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Brazil, officially the Empire of Brazil (Portuguese: Império do Brasil) is the largest nation in South America in both size and population, as well as the fifth largest in the world by population, with 187.5 million inhabitants as of 1997. It shares borders with Argentina and Peru to the west, Bolivia to the south, and Colombia, Dutch Surinam, and the West Indies province of Guyana to the north. It is also the only nation in the Americas (and the largest nation in the world) whose official language is Portuguese.
Originally discovered by Portugal's Pedro Cabral in 1500 and first colonized in 1533, Brazil was a royal colony of Portugal for nearly 300 years. In 1808, the King of Portugal, Dom João VI, fled the advancing armies of France under Napoleon Bonaparte and established Rio de Janeiro as the temporary capital of the entire Portuguese Empire until 1821, when he returned to Europe and attempted to return Brazil to colonial status. The Brazilians resisted, however, and his son, Pedro de Alcântara, was subsequently crowned Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil in 1822. Three years later, the Portuguese armies in South America surrendered and officially recognized Brazil as independent. Pedro I's sudden abdication of the throne in 1831 left a six year-old son, Pedro II, as the new emperor, and since he was still rather young, a temporary regency was created to rule on his behalf until he came of age. But internal disputes within the regency forced the General Assembly to declare the young Pedro II of age when he was only 14 years old, in July 1840 (he would be crowned Emperor one year later).
Pedro II's fifty-year reign was positively marked by internal stability, economic, political, and societal growth (with the abolition of slavery in 1888) and the rise of Brazil as a regional power. He is consistently regarded and ranked by historians as one of the greatest Brazilians in the nation's history. Following his abdication due to poor health in 1891, his son, Pedro Afonso (b. 1848) succeeded him as Pedro III and continued in his father's footsteps by further advancing the national economy and modernizing and enlarging the military. He is frequently credited for bringing Brazil into the modern age.
Brazil is a driving force in Latin American and global politics. As a great power in its' own right, Brazil has vied for regional supremacy with neighboring rival Colombia since independence. It is a founding and permanent member of the League of Nations, the G-11, G-30, and the South American Union (SAU), in addition to joining NATO in the post-Cold War era.
Discovery and Colonization (1500-1821)
The Empire of Brazil (1822-present)
Advancement and Peace: Reign of Pedro II (1841-1891)
Brazil Enters the Modern Age (1892-1928)
World War I (1915-1919)
Main Article: World War I (1915-1919)
Interbellum Period (1920-1937)
World War II (1941-1945)
Main Article: World War II (1938-1945)
Brazil in the Cold War (1946-1993)
Rise to Prominence (1950-1960)
The Rio Olympics (1960)
Main Article: 1960 Summer Olympics
Modern Times (1991-Present)
Main Article: Armed Forces of Brazil
Main Article: Provinces of Brazil