Culture, History & Politics of Brazil

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  • 0:00 History of Brazil
  • 1:25 Politics of Brazil
  • 2:05 Culture of Brazil
  • 3:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson will discuss Brazil, specifically its history, politics, and culture. It will highlight the influence of Portugal and the Catholic faith as well as Brazil's love of soccer.


If you follow international soccer, you most likely know a bit about Brazil. It's one of the sport's greatest powerhouses! We're talking seriously impressive! However, there's way more to Brazil than just soccer. To learn more about this South American country, let's take a brief look at its history, its culture, and its politics.

We'll kick things off with history. Like most of Latin America, Brazil's history has been molded by colonization, specifically colonization by Portugal. Going back in the pages of history, Portugal began colonizing Brazil in the 16th century. From this point on, the Amerindians, or the native South American Indians of the land, had European rule thrust upon them. Rather than living freely, many of the native tribes found themselves either completely wiped out or laboring on European-owned sugarcane plantations or in European-owned gold mines.

Having their fill of outside rule, the 18th century saw the people of Brazil seeking independence from the yoke of Europe. This definitely didn't come easily, but in the early 19th century, Brazil became an independent nation. Rather than being ruled by a European crown, they came under the rule of Brazilian royalty. In the late 19th century, the country took another leap forward when they displaced their monarchy and became a federal republic. Stated simply, a federal republic is a group of states under one central government. With this definition, we move onto the politics of Brazil.


Although Brazil became a federal republic in the late 19th century, its political climate has definitely not been one of smooth sailing. Its modern history has been marked with some pretty tumultuous times as military dictators have fought against those seeking democracy.

Giving democracy a leg up, the late 1970s and early '80s saw Brazil's military government begin the process of democratization. Taking a giant leap forward, the people of Brazil removed military rule and elected their first civilian president in the late '80s. Like all new democracies, Brazil has definitely struggled, but in the past decades, its political world has become more stabilized. Today Brazil operates under a constitution with an executive, legislative, and judicial branch.

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