Imperial Federation of Brazil

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Imperial Federation of Brazil

Federação Imperial do Brasil
Flag of Brazil
Imperial Coat of Arms
Coat of arms
Motto: "Independência ou Morte!"
"Independence or Death!"
Anthem: Independence Anthem
Brazil, 2024
Largest cityAnchieta
Official languagesPortuguese
Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRA)
Ethnic groups
(2020 Census)
44% White
32% Mixed
15% Black
6% Asian
3% Amerindian
(2020 Census)
64% Roman Catholic (Official)
11% Protestant
7% Spiritist
6% Irreligious
4% Afro-Brazilian Religions
3% Other Christianity
1% Islam
1% Judaism
3% Other Religions
Demonym(s)Brazilian, Brazilese
GovernmentFederal parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• Monarch
Ana Sofia
• Minister-President
Giovanni V. Guimarães
• Justice-Director of the Supreme Imperial Court
Henrique Cunha Brown
• Minister of War
Sebastião Pinto Pinheiro
LegislatureFederal Parliament
Federal Senate
Chamber of Deputies
Independence from Portugal
• Declared
September 07, 1822
• Recognized
August 29, 1825
• Slavery Abolished
May 13, 1875
• Newfatherlandist Coup
June 17, 1937
• Current Constitution
March 20, 1973
• Total
11,020,708 km2 (4,255,119 sq mi)
• 2020 census
• Density
23.3/km2 (60.3/sq mi)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
$9.088 trillion
• Per capita
Gini (2022)43
HDI (2022)Increase 0.845
very high
CurrencyBrazilian Real (R$) (BRL)
Time zoneUTC -5 to UTC -2
Date formatdd-mm-yyyy (CE)
Driving sideright
Calling code+55

Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil), officially the Imperial Federation of Brazil (Portuguese: Federação Imperial do Brasil), is the largest country in the continents of Latin America and South America, and the third-largest in The Americas. Brazil is the second-largest country by area and the fifth-most populous in the world. Its capital is Petrópolis, although there are plans to build a new capital city. The country is composed of a union of 42 provinces and a Free Imperial City. Brazil is the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world and also the only Portuguese-speaking territory in the Americas, as well as the country with the largest Roman Catholic population. With access to both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, it borders all countries in South America without exceptions. Brazil covers more than half of the continent's area.

Brazil is one of the ten megadiverse countries and is home to most of the Amazon Rainorest. The Amazon Rainforest is home to highly diverse wildlife and contains uncountable natural resources. These facts turned Brazil into a subject of global interest, especially due to environmental degradation processes such as deforestation. The government pursues an ambivalent policy towards the Forest. Although extensive areas of the Amazon are protected by indigenous federations and natural reserves, companies are permitted to exploit designated areas that contain mineral resources. The government forbade deforestation for agriculture. According to political specialists and economists, this is not out of preoccupation due to environmental degradation, but due to concerns regarding deindustrialization.

Brazil's history predates European colonization by millennia. Indigenous peoples, including the Tupinambá, Tupiniquim, Guarani, and many others, inhabited the land. They cultivated agriculture, engaged in fishing and hunting, and developed intricate social structures. Indigenous cultures were diverse, with varying languages, customs, and lifestyles. In April 1500, Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral landed on the shores of what is now the Brazilian province of Ilhéus. This event marked the beginning of Portuguese colonization. Brazil became a vital part of the Portuguese colonial empire, and efforts to exploit its resources led to the establishment of sugar plantations. By the 16th century, Brazil's northeastern coast was dotted with sugar plantations known as engenhos. The labor-intensive sugar industry necessitated a workforce, leading to the importation of African slaves. The slave trade flourished as millions of Africans were forcibly brought to Brazil over the centuries.

In the 17th century, the Dutch invaded the Brazilian northeast, leading to a steep decline in the Brazilian Sugar Market upon the Portuguese reconquest of the Northeast. In the late 17th century the discovery of gold and diamonds in the region now known as Douradéria ignited a mining rush. The gold extracted from Douradéria enriched Portugal and led to further colonial expansion. Cities like Vila Rica and Diamantésia emerged as centers of mining activity and culture. More than a century later, in 1807, Portugal was invaded by Napoleon Bonaparte. In an unprecedented move, the Portuguese royal family, including Dom João VI, fled to Rio de Janeiro, making Brazil the center of the Portuguese Empire. This event led to the opening of Brazilian ports to international trade and the promotion of cultural and economic development. As Brazil's importance within the Portuguese Empire grew, demands for greater autonomy gained traction. In 1820, political changes in Portugal led to calls for the return of the royal court to Lisbon. Among the political changes were attempts to demote Brazil back to its former status of colony.

