Brazilian Gold Rush

The Brazilian Gold Rush was a gold rush that started in the 1690s, in the then Portuguese colony of Brazil in the Portuguese Empire. The gold rush opened up the major gold-producing area of Ouro Preto (Portuguese for black gold), then the aptly named Vila Rica (Rich Town).[1] Eventually, the Brazilian Gold Rush created the world's longest gold rush period and the largest gold mines in South America.

The rush began when bandeirantes discovered large gold deposits in the mountains of Minas Gerais.[2] The bandeirantes were adventurers who organized themselves into small groups to explore the interior of Brazil. Many bandeirantes were of mixed indigenous and European background who adopted the ways of the natives, which permitted them to survive in the interior rain forest. While the bandeirantes searched for indigenous captives, they also searched for mineral wealth, which led to the gold being discovered.

More than 400,000 Portuguese and half a million African slaves came to the gold region to mine. Many people abandoned the sugar plantations and towns in the northeast coast to go to the gold region. By 1725, half the population of Brazil was living in southeastern Brazil.

Officially, 850 tons of gold were sent to Portugal in the 18th century. Other gold circulated illegally, and still other gold remained in the colony to adorn churches and for other uses.[3]

The municipality became the most populous city of Latin America, counting on about 40 thousand people in 1730 and, decades after, 80 thousand. At that time, the population of New York was less than half of that number of inhabitants and the population of São Paulo did not surpass 8 thousand.[4]

Minas Gerais was the gold mining center of Brazil. Slave labor was generally used for the workforce.[5] The discovery of gold in the area caused a huge influx of European immigrants and The government decided to bring in bureaucrats from Portugal to control operations. They set up numerous bureaucracies, often with conflicting duties and jurisdictions. The officials generally proved unequal to the task of controlling this highly lucrative industry.[6] In 1830, the St. John d'el Rey Mining Company, controlled by the British, opened the largest gold mine in Latin America. The British brought in modern management techniques and engineering expertise. Located in Nova Lima, the mine produced ore for 125 years.[7]

Brazilian Gold Rush
Ouro Preto November 2009-7
Ouro Preto - Praça Tiradentes in southeastern Brazil where the Brazilian Gold Rush began in 1690s
DateLate 17th-late 19th century
LocationOuro Preto, Minas Gerais, Portuguese colony of Brazil, Portuguese Empire
CauseGold discovered by the bandeirantes in the mountains of Minas Gerais
Participants400,000 Portuguese miners
Brazilian miners
British miners
Other European miners
500,000 African slaves
OutcomeGold rush created the world's longest gold rush period and the largest gold mines in South America

External links

See also


  1. ^ C. R. Boxer, "Brazilian Gold and British Traders in the First Half of the Eighteenth Century," Hispanic American Historical Review (1969) 49#3 pp. 454-472 in JSTOR
  2. ^ "Ouro Preto." The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008. 27 Apr. 2009
  3. ^ "Ouro Preto Ouro Preto". Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  4. ^ Ouro Preto
  5. ^ Kathleen J. Higgins, Licentious Liberty in a Brazilian Gold-Mining Region: Slavery, Gender & Social Control in Eighteenth-Century Sabara, Minas Gerais (1999)
  6. ^ A. J. R. Russell-Wood, "Local Government in Portuguese America. A Study of Cultural Divergence," Comparative Studies in Society & History (1974) 16#2 pp 187-231.
  7. ^ Marshall C. Eakin, British Enterprise in Brazil: The St. John d'el Rey Mining Company & the Morro Velho Gold Mine, 1830-1960 (1990)

The Bandeirantes (Brazilian Portuguese: [bɐ̃dejˈɾɐ̃t(ʃ)is]) were 17th-century Portuguese settlers in Brazil and fortune hunters. This group mostly hailed from the São Paulo region, which was known as the Captaincy of São Vicente until 1709 and then as the Captaincy of São Paulo. They led expeditions called bandeiras (Portuguese, "flags") which penetrated the interior of Brazil far west of the Tordesillas Line of 1494, which officially divided the Castilian, later Spanish, (west) domain from the Portuguese (east) domain in South America.The São Paulo settlement served as the home base for the most famous bandeirantes. Most bandeirantes were descendants of first- and second-generation Portuguese who settled in São Paulo, but their numbers also included many people of mameluco background (people of both European and Indian ancestries). Though they originally aimed to capture and enslave Indians, the bandeirantes later began to focus their expeditions on finding gold, silver, and diamond mines. As they ventured into unmapped regions in search of profit and adventure, they expanded the effective borders of the Brazilian colony.


Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil Portuguese pronunciation: [bɾaˈziw]), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: República Federativa do Brasil, listen ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. The capital is Brasília, and the most populated city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, and the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world.Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 kilometers (4,655 mi). It borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and covers 47.3% of the continent's land area. Its Amazon River basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. This unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, and is the subject of significant global interest and debate regarding deforestation and environmental protection.

