History of the Constitution of Brazil
During its independent political history, Brazil has had seven constitutions. The most recent was ratified on October 5, 1988. Prior to its independence, on September 7, 1822, Brazil had no formal Constitution, since Portugal only adopted its first Constitution on September 23, 1822, 16 days after Brazilian proclaimed independence. In 1823, the Emperor Pedro I started the political process of writing a Constitution; the elaboration of the first Constitution of Brazil was quite difficult and the power struggle involved resulted in a long-lasting unrest that plagued the country for nearly two decades. Two major facts increased the troubles: Large numbers of recent immigrants from Portugal, who wanted to keep their privileges or who were still loyal to the metropolitan government; these were found both among the wealthier parts of the population, as businessmen controlling Brazil's international trade, the lower ones, as tradesmen and free urban workers. The majority of the population was composed of slaves, prompting the whites to fear being massacred in the event of a rebellion caused by a failing state.
The first circumstance meant that despite strong support of the Crown Prince Pedro I by the Brazilian landowners, the opinions of the reinóis should be considered. As each side had distinct and different objectives none could prevail and a compromise was needed. There were extra problems involved: the Constitutional Assembly had been elected to decide the applicability of Portuguese laws in Brazil, not to draft a new constitution; as a result, some of the Portuguese deputies refused to take part in it. On the other hand, some of the Brazilian deputies, the "liberal" ones, had been persecuted, some exiled others imprisoned, thus the Constitutional Assembly did not hear an appreciable number of opinions and would end reflecting the objectives of the "Brazilian Party", to the detriment of the "Portuguese Party" and the liberals. As the draft constitution progressed it became clear that the deputies were trying to establish a constitution that would: curtail the powers of the monarch, restrict most political rights to landowners and deny them to the Portuguese, establish an authoritarian, but constitutional, whose head of government would be the Emperor himself, aided by a group of ministers of his choice.
The emperor did not want to be removed out all powers and serve as a mere decorative figurehead, but rather to protect the interests of the Portuguese businessmen and prevent any further of his power to the Parliament. In a quite predictable move, in the light of the wave of conservatism led by the Holy Alliance, the Emperor used his influence over the Brazilian Army to dissolve the Constitutional Assembly, in what became known as the Night of Agony, imposed on the country a constitution that concentrated the executive power on the Emperor himself; the Constitution endowed the Assembly with both status and authority, created legislative, moderating and judicial branches as "delegations of the nation" with the separation of those powers envisaged as providing balances in support of the Constitution and the rights it enshrined. The Constitution of 1824 was rather less parliamentary than the draft prepared by the Constituent Assembly. In fact, it was for all purposes a unique regime: a "presidential" monarchy.
That did not mean, by any means, that the Brazilian monarch had prerogatives resembling those of a tyrant or dictator. The individual guarantees that guarantee human liberty and dignity were inserted into the articles of the Charter and were respected; the Emperor would not act in areas reserved to the legislative branch and the judiciary, such as to create laws or to judge and sentence. Based on the French constitution of 1792 and the Spanish constitution of 1812, the Imperial constitution was considered one of the most liberal of the times, in front of many European liberal powers; the new constitution, published on March 25, 1824 outlined the existence of four powers: Executive — The State Council Legislative — The General Assembly, formed by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies Judiciary — The Courts Moderator — Vested in the Emperor, was supposed to resolve any incompatibilities between the other three, acting as a "neutral" power, in accordance to the theories of the Swiss thinker Benjamin Constant.
