Description of Brazil
Brazil is located in South America. It is the largest Latin American country and the largest country in South America. It is the 5th largest country in the world, by both area and population. It is the only Portuguese speaking country in the America’s and is the largest country that speaks the Portuguese language in the world.
The country has a really long coastline on the east that measures 7491 miles along the Atlantic Ocean. It shares a border in the north with French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, and Venezuela. The northwest border is with Columbia and the western border is shared with Peru and Bolivia. In the south the country borders Uruguay and in the southwest it shares a border with Paraguay and Argentina. There are several archipelagos that form a part of the territory including Trindade and Martim Vaz, Peter and Paul rocks, Rocas Atoll, and Fernando de Noronha. Brazil borders every country in South America except for Chile and Ecuador. It takes up about 47% of the entire continent.
Luzia Woman, which are the earliest human remains that have been found in the Americas, were located in Minas Gerais. These remains show that habitation of the lands goes back at least 11,000 years. Some of the earliest forms of pottery that have been found in the Western hemisphere were excavated from the Amazon basin in Brazil. It was dated back to 6000 BC. It was found by Santarem and provided evidence to show that a complex prehistoric culture existed in the tropical forest region.
About the time that the Portuguese arrived, the territory of what is now Brazil had a population of around 7 million people. These people were mostly semi-nomadic and spend their time hunting, gathering, and fishing and some migrant agriculture. There were two nations that made up the indigenous population of the country at the time. There were several ethnic groups in the area including the Arawaks, Ges, Guaranis, and the Tupis. The Tupi people were divided into the Tupinambas and the Tupiniquins. There were several other subdivisions of the groups as well.
Before the Europeans arrived the boundaries for these groups were marked with war that arouse from differences in language, culture, and moral beliefs. The wars involved military actions on both water and land. There were cannibalistic rituals performed on the prisoners of these wars. Heredity had a bit of weight during these times, but leadership status became a bit subdued over time. It was later allocated through conventions and ceremonies. Slavery among the indigenous peoples had a different meaning as it originated from the socio-economics of the culture.
The land that is now known as Brazil was claimed by the Portuguese in the year 1500 on the 22nd of April. This was when Pedro Alvares Cabral arrived on the Portuguese fleet that he commanded. The Portuguese encountered several tribes of indigenous people. These tribes mostly spoke Tupi-Guarani languages and they all fought among themselves. The first settlement was founded in 1532 and colonization of the area started effectively in the year 1534 when the territory was divided into 15 private colonies by King Dom Joao III.
The colonies were not centralized and were fairly unorganized. This proved to be somewhat problematic. The king of Portugal restructured the areas in 1549 to create a single, centralized colony of Portugal. During the first 200 years of colonization the Europeans and the indigenous tribes were constantly at war. However, by the middle of the 16th century, the most important exportation product was cane sugar and the largest import were slaves from Western Africa. Sugar cane exports started to decline by the end of the 17th century.
Gold was discovered by the bandeirantes during the 1690s and this become the main backbone for the economy. This created a gold rush in the country. New settlers came to the area from Portugal as well as from the other Portuguese colonies located throughout the world. This caused a few conflicts between the older settlers and the newcomers.
Expeditions called Bandeiras slowly advanced the original areas of the colony further into the continent to about where the borders of the country right now. During this time other European countries tried to colonize other areas of Brazil.
Brazil started revolting against Portugal rule during the early part of the 1800s. In 1820, the Liberal Revolution took place as Portugal tried to re-establish the country as a colony. The people of Brazil refused and the country officially declared their independence on the 7th of September in 1822. This is the date that the country celebrates its independence day.
On the 12th of October, in 1822, Prince Pedro became the first Emperor of the country and took the tile of Dom Pedro I. This was the beginning of the Brazilian Empire. A Brazilian war for independence spread throughout the north and northeast regions and the last of the soldiers from Portugal surrendered in March of 1824. Brazil was officially recognized as an independent state by Portugal in 1825.
Brazil is famous for its tradition of football and the yearly Carnaval that takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Olinda, Recife, and Salvador. The country offers great diversity, from the cultural energy found in Pernambuco to the urban mosaic offered by Sao Paulo. There is also the wilderness of the Amazon rainforest that can be explored as well as many great landmarks such as the Iguacu Falls.
The land was inhabited by indigenous people only until the late part of the 16th century when the Portuguese started settling in the area. They began extracting the wood from the pau brasil tree, and this is where the country gets its name from. The land was settled by the Portuguese and not by the Spanish as was the rest of South America.