In response, Prince Pedro I, then regent of Brazil, declared the country's independence on September 7, 1822, leading to the establishment of the Empire of Brazil. Dom Pedro I became the first Emperor of Brazil, and the nation embarked on a journey as an independent monarchy. The 19th century witnessed political, economic, and social changes, including the fight against slave trafficking and the rise of coffee as a major export crop. Slavery remained a crucial part of the economy, even as abolitionist movements gained momentum. Pressure from both international and domestic sources pushed Brazil to address its slave-based economy. The Lei Áurea (Golden Law) was enacted on May 13, 1875, abolishing slavery in Brazil. The abolishment of slavery enraged the powerful class of landowners, who then began adhering en masse to the growing republican movement. However, following failed republican revolts and uprisings, the Republican Movement, led by the Paulista Republican Party, lost momentum and eventually disbanded in the early 1900s.

The period of 1880 to 1910, known as the Brazilian Belle Époque, was marked by an exponential growth of the economy and life standard, as access to healthcare and education improved, the industry consolidated itself and Brazil developed its military. At the outbreak of the Great War, Brazil remained neutral and used its growing industry and expansive agricultural sector to provide goods and foodstuff for the Allies. Due to its role in providing the United Kingdom and France with food, rubber, and military goods, Brazil became known as the "shadow ally". Following the end of the Great War, Brazil experienced further economic growth, becoming the richest nation in Latin America and one of the Great Powers, being a member of the Executive Council of the Society of Nations.

However, with the Great Depression that began in 1929, the Brazilian economy crashed, leaving "millions unemployed and entire cities hungry" according to historians. This period was marked by the rise of populist movements from both the far left and the far right. Eventually, the far-right Newfatherlandist Movement won the 1934 elections, and a coup d'état in 1937 installed a one-party ultranationalist dictatorship led by Armando da Silva Vaz. The dictatorship was known for its catholic faith, militarism, and corporatist economics. When the Second World War began in 1939, Brazil remained neutral, although it would join the Concordat in 1941 following the American entry into the war. Brazil was active in the African, Iberian, British, and Pacific theaters. Brazil and its allies of the Concordat eventually won the war, signing an armistice with the United States in 1947.

The Newfatherlandist regime lasted into the 1970s. After a decade of economic crisis, political turmoil, and general social unrest, the Newfatherlandist regime that had controlled Brazil for more than 30 years had fallen out of grace. In 1971 a military coup ousted the Newfatherlandist prime minister and his government, restoring democracy and convening a constituent assembly. In 1973 the fourth Brazilian constitution was adopted, and since then Brazil has remained a federal semi-constitutional parliamentary monarchy.


Brazil comes from the Portuguese word for brazilwood, pau-brasil; brasil means "red like an ember" in Portuguese.

The standard way to refer to a citizen of Brazil is as a "Brazilian". More recently, under the 1990 Orthographic Reform, Brazilese also has been accepted as an alternative to Brazilian and is often used in a political context.


Pre-History of Brazil (12,000 BC - 1500 AD)

The pre-history of Brazil is a rich and diverse mixture of human occupation and cultural development that spans thousands of years before the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500. This period is marked by the presence of various indigenous cultures and the gradual evolution of societies adapted to the diverse landscapes of the region. While the understanding of this era is continuously evolving, archaeological and anthropological research has shed light on the key aspects of Brazil's pre-history.

IMG Montagem wiki sharpen.png
Computerized reconstruction of Luzia,
the oldest fossil from the Americas

The earliest evidence of human presence in what is now Brazil dates back to the Paleoindian period, characterized by nomadic groups of hunter-gatherers who migrated across the landmass known as Beringia, connecting Siberia and North America. These early inhabitants of Brazil likely followed a route along the coast or through interior river valleys, adapting to the changing environments and resources they encountered. Archaeological sites such as Pedra Furada in the northeast of Brazil provide glimpses into the lifeways of these ancient people through rock art and stone tools. During the Archaic period, populations in Brazil began to establish more sedentary communities and developed subsistence strategies that included fishing, hunting, and plant cultivation. This period witnessed the cultivation of various plant species, such as squash and maize, which played a crucial role in the transition to more complex societies. As communities grew in size and sophistication, they started to create more elaborate tools, pottery, and other artifacts. The Sambaqui shell mounds along the coast are prominent archaeological remnants of this era, providing insights into ancient diets and lifestyles.

The Formative period in Brazil was marked by the further development of agricultural practices and the establishment of larger, more socially complex societies. Along the Amazon River and its tributaries, intricate earthworks known as geoglyphs emerged, such as the well-known Amazonian "Geoglyphs of Acre." These earthworks are thought to have had ritual and ceremonial significance. In other regions, societies constructed impressive ceremonial mounds and developed complex trade networks, as evidenced by the presence of exotic goods in archaeological sites.

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Marajoara burial urn,
circa 1250 AD

As the pre-Columbian era progressed, distinct cultures emerged across Brazil's diverse landscapes. In the Amazon rainforest, civilizations like the Marajoara and the Tapajônica thrived, utilizing advanced pottery techniques and creating intricate pottery vessels. Meanwhile, in the southeastern region, the Itaparica culture developed, characterized by impressive pottery decorated with intricate designs. Throughout this period, trade networks expanded, facilitating the exchange of goods over long distances.