The Emperor controlled the Executive by nominating the members of the State Council, influenced the Legislative by being allowed to propose motions and having the power to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies and influenced the Judiciary, by appointing the members of the Highest Court. This constitution established the Brazilian Empire as a Unitary state; the Amendment of August 12, 1834, enacted in a period of liberal reform, authorized the provinces to create their own legislative chambers, which were empowered to legislate on financial matters, create taxes and their own corps of civil servants under a chief executive nominated by the central power. On July 20, 1847, a Decree established the post of President of the Council of Ministers (not to be confused with the State Council, whose ten members sat for life and which in the late Empire functi
Military dictatorship in Brazil
The Brazilian military government was the authoritarian military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from April 1, 1964 to March 15, 1985. It began with the 1964 coup d'état led by the Armed Forces against the administration of President João Goulart—who, having been vice-president, had assumed the office of president upon the resignation of the democratically elected president Jânio Quadros—and ended when José Sarney took office on March 15, 1985 as President; the military revolt was fomented by Magalhães Pinto, Adhemar de Barros, Carlos Lacerda, governors of Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Guanabara. The coup was supported by the State Department of the United States through its embassy; the military dictatorship lasted for twenty-one years. The regime adopted nationalism, economic development, anti-communism as its guidelines; the dictatorship reached the height of its popularity in the 1970s with the so-called "Brazilian Miracle" as the regime censored all media, tortured and exiled dissidents. João Figueiredo became President in March 1979.
While combating the "hardline" members of the regime and supporting a re-democratization policy, he couldn't control the crumbling economy, chronic inflation and concurrent fall of other military dictatorships in South America. Amid massive popular demonstrations in the streets of the main cities of the country, the first free elections in 20 years were held for the national legislature in 1982. In 1985, another election was held, this time to elect a new president, being contested between civilian candidates for the first time since the 1960s, won by the opposition. In 1988, a new Constitution was passed and Brazil returned to democracy. Since the military has remained under the control of civilian politicians, with no official role in domestic politics. Brazil's military regime provided a model for other military regimes and dictatorships around Latin America, systematizing the “Doctrine of National Security”, which "justified" the military's actions as operating in the interest of national security in a time of crisis, creating an intellectual basis upon which other military regimes relied.
In 2014, nearly 30 years after the regime collapsed, the Brazilian military recognized for the first time the excesses committed by its agents during the years of the dictatorship, including the torture and murder of political dissidents. In May 2018, the United States government released a memorandum, written by Henry Kissinger, dating back to April 1974, confirming that the leadership of the Brazilian military regime was aware of the killing of dissidents, it is estimated that 434 people were either confirmed killed or went missing during the military dictatorship in Brazil. While some human rights activists and others assert that the true figure could be much higher, the armed forces have always disputed this. Brazil's political crisis stemmed from the way in which the political tensions had been controlled in the 1930s and 1940s during the Vargas Era. Vargas' dictatorship and the presidencies of his democratic successors marked different stages of Brazilian populism, an era of economic nationalism, state-guided modernization, import substitution trade policies.
Vargas' policies were intended to foster an autonomous capitalist development in Brazil, by linking industrialization to nationalism, a formula based on a strategy of reconciling the conflicting interests of the middle class, foreign capital, the working class, the landed oligarchy. This was the epic of the rise and fall of Brazilian populism from 1930 to 1964: Brazil witnessed over the course of this time period the change from export-orientation of the First Brazilian Republic to the import substitution of the populist era and to a moderate structuralism of 1964–80; each of these structural changes forced a realignment in society and caused a period of political crisis. Period of right-wing military dictatorship marked the transition between populist era and the current period of democratization; the Brazilian Armed Forces acquired great political clout after the Paraguayan War. The politicization of the Armed Forces was evidenced by the Proclamation of the Republic, which overthrew the Empire, or within Tenentismo and the Revolution of 1930.
