The history of Brazil commenced with the coming of the first indigenous people, over 8,000 years ago, with traces of American-Indian civilizations being found in the present territory of the nation. The Native Americans include the Tupi-Guarani of the east coast and the Amazon River valley, Arawak and Carib groups in the north, the Ge of eastern and southern Brazil, and the Pano in the west. These indigenous people were basically semi nomadic who were primarily hunters and gatherers. Currently, less than 200,000 indigenous people of Brazil survive, and the majority of them dwell in the jungle areas. The history of Brazil from the arrival of Pedro Alvares Cabral to its present state is rather distinct from the histories of its Spanish American neighbors.
The first Europeans to arrive in Brazil were the Portuguese led by the Admiral Pedro Alvares Cabral. During the early years of colonization, the indigenous people were devastated by the diseases brought along by the Europeans followed by African slaves. Brazil was a colony of Portugal from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Initially the Portuguese were more interested in profitable trade than in territorial expansion. However by the late 16th and early 17th centuries, they were more bothered about resisting invasions by rival colonial powers of French and Dutch.
The Napoleonic wars, during the French invasion in 1807, incited the growth and foundation of modern Brazil. In 1821, King Joao left Brazil, while his son, Dom Pedro, stayed in his stead as regent. Dom Pedro led a successful campaign for independence within a year backed by the British. His imperial system lasted till 1889 when it was ousted and replaced by a republic.
A major characteristic in the history of the Brazilian politics was the struggle for control between central government and the most powerful regions particularly Sao Paolo, Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul.
During the early 20th century a sense of national identity among the Brazilians steadily developed. The period from the 1950s and early 1960s witnessed rapid economic growth and the evolution of Brazilian society.
In 1964, with the support and help of the United States of America, the army ousted Goulart while exercising total control, and brought in two decades of military rule.
During the early 1980s, the demands for a return to civilian rule gained momentum whereby the army consented. At the election held in January 1985, Tancredo Neves became the first civilian president of Brazil for 21 years.
Today, Brazil is largest economy in South America, the ninth largest in the world, and fifth most populous country.
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