On this day 1st January 1500 – Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvarez Cabral discovers the coast of Brazil./>
Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil; Brazilian Portuguese: [bɾaˈziw]),] officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: República Federativa do Brasil),] is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3,300,000 sq mi)] and with over 211 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the sixth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, and its most populous city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states and the Federal District. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world;[ as well as the most populous Roman Catholic-majority country.
Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 kilometers (4,655 mi). It borders all other countries in South America except Ecuador and Chile and covers 47.3% of the continent's land area. Its Amazon basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. This unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, and is the subject of significant global interest, as environmental degradation through processes like deforestation has direct impacts on global issues like climate change and biodiversity loss.
Brazil was inhabited by numerous tribal nations prior to the landing in 1500 of explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed the area for the Portuguese Empire. Brazil remained a Portuguese colony until 1808 when the capital of the empire was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. In 1815, the colony was elevated to the rank of kingdom upon the formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Independence was achieved in 1822 with the creation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. The ratification of the first constitution in 1824 led to the formation of a bicameral legislature, now called the National Congress. The country became a presidential republic in 1889 following a military coup d'état. An authoritarian military junta came to power in 1964 and ruled until 1985, after which civilian governance resumed. Brazil's current constitution, formulated in 1988, defines it as a democratic federal republic. Due to its rich culture and history, the country ranks thirteenth in the world by number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Brazil is classified as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank and a newly industrialized country, with the largest share of global wealth in South America. It is considered an advanced emerging economy, having the twelfth largest GDP in the world by nominal, and eighth by PPP measures. It is one of the world's major breadbaskets, being the largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years. Brazil is a regional and middle power, and is also classified as an emerging power. However, the country maintains high amounts of corruption, crime and social inequality. Brazil is a founding member of the United Nations, the G20, BRICS, Mercosul, Organization of American States, Organization of Ibero-American States and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
Pedro Álvares Cabral[A] (European Portuguese: [ˈpeðɾu ˈaɫvɐr(ɨ)ʃ kɐˈβɾaɫ] or Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈpedɾu ˈawvɐɾis kaˈbɾaw]; born Pedro Álvares de Gouveia; c. 1467 or 1468 – c. 1520) was a Portuguese nobleman, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the European discoverer of Brazil. In 1500 Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. While details of Cabral's early life remain unclear, it is known that he came from a minor noble family and received a good education. He was appointed to head an expedition to India in 1500, following Vasco da Gama's newly-opened route around Africa
. The undertaking had the aim of returning with valuable spices and of establishing trade relations in India—bypassing the monopoly on the spice trade then in the hands of Arab, Turkish and Italian merchants. Although the previous expedition of Vasco da Gama to India, on its sea route, had recorded signs of land west of the southern Atlantic Ocean (in 1497), Cabral led the first known expedition to have touched four continents: Europe, Africa, America, and Asia.
His fleet of 13 ships sailed far into the western Atlantic Ocean, perhaps intentionally, and made landfall (April 1500) on what he initially assumed to be a large island. As the new land was within the Portuguese sphere according to the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, Cabral claimed it for the Portuguese Crown. He explored the coast, realizing that the large land mass was probably a continent, and dispatched a ship to notify King Manuel I of the new territory. The continent was South America, and the land he had claimed for Portugal later came to be known as Brazil. The fleet reprovisioned and then turned eastward to resume the journey to India.
A storm in the southern Atlantic caused the loss of several ships, and the six remaining ships eventually rendezvoused in the Mozambique Channel before proceeding to Calicut in India. Cabral was originally successful in negotiating trading rights, but Arab merchants saw Portugal's venture as a threat to their monopoly and stirred up an attack by both Muslims and Hindus on the Portuguese entrepôt. The Portuguese sustained many casualties and their facilities were destroyed. Cabral took vengeance by looting and burning the Arab fleet and then bombarded the city in retaliation for its ruler having failed to explain the unexpected attack. From Calicut the expedition sailed to the Kingdom of Cochin, another Indian city-state, where Cabral befriended its ruler and loaded his ships with coveted spices before returning to Europe. Despite the loss of human lives and ships, Cabral's voyage was deemed a success upon his return to Portugal. The extraordinary profits resulting from the sale of the spices bolstered the Portuguese Crown's finances and helped lay the foundation of a Portuguese Empire that would stretch from the Americas to the Far East.[B]
Cabral was later passed over, possibly as a result of a quarrel with Manuel I, when a new fleet was assembled to establish a more robust presence in India. Having lost favor with the King, he retired to a private life of which few records survive. His accomplishments slipped mostly into obscurity for more than 300 years. Decades after Brazil's independence from Portugal in the 19th century, Cabral's reputation began to be rehabilitated by Emperor . Pedro II of Brazil. Historians have long argued whether Cabral was Brazil's discoverer, and whether the discovery was accidental or intentional. The first question has been settled by the observation that the few, cursory encounters by explorers before him were barely noticed at the time and contributed nothing to the future development and history of the land which would become Brazil, the sole Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. On the second question, no definite consensus has been formed, and the intentional discovery hypothesis lacks solid proof. Nevertheless, although he was overshadowed by contemporary explorers, historians consider Cabral to be a major figure of the Age of Discovery.