By the time Portuguese explorers arrived in 1500, the region now known as Brazil was inhabited by a vast array of indigenous societies with diverse languages, cultures, and ways of life. These societies ranged from nomadic hunter-gatherers to complex agricultural civilizations. Some were organized into chiefdoms with hierarchical structures, while others lived in smaller, more egalitarian communities. The Tupinambá people, for instance, inhabited the coastal areas and practiced agriculture, fishing, and hunting while the Guarani people, known for their nomadic lifestyle and agricultural practices, were spread across the interior of Brazil.

Early Colonial Period (1500 - 1600)

Brazilwood tree in Vitória, ES, Brazil.jpg
The brazilwood tree, namasake
of Brazil, has a valuable wood

The arrival of Pedro Álvares Cabral on 22 April 1500 marked the beginning of European contact and colonization in the region that would become Brazil. Pedro Álvares Cabral, leading a fleet of ships, set sail from Portugal in March 1500 with the primary goal of establishing trade routes to India. However, due to navigational errors and prevailing winds, Cabral's fleet reached the shores of a landmass he named Terra de Vera Cruz (Land of the True Cross) on April 22, 1500. This discovery was unplanned, and the Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to make contact with the indigenous peoples of the region. Upon arrival, Cabral's crew explored the coastline and interacted with the local Tupiniquim indigenous people. The explorers encountered the valuable Brazilwood tree, a resource highly sought after in Europe for its dye-producing qualities.

The First Mass in Brazil,
by Victor Meirelles (1861)

After the initial voyage of Álvares Cabral, the Portuguese monarchy did not immediately prioritize the colonization of the newly discovered land. The focus remained on establishing trade routes to India and Africa. However, by the early 16th century, King Manuel I of Portugal realized the strategic importance of maintaining a presence in Brazil to secure territorial claims and access to valuable resources. As such, In 1530, King John III of Portugal decided to establish permanent settlements along the Brazilian coast. He divided the land into hereditary captaincies, granting nobles the authority to govern and colonize specific areas. However, these captaincies faced numerous challenges, including indigenous resistance, lack of resources, and conflicts among colonists. The Portuguese settlers initially focused on extracting Brazilwood for trade, which became a lucrative source of revenue. However, the demand for Brazilwood led to overexploitation and conflicts with indigenous populations. Additionally, the Portuguese began cultivating sugarcane in small quantities, foreshadowing the economic transformation that would occur in the following decades.

In the early 16th century, Jesuit missionaries arrived in Brazil intending to convert indigenous populations to Christianity. The Jesuits established missions, or aldeias, where indigenous people were taught European customs, Christianity, and agricultural practices. The missions played a role in cultural exchange and the adaptation of European technologies.

In 1532, Martim Afonso de Sousa established the first successful Portuguese settlement at São Vicente, near present-day Martinópolis. The settlement initially focused on subsistence farming and trade with indigenous peoples. In 1549, the Portuguese Crown established the city of Salvador as the capital of the colony. This marked a shift in focus from individual captaincies to centralized administration and control. By the mid-16th century, Portuguese settlers began to turn their attention to sugarcane cultivation as a means of economic prosperity. Sugarcane was introduced to Brazil from the archipelagos of Madeira and Cape Verde. The tropical climate and fertile soil of northeastern Brazil were highly suitable for sugarcane cultivation. Large tracts of land were cleared for plantations, often displacing indigenous communities.

Frans Post - Engenho de Pernambuco.jpg
A typical sugar engenho, Pernambuco

The expansion of the sugar industry required a vast labor force. Due to the high mortality rates among indigenous laborers due to disease and harsh working conditions, the Portuguese turned to enslaved Africans. The transatlantic slave trade brought millions of Africans to Brazil, where they were subjected to brutal treatment on sugar plantations. This marked the beginning of a deeply entrenched system of slavery that would persist for centuries. Sugar production was highly labor-intensive and required complex machinery and infrastructure. Plantations established engenhos, or sugar mills, which included various components such as mills, boilers, and distillation equipment. The production process involved extracting juice from sugarcane, boiling it to create crystallized sugar, and then refining the sugar. The byproducts were used to produce rum.

The success of the sugar industry led to the expansion of plantations along the northeastern coast, particularly in Pernambuco and Bahia. The demand for labor and land sparked conflicts with indigenous communities and contributed to territorial disputes. European competitors, including the French and Dutch, attempted to challenge Portuguese dominance in Brazil. The Dutch managed to seize control of parts of northeastern Brazil during the Iberian Union, leading to a period of Dutch rule known as "New Holland."

Dutch Rule and Decline of the Sugar Cycle (1600 - 1690)

John Maurice of Nassau,
overnor of Dutch Brazil

During the 17th century, the Dutch Republic emerged as a major maritime and trading power, challenging the Portuguese and Spanish colonial empires, which were united under the Iberian Union. With ambitions to establish a global trading network, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) sought to gain control over valuable sugar-producing territories to secure their dominance in the sugar trade. In 1624, the Dutch launched a successful invasion of Salvador, the capital of Brazil, marking the beginning of their occupation. The Dutch established control over key sugar-producing areas, including Pernambuco, and renamed the region "New Holland." The Dutch rule over Brazil lasted for approximately 24 years.

