1
An Earthly Paradise

In primeval times, South America was locked together with Africa, Australia, Antarctica, and India in a "supercontinent" that for 300 million years circled the South Pole in perpetual cold. Geologists tell us that about 100 million years ago, a fissure opened between Brazil and Africa, forming the South Atlantic Ocean and shifting the whole landmass north toward the Equator. South America separated from Antarctica. Humidity and the northward drift formed an environment suitable for the rise of vast rain forests. Two to four million years ago, collisions of vast tectonic plates formed the Andes Mountains in western South America, and the inland sea tilted to the east, where it formed the vast Amazon River basin. When the last glacial period ended, about twelve thousand years ago, the Atlantic Forest reached across 3,500 kilometers of Brazil's seacoast.

Humans arrived, possibly from the Baikal region of Siberia via the Bering Strait and North America, or from Polynesia, Borneo, or Australasia. The long-standing belief among Paleo-Indian anthropologists that the first inhabitants of the New World arrived about twelve thousand years ago has been challenged recently; new estimates suggest that the first Brazilians came as long as forty thousand years ago. Remains of settlements have been discovered in Brazil that may be fifty thousand

-1-

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The History of Brazil
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Advisory Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Timeline of Historical Events xv
  • 1 - An Earthly Paradise 1
  • Notes 29
  • 2 - Early Brazil (1500-1822) 31
  • Notes 52
  • 3 - Independence and Empire (1822-1889) 55
  • Notes 76
  • 4 - The Republic (1889-1930) 77
  • Note 96
  • 5 - The Vargas Era (1930-1954) 97
  • Notes 119
  • 6 - Dictatorship and Democracy (1954-1998) 121
  • Notes 144
  • 7 - Political Culture 147
  • Notes 166
  • 8 - Social and Economic Realities 167
  • Notes 183
  • Notable People in the History of Brazil 185
  • Bibliographic Essay 195
  • Index 203
  • About the Author 209
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