Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon, vice-admiral of Brittany and corsair under the King, to establish a colony in present-day Rio de Janeiro (France Antarctique) was motivated in part by the bounty generated by economic exploitation of brazilwood. In addition, this plant is also cited in Flora Brasiliensis by Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius. Excessive harvesting led to a steep decrease in the number of brazilwood trees in the 18th century, causing the collapse of this economic activity.

Romanticized painting of Domingos Jorge Velho, a notable bandeirante | ©Benedito Calixto


1500 May 2
, São Paulo

The main focus of the bandeirantes' missions was to capture and enslave native populations. They carried this out by a number of tactics. The bandeirantes usually relied on surprise attacks, simply raiding villages or collections of natives, killing any who resisted, and kidnapping the survivors. Trickery could also be used; one common tactic was disguising themselves as Jesuits, often singing Mass to lure the natives out of their settlements. At the time, the Jesuits had a deserved reputation as the only colonial force that treated the natives somewhat fairly in the Jesuit reductions of the region. If luring the natives with promises did not work, the bandeirantes would surround the settlements and set them alight, forcing inhabitants out into the open. At a time when imported African slaves were comparatively expensive, the bandeirantes were able to sell large numbers of native slaves at a huge profit due to their relatively inexpensive price. Bandeirantes also teamed up with a local tribe, convincing them that they were on their side against another tribe, and when both sides were weakened the Bandeirantes would capture both tribes and sell them into slavery.

Engenho in the Captaincy of Pernambuco, the largest and richest sugar-producing area in the world during Colonial Brazil

Slavery in Brazil

1501 Jan 1
, Brazil

Slavery in Brazil began long before the first Portuguese settlement was established in 1516, with members of one tribe enslaving captured members of another. Later, colonists were heavily dependent on indigenous labor during the initial phases of settlement to maintain the subsistence economy, and natives were often captured by expeditions of bandeirantes. The importation of African slaves began midway through the 16th century, but the enslavement of indigenous peoples continued well into the 17th and 18th centuries.

During the Atlantic slave trade era, Brazil imported more enslaved Africans than any other country in the world. An estimated 4.9 million enslaved people from Africa were imported to Brazil during the period of 1501 to 1866. Until the early 1850s, most enslaved African people who arrived on Brazilian shores were forced to embark at West Central African ports, especially in Luanda (present-day Angola).

The Atlantic Slave Trade was divided into four phases: The Cycle of Guinea (16th century); the Cycle of Angola (17th century) which trafficked people from Bakongo, Mbundu, Benguela and Ovambo; Cycle of Costa da Mina, now renamed Cycle of Benin and Dahomey (18th century - 1815), which trafficked people from Yoruba, Ewe, Minas, Hausa, Nupe and Borno; and the Illegal trafficking period, which was suppressed by the United Kingdom (1815-1851).

Captaincies of Brazil

Captaincies of Brazil

1534 Jan 1 - 1549
, Brazil

Until 1529 Portugal had very little interest in Brazil mainly due to the high profits gained through its commerce with India, China, and the East Indies. This lack of interest allowed traders, pirates, and privateers of several countries to poach profitable Brazilwood in lands claimed by Portugal, with France setting up the colony of France Antarctique in 1555. In response the Portuguese Crown devised a system to effectively occupy Brazil, without paying the costs. Beginning in the early 16th century, the Portuguese monarchy used proprietorships or captaincies—land grants with extensive governing privileges—as a tool to colonize new lands. Prior to the grants in Brazil, the captaincy system had been successfully used in territories claimed by Portugal—-notably including Madeira, the Azores, and other Atlantic islands.

In contrast to the generally successful Atlantic captaincies, of all the captaincies of Brazil, only two, the captaincies of Pernambuco and São Vicente (later called São Paulo), are today considered to have been successful. For reasons varying from abandonment, defeat by aboriginal tribes, occupation of Northeast Brazil by the Dutch West India Company, and death of the donatário (lord proprietor) without an heir, all of the proprietorships (captaincies) eventually reverted to or were repurchased by the crown. In 1572, the country was divided into the Northern Government based in Salvador and the Southern Government based in Rio de Janeiro.

First Settlement

First Settlement

1534 Jan 1
, São Vicente

In 1534 King John III of Portugal granted the Captaincy to Martim Afonso de Sousa, a Portuguese admiral. Sousa had founded the first two permanent Portuguese settlements in Brazil in 1532: São Vicente (near the present port of Santos) and Piratininga (later to become São Paulo). Although divided into two lots - separated by the Captaincy of Santo Amaro - together these territories formed the Captaincy of São Vicente. In 1681 the São Paulo settlement succeeded São Vicente as the capital of the captaincy, and the original name of the latter gradually fell into disuse. São Vicente became the only captaincy to flourish in southern Portuguese colony of Brazil. It ultimately gave rise to São Paulo state and provided the base for the Bandeirantes to expand Portuguese America to the west of the Tordesilhas Line.

Tomé de Sousa arrives in Bahia, 16th century.

Salvador founded

1549 Mar 29
, Salvador

Salvador was established as the fortress of São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos ("Holy Savior of the Bay of All Saints") in 1549 by Portuguese settlers under Tomé de Sousa, Brazil's first governor-general. It is one of the oldest cities founded by Europeans in the Americas. From a cliff overlooking the Bay of All Saints, it served as Brazil's first capital and quickly became a major port for its slave trade and sugarcane industry. Salvador was long divided into an upper and a lower city, divided by a sharp escarpment some 85 meters (279 ft) high. The upper city formed the administrative, religious, and primary residential districts while the lower city was the commercial center, with a port and market.

Engenho in Brazil in the 16th century

Sugar Empires

1550 Jan 1
, Pernambuco

Portuguese traders had first introduced sugarcane to the Americas in the 1500s. Portugal had pioneered the plantation system in the Atlantic islands of Madeira and São Tomé, and because the sugar produced from Brazilian plantations was used for an export market, this necessitated land that could be acquired with little conflict from existing occupants. By the sixteenth century, sugarcane plantations had been developed along the northeast coast of Brazil, and the sugar produced from these plantations became the basis of the Brazilian economy and society. By 1570, Brazil's sugar output rivaled that of the Atlantic islands.

At first, the settlers tried to enslave the native peoples to work the sugarcane fields, but this proved to be difficult, so they turned to using slaves instead. Slave labor was the driving force behind the growth of the sugar economy in Brazil, and sugar was the primary export of the colony from 1600 to 1650.