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. In 1815, the colony was elevated to the rank of kingdom upon the formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Independence was achieved in 1822 with the creation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. 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. 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. Due to its rich culture and history, the country ranks thirteenth in the world by number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.Brazil is considered an advanced emerging economy. It has the eighth largest GDP in the world by both nominal and PPP measures. It is one of the world's major breadbaskets, being the largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years. It is classified as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank and a newly industrialized country, with the largest share of global wealth in Latin America. Brazil is a regional power and sometimes considered a great or a middle power in international affairs. On account of its international recognition and influence, the country is subsequently classified as an emerging power and a potential superpower by several analysts. Brazil is a founding member of the United Nations, the G20, BRICS, Union of South American Nations, Mercosul, Organization of American States, Organization of Ibero-American States and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

Brazilian Gold

Brazilian gold, first discovered in the late 17th century, has played an important and lasting role in shaping the social, cultural, and economic realities of eastern South America. The initial discovery of gold in the area that is modern-day Brazil led to the longest lasting gold rush in world history, bringing hundreds of thousands of non-indigenous Portuguese and slaves to the area as well as environmental destruction and pollution. The effects from mass migration to the region in the pursuit of riches are some of the biggest formative components of Brazilian culture today. However, along with the opportunity for economic prosperity that gold has offered to some, extensive mining and the processes that accompany purification of the valuable mineral have wreaked havoc on the delicate ecosystem of the Amazon, with large swaths of rainforest leveled and dangerously high levels of mercury deposited in the Amazon River. Despite the negatives, Brazilian gold is still highly sought after and mined by modern-day Brazilian "garimpieros," partly due to the recent resurgence of gold prices making the dangerous and polluting line of work highly profitable.

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men (Pirenópolis)

The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men was a Roman Catholic church located in Pirenópolis, in the Brazilian state of Goiás. It was built between 1743 and 1757 by a fraternity of black men, since Afro-Brazilians were forbidden from attending other local churches. It was demolished in 1944 by order of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Goiás. It was located where today stands the Praça do Coreto, which has a memorial in its honor. Of all the churches in the city, Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men contained the most altars; seven in total. According to journalist Jarbas Jayme, these altars were "artistically carved and of costly and beautiful architecture". Its main altar is now located within the Mother Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and its two lateral altars are now located in the Church of Our Lady of Carmo.

Gold rush

A gold rush is a new discovery of gold—sometimes accompanied by other precious metals and rare earth minerals—that brings an onrush of miners seeking their fortune. Major gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, South Africa and the United States, while smaller gold rushes took place elsewhere.

The wealth that resulted was distributed widely because of reduced migration costs and low barriers to entry. While gold mining itself was unprofitable for most diggers and mine owners, some people made large fortunes, and the merchants and transportation facilities made large profits. The resulting increase in the world's gold supply stimulated global trade and investment. Historians have written extensively about the migration, trade, colonization and environmental history associated with gold rushes.Gold rushes were typically marked by a general buoyant feeling of a "free for all" in income mobility, in which any single individual might become abundantly wealthy almost instantly, as expressed in the California Dream.

Gold rushes helped spur a huge immigration that often led to permanent settlement of new regions. Activities propelled by gold rushes define significant aspects of the culture of the Australian and North American frontiers. At a time when the world's money supply was based on gold, the newly mined gold provided economic stimulus far beyond the gold fields.

Gold rushes extend as far back to the Roman Empire, whose gold mining was described by Diodorus Siculus and Pliny the Elder, and probably further back to ancient Egypt.

Iron Quadrangle

The Iron Quadrangle (Portuguese: Quadrilátero Ferrífero) is a mineral-rich region covering about 7,000 square kilometres (2,700 sq mi) in the central-southern part of the Brazilian state Minas Gerais. The area is known for its extensive deposits of gold, diamonds, and iron ore, being the source of approximately 40% of all gold produced in Brazil between the years 1500 and 2000. The deposits themselves pertain to the Minas Supergroup, a sequence of meta-sedimentary rocks initially formed in the Paleoproterozoic, about 2.5 Ga. In the 2010s, there have been two collapses of large tailings dams, which caused extensive damage and loss of life.

List of World Heritage Sites in Brazil

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972. The Federative Republic of Brazil accepted the convention on 1 September 1977, making its historical sites eligible for inclusion on the list. As of 2017, there are 21 World Heritage Sites in Brazil, including fourteen cultural sites and seven natural sites.The first site in Brazil, the Historic Town of Ouro Preto, was inscribed on the list at the 4th Session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Paris, France in 1980. In 1983, Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis was accepted to the list in a joint bid with Argentina, making it Brazil's first trans-border property. Iguaçu National Park was enlisted in 1986 as the first site selected for its natural significance. Brazil's latest contribution to the World Heritage List, the Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site, was inscribed in 2017.In addition to its inscribed sites, Brazil also maintains twenty-three properties on its tentative list.

List of World Heritage Sites in South America

This is a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South America.

List of commodity booms

This is a list of economic booms created by commodities.

