Pre-1500

  • Ancient indigenous peoples live in Brazil for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.
  • In this era, the Tupi and Guaraní people are among Brazil's largest and most advanced indigenous civilisations.
  • They live in small, semi-nomadic communities and rely on hunting, fishing and agriculture for survival.

Portuguese rule

  • 1500: Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral claims Brazil for Portugal in 1500, despite resistance to colonisation by indigenous Brazilians. Over the next century, violence and disease (mainly smallpox) kill an estimated 90 percent of indigenous Brazilians.
  • 1535: Portuguese settlers begin to establish sugar plantations along the coast. Labour needs are initially filled by the enslavement of indigenous peoples.
  • 1539: Sugar plantations begin to import African slaves, marking the beginning of more than 300 years of the slave trade in Brazil.
  • 1549: The first Jesuit missions are established in the interior of Brazil, aimed at converting indigenous peoples to Christianity and civilising them.
  • 1600s: The Portuguese engage in conflicts with other European powers, including the Dutch and French, over control of Brazil.
  • 1808: The Portuguese royal family flees to Brazil due to the Napoleonic Wars, temporarily establishing Rio de Janeiro as the capital of the Portuguese Empire.

Independence

  • 1822: Brazil declares independence from Portugal and becomes an empire, with Dom Pedro I as its first emperor.
  • 1888: Slavery is abolished, leading to mass migration from the countryside to cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
  • 1889: The monarchy is overthrown. A republic is established with a federal constitution and the presidency as the head of government.

20th century

  • 1917: Although Brazil remains neutral during the early years of World War I, Brazil declare war on Germany after unrestricted German submarine activity sinks several Brazilian merchant ships.
  • 1930: Getúlio Vargas comes to power in a coup, leading to the Vargas Era (1930–1945), characterised by a populist government, labour reforms, and an authoritarian regime during the final eight years.
  • 1932: The Constitutionalist Revolution was an armed uprising in São Paulo, Brazil, against President Getúlio Vargas's centralisation of political power and the dissolution of state governments. Although ultimately defeated, the revolution contributes to drafting and implementing a new constitution in 1934, which partially addresses the demands of the Paulistas.
  • 1942: During World War II, Brazil is initially a neutral country but eventually joins the Allies in 1942. Throughout the war, Brazil's economy booms due to increased demand for its agricultural and industrial products.
  • 1958: Brazil wins the FIFA World Cup. It will go on to win four more times: 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002.
  • 1964: A military coup takes place, leading to a dictatorship that lasts several decades. During this time, the government suppresses political opposition, censors the media, and commits human rights abuses. However, the dictatorship also sees significant economic growth, with Brazil becoming one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
  • 1985: Miltary rule ends as Brazil begins to transition to democracy. Since then, Brazil has remained a democratic country, with several presidents from different political parties occupying office. 
  • 1988: Brazil enacts a new constitution that limits presidential powers.
  • 1994: The Plano Real is introduced. This is a set of economic measures aimed at stabilising Brazil's economy and curbing hyperinflation. The plan's success leads to significant economic growth, increased foreign investment and better living standards for millions of Brazilians.

21st century

  • In the early 21st century, Brazil experiences significant economic growth but struggles with income inequality and corruption. The Brazilian economy booms and social programmes are expanded.
  • 2002: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula, wins presidential elections to lead the first left-wing government in over 40 years.
  • 2008: A bid to legalise abortion is rejected in Brazil. 
  • 2010: Brazil formally approves the construction of a controversial hydroelectric dam in the Amazon rainforest, expected to be the world's third largest.
  • 2013: Mass protests erupt nationwide over issues such as poor public services, corruption, and police violence.
  • 2014: The Car Wash investigation, a large-scale anti-corruption probe, uncovers a massive graft scheme involving Brazil's political and business elites, including bribery, kickbacks and money laundering. The investigation leads to the conviction and imprisonment of numerous high-profile figures, including former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and exposes widespread corruption in the Brazilian political system.
  • 2016: Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is convicted of corruption, leading to far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro's rise as president in 2018.
  • 2020: The first Covid-19 case is detected in Brazil. To date, there have been more than 37 million infections of Covid-19 in Brazil and nearly 700,000 Covid-19-related deaths.
  • 2020: Bolsonaro's controversial policies and handling of the Covid-19 pandemic leads to widespread criticism and protests.
  • 2022: Brazilians re-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as president, with 50.9 percent of the vote, in the second round of the presidential elections.

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