In the mid-seventeenth century, the Dutch seized productive areas of northeast Brazil, and because the Dutch were expelled from Brazil, following a strong push by Portuguese-Brazilians and their indigenous and Afro-Brazilian allies, Dutch sugar production became the model for Brazilian sugar production in the Caribbean. Increased production and competition meant that the price of sugar dropped, and Brazil's market share dropped. However, Brazil's recovery from the Dutch incursion was slow, as warfare had taken its toll on the sugar plantations.

Founding of Rio de Janeiro on 1 March 1565

Rio de Janeiro founded

1565 Mar 1
, Rio de Janeiro

Estácio de Sá, in the lead of the Portuguese, established the city of Rio de Janeiro on March 1, 1565. The city was named São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, in honor of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of the Portuguese monarch Sebastião. Guanabara Bay was formerly known as Rio de Janeiro. During the early 18th century, the city was threatened by pirates and buccaneers, such as Jean-François Duclerc and René Duguay-Trouin.

Philip II portrait | ©Titian

Spanish Rule

1578 Jan 1 - 1668
, Brazil

In 1578, Dom Sebastião, the King of Portugal at the time, vanished in the Battle of Alcacer-Quibir against the Moors in Morocco. He had few allies and inadequate resources to fight with, leading to his disappearance. Since he had no direct heirs, King Philip II of Spain (his uncle) assumed control over the Portuguese lands, starting the Iberian Union. Sixty years later, John, Duke of Bragança, rebelled with the goal of restoring Portugal's independence, which he accomplished, becoming John IV of Portugal. Brazil was part of the Spanish Empire, but remained under Portuguese administration until it regained its independence in 1668, and Portuguese colonial possessions were returned to the Portuguese crown.

Conquest of the Amazon by Antônio Parreiras, Pará History Museum.

Belém founded

1616 Jan 12
, Belém

In 1615, Francisco Caldeira Castelo Branco, the Portuguese captain-general of the captaincy of Bahia, was tasked by the Governor General of Brazil with leading a military expedition to monitor the trading activities of foreign powers (the French, Dutch, and English) along the Amazon River from the Cabo do Norte in Grão Pará. On January 12, 1616, he mistakenly believed he had found the main channel of the river when he arrived at what is now known as Guajará Bay, situated at the confluence of the Para and Guamá Rivers, which was referred to by the Tupinambás as "Guaçu Paraná". There, he built a wooden fort covered with straw, which he called "Presépio" (or nativity scene), and the colony formed around it was called Feliz Lusitânia ("Fortunate Lusitania"). This fort was unsuccessful in preventing colonization by the Dutch and French, but it did help to ward off further attempts. Later, Feliz Lusitânia was renamed Nossa Senhora de Belém do Grão Pará (Our Lady of Bethlehem of Grao-Para) and Santa Maria de Belém (St. Mary of Bethlehem), and was granted city status in 1655. It was made the capital of the state Pará when it was separated from Maranhão in 1772.

Dutch Brazil

Dutch Brazil

1630 Jan 1 - 1654
, Recife

During the first 150 years of the colonial period, attracted by the vast natural resources and untapped land, other European powers tried to establish colonies in several parts of Brazilian territory, in defiance of the papal bull (Inter caetera) and the Treaty of Tordesillas, which had divided the New World into two parts between Portugal and Spain. French colonists tried to settle in present-day Rio de Janeiro, from 1555 to 1567 (the so-called France Antarctique episode), and in present-day São Luís, from 1612 to 1614 (the so-called France Équinoxiale). Jesuits arrived early and established São Paulo, evangelising the natives. These native allies of the Jesuits assisted the Portuguese in driving out the French. The unsuccessful Dutch intrusion into Brazil was longer lasting and more troublesome to Portugal (Dutch Brazil).

Dutch privateers began by plundering the coast: they sacked Bahia in 1604, and even temporarily captured the capital Salvador. From 1630 to 1654, the Dutch set up more permanently in the northwest and controlled a long stretch of the coast most accessible to Europe, without, however, penetrating the interior. But the colonists of the Dutch West India Company in Brazil were in a constant state of siege, in spite of the presence in Recife of John Maurice of Nassau as governor. After several years of open warfare, the Dutch withdrew by 1654. Little French and Dutch cultural and ethnic influences remained of these failed attempts, but the Portuguese subsequently attempted to defend its coastline more vigorously.

From 1630 onward, the Dutch Republic conquered almost half of Brazil's settled European area at the time. Dutch Brazil was a colony of the Dutch Republic in the northeastern portion of modern-day Brazil, controlled from 1630 to 1654 during Dutch colonization of the Americas. The main cities of the colony were the capital Mauritsstad (today part of Recife), Frederikstadt (João Pessoa), Nieuw Amsterdam (Natal), Saint Louis (São Luís), São Cristóvão, Fort Schoonenborch (Fortaleza), Sirinhaém, and Olinda. The Dutch West India Company set up its headquarters in Mauritsstad. The governor, John Maurice of Nassau, invited artists and scientists to the colony to help promote Brazil and increase immigration. While of only transitional importance for the Dutch, this period was of considerable importance in the history of Brazil. This period also precipitated a decline in Brazil's sugar industry, since conflict between the Dutch and Portuguese disrupted Brazilian sugar production, amidst rising competition from British, French, and Dutch planters in the Caribbean.

Battle of Guararapes | ©Victor Meirelles

Second Battle of Guararapes

1649 Feb 19
, Pernambuco

The Second Battle of Guararapes was the second and decisive battle in a conflict called the Pernambucana Insurrection, between Dutch and Portuguese forces in February 1649 at Jaboatão dos Guararapes in Pernambuco. The defeat convinced the Dutch "that the Portuguese were formidable opponents, something which they had hitherto refused to concede." With the defeats of the Dutch in the two battles, and the further setback of the Portuguese Recapture of Angola, which crippled the Dutch colony in Brazil as it couldn't survive without the slaves from Angola, opinion in Amsterdam considered that "Dutch Brazil by now no longer had a future worth fighting for," which "effectively sealed the fate of the colony." The Dutch still retained a presence in Brazil until 1654. The Treaty of The Hague was signed on 6 August 1661 between representatives of the Dutch Empire and the Portuguese Empire. Based on the terms of the treaty, the Dutch Republic recognized Portuguese imperial sovereignty over New Holland (Dutch Brazil) in exchange for an indemnity of 4 million reis over the span of 16 years.