Tensions escalated again in the 1950s, as important military circles joined the elite, medium classes and right-wing activists in attempts to stop Presidents Juscelino Kubitschek and João Goulart from taking office, due to their supposed support for Communist ideology. While Kubitschek proved to be friendly to capitalist institutions, Goulart promised far-reaching reforms, expropriated business interests and promoted economical-political neutrality with the USA. After Goulart assumed power in 1961, society became polarized, with the elites fearing that Brazil would become another Cuba and join Communist Bloc, while many thought that the reforms would boost the growth of Brazil and end its economical subservience with the US, or that Goulart could be used to increase the popularity of the Communist agenda. Influential politicians, such as Carlos Lacerda and Kubitschek, media moguls, the Church, l
Brazilian National Archives
The National Archives of Brazil were created in 1838 as the Imperial Public Archives. The Archives were renamed in 1911, are located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the National Archives of Brazil is the Brazilian institution responsible for the management and dissemination of federal government documents. Since 2011 it is subordinated to the Ministry of Public Security; the AN has the following competence, accordind to the Decree No. 9,360 of May 7, 2018, which grants it as the main body of Archival Documents Management System of the federal government: "to guide the main organizations and entities of the federal Executive Power in the implementation of document management programs. The National Archives of Brazil thus fulfills a double and essential function for the Brazilian State and society – both in the management of archival documents that are produced in all federal institutions and in safeguarding and giving access to fundamental fonds for history; the National Archives of Brazil fulfills part of its institutional mission by offering guidance, technical assistance and training to the servants of other federal public administration bodies throughout Brazil in the area of management, technical processing and dissemination of documents under the Archival Documents Management System.
Through its conservation area, the National Archives of Brazil guarantees the protection of the fundamental documentary heritage for the country. These actions are complemented by the technical treatment of its fonds, to make it available to the public through search systems and research instruments. Thus, the National Archives offers thousands of documents in its custody accessible anywhere in the world through the Internet; the National Archives has 10 electronic sites, 7 databases and 42 research tools that allow its users access to information on the document, as well as information about its activities and events. The Information System of the National Archives – SIAN is its main system; the access to information and documents of the National Archives of Brazil is enhanced by various dissemination actions, such as electronic research sites and publications. Among them, the Arquivo em Cartaz – International Archives Film Festival, Revista Acervo, National Archives Week; the Archives holds pre-1959 diplomatic records between Brazil and the United States of America.
It may be necessary to contact Brazil's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to access some of the records. The regulation No. 2, of January 2, 1838, created the Public Archives of the Brazilian Empire, as provided for in the Constitution of 1824, provisionally established in the Secretariat of State for the Business of the Empire. The creation of the National Archives, together with the Brazilian Historic and Geographic Institute, which added to the Imperial Academy of the Arts, joined the regency effort of Pedro de Araújo Lima, future Viscount and Marqués de Olinda, for the construction of an imperial State; the Public Archives of the Empire was intended to safeguard public documents and was organized into three sections: Administrative, responsible for the documents of the Executive and Moderator powers. Its first headquarters was located in the building of the Ministry of the Empire, in the street of the Guarda Velha Street, current Treze de Maio Avenue. In 1844, the Public Archives of the Empire came to stay in Praça do Comércio, on Direita Street, today Primeiro de Março Avenue, Rio de Janeiro.
The organ functioned as a distribution attached to the Secretariat of State for the Business of the Empire, becoming autonomous in 1840. However, it occupied the secretarial building until 1854, when it was transferred to the upper floor of the Convent of Santo Antônio. In 1860, decree n. 2,541 reformed the institution, maintaining the same division of the sections, detailing a little more the attributions of each one. From the decade of 1870, a greater structuring of the organ is observed. In the year 1870, the archive came to occupy the old building of the Recolhimento do Parto dos Terceiros da Ordem do Carmo. In 1873, Joaquim Pires Machado Portella became director of the institution, in the following year the archive was opened for public consultation. A new regulation was approved by Decree n. 6.164, of March 24, 1876, determining various transformations and establishing more detailed work procedures. With the Republic, in 1911, the organ had its name altered for National Public Archives, like many other institutions that
Ernesto Beckmann Geisel was a Brazilian Army officer and politician, President of Brazil from 1974 to 1979, during the Brazilian military government. Ernesto Geisel was born in Bento Gonçalves, Rio Grande do Sul province, his father was Guilherme Augusto Geisel, a German Brazilian teacher from Herborn who immigrated to the Empire of Brazil in 1883 at age 16. His mother was the homemaker Lydia Beckmann, born in Brazil in Teutônia colony to German parents from Osnabrück. In Bento Gonçalves, where Ernesto was raised, there were only two families of German origin - Geisels and Drehers - while the majority of the population was composed of Italian immigrants. Remembering the contact with the local Italian immigrants during his childhood Geisel described the cultural contrasts between the strict and rigorous education that his German parents imposed compared to the freedom and more relaxed way of life that his Italian friends had, whom he admired. Geisel was raised in a Lutheran family and he claimed to come from a poor family of lower middle class.
