Brazil Independence Day

brazil independency timeline with events that led to this day

Hello, everyone! How are you doing? Ready for a Dica filled with history and culture? Today will be all about the national day of Brazil! You’ll learn everything about one of the most important days in Brazilian history: the Independence Day of Brazil. Do you know when the country gained independence from Portugal? We’ll take a look at the history of this day, the Brazil independence war, the people involved, and how it is currently celebrated. Do you know who declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal? Check it out, and be ready to say “Happy Independence Day’’ on September 7th in Portuguese! And happy Independence Day, Brazil!

History of Brazilian Independence

Did you know that, for a while, Brazil was home to the capital of Portugal? But who declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal? Come read more about this incredible part of Brazilian history, and learn Portuguese while also learning about our culture!

What was Brazil like before its independence?

Brazil was discovered by Portugal in 1500, and it became part of the Royal Portuguese Colonial Empire (which was the first and most powerful colonial empire in the world!). The country was very important for Portugal’s economy, because it provided them with wood, food, and even gold.

During the French Revolution, Napoleon ordered other countries in Europe to close their ports to British ships. At that time Portugal had a trade treaty with England, so they refused to follow Napoleon’s orders. He then decided to invade and conquer Portugal, and the Royal Family had to seek refuge in Brazil.

When the Royal Family arrived in Brazil in 1808, they took the first step towards independence. King João VI opened trade at the Brazilian ports for several nations around the world, creating many new commercial opportunities. This was known as the primeiro grito de independência (”first cry for independence”). Back then, Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil and João VI started a renovation in the Marvelous City that lasted until 1815. Rio stopped being an exploration zone and became the political and economic center of the country.

In 1821 King João VI returned to Portugal and ruled Brazil from a distance with some help of the British Crown. Many people were dissatisfied with British interference and demanded the return of the king. He sent his son Dom Pedro de Alcântara (Pedro I) instead, who then became the prince regent and ruler of Brazil.

When is Brazil’s Independence Day?

It was officially proclaimed on September 7th 1822 by the Portuguese prince Pedro I, on the banks of the Ipiranga river, in São Paulo. At that time, Brazil’s economy was in a bad condition, and its industry was hardly developed.

Who declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal?

prince pedro i from portugal, emperor of brazil
Portrait of D. Pedro I (1826) from Simplício Rodrigues de Sá.

As prince regent and ruler of Brazil, Pedro I lowered the taxes and made the Brazilian military forces as important as the Portuguese ones. This angered Portuguese politicians, and they tried to expel him from Brazil, just like they did to his father. However, after many political fights, Pedro I publicly announced that he planned to stay in Brazil on January 9th, 1822. This day became known as Dia do Fico (“I Shall Stay” Day).

He then started a pro-independence movement with the aid of Brazilian politicians. As you already know, he finally proclaimed Brazil’s independence from Portugal on September 7th 1822 during a trip to São Paulo. You might not know that this proclamation was immediately followed by an independence war.

There was a Brazilian independence war?

The War of Independence in Brazil, also known as the Brazilian War of Independence, was a significant historical event that led to Brazil’s separation from Portuguese colonial rule and the establishment of the independent Empire of Brazil. It took place from 1822 to 1824 and had various implications for both Brazil and Portugal.

The main parties involved were the Brazilian forces led by Dom Pedro I and the Portuguese loyalists who sought to maintain Portugal’s control over Brazil. The war was essentially a struggle between those who supported Brazilian independence and those who wished to maintain Portuguese colonial rule.

The war began with the famous “Cry of Ipiranga” on September 7, 1822, when Dom Pedro I declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal. Initially, there was resistance from Portuguese loyalists, particularly in the northern regions of Brazil. This is where the war primarily took place in Brazil, especially in regions such as Bahia, Pernambuco, and Maranhão, which served as centers of resistance against Portuguese authority. These regions saw several key battles and skirmishes between Brazilian forces and Portuguese loyalists.