Capoeira or the Dance of War | ©Johann Moritz Rugendas

Slave Rebellions

1678 Jan 1
, Serra da Barriga - União dos Palmares

Slave rebellions were frequent until the practice of slavery was abolished in 1888. The most famous of the revolts was led by Zumbi dos Palmares. The state he established, named the Quilombo dos Palmares, was a self-sustaining republic of Maroons escaped from the Portuguese settlements in Brazil, and was "a region perhaps the size of Portugal in the hinterland of Pernambuco". At its height, Palmares had a population of over 30,000.

By 1678, the governor of the captaincy of Pernambuco, Pedro Almeida, weary of the longstanding conflict with Palmares, approached its leader Ganga Zumba with an olive branch. Almeida offered freedom for all runaway slaves if Palmares would submit to Portuguese authority, a proposal which Ganga Zumba favored. But Zumbi was distrustful of the Portuguese. Further, he refused to accept freedom for the people of Palmares while other Africans remained enslaved. He rejected Almeida's overture and challenged Ganga Zumba's leadership. Vowing to continue the resistance to Portuguese oppression, Zumbi became the new leader of Palmares.

Fifteen years after Zumbi assumed leadership of Palmares, Portuguese military commanders Domingos Jorge Velho and Vieira de Melo mounted an artillery assault on the quilombo. On February 6, 1694, after 67 years of ceaseless conflict with the cafuzos (Maroons) of Palmares, the Portuguese succeeded in destroying Cerca do Macaco, the republic's central settlement. Palmares' warriors were no match for the Portuguese artillery; the republic fell, and Zumbi was wounded. Though he survived and managed to elude the Portuguese, he was betrayed, captured almost two years later and beheaded on the spot on November 20, 1695. The Portuguese transported Zumbi's head to Recife, where it was displayed in the central praça as proof that, contrary to popular legend among African slaves, Zumbi was not immortal. It was also done as a warning of what would happen to others if they tried to be as brave as him. Remnants of the old quilombos continued to reside in the region for another hundred years.

Ciclo do Ouro (Gold cycle) | ©Rodolfo Amoedo

Brazilian Gold Rush

1693 Jan 1
, Ouro Preto

The Brazilian Gold Rush was a gold rush that started in the 1690s, in the then Portuguese colony of Brazil in the Portuguese Empire. The gold rush opened up the major gold-producing area of Ouro Preto (Portuguese for black gold), then known as Vila Rica. Eventually, the Brazilian Gold Rush created the world's longest gold rush period and the largest gold mines in South America.

The rush began when bandeirantes discovered large gold deposits in the mountains of Minas Gerais. The bandeirantes were adventurers who organized themselves into small groups to explore the interior of Brazil. Many bandeirantes were of mixed indigenous and European background who adopted the ways of the natives, which permitted them to survive in the interior. While the bandeirantes searched for indigenous captives, they also searched for mineral wealth, which led to the gold being discovered. Slave labor was generally used for the workforce.

More than 400,000 Portuguese and 500,000 African slaves came to the gold region to mine. Many people abandoned the sugar plantations and towns in the northeast coast to go to the gold region. By 1725, half the population of Brazil was living in southeastern Brazil. Officially, 800 metric tons of gold were sent to Portugal in the 18th century. Other gold circulated illegally, and still other gold remained in the colony to adorn churches and for other uses.

Battle of the militia of Mogi das Cruzes and the Botocudos

Treaty of Madrid

1750 Jan 13
, Madrid

Earlier treaties such as the Treaty of Tordesillas and the Treaty of Zaragoza authored by both countries, and as mediated by Pope Alexander VI, stipulated that the Portuguese empire in South America could extend no farther west than 370 leagues west of Cape Verde Islands (called the Tordesillas meridian, approx. the 46th meridian). Had these treaties remained unchanged, the Spanish would have held both what is today the city of São Paulo and all land to the west and south. Thus, Brazil would be only a fraction of its present-day size.

Gold was discovered in Mato Grosso in 1695. Starting in the 17th century, Portuguese explorers, traders, and missionaries from the state of Maranhao in the north, and gold-seekers and slave-hunters, the famous bandeirantes of São Paulo, in the south, had penetrated far to the west and southwest of the old treaty-line also looking for slaves. New captaincies (administrative divisions) created by the Portuguese beyond Brazil's previously-established boundaries: Minas Gerais, Goias, Mato Grosso, Santa Catarina.

The Treaty of Madrid was an agreement concluded between Spain and Portugal on 13 January 1750. In an effort to end decades of conflict in the region of present-day Uruguay, the treaty established detailed territorial boundaries between Portuguese Brazil and the Spanish colonial territories to the south and west. Portugal also recognized Spain's claim to the Philippines while Spain acceded to the westward expansion of Brazil. Most notably, Spain and Portugal expressly abandoned the papal bull Inter caetera and the treaties of Tordesillas and Zaragoza as the legal basis for colonial division.

Embarkation of the Portuguese Royal Family to Brazil in 1807, 19th-century painting attributed to Nicolas-Louis-Albert Delerive. National Coach Museum, Lisbon.

Transfer of the Portuguese court to Brazil

1807 Nov 29
, Rio de Janeiro

The Portuguese royal court transferred from Lisbon to the Portuguese colony of Brazil in a strategic retreat of Queen Maria I of Portugal, Prince Regent John, the Braganza royal family, its court, and senior functionaries, totaling nearly 10,000 people, on 27 November 1807. The embarkment took place on the 27th, but due to weather conditions, the ships were only able to depart on the 29 November. The Braganza royal family departed for Brazil just days before Napoleonic forces invaded Portugal on 1 December 1807. The Portuguese crown remained in Brazil from 1808 until the Liberal Revolution of 1820 led to the return of John VI of Portugal on 26 April 1821.

For thirteen years, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, functioned as the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal in what some historians call a metropolitan reversal (i.e., a colony exercising governance over the entirety of an empire). The period in which the court was located in Rio brought significant changes to the city and its residents, and can be interpreted through several perspectives. It had profound impacts on Brazilian society, economics, infrastructure, and politics. The transfer of the king and the royal court "represented the first step toward Brazilian independence, since the king immediately opened the ports of Brazil to foreign shipping and turned the colonial capital into the seat of government."