At home Geisel spoke German as well as Portuguese because his father, who spoke Portuguese so well that he became a teacher of this language, did not want his children to speak Portuguese with a foreign accent. As an adult, Geisel reported that he was able to understand the German language, but was not able to write it and had some difficulty speaking it. Ernesto Geisel married Lucy Markus, the daughter of an army colonel, in 1940, they had a daughter, Amália Lucy, a son, from whose 1957 death in a train accident Geisel never recovered. His widow died in an automobile accident in March 2000. Geisel along with his brother Orlando, entered the army in 1921 and in 1925 was the first of his class when he graduated from the Military High School of Porto Alegre, he acquired higher military education at Escola Militar do Realengo, graduated it in 1928 as the first in his class and joined artillery unit as an Aspirante. Promoted to lieutenant in 1930. Geisel witnessed and participated in the most prominent events of Brazilian history in the 20th century, such as the Revolution of 1930, the Getúlio Vargas dictatorship of Estado Novo and its overthrow in 1945.
Geisel was military attache in Uruguay. Promoted to brigadier-general in 1960, Geisel participated in the 1964 military coup d'état that overthrew the leftist President João Goulart. Geisel was an important figure during the coup and became Chief of the Military Staff of President Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco from 1964 until 1967. In 1964 he was promoted to Lieutenant-General and in 1966 to the highest 4-star General de exército rank. In 1969 he was made president of the state-owned oil company Petrobras. In 1973 President Emílio Garrastazu Médici selected Geisel to be his successor as the President. There had been intense behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the hard-liners against him and by the more moderate supporters of Castelo Branco for him. For Geisel, his older brother, Orlando Geisel was the Minister of Army, his close ally General João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo the chief of Médici's military staff. At that time the President of Brazil was chosen by the military and approved by the Congress in order to give an impression of democratic elections.
Geisel ran as the candidate of the pro-military National Renewal Alliance Party. For the first time during the era of military rule, the Brazilian Democratic Movement put up a candidate in the person of longtime deputy Ulysses Guimarães. However, Guimarães knew that given ARENA's then-landslide majority in the Congress, Geisel's victory was a foregone conclusion; as expected, Geisel was elected by a vast majority and was inaugurated on March 15, 1974 for a five-year mandate. During the Brazilian Miracle from 1968 to 1973 Brazilian economy had grown at a rate of more than 10% per year, the fastest in the world, but due to the oil shock crisis in 1974, development fell to 5–6% per year. Because much of the country's oil had to be imported, Brazil's foreign debt began to rise; this strategy was effective in promoting growth, but it raised Brazil's import requirements markedly, increasing the large current-account deficit. The current account was financed by running up the foreign debt; the expectation was that the combined effects of import substitution industrialization and export expansion would bring about growing trade surpluses, allowing the service and repayment of the foreign debt.