Under Dutch rule, the sugar industry continued to flourish. The Dutch implemented efficient management practices, modernized infrastructure, and established better trading networks. This allowed them to enhance sugar production and profit from the valuable commodity, thereby challenging Portuguese dominance in the global sugar market. The Dutch invasion introduced a period of cultural exchange and interaction between the Dutch colonizers, enslaved Africans, and the local population. This interaction influenced art, architecture, and even language, as Dutch words found their way into the Portuguese spoken by the locals.

Portuguese settlers and local resistance groups, such as the Luso-Brazilian militias and indigenous communities, resisted Dutch rule. The Portuguese Crown and the local population were determined to reclaim control over their territories and resources. After years of bloody resistance and bitter conflict, the Portuguese managed to regain control over Brazil. A decisive military campaign led by Portuguese forces, combined with internal divisions among the Dutch, culminated in the recapture of Pernambuco and the expulsion of the Dutch from Brazil in 1654. The Dutch invasion left a lasting impact on Brazilian society and culture. The experience of Dutch rule introduced new ideas, technologies, and influences that would shape the trajectory of Brazilian history. The architectural legacy of the Dutch can still be seen in cities like Nassau, where remnants of their rule are evident in the urban layout and buildings. After the expulsion of the Dutch, Brazil continued to be a major player in the global sugar trade, however, it lost its monopoly. Although the sugar industry remained a crucial component of the Brazilian economy, the sugarcane cycle began to decline.

Gold Rush (1690-1807)

Minas geiras, moneta d'oro del brasile portoghese, xviii sec.JPG
A Portuguese gold coin made
from Brazilian gold

The Gold Rush and Economic Transformation in Brazil from 1690 to 1807 marked a pivotal era of rapid economic change and social upheaval. The discovery of gold and other precious minerals in the interior of Brazil led to a massive influx of people, the rise of mining towns, and the reshaping of the colonial economy. This period saw the expansion of Portuguese influence, the exploitation of natural resources, the establishment of mining communities, and the emergence of new social dynamics. In the late 17th century, gold was discovered in the region of Douradéria, in present-day Brazil. The news of gold's abundance spread quickly, leading to a rush of prospectors, adventurers, and settlers from various parts of Brazil and beyond.

The allure of wealth drew a diverse range of individuals to the mining region. Miners, traders, artisans, and slaves flocked to the area in search of riches. The population of Minas Gerais skyrocketed, leading to the rapid expansion of settlements and the emergence of mining towns. The gold rush led to the establishment of mining towns such as Ouro Preto, Mariana, and Sabará. These towns served as centers of economic activity, governance, and social interaction. The architectural legacy of this period can still be seen in the well-preserved colonial buildings and churches of Ouro Preto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rodolfo Amoedo - Ciclo do Ouro, Acervo do Museu Paulista da USP.jpg
The Brazilian Gold Rush
was the world's longest
gold rush period

The extraction of gold required extensive labor, and enslaved Africans were forced to work in grueling and hazardous conditions in the mines. The gold rush intensified the demand for slaves, leading to an increase in the transatlantic slave trade. The influx of people, including slaves, contributed to social stratification and cultural diversity within the mining communities. The influx of gold had a transformative effect on the Brazilian economy. The Portuguese Crown established a system of taxation known as the "quinto," which required that one-fifth of all gold mined be sent to the Crown as a tax. This revenue helped finance the Portuguese government and contributed to the economic growth of the colony. This taxation system would be one of the reasons behind the Inconfidência Mineira, widely regarded as one of the first independence movements in Brazil.

Despite the harsh conditions, the mining towns became centers of cultural and artistic expression. The Baroque style of architecture and art flourished during this period, with elaborate churches and sculptures adorning the towns. The work of artists such as Aleijadinho and Athayde is still celebrated today. However, the taxation and exploitation associated with the gold rush led to social unrest and rebellions. The most significant of these was the Vila Rica (Ouro Preto) Conspiracy of 1720, also known as the "Filipe dos Santos Conspiracy," which was a failed attempt to gain more autonomy and resist the Crown's demands. By the mid-18th century, the easily accessible gold deposits began to deplete, leading to a decline in gold production. Additionally, competition from other gold-producing regions, such as Africa, contributed to decreased profitability. As gold production waned, the Brazilian economy shifted its focus to other commodities, such as cotton.

United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarves (1807 - 1822)

Oscar Pereira da Silva - Sessão das Cortes De Lisboa, Acervo do Museu Paulista da USP 2.jpg
The Cortes of the United Kingdom of
Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves
assembled in Lisbon in the wake of the
1820 Portuguese Revolution.