The acclamation of King João VI of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves in Rio de Janeiro

United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves

1815 Jan 1 - 1825
, Brazil

The United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves was formed in 1815, following the transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil during the Napoleonic invasions of Portugal, and it continued to exist for about one year after the return of the Court to Europe, being de facto dissolved in 1822, when Brazil proclaimed its independence. The dissolution of the United Kingdom was accepted by Portugal and formalized de jure in 1825, when Portugal recognized the independent Empire of Brazil.

During its period of existence the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves did not correspond to the whole of the Portuguese Empire: rather, the United Kingdom was the transatlantic metropolis that controlled the Portuguese colonial empire, with its overseas possessions in Africa and Asia.

Thus, from the point of view of Brazil, the elevation to the rank of a kingdom and the creation of the United Kingdom represented a change in status, from that of a colony to that of an equal member of a political union. In the wake of the Liberal Revolution of 1820 in Portugal, attempts to compromise the autonomy and even the unity of Brazil, led to the breakdown of the union.

Review of the troops destined to Montevideo, oil on canvas(c. 1816). At the center, on a white horse, is king John VI. Pointing his hat, on the left, is general Beresford | ©Jean-Baptiste Debret

Portuguese conquest of the Banda Oriental

1816 Jan 1 - 1820
, Uruguay

The Portuguese conquest of the Banda Oriental was the armed-conflict that took place between 1816 and 1820 in the Banda Oriental, for control of what today comprises the whole of the Republic of Uruguay, the northern part of the Argentine Mesopotamia and southern Brazil. The four-year armed-conflict resulted in the annexation of the Banda Oriental into the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves as the Brazilian province of Cisplatina. The belligerents were, on one side, the "artiguistas" led by José Gervasio Artigas and some leaders of other provinces that made up the Federal League, like Andrés Guazurary, and on the other, the troops of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, directed by Carlos Frederico Lecor.

Pedro I (on the right) ordering the Portuguese chief Jorge Avilez to withdraw from Rio de Janeiro towards Portugal, when the attempt of the Portuguese troops to control the city failed.

War of Independence of Brazil

1822 Jan 9 - 1825 May 13
, Brazil

The Brazilian War of Independence was waged between the newly independent Brazilian Empire and the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, which had just undergone the Liberal Revolution of 1820. It lasted from February 1822, when the first skirmishes took place, to March 1824, with the surrender of the Portuguese garrison in Montevideo. The war was fought on land and sea and involved both regular forces and civilian militia. Land and naval battles took place in the territories of Bahia, Cisplatina and Rio de Janeiro provinces, the vice-kingdom of Grão-Pará, and in Maranhão and Pernambuco, which today are part of Ceará, Piauí and Rio Grande do Norte states.

Independence or Death | ©Pedro Américo

Independence of Brazil

1822 Sep 7
, Bahia

The Independence of Brazil comprised a series of political and military events that led to the independence of the Kingdom of Brazil from the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves as the Brazilian Empire. Most of the events occurred in Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo between 1821–1824.

It is celebrated on 7 September, although there is a controversy whether the real independence happened after the Siege of Salvador on 2 July 1823 in Salvador, Bahia where the independence war was fought. However, September 7 is the anniversary of the date in 1822 that prince regent Dom Pedro declared Brazil's independence from his royal family in Portugal and the former United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves. Formal recognition came with a treaty three years later, signed by the new Empire of Brazil and the Kingdom of Portugal in late 1825.

Pedro I delivers his abdication letter on 7 April 1831. | ©Aurélio de Figueiredo

Reign of Emperor Pedro I

1822 Oct 12 - 1831 Apr 7
, Brazil

Pedro I encountered a number of crises during his reign as Emperor of Brazil. A secessionist rebellion in the Cisplatina Province in early 1825 and the subsequent attempt by the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata (later Argentina) to annex Cisplatina led the Empire into the Cisplatine War: "a long, inglorious, and ultimately futile war in the south". In March 1826, John VI died and Pedro I inherited the Portuguese crown, briefly becoming King Pedro IV of Portugal before abdicating in favor of his eldest daughter, Maria II. The situation worsened in 1828 when the war in the south ended with Brazil's loss of Cisplatina, which would become the independent republic of Uruguay. During the same year in Lisbon, Maria II's throne was usurped by Prince Miguel, Pedro I's younger brother.

Other difficulties arose when the Empire's parliament, the General Assembly, opened in 1826. Pedro I, along with a significant percentage of the legislature, argued for an independent judiciary, a popularly elected legislature and a government which would be led by the emperor who held broad executive powers and prerogatives. Others in parliament argued for a similar structure, only with a less influential role for the monarch and the legislative branch being dominant in policy and governance. The struggle over whether the government would be dominated by the emperor or by the parliament was carried over into debates from 1826 to 1831 on the establishment of the governmental and political structure. Unable to deal with the problems in both Brazil and Portugal simultaneously, the Emperor abdicated on behalf of his son, Pedro II, on 7 April 1831 and immediately sailed for Europe to restore his daughter to her throne.

Oath of the Thirty-Three Orientals to the Uruguayan Republic

Cisplatine War

1825 Dec 10 - 1828 Aug 27
, Uruguay

The Cisplatine War was an armed conflict in the 1820s between the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata and the Empire of Brazil over Brazil's Cisplatina province, in the aftermath of the United Provinces' and Brazil's independence from Spain and Portugal. It resulted in the independence of Cisplatina as the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

Coffee being embarked in the Port of Santos, São Paulo, 1880

Coffee production in Brazil

1830 Jan 1
, Brazil

The first coffee bush in Brazil was planted by Francisco de Melo Palheta in Pará in 1727. According to the legend, the Portuguese were looking for a cut of the coffee market, but could not obtain seeds from bordering French Guiana due to the governor's unwillingness to export the seeds. Palheta was sent to French Guiana on a diplomatic mission to resolve a border dispute. On his way back home, he managed to smuggle the seeds into Brazil by seducing the governor's wife who secretly gave him a bouquet spiked with seeds.

