Chapters of Brazil's Colonial History, 1500-1800

By Capistrano De Abreu; Arthur Brakel | Go to book overview
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Indigenous Antecedents

Almost all of Brazil lies in the Southern Hemisphere. Its greatest mass can be found between the equator and the tropic of Capricorn.

It is surrounded on the south, southwest, west, and northwest by the continent's Spanish-speaking nations--except for Chile and Panama, which are bordered Bolivia and by Colombia respectively. Future negotiations will determine whether or not Brazil is to share a border with Ecuador. From the headwaters of the Rio Branco to the coastline, one finds British, Dutch, and French colonies bordering Brazil.

Along its nearly 8.000 kilometers of eastern coastline, Brazil is bathed by the Atlantic Ocean. Cape Orange, which forms Brazil's border with French Guiana, is 37 degrees north of the Chuí River, which marks our border with Uruguay. A glance at a map demonstrates the insignificance of the maritime periphery. Just as it does along the coasts of Africa and Australia, the sea does not encroach on the land of Brazil, nor does the land invade the sea. There are no inland seas and no peninsulas, gulfs, or islands of any size or importance. Sea and land exist side by side without transition or penetration. On their own, Brazilians can do no more than venture out to sea on fishing rafts.

The sea coast stretches out in two main directions. It runs northwest to southeast from Pará to Pernambuco, and northeast to southwest from Pernambuco to the far south.

The northwest-southeast coastline is low, almost straight, and broken

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