The early 19th century was marked by the tumultuous Napoleonic Wars in Europe. Napoleon Bonaparte, the French military and political leader who was a self-proclaimed Emperor, aimed to expand his influence across the continent. In 1807, French forces invaded Portugal, which was allied with Britain. In November 1807, fearing for their safety and the impending French invasion, the Portuguese royal family, led by Prince Regent Dom João VI, made the momentous decision to flee Portugal. They sought refuge in Brazil, their largest and wealthiest colony, intending to establish a temporary base until the European situation stabilized.

In March 1808, the Portuguese court, along with a large retinue of nobles, officials, and advisers, arrived in Rio de Janeiro, officially making it the capital of the Portuguese Empire. This event marked the first time a European monarch had set foot on American soil. The presence of the royal family brought about significant changes in the colony. Dom João VI implemented a series of reforms and modernization efforts in Brazil. He opened the ports to international trade, which had previously been restricted by colonial policies. This move promoted economic growth and increased interactions between Brazil and the rest of the world. The Portuguese court's presence in Brazil also facilitated cultural and intellectual exchange. Libraries, scientific institutions, and cultural activities were established, contributing to the enrichment of Brazilian society. This period also witnessed the arrival of European artists, scholars, and scientists, leaving a lasting impact on Brazilian culture.

The presence of the Portuguese court in Brazil set in motion a series of events that would lead to Brazil's eventual declaration of independence. As the Napoleonic Wars continued in Europe, political turmoil ensued. The divisions between the Brazilian and European branches of the Portuguese monarchy, coupled with growing demands for local autonomy, set the stage for future developments. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1814, stability returned to Europe. In 1821, Dom João VI returned to Portugal, leaving his son, Dom Pedro, as regent in Brazil. The return of the court raised concerns about potential attempts to reimpose colonial restrictions on Brazil, triggering tensions between the colonial administration and Brazilian aspirations for greater self-governance. The seeds of independence had been sown during the years of the Portuguese court's presence in Brazil. In 1822, spurred by demands for autonomy and national identity, Dom Pedro I declared Brazil's independence from Portugal, leading to the establishment of the Empire of Brazil.

Early Empire (1822-1891)

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Declaration of Brazil's independence by
Prince Pedro on 7 September 1822

On September 7, 1822, Pedro de Bragança, the son of the Portuguese King Dom João VI, proclaimed Brazil's independence from Portugal and became the country's first monarch. This declaration was a response to growing tensions with the Portuguese Crown and the aspirations of Brazilians for self-governance. Pedro I became the Emperor of Brazil, adopting the title of Dom Pedro I. The Brazilian Independence War, which was fought for almost three years, ended in 1825 with the mediation of the United Kingdom. To have its independence recognized by Portugal and other European powers, Brazil accepted to take on the massive debts of the Portuguese Kingdom, a decision that would affect the economy for the following decade.

The United States of America and Argentina were the first countries to recognize Brazilian sovereignty as an independent country. However, with the eclosion of a separatist revolt in the province of Cisplatina, Argentina intervened in favor of the separatists. The Argentine government sought to annex the Spanish-speaking Brazilian province into their country; however, following a series of defeats at both land and sea, which were aggravated by blunders committed by the Argentine leadership, the separatists were annihilated. Argentina kept fighting until 1830 when Buenos Aires was bombed by the Brazilian Imperial Navy. Following the fire that consumed the Argentine capital, the caudillo-led Argentine government was deposed and a peace favorable for the Brazilians was signed. As a result of the conflict, Brazil consolidated its rule over Cisplatina and annexed the Argentine provinces of Corrientes and Entre-Rios.

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Brazilian artillery during the
Paraguayan War

At the same time as the Cisplatine War, the Empire of Brazil also had to fight its first republican revolt in an episode that became known as the Equador Confederation. In 1824 Dom Pedro I implemented his authoritarian constitution, which granted broad powers to the monarch. Dissatisfied with such a decision, revolutionaries from the Brazilian Northeast proclaimed a presidential republic in the style of the United States. Led by Frei Caneca, the Equador Confederation's revolutionaries were crushed as the revolt was brutally suppressed by the Imperial Army. Frei Caneca was executed and the republican movements throughout Brazil would momentarily lose popularity.

In 1834 Dom Pedro I died of tuberculosis, a disease that was nicknamed the "evil of the century" by his contemporaries. The heir to the Brazilian throne, Pedro II, was only eight years old at the time of Pedro I's death. As such, a regency was established, led by Diogo Antônio Feijó and José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva, respectively the leaders of the Liberal and the Conservative parties of Brazil. The Dual Regency period was marked by intense infighting between the regents. During the period, several rebellions and revolutions broke out throughout Brazil due to the regency's inability to mediate local disputes. This led to wars such as the Cabanagem in the Amazonian region; the Ragamuffin War in Cisplatina, Rio Grande, and Sant'Ana; and the Balaiada in the provinces of Maíras and Piabária. Some of these revolts lasted for months while others lasted for as long as ten years, although all of them had the same cause: dissatisfaction with the centralized Imperial government and the measures adopted by the Dual Regency. While revolts such as the Balaiada and the Cabanagem were followed by the masses, other revolts, such as the Ragamuffin War and the Sabinada were led by local oligarchs.

