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Brazil is a federal republic located in east central South America. The largest country in South America, Brazil is bounded on the north by Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, and French Guiana; on the northwest by Colombia; on the east by the Atlantic Ocean; on the south by Uruguay, and on the west by Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru. Prior to contact with Europeans, Brazil was home to many indigenous tribal nations. European explorers began coming to the region in 1499, and in 1500, Portugese explorers claimed Brazil for Portugal. Brazil remained a Portugese colony until 1808, when Napoleon I's invasion of Portugal forced King John VI to flee to Brazil, where he made Rio de Janeiro the capital of the Portugese Empire. In 1815, Brazil became part of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarve. In 1822, Pedro I, King John VI's son, declared Brazil a separate empire, and in August 1825, Portugal recognized Brazilian independence. Failure in war against Argentina and increased unpopularity forced Pedro I to abdicate in 1831 in favor of his son Pedro II. Pedro II would govern Brazil as an empire until 1889. Under Pedro II's rule, Brazil would abolish the slave trade in 1850, and in 1871, enacted legislation for the gradual abolition of slavery.

Webster's New Geographical Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1988), 170-71; Courtlandt Canby, The Encyclopedia of Historic Places (New York: Facts on File, 1984), 1:119-20.