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Brazil
Portuguese speaking
country
Brazil

Language Portuguese
Capital Brasilia
Other main city

Alegre, Belo Horizonte, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Salvador
Area (km2) 8,511,965
Population 172,860,000
Currency Real
History of Brazil
As well as being one of the world's largest and most densely populated countries, Brazil is South America's largest nation, covering half the continent and bordering every nation except Ecuador and Chile.

Brazil is the only South American nation with a Portuguese-derived language and culture. Descendants of European immigrants still retain their own languages to a degree but Portuguese has been the language of the educational system since 1938.

The Brazilian version of the Portuguese language has borrowed words from the languages of African slaves and from Tupi, one of the 100 indigenous languages that also include Arawak, Carib and Gê

It is believed that the first inhabitants of the region arrived some 10,000 years ago. The dominant inhabitants were the Tupi-Guarani indians, a nomadic people, until the territory was claimed for Portugal in 1500.

The country was a Portuguese royal colony by 1549, named after the red dye pau-Brasil, derived from a local tree species.

The regent son of Prince King Joao IV declared Brazilian independence in 1822. He became Pedro I, emperor of Brazil, until he was forced to abdicate in favour of his 5 year old son in 1831.

His son abdicated in response to a military coup and the country was ruled by a succession of military dictatorships until a revolt led to the return of civilian Presidents.

A series of resources have been exploited during Brazil's history, starting with the pau-Brasil and succeeded by sugar, gold and other minerals, and coffee. These industries promoted the growth of industrialisation and the opening up of the interior through railways (though most of the population still lives relatively close to the coast).

The rural domination that existed until the 1960s also been reversed and 80% of the population now live in cities. Brazil is highly urbanised and the most industrialised country in South America. Much use is made of hydroelectric power in this oil-scarce region, through the development of numerous large dams. In recent years the government-owned monopolies have been privatised and the economy strengthened until the Asian economic crisis spread to Brazil in 1999.

Brazil is famous for its diversity and this is especially true of its environment. Concern is growing however, over the human activities that are damaging the rain forests bordering the Amazon,second longest river in the world (after the Nile), and covering 40 per cent of Brazil.

The Portuguese settlers were far less opposed to intermarriage than other colonialist powers and this has led to a complex racial mix of native indians, Portuguese and other settlers, and African slaves.

While distinct cultures within these groups do survive there is a high rate of cultural integration and support for cultural events like football ( a professional game in Brazil since the 1930s) and the Carnival. Carnival grew out of the Mardi Gras in the 1800s and developed its current flamboyant image after the growth of the Samba.

Did you know?
There are no "primitive" languages. All languages have a system of sounds, words and sentences that can adequately communicate the content of culture.
Portuguese History
Portuguese Speaking
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