President Geisel sought to maintain high economic growth rates, while dealing with the effects of the 1973 oil crisis. He maintained massive investments in infrastructure - highways, telecommunications, hydroelectric dams, mineral extraction and atomic energy. Fending off nationalist objections, he opened Brazil to oil prospecting by foreign firms for the first time since the early 1950s. Geisel adopted a more moderate stance with regards to political opposition. Together with his Chief of Staff, Minister Golbery do Couto e Silva Geisel devised a plan of gradual, slow democratization that would succeed despite all the threats and opposition from hard-liners, he replaced several regional commanders with trusted officers and labeled his political program abertura and distensão, meaning a gradual relaxation of authoritarian rule. It would be, in his words, "the maximum of development possible with the
Détente is the easing of strained relations in a political situation, through verbal communication. The term originates in the time of the Triple Entente and Entente Cordiale in reference to an easing of tensions between England and France who, subsequent to being commingled polities under Norman rule, were warring rivals for the better part of a millennium but pursuant to a policy of détente became enduring allies. In the context of the Cold War, the lessening of tensions between the East and West, along with domestic reform in the Soviet Union, worked together to achieve the end of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union altogether; the term is most used in reference to a period of general easing of the geo-political tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. It began in 1969, as a core element of the foreign policy of U. S. president Richard Nixon, in an effort to avoid the collision of nuclear risks. The Nixon administration promoted greater dialogue with the Soviet government, including regular summit meetings and negotiations over arms control and other bilateral agreements.
Détente was known in Russian as разрядка. The period was characterized by the signing of treaties such as the Helsinki Accords. Another treaty, SALT II, was never ratified by the United States. There is still ongoing debate amongst historians as to how successful the détente period was in achieving peace. After the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the two superpowers agreed to install a direct hotline between Washington D. C. and Moscow, enabling leaders of both countries to interact with each other in a time of urgency, reduce the chances that future crises could escalate into an all-out war. The U. S./USSR détente was presented as an applied extension of that thinking. The SALT II pact of the late 1970s continued the work of the SALT I talks, ensuring further reduction in arms by the Soviets and by the U. S; the Helsinki Accords, in which the Soviets promised to grant free elections in Europe, has been called a major concession to ensure peace by the Soviets. Détente ended after the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, which led to the United States boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.
Ronald Reagan's election as president in 1980, based in large part on an anti-détente campaign, marked the close of détente and a return to Cold War tensions. In his first press conference, President Reagan said "Détente's been a one-way street that the Soviet Union has used to pursue its aims." Following this, relations turned sour with the unrest in Poland, end of the SALT II negotiations, the NATO exercise in 1983 that brought the superpowers on the brink of nuclear war. The most obvious manifestation of détente was the series of summits held between the leaders of the two superpowers and the treaties that resulted from these meetings. In the early 1960s, before détente, the Partial Test Ban Treaty had been signed on 5 August 1963. In the decade, the Outer Space Treaty, in January 1967, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, July 1968, were two of the first building blocks of détente; these early treaties were signed all over the globe. The most important treaties were not developed until the Nixon Administration came into office in 1969.
The Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Pact sent an offer to the West, urging them to hold a summit on "security and cooperation in Europe". The West agreed and talks began towards actual limits in the nuclear capabilities of the two superpowers; this led to the signing of the SALT I treaty in 1972. This treaty limited each power's nuclear arsenals, though it was rendered out-of-date as a result of the development of MIRVs. In the same year that SALT I was signed, the Biological Weapons Convention and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty were concluded. Talks on SALT II began in 1972. Brezhnev however at the start of the period in his speeches to the Politburo, was intent on using the period of relaxed tensions to prepare for Soviet expansion in the 1980s. In 1975, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe met and produced the Helsinki Accords, a wide-ranging series of agreements on economic and human rights issues; the CSCE was initiated by the USSR. Among other issues, one of the most prevalent and discussed after the conference was that of human rights violations in the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Constitution directly violated the Declaration of Human Rights from the United Nations, this issue became a prominent point of separation between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Carter administration had been supporting human rights groups inside the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev accused the administration of interference in other countries' internal affairs; this prompted intense discussion of whether or not other nations may interfere if basic human rights are being violated, such as freedom of speech and religion. The basic disagreement in the philosophies of a democracy and a single-party was in a state that did not allow for reconciliation of this issue. Furthermore, the Soviets proceeded to defend their internal policies on human rights by attacking American support of countries like South Africa and Chile, which were known to violate many of the same human rights issues. In July of the same year, the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project became the first international space mission, wherein three American astronauts and two Soviet cosmonauts docked their spacecraft and conducted joint experiments.
