Colonial Brazil

Colonial Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil Colonial) comprises the period from 1500, with the arrival of the Portuguese, until 1815, when Brazil was elevated to a kingdom in union with Portugal as the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. During the early 300 years of Brazilian colonial history, the economic exploitation of the territory was based first on brazilwood (pau brazil) extraction (16th century), which gave the territory its name;[3] sugar production (16th–18th centuries); and finally on gold and diamond mining (18th century). Slaves, especially those brought from Africa, provided most of the work force of the Brazilian export economy after a brief period of Indian slavery to cut brazilwood.

Colonial Brazil
Brasil Colonial
Brazil in 1534
Brazil in 1750
StatusColony of the Kingdom of Portugal
Rio de Janeiro
Common languagesPortuguese (official)
Tupí Austral, Nheengatu, many indigenous languages
Roman Catholic (official)
Afro-Brazilian religions, Judaism, indigenous practices
GovernmentAbsolute monarchy
Manuel I (first)
Maria I (last)
Tomé de Sousa (first)
Marcos de Noronha, 8th Count of the Arcos (last)
 Arrival of Pedro Álvares Cabral on behalf of the Portuguese Empire
22 April 1500/1534
 Elevation to Kingdom and creation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves
13 December 1808
8,100,200[1] km2 (3,127,500 sq mi)
CurrencyPortuguese real
ISO 3166 codeBR
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Indigenous peoples in Brazil
United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves
Today part of Brazil

In contrast to the neighboring Spanish possessions, which had several viceroyalties with jurisdiction initially over New Spain (Mexico) and Peru, and in the eighteenth century expanded to viceroyalties of Rio de la Plata and New Granada, the Portuguese colony of Brazil was settled mainly in the coastal area by the Portuguese and a large black slave population working sugar plantations and mines. The boom and bust economic cycles were linked to export products. Brazil's sugar age, with the development of plantation slavery, merchants serving as middle men between production sites, Brazilian ports, and Europe was undermined by the growth of the sugar industry in the Caribbean on islands that European powers seized from Spain. Gold and diamonds were discovered and mined in southern Brazil through the end of the colonial era. Brazilian cities were largely port cities and the colonial administrative capital was moved several times in response to the rise and fall of export products' importance.

Unlike Spanish America, which fragmented into many republics upon independence, Brazil remained a single administrative unit under a monarch, giving rise to the largest country in Latin America. Just as European Spanish and Roman Catholicism were a core source of cohesion among Spain's vast and multi-ethnic territories, Brazilian society was united by the Portuguese language and Roman Catholic faith. As the only Lusophone polity in the Americas, the Portuguese language was particularly important to Brazilian identity.