Brazil

From Encyc

Brazil is the largest country in South America, and the location of the Amazon River and the Amazon Rain Forest. It was colonized by Portugal after the ratification of the Treaty of Tordesillas with Spain in 1494. Before the arrival of europeans, those lands were occupied by indigenous people, which, according to some, numbered a total of 3-5 million people.

Pedro Alvares Cabral is usually credited with the discovery of the eastern coast of South America, as he landed in what today is Porto Seguro, state of Bahia, in April 1500. However, Vicente Yáñez Pinzón sailed for South America in 1499, and reached the north-eastern tip of modern state of Pernambuco in January 1500, three months before Cabral, and he also was the first European to see the mouth of the Amazon River. He could not claim the lands for Spain as they were east of the line of demarcation.

The colony of Brazil was first regarded poorly as the only economical source was brazilwood, and the trading posts in India and Africa were far more lucrative. Only after 1600 Portugal decided to colonize the land with more effort, as the Spanish Conquistadores were rapidly entering the lands near the River Plate and colonizing the basin. Around the same time, France and the Netherlands attempted to gain lands in eastern South America, in open violation of the treaty, but were driven out by the Portuguese after a few years of wars.

During the XVII century Portugal started exploring the inland, through expeditions commanded by mercenaries, known as Bandeiras. The components of the Bandeiras, called Bandeirantes, were generally poor people mostly of Amerindian origin (few were white Portuguese) who didn't speak Portuguese, but rather an Amerindian language, which was used as lingua franca. They explored much of the Amazon basin, the region of the Pantanal wetlands, and the lands east of the Uruguay river, and collected precious stones and metals. These lands were later incorporated in the colony under the rule of uti possidetis, as the treaty of Tordesillas became less and less significant. This was reinforced by the treaty of Madrid in 1750, with much of the Amazon basin being formally transferred under Portuguese rule, while the coast of modern Uruguay would be ceded to Spain.

After 1822, the colony of Brazil became independent from Portugal, as the Empire of Brazil. Portugal retained the overseas colonies in Africa. The Empire lasted until 1889, when Deodoro da Fonseca successfully made a golpe and became the first president of the Republic of the United States of Brazil.

In modern times, Brazil is considered a developing country and a regional power in Latin America.