Coffee spread from Pará and reached Rio de Janeiro in 1770, but was only produced for domestic consumption until the early 19th century when American and European demand increased, creating the first of two coffee booms. The cycle ran from the 1830s to 1850s, contributing to the decline of slavery and increased industrialization. Coffee plantations in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Minas Gerais quickly grew in size in the 1820s, accounting for 20% of worlds production. By the 1830s, coffee had become Brazil's largest export and accounted for 30% of the world's production. In the 1840s, both the share of total exports and of world production reached 40%, making Brazil the largest coffee producer. The early coffee industry was dependent on slaves; in the first half of the 19th century 1.5 million slaves were imported to work on the plantations. When the foreign slave trade was outlawed in 1850, plantation owners began turning more and more to European immigrants to meet the demand of labor.

Acclamation of Pedro II on 9 April 1831, by Debret

Regency Period

1831 Jan 1 - 1840
, Brazil

Regency period is how the decade from 1831 to 1840 became known in the history of the Empire of Brazil, between the abdication of Emperor Pedro I on 7 April 1831 and the Golpe da Maioridade, when his son Pedro II was legally declared of age by the Senate at the age of 14 on 23 July 1840.

Born on 2 December 1825, Pedro II was, at the time of his father's abdication, 5 years and 4 months old, and therefore could not assume the government which, by law, would be headed by a regency made up of three representatives. During this decade there were four regencies: the Provisional Triumviral, the Permanent Triumviral, the una (sole) of Diogo Antônio Feijó and the una of Pedro de Araújo Lima.

It was one of the most defining and eventful periods in Brazilian history; in this period the territorial unity of the country was established and the Armed Forces were structured, in addition, it was the period when the degree of autonomy of the provinces and the centralization of power was discussed.

In this phase, a series of local provincial rebellions took place, such as the Cabanagem, in Grão-Pará, the Balaiada in Maranhão, the Sabinada, in Bahia, and the Ragamuffin War, in Rio Grande do Sul, the latter being the largest and longest. These revolts showed the growing discontent with the central power and the latent social tensions of the newly independent nation, which provoked the joint effort of their opponents and the central government to maintain order. Historians have remarked that the regency period was the first republican experience in Brazil, given its elective nature.

Malê revolt

Malê revolt

1835 Jan 1
, Salvador

The Malê revolt was a Muslim slave rebellion that broke out during the regency period in the Empire of Brazil. On a Sunday during Ramadan in January 1835, in the city of Salvador da Bahia, a group of enslaved African Muslims and freedmen, inspired by Muslim teachers, rose up against the government. Muslims were called malê in Bahia at this time, from Yoruba imale that designated a Yoruba Muslim.

The uprising took place on the feast day of Our Lady of Guidance, a celebration in the Bonfim's church's cycle of religious holidays. As a result, many worshipers traveled to Bonfim for the weekend to pray or celebrate. Authorities were in Bonfim in order to keep the celebrations in line. Consequently, there would be fewer people and authorities in Salvador, making it easier for the rebels to occupy the city. The slaves knew about the Haitian Revolution (1791−1804) and wore necklaces bearing the image of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who had declared Haitian independence.

News of the revolt reverberated throughout Brazil and news of it appeared in press of the United States and England. Many consider this rebellion to be the turning point of slavery in Brazil.Widespread discussion of the end of the Atlantic slave trade appeared in the press. While slavery existed for more than fifty years following the Malê revolt, the slave trade was abolished in 1851. Slaves continued to pour into Brazil immediately following the rebellion, which caused fear and unrest among the people of Brazil. They feared that bringing in more slaves would just fuel another rebel army. Although it took a little over fifteen years to happen, the slave trade was abolished in Brazil, due in part to the 1835 rebellion.

Charge of the Cavalry depicting the Riograndense army. | ©Guilherme Litran

Ragamuffin War

1835 Sep 20 - 1845 Mar 1
, Rio Grande do Sul

The Ragamuffin War was a Republican uprising that began in southern Brazil, in the province of Rio Grande do Sul in 1835. The rebels were led by generals Bento Gonçalves da Silva and Antônio de Sousa Neto with the support of the Italian fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi. The war ended with an agreement between the two sides known as Green Poncho Treaty in 1845.

Over time, the revolution acquired a separatist character and influenced separatist movements throughout the entire country such as the Liberal Rebellions in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais in 1842, and the Sabinada in Bahia in 1837. The abolition of slavery was one of the demands of the Farrapos movement. Many slaves organized troops during the Ragamuffin War, the most famous of which is the Black Lancers Troop, annihilated in a surprise attack in 1844 known as Battle of Porongos.

It was inspired by the recently ended Cisplatine War, maintaining connections with both Uruguayan leaders as well as independent Argentine provinces such as Corrientes and Santa Fe. It even expanded to the Brazilian coast, in Laguna, with the proclamation of the Juliana Republic and to the Santa Catarina plateau of Lages.

Painting of the Battle of Caseros

Platine War

1851 Aug 18 - 1852 Feb 3
, Uruguay

The Platine War was fought between the Argentine Confederation and an alliance consisting of the Empire of Brazil, Uruguay, and the Argentine provinces of Entre Ríos and Corrientes, with the participation of the Republic of Paraguay as Brazil's co-belligerent and ally. The war was part of a decades-long dispute between Argentina and Brazil for influence over Uruguay and Paraguay, and hegemony over the Platine region (areas bordering the Río de la Plata). The conflict took place in Uruguay and northeastern Argentina, and on the Río de la Plata. Uruguay's internal troubles, including the longrunning Uruguayan Civil War (La Guerra Grande – "The Great War"), were heavily influential factors leading to the Platine War.

In 1850, the Platine region was politically unstable. Although the Governor of Buenos Aires, Juan Manuel de Rosas, had gained dictatorial control over other Argentine provinces, his rule was plagued by a series of regional rebellions. Meanwhile, Uruguay struggled with its own civil war, which started after gaining independence from the Brazilian Empire in 1828 in the Cisplatine War. Rosas backed the Uruguayan Blanco party in this conflict, and further desired to extend Argentine borders to areas formerly occupied by the Spanish Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. This meant asserting control over Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia, which threatened Brazilian interests and sovereignty since the old Spanish Viceroyalty had also included territories which had long been incorporated into the Brazilian province of Rio Grande do Sul.

Brazil actively pursued ways to eliminate the threat from Rosas. In 1851, it allied with the Argentine breakaway provinces of Corrientes and Entre Ríos (led by Justo José de Urquiza), and the anti-Rosas Colorado party in Uruguay. Brazil next secured the south-western flank by signing defensive alliances with Paraguay and Bolivia. Faced with an offensive alliance against his regime, Rosas declared war on Brazil.

