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History of Brazil Series.
 Colonial Brazil
 Empire of Brazil
 History of Brazil (1889-1930)
 History of Brazil (1930-1964)
 History of Brazil (1964-present)

Following three centuries under the rule of Portugal, Brazil was an independent monarchy from 1822 to 1889. Even under the Old Republic (1889-1930), however, agrarian oligarchies continued to dominate the central and state governments. Following the 1930 Revolution, the landed elites were pushed aside and the state played an active role in pursuing industrial and agricultural growth and development of the interior. Years of "regime change" in 1889, 1930, and 1964 introduced protracted adjustment that involved some authoritarian rule.

Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, Brazil is today South America's leading economic power, the world's ninth largest economy, and fifth most populous nation. Highly unequal income distribution, however, remains a pressing problem. These socio-economic contradictions helped usher Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's first elected leftwing president, into the presidency in 2003.

Table of contents
1 Colonial Brazil
2 The Empire of Brazil
3 The Old Republic (1889-1930)
4 The era of Brazilian populism (1930-1964)
5 Contemporary Brazil (1964-present)
6 Related articles

Colonial Brazil

For details, see the main article Colonial Brazil.

In 1500 Pedro Alvares Cabral, a Portuguese navigator, is generally credited as the first European to reach Brazil. The colony was thinly settled by various indigenous tribes. Only a few have survived to the present, mostly in the Amazon basin.

In the next centuries, Portuguese colonists gradually pushed inland, bring large numbers of African slaves. (Slavery was not abolished until 1888.) Brazil was developed as a commercial colony, based to a large extent on slavery.

The Empire of Brazil

For details, see the main article Empire of Brazil.

The King of Portugal, fleeing before Napoleon's army, moved the seat of government to Brazil in 1808. Brazil thereupon became a kingdom under Dom Joao VI. Although the royal family returned to Portugal in 1821, the interlude led to a growing desire for independence amongst Brazilians, In 1822, the son of Dom Joao VI, then prince-regent Dom Pedro I, proclaimed the independence, September 7, 1882, and was crowned emperor. The second emperor, Dom Pedro II, was deposed in 1889, and a republic was proclaimed, called the United States of Brazil. (In 1967 the country was renamed the Federative Republic of Brazil.)

The Old Republic (1889-1930)

For details, see the main article History of Brazil (1889-1930).

On November 15 1889, Deodoro da Fonseca declared the Republic, and deposed the king, Dom Pedro II, assuming the govern of the country.

From 1889 to 1930, the government was a constitutional democracy, with the presidency alternating between the dominant states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. This period ended with a military coup that placed Getúlio Vargas, a civilian, in the presidency; Vargas remained as dictator until 1945.

Brazil received an influx of over 5 million immigrants in the late 19th, early 20th centuries, a period that also saw Brazil industrialise and further expand into its interior.

The era of Brazilian populism (1930-1964)

For details, see the main article History of Brazil (1930-1964).

A military junta took control in 1930; dictatorial power was assumed by Getulio Vargas, until finally forced out by the military in 1945. Since 1930, successive governments have pursued industrial and agriculture growth and development of the vast interior.

Just as the 1889 regime change led to a decade of unrest and painful adjustment, so too did the revolts of 1930. Provisional President Getúlio Dorneles Vargas ruled as dictator (1930-34), congressionally elected president (1934-37), and again dictator (1937-45), with the backing of his revolutionary coalition. He also served as a senator (1946-51) and the popularly elected president (1951-54). Vargas was a member of the gaucho-landed oligarchy and had risen through the system of patronage and clientelism, but he had a fresh vision of how Brazilian politics could be shaped to support national development. He understood that with the breakdown of direct relations between workers and owners in the expanding factories of Brazil, workers could become the basis for a new form of political power—populism. Using such insights, he would gradually establish such mastery over the Brazilian political world that he would stay in power for fifteen years. During those years, the preeminence of the agricultural elites ended, new urban industrial leaders acquired more influence nationally, and the middle class began to show some strength.

A democratic regime prevailed 1945-1964, during which the capital was moved from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia. If corporatism was the hallmark of the 1930s and 1940s, populism, nationalism, and developmentalism characterized the 1950s and early 1960s. Each of these contributed to the crisis that gripped Brazil and resulted in the authoritarian regime after 1964.

Contemporary Brazil (1964-present)

For details, see the main article History of Brazil (1964-present).

One of the world's most populated urban centers, Săo Paulo epitomizes the contradictions of modern Brazil, a country with one of the world's most inequitable distributions of wealth. A dynamic, modern city with a sizable middle and upper class, the city center is nonetheless surrounded by high-poverty, high-crime "favelas" or shantytowns. Uneven development and huge disparties between rich and poor are pressing themes in Brazilian history.

In 1964, President Joao Goulart instituted policies that aggravated Brazil's elites; he was overthrown by a military coup. The next five presidents were all military leaders. Censorship was imposed, and much of the opposition was suppressed amid charges of torture. Democratic presidential elections were held in 1985 as the nation returned to civilian rule. Fernando Collor de Mello was elected president in December 1989. In September 1992 Collor was impeached for corruption; he later resigned. Acting president Itamar Franco was sworn in as president. In elections held on October 3, 1994, Fernando Henrique Cardoso was elected president. Reelected in 1998, he guided Brazil through a wave of financial crises.

Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing problem. 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 usher Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's first elected leftwing president, into the presidency in 2003.

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