Minas Gerais

Minas Gerais (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈminɐz ʒeˈɾajs]) is a state in the north of Southeastern Brazil. It ranks as the second most populous, the third by gross domestic product (GDP), and the fourth largest by area in the country. The state's capital and largest city, Belo Horizonte, is a major urban and finance center in Latin America, and the sixth largest municipality in Brazil, after the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Brasilia and Fortaleza, but its metropolitan area is the third largest in Brazil with just over 5,500,000 inhabitants, after those of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Nine Brazilian presidents were born in Minas Gerais, the most of any state.With an area of 586,528 square kilometres (226,460 sq mi)—larger than Metropolitan France—it is the fourth most extensive state in Brazil. The main producer of coffee and milk in the country, Minas Gerais is known for its heritage of architecture and colonial art in historical cities such as São João del Rei, Congonhas, Ouro Preto, Diamantina, Tiradentes and Mariana. In the south, the tourist points are the hydro mineral spas, such as Caxambu, Lambari, São Lourenço, Poços de Caldas, São Thomé das Letras, Monte Verde and the national parks of Caparaó and Canastra. The landscape of the State is marked by mountains, valleys, and large areas of fertile lands. In the Serra do Cipó, Sete Lagoas, Cordisburgo and Lagoa Santa, the caves and waterfalls are the attractions. Some of Brazil's most famous caverns are located there. In recent years, the state has emerged as one of the largest economic forces of Brazil, exploring its great economic potential.

Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈoɾu ˈpɾetu], Black Gold), formerly Vila Rica, is a city in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, a former colonial mining town located in the Serra do Espinhaço mountains and designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO because of its outstanding Baroque architecture.

Ouro Preto is located in one of the main areas of the Brazilian Gold Rush.

Officially, 800 tons of gold were sent to Portugal in the eighteenth century, not to mention what was circulated in an illegal manner, nor what remained in the colony, such as gold used in the ornamentation of the churches. The municipality became the most populous city of Latin America, counting on about 40 thousand people in 1730 and, decades after, 80 thousand. At that time, the population of New York was less than half of that number of inhabitants and the population of São Paulo did not surpass 8 thousand.

Pará de Minas

Pará de Minas is a Brazilian municipality located in the state of Minas Gerais.

Portuguese colonial architecture

Portuguese colonial architecture refers to the various styles of architecture that the Portuguese built across the Portuguese Empire. Portuguese colonial Architecture can be found in the plethora of former colonies throughout South America, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Oceania, and East Asia. Many former colonies, especially Brazil, Macau, and India, promote their Portuguese colonial architecture as major tourist attractions.


Quatrocentão (feminine quatrocentona, plural quatrocentões) is a term used to designate members of elite families descendant from the early settlers and explorers of São Paulo. This term was first used in the early 20th century, in the past they were referred to as primeiros povoadores (first settlers) or nobreza da terra (nobility of the land). These families had occupied important positions as governors, military commanders, aldermen and explorers of early colonial South America. They received large land grants from the Portuguese Crown and originated mostly in Portugal and Spain, but some in Flanders and other places in Europe. A portion of the original settlers were noblemen of the Royal House of Portugal. Under the rule of the Habsburgs and the Iberian Union, they were joined by Spanish families, some also of noble origin. The earliest of these settlers married descendants of the Amerindian Chief of Piratininga, Martim Afonso Tibiriçá, and after intermarried frequently among the families in the Genealogia Paulistana, forming an endogamous group. They were first listed in a genealogical study in the 1700s by Pedro Taques de Almeida Paes Leme and last listed in the classical genealogical work Genealogia Paulistana, published in 1905.

The quatrocentões and their ancestors were greatly responsible for the expansion of the Portuguese Empire in South America, at the expense of the Spanish Empire. Also the Brazilian Gold Rush, which had strong repercussion in Europe and in the Americas, the founding of many towns in Minas Gerais such as Ouro Preto, and also the first phase of the Industrialization of São Paulo during the Empire of Brazil. But also for the maintenance of slavery in Brazil, making Brazil the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery in 1888. In the 19th and early 20th century they formed a large portion of the plantation aristocrats and titled nobility of the Empire of Brazil. They became decadent after the financial crisis of 1929, the rise of new wealthy immigrants and the Revolution of 1932, that they lost against Getulio Vargas, ironically a descendant of these early settlers of São Paulo. Quatrocentões are a polarizing group in Brazilian history, praised by some and blamed by others for their actions during the course of Brazilian history.

Although no longer existing as a strong social group, one can still find among modern descendants of the early settlers of São Paulo many businessmen and members of the political elite in Brazil and elsewhere, both left-wing and right-wing. They include presidents of Brazil; Brazilian senators, deputies and governors; the current Royal Family of Sweden; a branch of the princes of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg and some members of the House of Orléans (Orléans-Braganza branch).

Timeline of Brazilian history

This is a timeline of Brazilian history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Brazil and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Brazil.

Timeline of Portuguese history

This is a timeline of Portuguese history.

Timeline of Portuguese history (Fourth Dynasty)

This is a historical timeline of Portugal.

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