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An authoritarian military junta came to power in 1964 and ruled until 1985, after which civilian governance resumed.
Brazil's current constitution, formulated in 1988, defines it as a democratic federal republic.
Some of the earliest human remains found in the Americas, Luzia Woman, were found in the area of Pedro Leopoldo, Minas Gerais and provide evidence of human habitation going back at least 11,000 years.
The earliest pottery ever found in the Western Hemisphere was excavated in the Amazon basin of Brazil and radiocarbon dated to 8,000 years ago (6000 BC).
Freedom of the press disappeared and elections were controlled by those in power.
Brazil was inhabited by numerous tribal nations prior to the landing in 1500 of explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed the area for the Portuguese Empire.
Brazil remained a Portuguese colony until 1808, when the capital of the empire was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro.
The ratification of the first constitution in 1824 led to the formation of a bicameral legislature, now called the National Congress.
The country became a presidential republic in 1889 following a military coup d'état.