Allied forces first advanced into Uruguayan territory, defeating Rosas' Blanco party supporters led by Manuel Oribe. Afterwards, the Allied army was divided, with the main arm advancing by land to engage Rosas' main defenses and the other launching a seaborne assault directed at Buenos Aires.

The Platine War ended in 1852 with the Allied victory at the Battle of Caseros, for some time establishing Brazilian hegemony over much of South America. The war ushered in a period of economic and political stability in the Empire of Brazil. With Rosas gone, Argentina began a political process which would result in a more unified state. However, the end of the Platine war did not completely resolve issues within the Platine region. Turmoil continued in subsequent years, with internal disputes among political factions in Uruguay, a long civil war in Argentina, and an emergent Paraguay asserting its claims. Two more major international wars followed during the next two decades, sparked by territorial ambitions and conflicts over influence.

The Siege of Paysandú as portrayed by L'Illustration newspaper, 1865

Uruguayan War

1864 Aug 10 - 1865 Feb 20
, Uruguay

The Uruguayan War was fought between Uruguay's governing Blanco Party and an alliance consisting of the Empire of Brazil and the Uruguayan Colorado Party, covertly supported by Argentina. Since its independence, Uruguay had been ravaged by intermittent struggles between the Colorado and Blanco factions, each attempting to seize and maintain power in turn. The Colorado leader Venancio Flores launched the Liberating Crusade in 1863, an insurrection aimed at toppling Bernardo Berro, who presided over a Colorado–Blanco coalition (fusionist) government. Flores was aided by Argentina, whose president Bartolomé Mitre provided him with supplies, Argentine volunteers and river transport for troops.

The fusionism movement collapsed as the Colorados abandoned the coalition to join Flores' ranks. The Uruguayan Civil War quickly escalated, developing into a crisis of international scope that destabilized the entire region. Even before the Colorado rebellion, the Blancos within fusionism had sought an alliance with Paraguayan dictator Francisco Solano López. Berro's now purely Blanco government also received support from Argentine federalists, who opposed Mitre and his Unitarians. The situation deteriorated as the Empire of Brazil was drawn into the conflict. Almost one fifth of the Uruguayan population were considered Brazilian. Some joined Flores' rebellion, spurred by discontent with Blanco government policies that they regarded as harmful to their interests. Brazil eventually decided to intervene in the Uruguayan affair to reestablish the security of its southern frontiers and its regional ascendancy.

In April 1864, Brazil sent Minister Plenipotentiary José Antônio Saraiva to negotiate with Atanasio Aguirre, who had succeeded Berro in Uruguay. Saraiva made an initial attempt to settle the dispute between Blancos and Colorados. Faced with Aguirre's intransigence regarding Flores' demands, the Brazilian diplomat abandoned the effort and sided with the Colorados. On 10 August 1864, after a Brazilian ultimatum was refused, Saraiva declared that Brazil's military would begin exacting reprisals. Brazil declined to acknowledge a formal state of war, and for most of its duration, the Uruguayan–Brazilian armed conflict was an undeclared war.

In a combined offensive against Blanco strongholds, the Brazilian–Colorado troops advanced through Uruguayan territory, taking one town after another. Eventually the Blancos were left isolated in Montevideo, the national capital. Faced with certain defeat, the Blanco government capitulated on 20 February 1865. The short-lived war would have been regarded as an outstanding success for Brazilian and Argentine interests, had Paraguayan intervention in support of the Blancos (with attacks upon Brazilian and Argentine provinces) not led to the long and costly Paraguayan War.

Battle of Avay, December 1868.

War of the Triple Alliance

1864 Nov 13 - 1870 Mar 1
, South America

The War of the Triple Alliance was a South American war that lasted from 1864 to 1870. It was fought between Paraguay and the Triple Alliance of Argentina, the Empire of Brazil, and Uruguay. It was the deadliest and bloodiest inter-state war in Latin American history. Paraguay sustained large casualties, but the approximate numbers are disputed. Paraguay was forced to cede disputed territory to Argentina and Brazil. The war began in late 1864, as a result of a conflict between Paraguay and Brazil caused by the Uruguayan War. Argentina and Uruguay entered the war against Paraguay in 1865, and it then became known as the "War of the Triple Alliance."

After Paraguay was defeated in conventional warfare, it conducted a drawn-out guerrilla resistance, a strategy that resulted in the further destruction of the Paraguayan military and the civilian population. Much of the civilian population died due to battle, hunger, and disease. The guerrilla war lasted for 14 months until President Francisco Solano López was killed in action by Brazilian forces in the Battle of Cerro Corá on 1 March 1870. Argentine and Brazilian troops occupied Paraguay until 1876.

The War helped the Brazilian Empire to reach its peak of political and military influence, becoming the Great Power of South America, and also helped to bring about the end of slavery in Brazil, moving the military into a key role in the public sphere. However, the war caused a ruinous increase of public debt, which took decades to pay off, severely limiting the country's growth. The war debt, alongside a long-lasting social crisis after the conflict, are regarded as crucial factors for the fall of the Empire and proclamation of the First Brazilian Republic. The economic depression and the strengthening of the army later played a large role in the deposition of the emperor Pedro II and the republican proclamation in 1889.

As in other countries, "wartime recruitment of slaves in the Americas rarely implied a complete rejection of slavery and usually acknowledged masters' rights over their property." Brazil compensated owners who freed slaves for the purpose of fighting in the war, on the condition that the freedmen immediately enlist. It also impressed slaves from owners when needing manpower, and paid compensation. In areas near the conflict, slaves took advantage of wartime conditions to escape, and some fugitive slaves volunteered for the army. Together these effects undermined the institution of slavery.

A Brazilian family in Rio de Janeiro. | ©Jean-Baptiste Debret

End of Slavery in Brazil

1872 Jan 1
, Brazil

In 1872, the population of Brazil was 10 million, and 15% were slaves. As a result of widespread manumission (easier in Brazil than in North America), by this time approximately three quarters of the blacks and mulattoes in Brazil were free. Slavery was not legally ended nationwide until 1888, when Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, promulgated the Lei Áurea ("Golden Act"). But it was already in decline by this time (since the 1880s the country began to attract European immigrant labor instead). Brazil was the last nation in the Western world to abolish slavery, and by then it had imported an estimated 4,000,000 (other estimates are 5, 6, or as high as 12.5 million) slaves from Africa. This was 40% of all slaves shipped to the Americas.