This mission had been preceded by five years of political negotiation and technical co-operati
1964 Brazilian coup d'état
The 1964 Brazilian coup d'état was a series of events in Brazil from March 31 to April 1 that led to the overthrow of President João Goulart by members of the Brazilian Armed Forces, supported by the United States government. The following day, with the military in control of the country, the Brazilian Congress came out in support of the coup and endorsed it by declaring vacant the office of the presidency; the coup put an end to the government of Goulart known as Jango, a member of the Brazilian Labour Party, democratically elected Vice President in the same election in which conservative Jânio Quadros, from the National Labor Party and backed by the National Democratic Union, won the presidency. Quadros resigned in 1961, the same year of his inauguration, in a clumsy political maneuver to increase his popularity. Quadros anticipated those mass demonstrations would demand his return to office and strengthen his position, but he miscalculated. With the presidency vacant and according to the constitution in force, enacted in 1946, Quadros should have automatically been replaced by Goulart.
However, because Goulart was on a diplomatic trip to the People's Republic of China at the time, because, although a moderate nationalist, Goulart was accused of being a communist by right-wing militants, he was unable to take office. After lengthy negotiations, led by Tancredo Neves, Goulart's supporters and the right-wing reached an agreement under which the parliamentary system would replace the presidential system in the country. Goulart would continue as head of state, although weakened, Neves would be named the prime minister. In 1963, however, a referendum re-established the presidential system with Goulart as president, he took office with full powers, during his rule several problems in Brazilian politics became evident, as well as disputes in the context of the Cold War, which helped destabilize his government. The Basic Reforms Plan proposed by Goulart had the potential to socialize the profits of large companies to ensure a better quality of life for most Brazilians, but was labelled as a "socialist threat" by right-wing sectors of society and of the military, which organized major demonstrations against the government in the Marches of the Family with God for Freedom.
The coup brought to Brazil a military regime politically aligned to the interests of the United States government. This regime lasted until 1985, when Tancredo Neves was indirectly elected the first civilian president of Brazil since the 1960 elections. Jânio Quadros resigned on August 25, 1961. At the time of his resignation, João Goulart was in the People's Republic of China on a foreign relations trip. On August 29, the Brazilian Congress heard and vetoed a motion to stop Goulart from being named the president, brought by the heads of the three branches of the military and some politicians, who claimed Goulart's inauguration would put the country "on the road to civil war." A compromise was reached: Brazil would become a parliamentary democracy, with Goulart as president. As such, he would with limited powers of head of government. Tancredo Neves was named as the new prime minister. On January 6, 1963, Goulart changed the system of government back to a presidential democracy in a referendum in which he won by a large margin.
Goulart found himself back in power with a deteriorating political and economic situation. During this period, Goulart was politically isolated, with a foreign policy, independent of any alignment, he criticized the Bay of Pigs invasion by the US, but criticized the Cuban regime of Fidel Castro during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The country's economic situation deteriorated rapidly. Attempts to stabilize the currency were financed by aid packages from the International Monetary Fund, his failure to secure foreign investment and curb domestic inflation put the country in a difficult situation which exacerbated social conflicts. On March 13, 1964, Goulart gave a speech where he promised to nationalize the country's oil refineries, as well as carry out "basic reforms" including rent control; this was followed by a large demonstration on March 19, where a conservative group marched on Praça da Sé, São Paulo, in a demonstration called "March of the Family with God for Freedom" against Goulart and his policies.
