The Federal Republic of Brazil (Republica Federativa do Brasil) consists of 26 states and one Federal District, making it the 5th largest country in the world both in terms of area and population. The country borders every other South American nation except for Ecuador and Chile, and has 7,491 km of Atlantic coastline. The southeast region is the most industrialized and populous with the three main Brazilian cities, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, but since the 1960s the government has instituted programs to encourage migration to the north and west-central regions. The Brazilian economy is among the 10 largest in the world. The massive agricultural sector contributes to international trade, but most of the country’s wealth comes from the service and manufacturing sectors.
On the 22nd April of 1500, the first European expedition landed on the Brazilian coast at Bahia, led by Pedro Alvares Cabral, who named the land “Terra de Vera Cruz“ and claimed it for the Portuguese crown; but only three decades later the colonization of the new lands started with the territory division into “Capitânias Hereditárias”, which constited of 15 strips of land 350 km long from the coast to the countryside. But with the resistance of the local Indians the project failed, and so the Portuguese crown installed a central government and expelled the French from the states of Rio de Janeiro and Maranhão, and later the Dutch from Pernambuco.
During the XVIII century Portugal conquered vast amounts of land from Spain and the Brazilian territory grew fast, its population reaching 70.000 inhabitants, with the most important cities being, Rio de Janeiro, Ouro Preto, Cuiabá, Belém and São Luís.
After decades of conflicts, on 7 September 1822 Dom Pedro I Prince of Portugal declared Brazil an independent country, and became the first King of “Reino Unido do Brasil” (United Kingdom of Brazil), which was first recognized as legitimate by England in exchange for trade advantages and later by Portugal.
By the end of the XIX century Brazil began receiving a large current of migration from Europe, which continued into the World Wars of the XX century. Today the country's population consists mainly of immigrants from Portugal, Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, Ukraine; Arabs most from Lebanon; Japanese (the biggest settlement outside Japan); descendents of African slaves. Indians count for only a few thousand, mainly in the northern states.
Although by the end of the XX century migration had decreased, Brazil continues to receive migrants especially from China, Korea, Argentina and Bolivia.
Brazil is known worldwide for its natural areas, with the Amazon forest and Pantanal swamps as the most important biodiversity sites in the world.
The history of high-rise construction in Brazil started with Jornal do Brasil and Sampaio Moreira and later with Edificio do Jornal A Noite and Prédio Martinelli, and during the military dictatorship the construction of cheap high-rises became common to supply the demand for houses. During the three last decades of the XX century the construction of skyscrapers increased and spread to virtually every big and medium Brazilian city. The most famous buildings in Brazil are Prédio Martinelli, Edifício Itália, Altino Arantes, all located in São Paulo, Brasil’s skyscraper capital.