Commercial center of Manaus in 1904.

Amazon rubber boom

1879 Jan 1 - 1912
, Manaus

The rubber boom in the Amazon in the 1880s–1910s radically reshaped the Amazonian economy. For example, it turned the remote poor jungle village of Manaus into a rich, sophisticated, progressive urban center, with a cosmopolitan population that patronized the theater, literary societies, and luxury stores, and supported good schools. In general, key characteristics of the rubber boom included the dispersed plantations, and a durable form of organization, yet did not respond to Asian competition. The rubber boom had major long-term effects: the private estate became the usual form of land tenure; trading networks were built throughout the Amazon basin; barter became a major form of exchange; and native peoples often were displaced. The boom firmly established the influence of the state throughout the region. The boom ended abruptly in the 1920s, and income levels returned to the poverty levels of the 1870s. There were major negative effects on the fragile Amazonian environment.

The Proclamation of the Republic, by Benedito Calixto.

First Brazilian Republic

1889 Nov 15
, Brazil

On November 15, 1889, Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca deposed Emperor Pedro II, declared Brazil a republic, and reorganized the government. According to the new republican Constitution enacted in 1891, the government was a constitutional democracy, but democracy was nominal. In reality, the elections were rigged, voters in rural areas were pressured or induced to vote for the chosen candidates of their bosses (see coronelismo) and, if all those methods did not work, the election results could still be changed by one sided decisions of Congress' verification of powers commission (election authorities in the República Velha were not independent from the executive and the Legislature, dominated by the ruling oligarchs). This system resulted in the presidency of Brazil alternating between the oligarchies of the dominant states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, who governed the country through the Paulista Republican Party (PRP) and the Minas Republican Party (PRM). This regime is often referred to as "café com leite", 'coffee with milk', after the respective agricultural products of the two states.

The Brazilian republic was not an ideological offspring of the republics born of the French or American Revolutions, although the Brazilian regime would attempt to associate itself with both. The republic did not have enough popular support to risk open elections. It was a regime born of a coup d'état that maintained itself by force. The republicans made Deodoro president (1889–91) and, after a financial crisis, appointed Field Marshal Floriano Vieira Peixoto Minister of War to ensure the allegiance of the military.

Brazilian president Venceslau Brás declares war on the Central Powers.

Brazil during World War I

1914 Aug 4
, Brazil

During World War I, Brazil initially adopted a neutral position, in accordance with the Hague Convention, in an attempt to maintain the markets for its export products, mainly coffee, latex and industrial manufactured items. However, following repeated sinking of Brazilian merchant ships by German submarines, President Venceslau Brás declared war against the Central Powers in 1917. Brazil was the only country in Latin America to be directly involved in the war. The major participation was the Brazilian Navy's patrol of areas of the Atlantic Ocean.

Getúlio Vargas in a moment of relaxation.

Brazilian Revolution of 1930

1930 Oct 3 - Nov 3
, Brazil

The politics of Brazil in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were dominated by an alliance between the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, with the presidency alternating between the two states in every election. However, in 1929, President Washington Luís broke this tradition by choosing Júlio Prestes, also from São Paulo, as his successor, leading to the formation of a coalition of states, known as the "Liberal Alliance," which supported the opposition candidate, Getúlio Vargas, the president of Rio Grande do Sul. The alliance denounced the March 1930 presidential election, which Prestes won, as fraudulent. The assassination of Vargas's running mate in July sparked a rebellion in October led by Vargas and Goís Monteiro in Rio Grande do Sul, which quickly spread to other parts of the country, including the North and Northeast. The rebellion was joined by Minas Gerais within a week despite minor resistance. To prevent a civil war, the chief military officers staged a coup on October 24th, deposing President Luís and forming a military junta. Vargas then took power from the junta on November 3rd. He consolidated his power through transitory governments until establishing a dictatorship in 1937, which lasted until 1945.

A war tank (M41 Walker Bulldog) and other vehicles of the Brazilian Army near the National Congress of Brazil, during the Coup d'état of 1964 (Golpe de 64)

Military Dictatorship

1964 Jan 1 - 1985
, Brazil

The Brazilian military government was the authoritarian military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1 April 1964 to 15 March 1985. It began with the 1964 coup d'état led by the Armed Forces against the administration of President João Goulart. The coup was planned and executed by the commanders of the Brazilian Army and received the support of almost all high-ranking members of the military, along with conservative elements in society, like the Catholic Church and anti-communist civil movements among the Brazilian middle and upper classes. Internationally, it was supported by the State Department of the United States through its embassy in Brasilia.

The military dictatorship lasted for almost twenty-one years; despite initial pledges to the contrary, the military government, in 1967, enacted a new, restrictive Constitution, and stifled freedom of speech and political opposition. The regime adopted nationalism and anti-communism as its guidelines.

The dictatorship achieved growth in GDP in the 1970s with the so-called "Brazilian Miracle", even as the regime censored all media, and tortured and exiled dissidents. João Figueiredo became President in March 1979; in the same year he passed the Amnesty Law for political crimes committed for and against the regime. By this time soaring inequality and economic instability had replaced the earlier growth, and Figueiredo could not control the crumbling economy, chronic inflation and concurrent fall of other military dictatorships in South America. Amid massive popular demonstrations in the streets of the main cities of the country, the first free elections in 20 years were held for the national legislature in 1982. In 1988, a new Constitution was passed and Brazil officially returned to democracy. Since then, the military has remained under the control of civilian politicians, with no official role in domestic politics.

A Dodge 1800 was the first prototype engineered with an ethanol-only engine. Exhibit at the Memorial Aeroespacial Brasileiro, CTA, São José dos Campos.

Brazilian Miracle

1965 Jan 1
, Brazil

During the presidency of João Goulart, the economy was nearing a crisis, and the annual inflation rate reached 100%. After the 1964 coup d'état, the Brazilian military was more concerned with political control and left economic policy to a group of entrusted technocrats, led by Delfim Netto.

