Brazilian History                     12 3

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A little about of Brazilian history 
 
 

 

The Brazilian Indians never developed a centralized civilization like the Inca or Maya did, and left very little evidence for archaeologists to study: some pottery, shell mounds and skeletons. The Indian population was quite diverse and there were an estimated two to five million living in the territory that is now Brazil when the Portuguese first arrived. Today, there are fewer than 200,000 Brazilian Indians, most of them in the hidden jungles of the Brazilian interior. In 1500 dc, Pedro Alvares Cabral set sail from Lisbon, ostensibly for India, and arrived on the Brazilian coast by "accident". Some historians say it was his intended destination all along, and it's true that his 'discovery' was reported to the king in such matter-of-fact terms that it seems that the existence of Brazil was already well-known to mariners. In 1531, King Jo„o III of Portugal sent the first settlers to Brazil and, in 1534, fearing the ambitions of other European countries, he divided the coast into 12 hereditary captaincies, which were given to friends of the Crown. The colonists soon discovered that the land and climate were ideal for growing sugar cane,solving the prodigious labor requirements by enslaving the Indian population. The capture and sale of slaves almost became Brazil's most lucrative trade, and was dominated by the bandeirantes, men from S„o Paulo born of Indian mothers and Portuguese fathers. They hunted the Indians into the interior, and by the mid-1600s had reached the peaks of the Peruvian Andes. Their exploits, more than any treaty, secured the huge interior of South America for Portuguese Brazil.

During the 17th century, African slaves replaced Indians on the plantations. They were less vulnerable to European diseases but they strongly resisted slavery. Quilombos, communities of runaway slaves, were common throughout the colonial era. They ranged from mocambos, small groups hidden in the forests, to the great republic of Palmares, which survived for much of the 17th century. In the 1690s, gold was discovered in Minas Gerais and the rush was on. Brazilians and Portuguese flooded into the territory and countless slaves were brought from Africa to dig and die in the mines.

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