The Empire of Brazil Essay

The Empire of Brazil Essay

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Brazil was first colonized by the Portuguese in the year 1500. Thanks to the Treaty of Tordesillas, Portugal laid claim to the Atlantic coasts of the South American continent and subsequently colonized to the South and inward through Amazonian rainforest. Originally, the Portuguese profited from the extraction brazilwood and its red dye. During the colonization process, the Portuguese originally relied on labor from the indigenous peoples. Jesuit missions largely converted the indigenous to the Catholic faith. However, due to the effects of European diseases African slaves began to become the main source of labor. Eventually, the economy was dominated by the export of sugar from the 16th to the 19th centuries. When Napoleon invaded Portugal during the Napoleonic Wars, the Portuguese monarchy moved to Brazil and elevated the colony’s status to a kingdom. By 1822, Brazil declared its independence under Pedro I and fought a very short war with Portugal.
The Empire of Brazil achieved early political stability and largely avoided the civil wars the plagued the rest of the continent. Economically, the export of coffee, sugar, cacao, and rubber allowed Brazil to modernize with the construction of railroads, sewage treatment, and telephone service. Education was focused on preparing the elite for positions in government and the literacy rate was a dismal 23% for males (even less for females). In foreign policy, Brazil became one of the strongest nations on the continent through expansion and fought the successful Triple Alliance War against Paraguay in the 1860s. Massive European immigration from Italy, Germany, and Spain would also be the norm throughout the century. The proportion of slaves also decreased as time progressed and was a fa...


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... the poor access to cheap and easily available food. At the same time, Brazil’s economy was growing very strongly and was grouped with Russia, China, and India as one of the BRIC economies. President Lula also began to take a more neutral role in world affairs: while keeping close relations with the United States and the Western world it also made agreements with the staunchly anti-US Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. Unlike President Collor, Lula also survived a corruption scandal that gripped his Worker’s Party in 2005. His high popularity allowed President Dilma Rouseff to win elections in 2010. Despite her success tackling the corruption of the previous regime, she has faced opposition from the mass spending on the World Cup and a slowdown in the Brazilian economy. This has led to mass protests and has reduced her former popularity.



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