Delfim Netto originated the phrase "cake theory" in reference to this model: the cake had to grow before it could be distributed. Although the "cake" in Delfim Netto's metaphor did grow, it was highly unequally distributed. The government became directly involved in the economy, as it invested heavily in new highways, bridges, and railroads. Steel mills, petrochemical factories, hydroelectric power plants, and nuclear reactors were built by the large state-owned companies Eletrobras and Petrobras. To reduce the dependency on imported oil, ethanol industry was heavily promoted.

By 1980, 57% of Brazil's exports were industrial goods, compared with 20% in 1968. In this period, the annual GDP growth rate jumped from 9.8% per year in 1968 to 14% in 1973 and inflation rose from 19.46% in 1968 to 34.55% in 1974. To fuel its economic growth, Brazil needed more and more imported oil. The early years of the Brazilian Miracle had sustainable growth and borrowing. However, the 1973 oil crisis made the military government increasingly borrow from international lenders, and the debt became unmanageable. By the end of the decade, Brazil had the largest debt in the world: about $US92 billion. Economic growth definitely ended with the 1979 energy crisis, which led to years of recession and hyperinflation.

Diretas Já movement

New Republic

1985 Jan 1
, Brazil

Brazilian history from 1985 to the present, also known as New Republic, is the contemporary epoch in the history of Brazil, beginning when civilian government was restored after a 21-year-long military dictatorship established after the 1964 coup d'état. The negotiated transition to democracy reached its climax with the indirect election of Tancredo Neves by Congress. Neves belonged to Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, an opposition party that had always opposed the military regime. He was the first civilian president to be elected since 1964.

President-elect Tancredo Neves fell ill on the eve of his inauguration and could not attend it. His running mate, José Sarney, was inaugurated as vice president and served in Neves' stead as acting president. As Neves died without having ever taken the oath of office, Sarney then succeeded to the presidency. The first phase of the New Republic, ranging from the inauguration of José Sarney in 1985 until the inauguration of Fernando Collor in 1990, is often considered a transitional period as the 1967–1969 constitution remained in effect, the executive still had veto powers, and the president was able to rule by decree. The transition was considered definitive after Brazil's current constitution, drawn up in 1988, entered full effect in 1990.

In 1986, elections were called for a National Constituent Assembly that would draft and adopt a new Constitution for the country. The Constituent Assembly began deliberations in February 1987 and concluded its work on 5 October 1988. Brazil's current Constitution was promulgated in 1988 and completed the democratic institutions. The new Constitution replaced the authoritarian legislation that still remained from the military regime. In 1989 Brazil held its first elections for president by direct popular ballot since the 1964 coup. Fernando Collor won the election and was inaugurated on 15 March 1990, as the first president elected under the 1988 Constitution.

President Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003–2010)

Lula Administration

2003 Jan 1 - 2010
, Brazil

Brazil's most severe problem today is arguably its highly unequal distribution of wealth and income, one of the most extreme in the world. By the 1990s, more than one out of four Brazilians continued to survive on less than one dollar a day. These socio-economic contradictions helped elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) in 2002. On 1 January 2003, Lula was sworn in as the first ever elected leftist President of Brazil.

In the few months before the election, investors were scared by Lula's campaign platform for social change, and his past identification with labor unions and leftist ideology. As his victory became more certain, the Real devalued and Brazil's investment risk rating plummeted (the causes of these events are disputed, since Cardoso left a very small foreign reserve). After taking office, however, Lula maintained Cardoso's economic policies, warning that social reforms would take years and that Brazil had no alternative but to extend fiscal austerity policies. The Real and the nation's risk rating soon recovered.

Lula, however, has given a substantial increase in the minimum wage (raising from R$200 to R$350 in four years). Lula also spearheaded legislation to drastically cut retirement benefits for public servants. His primary significant social initiative, on the other hand, was the Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) program, designed to give each Brazilian three meals a day.

In 2005 Lula's government suffered a serious blow with several accusations of corruption and misuse of authority against his cabinet, forcing some of its members to resign. Most political analysts at the time were certain that Lula's political career was doomed, but he managed to hold onto power, partly by highlighting the achievements of his term (e.g., reduction in poverty, unemployment and dependence on external resources, such as oil), and to distance himself from the scandal. Lula was re-elected President in the general elections of October 2006.

The income of the poorest increased by 14% in 2004, with Bolsa Familia accounting for an estimated two-thirds of this growth. In 2004, Lula launched the "popular pharmacies" programme, designed to make medicines considered essential accessible to the most disadvantaged. During Lula's first term in office, child malnutrition declined by 46 per cent. In May 2010, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) awarded Lula da Silva the title of "world champion in the fight against hunger".

Volunteers working at the Olympic Stadium during the Games

2016 Summer Olympics

2016 Aug 5 - Aug 16
, Rio de Janeiro

The 2016 Summer Olympics was held from 5 to 21 August 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with preliminary events in some sports beginning on 3 August. Rio de Janeiro was announced as the host city at the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 2 October 2009. These were the first Olympic Games to be held in South America, as well as the first to be held in a Portuguese-speaking country, the first summer edition to be held entirely in the host country's winter season, the first since 1968 to be held in Latin America and the first since 2000 to be held in the Southern Hemisphere.

Gravediggers wearing protection against contamination bury the body of a man suspected of having died of COVID-19 in the cemetery of Vila Alpina, east side of São Paulo, in April 2020.

COVID-19 Pandemic in Brazil

2020 Jan 1
, Brazil

The COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil has resulted in 36,751,410 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 696,485 deaths. The virus was confirmed to have spread to Brazil on 25 February 2020, when a man from São Paulo who had traveled to Italy tested positive for the virus. The disease had spread to every federative unit of Brazil by 21 March. On 19 June 2020, the country reported its one millionth case and nearly 49,000 reported deaths. One estimate of under-reporting was 22.62% of total reported COVID-19 mortality in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a variety of responses from federal, state and local governments, having an impact on politics, education, the environment, and the economy. On 27 March 2020 Brazil announced a temporary ban on foreign air travelers and most state governors have imposed quarantines to prevent the spread of the virus. President Jair Bolsonaro has perpetuated conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 treatments and its origins, and was accused of downplaying effective mitigations and pursuing a strategy of herd immunity. In October 2021, a congressional panel recommended criminal charges against the president for his handling of the pandemic, including crimes against humanity.

As of 25 January 2023, Brazil, with 36,751,410 confirmed cases and 696,485 deaths, has the third-highest number of confirmed cases and second-highest death toll from COVID-19 in the world, behind only those of the United States and of India.


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