Brazil is by far the largest and the most populous country in all of Latin America and has had to overcome more than 20 years of military intervention to pursue democratic rule. There are vast natural resources and a large labor pool to draw from, which has led to the country being a regional leader and economic power. One of the pressing problems is political corruption combined with unequal income distribution. Despite all of this the people of the country remain relatively happy.
The culture of the country is extremely diverse mainly because of the large size, the history, and the people. There are several regional variations and despite being unified by a common language, there are some areas that are so different from the others you may think that you have entered a different country.
Music is an important part of the identity of the country. Bossa nova, samba, and choro styles are considered to be genuinely Brazilian. Caipira is found in the roots of sertanejo, which is similar to country music. Brazilian popular music or MPB uses a mix of several national styles to form a single concept. Forro, started out in the northeastern part of the country and is a happy dancing style of music and is now popular throughout the nation. Some of the newer urban styles of music include funk and techno-brega. Techno brega fuses dance music with romantic pop and Caribbean rhythms and is very popular in many of the northern states.
There are many places that you will want to see on your travels to Brazil including several natural wonders. The Amazon Rainforest accounts for over half of the remaining rainforests in the world and about 60% of the river basin is located in the northern part of Brazil. There are about a billion acres of incredible biodiversity located here. There are more than 2.5 million species of insects, about 40,000 species of plants, 2200 different species of fish, and over 2000 types of mammals and birds. One out of five of all the species of birds are present in the Amazon. In addition, one out of five types of fish live in the rivers and streams of the Amazonian.
Another natural wonder to visit is the Atlantic Forest. This is a region of subtropical and tropical forest that extends along Brazil’s Atlantic coast. There is a wide variety of vegetation found here including such tree species as the mangroves in the northeast and the araucaria tree of the south. There are dozens of orchids and bromeliads as well as many unique critters like the capivara. The Atlantic Forest has been named a World Biosphere Reserve as a large amount of endangered species, including the marmosets, woolly spider monkey, and lion tamarins live here. Unfortunately, a lot of the forest has been cleared out since the colonial times and what is left is thought to be less than 10% of what was originally there.
Campos Gerais offers a vast amount of grasses and vegetation and it offers transition areas between the Atlantic forest and the Cerrado. There are many beautiful areas of canyons and cliffs. Jaguaricatu Valley is one of the most extensive canyons of the world.
Pantanal offers an expansive tropical wetland. It is one of the largest of the world. About 80% of the wetland is located in Mato Grosso. It extends over an area between 140,000 to 195,000 square km.
There are also many great waterfalls located throughout the country. Iguacu Falls is located in Parana and it is one of the most spectacular falls in the entire world. Cachoeira da Fumaca is located in Chapada Diamantina National Park and is an impressive 353 meters high. This makes it the 2nd highest falls in the country. Some of the other famous waterfalls located in the country include Caracol Falls, Itaquira Falls, and the gorge located at the Parque da Cascata. Aside from the waterfalls that are famous throughout the nation you will find that in many areas of the country, especially in the central western, south, and southeastern regions, you are never very far from one of the locally famous waterfalls if you are willing to take a short hike.
When it comes to architecture, there are several places that you will want to visit. Many of the cities throughout the country will have reminders of the colonial past. This will include monasteries, churches, barracks, forts, and other such structures that are still intact. Many of the best preserved buildings can be found in some of the gold mining towns such as Petropolis, Rio de Janeiro, Goiania, Paraty, and Salvador each have colonial centers of significance.
The most famous architect in the country, Oscar Niemeyer, has works located throughout the country. He is most famous for many of the buildings located in the new capital of the country during the 1950s.
Carnival is the largest party in the entire world and it takes place across Brazil every year. It lasts about a week in either the late part of February or the early part of March. This event is celebrated in many ways.
For those who are simply looking for a nice and relaxing get away, there are beaches lined up and down the coast of Brazil. The beach lifestyle is a major part of the Brazilian culture. Rio de Janeiro offers a very laid back culture where most people where flip flops and know how to relax. Some of the more famous beaches in the city include Copacabana and Ipanema. Beaches that are located in other areas of the country are not quite as famous, but they are just as spectacular. In the northeast you will find Morro de Sao Paulo, Porto de Galinhas, Boa Vista, Praia do Futuro, and Jericoacoara. These beaches bring in many travelers, especially those from Europe. In the southern part of the coast you will find Balneario Camboriu or Ilha do Mel, which are popular among weekend travelers. There are 42 beaches located on the Catarina Island and they draw in thousands of tourists from Argentina every year. In addition, there are hundreds of other beaches that are just waiting to be explored.
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