On 23 July 1840, Pedro II was declared fit to rule by the Conservative-led parliament, in an act that became known as the "Majority Coup" (Golpe da Maioridade in Portuguese). Despite being only 14 years old, the young Pedro II was declared of age to rule the country, thus bringing an end to the Dual Regency. Once an emperor, Dom Pedro II managed to bring an end to the long Ragamuffin War. The rebel leadership was pacified with Pedro II's promise to wage war on Argentine dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas, a long-time foe of the local Rio Grandense oligarchy. Between 1840 and 1850 only two rebel uprisings took place, the Praeira Revolt in the province of Capibaribe, a liberal revolt inspired by the 1848 Springtime of Nations; and the 1842-1843 Liberal Revolts, which sought to topple the conservative government of Brazil. Both rebellions were effortlessly crushed, although Pedro II grew wary of further revolts. As such, he began considering reforms to avoid any future rebellions, as seen by writings found in his diaries. From 1848 to 1853 several reforms were enacted: the censorship on the press was lifted as a means of allowing a free flow of information, thus appeasing the liberals; a national police was created, absorbing the provincial police that once worked on behalf of local oligarchs; the trade of African slaves was banned in a move that greatly satisfied the United Kingdom; and the parliament structure was reform, with its most important change being the creation of the office of minister-president, a role akin to prime minister.

The creation of the office of Minister-president allowed the Brazilian monarch to rotate the leadership of the parliament between Liberals and Conservatives; when needed, leadership was passed on to the conservatives; when needing to appease the liberals, the emperor used to appoint a liberal as minister-president, and so on. This form of government, in which the governing party was chosen by the emperor, is named parlamentarismo às avessas by modern historians, a concept which roughly translates to "reverse parliamentarism". This form of government allowed Pedro II to rule Brazil without major issues. Brazil was, according to both historians and 19th-century contemporaries, the most stable country in Latin America. "Reverse Parliamentarism" also paved the way for the dominance of the Liberal and Conservative parties until the early 20th century.

In 1850 a revolt in Argentina against the authoritarian rule of Juan Manuel de Rosas prompted a Brazilian invasion of its neighbor country. The Argentine rebels received Brazilian support and, alongside the Brazilian Imperial Army, they toppled the caudilo that had ruled Argentina for over 20 years. The war was a solid triumph for Brazil, as the borders between Brazil and Argentina were defined, Brazilian rule over the Plata estuary was consolidated, and a government friendly to Brazil was installed in Argentina. The war, however, also affected Paraguay. A small but heavily militarized neighboring country, the landlocked Paraguay refused to pay for its navigation rights on the Río de La Plata. After two years of tensions on the border, Paraguayan authorities apprehended Brazilian merchant vessels in the Río de La Plata, prompting a military reaction from Brazil. The Paraguay War, fought from 1854 to 1857, was a dramatic episode in Brazilian history. Despite suffering humiliating defeats at the onset of the war, by late 1855 the Brazilians were on the offensive. The conflict, which left a toll of 80,000 dead Brazilians, only ended with the death of the Paraguayan dictator Carlos Antonio López and his son, Francisco Solano López. Due to the war, Paraguay was left depopulated and ravaged; the country ceased to exist as the entirety of its territory was annexed into Brazil.

Shortly after the Paraguay War ended, a diplomatic incident between Brazil and the United Kingdom turned into a full-blown war. In 1861 a British merchant vessel shipwrecked on the shores of Rio Grande. British authorities accused locals of sacking the goods of the vessel and killing the shipwreck survivors. As such, the British government demanded reparations for the incident; as the Brazilian government refused to pay reparations, claiming that the locals were innocent, a small British flotilla dispatched to Rio de Janeiro apprehended three Brazilian merchant vessels. The Brazilians reacted, and combat between the Brazilian Imperial Navy and the British Royal Navy was ensured. Upon freeing the merchant vessels and defeating the Royal Navy, diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom were severed. As a retaliation, the British dispatched expeditionary forces to the Brazilian northeast. In what British contemporaries called a "humiliating senseless defeat", the expeditionary forces were defeated by a union of local guerrillas, the National Guard, and regiments of the Imperial Army. Following these two blunders, the British government signed a "peace and friendship" treaty with Brazil, thus bringing an end to the Christie War. Despite the costs associated with the conflict, Brazilian prestige and image among the European powers was improved.

