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Portuguese colonization of the Americas

Portugal was the leading country in the European exploration of the world in the 15th century. The Treaty of Tordesillas split the New World into Spanish and Portuguese zones in 1494.

Explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral landed on April 22, 1500 in what is today Porto Seguro, Brazil. Permanent habitation did not begin until São Vicente was founded in 1532 although temporary trading posts were established earlier to collect brazilwood, used as a dye. With permanent settlement came the establishment of the sugar cane industry and its intensive labor demands which were met with Indian and later African slaves. The capital, Salvador, was established in 1549 at the Bay of All Saints. The first Jesuits arrived the same year.

In 15651567 Mem de Sá led Portuguese to destroy the 10 year old French colony at the Bay of Rio de Janeiro. He then founded the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Between 1638 and 1640 the Netherlands came to control almost half of Brazil, with their capital in Recife. The Portuguese win a significant victory in the battle of Guararapes in 1649. By 1654, the Netherlands has surrendered and returned control of all Brazilian land to the Portuguese.

See also: European colonization of the Americas, Portugal in the period of discoveries