The friction between the military and Goulart boiled over with his intervention in a revolt by sailors of the Brazilian Navy led by José Anselmo dos Santos known as Cabo Anselmo, exposed as an agent provocateur. On March 25, 1964, nearly 2,000 sailors assembled in Rio de Janeiro, petitioning for better living conditions and pledging their support for Goulart's reforms; the Minister of the Navy, Sílvio Mota, ordered the arrest of the sailors leading the assembly. Mota sent a detachment of marines to arrest the leaders and break up the assembly, led by Rear Admiral Cândido Aragão; these marines remained with the other sailors. Shortly after Aragão's refusal to arrest the leaders, Goulart issued orders prohibiting any invasion of the assembly location, sacked Sílvio Mota as Minister of the Navy; the following day, March 26, the Minister of Labor, Amauri Silva, negotiated a compromise, the sailors agreed to leave the assembly building. They were promptly arrested for mutiny. Goulart pardoned the sailors shortly after.
Soon after, on March 30, 1964, the day before the coup, Goulart gave a speech to a gathering of sergeants, where he asked for the military's support for his reforms. In the United Stat
Brazil the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, its most populated city is São Paulo; the federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 kilometers, it borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and covers 47.3% of the continent's land area. Its Amazon River basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats; this unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, is the subject of significant global interest and debate regarding deforestation and environmental protection.
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 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 considered an advanced emerging economy. It has the ninth largest GDP in the world by nominal, eight and PPP measures, it is one of the world's major breadbaskets, being the largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years. It 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 Latin America. Brazil is a regional power and sometimes considered a great or a middle power in international affairs. On account of its international recognition and influence, the country is subsequently classified as an emerging power and a potential superpower by several analysts. Brazil is a founding member of the United Nations, the G20, BRICS, Union of South American Nations, Organization of American States, Organization of Ibero-American States and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, it is that the word "Brazil" comes from the Portuguese word for brazilwood, a tree that once grew plentifully along the Brazilian coast.
In Portuguese, brazilwood is called pau-brasil, with the word brasil given the etymology "red like an ember", formed from brasa and the suffix -il. As brazilwood produces a deep red dye, it was valued by the European textile industry and was the earliest commercially exploited product from Brazil. Throughout the 16th century, massive amounts of brazilwood were harvested by indigenous peoples along the Brazilian coast, who sold the timber to European traders in return for assorted European consumer goods; the official Portuguese name of the land, in original Portuguese records, was the "Land of the Holy Cross", but European sailors and merchants called it the "Land of Brazil" because of the brazilwood trade. The popular appellation eclipsed and supplanted the official Portuguese name; some early sailors called it the "Land of Parrots". In the Guarani language, an official language of Paraguay, Brazil is called "Pindorama"; this was the name the indigenous population gave to the region, meaning "land of the palm trees".
Some of the earliest human remains found in the Americas, Luzia Woman, were found in the area of Pedro Leopoldo, Minas Gerais and provide evidence of human habitation going back at least 11,000 years. The earliest pottery found in the Western Hemisphere was excavated in the Amazon basin of Brazil and radiocarbon dated to 8,000 years ago; the pottery was found near Santarém and provides evidence that the tropical forest region supported a complex prehistoric culture. The Marajoara culture flourished on Marajó in the Amazon delta from 800 CE to 1400 CE, developing sophisticated pottery, social stratification, large populations, mound building, complex social formations such as chiefdoms. Around the time of the Portuguese arrival, the territory of current day Brazil had an estimated indigenous population of 7 million people semi-nomadic who subsisted on hunting, fishing and migrant agriculture; the indigenous population of Brazil comprised several large indigenous ethnic groups. The Tupí people were subdivided into the Tupiniquins and Tupinambás, there were many subdivisions of the other gro