Golden law 1888 Brazilian senate.jpg
Brazilian Senate during the Golden
Law voting session;

Brazil was the penultimate country in the
Western Hemisphere to abolish

In the following years, the Empire of Brazil went on to conquer Bolivia in a campaign that mirrored the American "March to the West", aptly named "Race for the Pacific". Following a three-year war with Bolivia, the entirety of the country was annexed into Brazil. Although by 1880 Brazil had access to both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, Chile contested the Brazilian rule over the region of Atacama, leading to the Pacific War between Chile and an Alliance that consisted of Peru and Brazil. Although Chile was defeated at sea and land, the two-year conflict left countless tolls of deaths and many more wounded or scarred. A period of isolationism marked Brazilian politics for the following decades, as Brazil retracted from international affairs to deal properly with its internal issues, mostly as a reaction to the trauma caused by the Pacific War.

During the latter half of the Early Empire period began what is today seen as a period of profound and important changes. Circa 1860 a massive educational and academic project began taking place in the Empire of Brazil. Dom Pedro II, nowadays the Patron of Brazilian Academia, spared no efforts in creating an expensive and expansive network of universities and colleges in Brazil. Through the invitation of European academics, technicians, engineers, and thinkers, and the sponsoring of the brightest Brazilian minds at the time, the Imperial University of Petrópolis was inaugurated in 1867, being the first university on Brazilian soil. The law colleges of Anchieta and Nova Roma were expanded, becoming respectively the Anchieta Imperial University and the Nova Roma Imperial University. Other universities in Novo Porto, Olinda, São Sebastião, and Cabo Branco were established.

In the year 1870, the Lei de Terras (akin to the American Homestead Act) was passed in the parliament, being enacted by Dom Pedro II in 1871 alongside the Lei do Ventre-Livre (Freedom of Womb Law). The passing of both laws was seen by the Conservative Party as a "hard blow" against the landowners, who had until then supported the emperor. The Freedom of Womb Law would mark a gradual end of slavery, while the Homestead Act meant that all unclaimed land in Brazil was the possession of the government and that it could only be granted to families of immigrants (or Brazilians who claimed the land). On the other hand, the Lei de Terras proved to be an efficient way of triggering a wave of immigration that lasted well into the 1950s. The decision of the monarch, however, fueled resentment among the rural elite of the country. At the time, Brazil was under a process of slow industrialization, and the urban economic elite was rapidly gaining power at the expense of the old landowners. With Pedro II's decision to gradually outlaw slavery and put unclaimed land under the government's protection, the landowners, led by the Conservative Party, saw no other option but to adhere to the newly founded Republican Movement.

Dom Pedro II grew aware of the sudden growth of the republican parties throughout Brazil. However, the original Brazilian Republicans, a group of liberal intellectuals who opposed slavery, also grew dissatisfied with the adherence of pro-slavery landowners to their parties. As such, in 1873 the Brazilian Republican Movement was divided into two: the Progressives, led by liberal intellectuals, and the Conservatives, led by the pro-slavery landowners. Taking advantage of the split in the Republican Movement, the liberal-led parliament swiftly pushed a bill to outlaw slavery, doing so on 13th May 1875. The law was enacted by then-regent Princess Isabel, as emperor Pedro II was on a trip to the United States. While the Progressive Republicans were appeased with the end of slavery, the Conservative Party grew rebellious. In the words of a historian, "the whispers of a distant, but confident and inevitable revolution, began torturing the ears of Pedro II".

On December 1891 Dom Pedro II passed away in his sleep. Following the news of his death, a clique of discontent military officers allied themselves with the conservative republicans, and with their support, decided to launch a coup. This coup attempt, which became known as the Long Night, led to the rise of the empress Isabel and the dismantlement of much of the republican movement. In support of the failed coup, several other uprisings occurred throughout Brazil, such as the Castilhos' War in Rio Grande, the Armada War in Guanabara, and the Canudos War in Ilhéus.

Middle Empire (1891-1934)


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Snow in mountains near Desterro,
province of Sant'Ana

Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and the third-largest in the Americas, only behind Canada and the United States of America. It occupies 8,599,093 km2, more than half of South America. It shares land borders with Argentina to the Southwest; Chile to the Southwest; Peru to the East; Colombia to the Northwest; and Venezuela to the north. Brazil also encompasses many archipelagos, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz. These archipelagos are territories of Brazil. Its size, climate, and availability of natural resources make Brazil a geographically diverse country.

The Federal Republic of Brazil spans four time zones; UTC−5 comprising the states of Acre, Antofagasta, and Petrônia, UTC-4 in the western states, UTC-3 in the eastern states (also the national time), and UTC-2 in the Atlantic Territories. Brazil is the longest country in the world, spanning 4,395 km from its northernmost point (São Jorge) to its southernmost point (Monte Jovem). Most of the terrain lies between 200 meters and 800 meters in elevation, although to the west, in the States of Antofagasta and Petrônia, the elevation is significantly higher due to the Andes Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges that spans the Western part of the South American continent.

Brazil has a dense and complex system of rivers. There are eight major drainage basins, and the majority of them drains into the Atlantic Ocean. Major rivers include the Amazon (the world's second-longest river and the largest in terms of volume of water), the Paraná and its major tributary the Iguaçu (which includes the Iguazu Falls), the São Francisco, Xingu, and Tapajós.


