There are essentially three major landscapes in Brazil. Two of these landscapes are determined by mountain ranges, which together make up about 60% of the country’s area: The Guiana Mountains in the north and the Brazilian Mountains in the south.
Between the two lies the Amazon lowland (Amazonia), which covers 40% of the country’s area and is formed by over 1,100 tributaries of this second longest and most water-rich river on earth.
In the mountains of Guiana and Venezuela, a table mountain formation, rises the highest mountain in the country, the Pico da Neblina (3,014 m). The mountains are covered with savannahs and grasslands. The flora and fauna found here are completely different from those in the neighboring Amazon region.
In the south you can find the Brazilian highlands, characterized by plateaus ( Planaltos), in which the capital Brasília is located. The mountains in the north-west are drained via numerous rapids towards the Amazon, while in the eastern mountains there are deep valleys alternating with wide basins and high mountains. The highest point in the Brazilian mountains is the 2,890 m high Pico da Bandeira. On average, the mountain range reaches heights of 500 m to 1,000 m above sea level. Some of the mountain groups drop steeply towards the Atlantic.
The coastal strip on the Atlantic is about 80 km wide and offers space for beautiful sandy beaches with white, fine sand and coconut palms. Beach ridges limit the coast of the mountainous country, behind the ramparts the rivers that come from the mountainous country form lagoon-like lakes with mangrove swamps.
In the west, on the border with Bolivia, the Pantanal (“swamp”) spreads out. This lowland, through which Paraguay flows, is one of the largest wetlands on earth. It covers an area of 100,000 square kilometers and is regularly inundated by the water masses of Paraguay in the rainy season between May and September.
The area of the Amazon lowlands makes up about 40% of the country’s area, with most of the total area of 5.8 million square kilometers in Brazil. But Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia also have a share in the area generally known as “Amazonia”. The part on the Brazilian side rises to a maximum height of 150 m above sea level and is dominated by tropical rainforests.
In 1500 the Portuguese Pedro Alvares Cabral landed on the Brazilian coast and occupied Brazil on behalf of Portugal. He first named the country Veracruz (“Land of the True Holy Cross”), but from 1511 the name “Brazil” became established. The native Indians were almost exterminated, and with the Portuguese now lacking cheap labor on the sugar cane plantations, the Viceroyalty of Brazil took slaves from its African colonies of Angola and Guinea. In 1629 the Dutch managed to settle in the sugar-growing area. Their capital became “Pernambuco” ( Recife), whose buildings in the Dutch style are still preserved today. But long battles with the Portuguese finally forced the Dutch to leave Brazil again in 1654. In 1696, gold, diamond and semi-precious stone discoveries in the region of the Brazilian mountains caused many new settlers to leave Portugal and seek their fortune in Brazil. At that time, many mines were created, in which the country’s mineral resources were extracted and brought wealth to their owners. When Napoleon began to conquer Europe, the Portuguese King John I fled to Brazil and established his royal court in Rio de Janeiro by 1821 . After Napoleon had averted the danger and the king returned to Portugal, the Brazilian people rose. On September 7th, 1822 it declared itself an independent empire. Peter I, eldest son of the Portuguese king, was as Don Pedro I. proclaimed emperor. In 1825 the mother country Brazil had to recognize it as an independent state. Under his son, Pedro II,Brazil experienced an intellectual, artistic and economic boom. It got rich by exporting its coffee, and millions of immigrants were drawn back to the country. In 1888 slavery was abolished. The monarchy ended in a coup in 1889 and the republic was proclaimed. Pedro II went back to Europe. Military dictatorships, border disputes and the collapse of the coffee market in 1929 brought the country an economically and politically confused time. Since 1929 attempts to establish a democratic state have alternated with military coups and dictatorships. Special mention should be made of Getúlio Vargas’ attempt to create a new state, an “Estado Novo”. Another innovator was Guscelino Kubitschek,
Flora and fauna
The rainforest of the Amazon lowlands forms the largest contiguous forest area on earth, stretching from the Amazon estuary to the slopes of the Andes. Over 250 species of mammals and around 2,000 species of birds live here. The always moist habitat is ideal for amphibians and reptiles of all kinds. The largest big cats that live here are jaguars and puma. Another type of “predator” is the piranha, which occurs in schools and has very sharp teeth. Otherwise there is a rich variety of fish, from the electric eel to well-known aquarium fish.
The number of plant species found in the Amazon is still unknown as new discoveries are made again and again. So far, 2,500 tree species and around 1,000 different fern and orchid species have been found. Visit justinshoes.net for flora and wildlife in South America.
The extreme northeast of the country was also covered with rainforest. This was cleared in order to be able to create sugar cane and cotton plantations. Occasionally you can still see mangroves and palm groves.
The mountainous area is covered with bushes and tree savannah, in which only frugal animals like the anteater and the armadillo can find enough food.
In the southeast, pastures for cattle and coffee plantations were created, the original vegetation can only be found in national parks.