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Pedro II and the Brazilian Empire, A Changing Economy

Brazilian economy, southeastern Brazil, Janeiro, Great Depression, sugar

The 1840s also mark the emergence of coffee cultivation, which became the engine of economic growth that transformed Brazil during the next century. Like sugar, coffee was not native to the Americas, but had been transported there from its place of origin in Africa. Cultivation spread through the fertile valleys near Rio de Janeiro in the 1820s and 1830s. During the next century, coffee cultivation also spread rapidly in the area north and west of Rio, in southern Minas Gerais and, most prominently, in the province of Sao Paulo. The rapid expansion of coffee fields quickly made Brazil the world’s leading exporter, a position it continues to hold today. Revenue generated by coffee drove the Brazilian economy until the Great Depression of the 1930s caused the collapse of national economies around the world. Coffee established southeastern Brazil—principally the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and Sao Paulo—as the economic and political core of the nation.

In 1839 the discovery of vulcanization—a processes that stabilizes products manufactured from rubber—caused rapid financial growth in the frontier towns of the Brazilian forests, where rubber was harvested from the sap of trees native to the area. Brazil produced the vast majority of the world’s rubber until early in the 1900s, when the British used smuggled seeds to establish more efficient plantations in East Asia.

Article key phrases:

Brazilian economy, southeastern Brazil, Janeiro, Great Depression, sugar, place of origin, area north, Revenue, East Asia, century, Americas, vast majority, processes, Africa, position, area, products


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