Although most of the country is tropical, Brazil comprises a varied range of weather conditions. According to the Köppen system, Brazil is home to six major climatic subtypes: desert, equatorial, tropical, semiarid, oceanic, and subtropical. The different climatic conditions produce diverse environments, ranging from equatorial rainforests in the northern region, semiarid deserts in the northeast and west, temperate coniferous forests in the south, and tropical savannas in the center-west.

An equatorial climate characterizes much of northern Brazil. There is no real dry season, but there are some variations in the year when most rain falls. Temperatures average 25 °C. with more significant temperature variation between night and day than between seasons. Over central Brazil, rainfall is more seasonal, characteristic of a savanna climate. This region is as extensive as the Amazon basin but has a very different climate as it lies farther south at a higher altitude. In the interior northeast, seasonal rainfall is even more extreme. The semiarid climatic region generally receives less than 800 millimeters (31.5 in) of rain, most of which generally falls in a period of three to five months of the year and occasionally less than this, creating long periods of drought. South of Bahia, near the coasts, and in most of the state of São Paulo, the distribution of rainfall changes, with rain falling throughout the year. The south enjoys subtropical conditions, with cool winters and average annual temperatures not exceeding 18 °C; winter frosts and snowfall are not rare in the highest areas.

Government and Politics

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Palácio Ipiranga, official house
of the Minister-President

Brazil is a federal semi-constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary system. The Minister-President is the head of government and the monarch is the head of state. The Minister-President usually rules for as long as his coalition stays in power. There is no term limit for offices in the Federal Parliament. The current Minister-President is Giovanni Veiga Guimarães, who was elected by the parliament in 2022 and has been ruling Brazil since then. The monarch is Ana Sofia, who has been the Empress of Brazil since 2020. The government can be dissolved either through a vote of no confidence from the parliament or the monarch.

Voting used to be compulsory until 2003 when it was made voluntary. Since 2010 the minimum voting age is 16. Most Brazilian citizens are allowed to vote upon reaching the minimum voting age, except for those living abroad. The Federal Parliament is composed of two houses: the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house) and the Federal Senate (the upper house). Deputies and senators are elected through proportional representation.

Brazil is composed of 42 states and a single Free Imperial City. The Imperial Federation is often referred to as the "Empire". The four branches of government - the executive, the legislative, the judiciary, and the moderator - are clearly defined by the Constitution. The Empire, the provinces, the Federal District, and the municipalities compose what is called the "spheres of government". The Imperial Federation is built upon five fundamental principles: pluralism, sovereignty, justice, liberty, and equality. The executive and legislative branches of government are organized in all spheres of government, while the judicial branch is organized only at the imperial, provincial, and free imperial city levels. Municipalities and territories do not have courts. The moderator power, comprised solely by the monarch, is exercised only at the imperial level.

Law and Justice

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Palácio do Riachuelo, seat of the
Supreme Imperial Court

Brazilian law is based on the civil law system. The entirety of Brazilian law is codified. The legal system is based on the Imperial Constitution, which was promulgated in 1973. As of February 2024, there have been fifteen amendments to the Constitution, with many other amendment proposals rejected. Each province (and the Free Imperial City) has its constitution, which must not contradict the precepts established by the Imperial Constitution. Since each imperial unit has its constitution, there exist many differences in law from one state to the other, such as seen in the laws that dictate the composition of local parliaments. Municipalities have "organic laws", whose function is similar to a constitution. Legislative entities are the main source of statutes, although the judiciary and executive bodies can enact norms on special occasions. There also are specialized labor, military, sports, and electoral courts. The highest court is the Supreme Imperial Court. After passing entry exams, the Judicial Committee appoints judges and other officials. The Judicial Committee is an independent body, created in 1977 in an attempt to curb corruption and nepotism. The Brazilian judicial system has been praised for its quick-paced rulings and efficiency. Nonetheless, the population and specialists criticize the system for the privileges that public servants and politicians receive, which can be considered one of the main factors behind corruption in Brazil.

Foreign policy

The International Relations of Brazil are based on Article 3 of the Brazilian Constitution of 1973. According to Article 3, Brazil's official foreign policy is one of neutrality, peaceful settlement of conflicts, international cooperation, and reciprocity. On the matter of reciprocity, the article allows military intervention if a country violates Brazilian neutrality or threatens its territorial integrity. According to the Constitution, the monarch has complete control over the armed forces, although the Imperial Parliament is tasked with diplomatic nominations and legislation relating to foreign policy.

Brazil is considered a leading power in South America and also a great power. The Brazilian development plans for undeveloped countries are widely regarded as a model to be followed. Brazil donates an estimated $40 billion as foreign aid to other countries. The receivers usually are Latin American countries or Portuguese-speaking territories, although other countries do receive aid in the form of expertise and diplomacy.

In December 2021, the Federal Republic of Brazil joined the World Assembly. The country left the World Assembly in 2022, rejoining it in 2023.