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Brazil

Brazil is the only Latin American nation that derives its language and culture from Portugal. The native inhabitants mostly consisted of the nomadic Tupí-Guaraní Indians. Adm. Pedro Alvares Cabral claimed the territory for Portugal in 1500.

The early explorers brought back a wood that produced a red dye, pau-brasil, from which the land received its name. Portugal began colonization in 1532 and made the area a royal colony in 1549.

Brazil achieved independence in in 1822 with the creation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system.

Brazil has the sixth largest population in the world–about 148 million people–which has doubled in the past 30 years. Because of its size,  there are only 15 people per sq. km, concentrated mainly along the coast and in the major cities, where two-thirds of the people now live: over 19 million in greater Sao Paulo and 10 million in greater Rio.