People probably first came to Brazil in around 10,000BC. They were "hunter-gatherers", working in groups to hunt animals and fish from nearby rivers. By 1,000BC some people had begun to farm, making pottery and baskets, living in simple huts and sleeping in hammocks, but others continued the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Discovery by Europeans

Brazil was discovered in January 1500 by a Spanish navigator called Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, who had previously sailed with Columbus. However, a few months later, a Portuguese fleet arrived, led by Pedro Álvares Cabral, and said that Brazil now belonged to Portugal. For this reason, the main language of Brazil is still Portuguese.

Brazil as a country controlled by Portugal

During the 1500s and 1600s (the 16th and 17th centuries), a lot of goods were grown and exported to Europe, such as tobacco, cotton and especially sugar. Most of the work was done by slaves, brought over from Africa. (Slavery wasn't banned until 1888).

However, in 1695 gold was found and during the 18th century (the 1700s) many people from Portugal moved to Brazil to get rich. Some people now say that the yellow part of the Brazilian flag represents the gold that was found there.

Freedom from Portugal

Between 1808 and 1821 the Portuguese king and most of the government were moved to Brazil because they were afraid that Napoleon was going to invade Portugal. When King João VI returned to Portugal, he left his son Pedro in charge, but a year later Pedro decided that he would stay in Brazil and that Brazil should no longer be ruled over by Portugal. The War of Independence lasted from February 1822 to November 1823 - over a year and a half!

Democracy in Brazil

Since 1964 Brazil has been ruled by a dictatorship, which means the government could tell you what to do. In 1985 a new government came to power and now the people of Brazil can vote on things they feel are important. People being allowed to vote is called a democracy.