By Harry Greenbaum
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Additional resources for Brazil (Modern World Nations)
These class differences, which are often the result of unequal educational opportunities, have reduced the productivity of the poor. They are also a major factor in explaining the much lower per-capita national income in Brazil when compared to that of the United States or Canada. A Slave Economy Many Indians suffered after European colonization. Diseases to which the natives had no immunity killed many of the local people. This led the European settlers to import large numbers of slaves from Africa.
Most productive plantations and much of the population were soon located in the northeastern part of the country. Here, a tropical climate with ample rainfall and fertile alluvial soils that were washed down and deposited on the low-lying coastal plain, were ideally suited for the raising of the valuable sugarcane. Brazil has generally had peaceful relations with the rest of the world. During the sixteenth and seventeenth century, however, both the French and the Dutch made many incursions into the country.
As farm plots shifted from time to time, so did the peoples’ villages. This type of farming is known as shifting cultivation. q 2/26/03 11:31 PM Page 31 Brazil Through Time Forestland is cleared and burned, leaving unburned stumps and tree trunks to litter the ground. Crops are scattered randomly amid the debris. Manioc, bananas, sweet potatoes, hot peppers, and perhaps other foods are grown for home use rather than sale. When the land is no longer productive, a new area of rain forest is cleared and the process begins anew.