The troops involved in the conflict were a mix of Brazilian militia, irregular forces, and some units of the Portuguese royal army. The Brazilian forces were led by Dom Pedro I, the son of the Portuguese King, who declared Brazil’s independence in 1822. Initially, the Brazilian troops lacked high training or organization, but they managed to leverage their knowledge of the local terrain and the support of the population.

The war was characterized by a series of guerrilla warfare tactics, ambushes, and hit-and-run attacks. The Brazilian forces utilized these tactics effectively to counter the more traditional strategies employed by the Portuguese loyalists. Over time, the Brazilian troops gained experience and began to adopt more conventional military tactics.

Independency War Consequences

Prince Pedro and a cheering crowd in São Paulo after giving the news of the Brazilian independence on 7 September 1822. Painting by François-René Moreaux.

By mid-1823, most of Brazil was under Brazilian control, and in early 1824, the Portuguese garrison in Bahia surrendered, effectively ending the war. On August 29, 1825, they signed the Treaty of Rio de Janeiro, which recognized Brazil’s independence, although some diplomatic negotiations continued beyond this point.

The War of Independence had mixed consequences for both Brazil and Portugal. For Brazil, it resulted in the establishment of the Empire of Brazil with Dom Pedro I as its Emperor. The war facilitated the end of direct Portuguese control and laid the foundation for Brazil’s national identity and political development.

For Portugal, losing Brazil was a significant blow to its colonial empire and its economic resources. The loss of Brazil also contributed to political instability in Portugal, as well as economic challenges.

What happened after Brazil became independent?

If you are wondering what kind of problems plagued Brazil after independence, I can tell you: there were many! A newly independent country the size of a continent for sure had a ton of issues. And it wasn’t because Brazil was free that everything was right: slavery still existed.

Different from neighboring countries, Brazil didn’t became a republic or a democracy after its independence. Since our independence was carried out by Pedro I, he crowed himself as Emperor of Brazil. So, the new Empire needed to pay attention to their unity problems, create new alliances with other countries, and solve its financial issues.

How old is Brazil?

If we take into account the arrival of Portuguese, Brazil is 523 years old in 2023.

How Does Brazil Celebrate Independence Day?

Being a holiday, many Brazilians are released from work every year in Brazil independence date. So it’s common to see families together, having a picnic in places like Quinta da Boa Vista or Bosque da Barra. But there are also other two ways to celebrate: with civil and military parades!

The Independence Day Military Parade

Every year, on September 7, groups go to the streets for the Brazil Independence Day celebration, wearing clothes with the colors of the Brazilian flag. We have a big Military Parade in Brasilia, the capital, with the presence of the President and each city also has its own parade. Here in Rio de Janeiro, for instance, the parade takes place at Centro, at Avenida Presidente Vargas. It’s a parade with lots of music and patriotic spirit and people come from all parts of the city to see.

Military Parade Independence Day in Brazil
Thyago Medeiros, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Independence Day Civic Parade

Another very common tradition on the Independence Day in Brazil is the Civic Parade. It takes place in various areas of the city, counting with the participation of students from all the schools.

In it, students should wear the uniform of their respective school and make artistic performances, with ribbons or juggling acts, to the sound of the music played by the school band. The Civic Parade is a competition between schools to see which one has a prettier presentation. The association of local residents defines the award, which can entail new equipment for the winning school or investments in sports. This is a great opportunity to wish happy independence day in Brazil to your friend!

Vocabulary for Brazil Independence Day

ProclamarTo Proclaim
Príncipe RegenteRegent Prince
Desfile CívicoCivic Parade
Banda EscolarSchool Band

So this is the history and celebrations of Independence Day in Brazil! Did you know there was a Brazil independence war? And did you know who declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal? Are you curious about the places we’ve been talking in this Dica? You can visit some museums with us in a RioLIVE! Activity. Come study with us in our school in Copacabana and learn history while practicing the Portuguese language!

Now tell us how it is in your country. Do you have a celebration like this one? Is it a national holiday? How do you celebrate? Go to our Facebook Page and tell us your story of celebrations.

Happy Independence Day, Brazil!
A big hug from Rio & Learn!

Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Holidays in Brazil
History of Tiradentes
Rio de Janeiro New Year

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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