It’s no surprise to anyone who knows anything about history that gold was a big draw for colonists coming to the New World. One of the earliest gold rushes that brought people across the ocean and attracted the attention of major world powers was the Brazilian Gold Rush.
At this time Brazil was an integral part of the Portuguese Empire. Back in 1690 when the Brazilian Gold Rush kicked off, Portugal was not a small nation almost surrounded by Spain, but a major world power in possession of one of the largest empires in the world.
This is largely thanks to their early efforts at overseas exploration that predate even the Columbian Contact between the Old World and the New. Indeed, the Portuguese had been colonizing parts of Africa for the better part of a century before Christopher Columbus set sail across the Atlantic.
The Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral first arrived in Brazil in 1500 intending to simply use the land as a trading post, but not to actually create any kind of permanent settlement or society there.
Of course, other factors were luring the Portuguese to the region: The allure of adventure on new and untamed lands — and the women who were there. Native women often greeted explorers in a manner that would seem excessive during the hedonistic days of 1970s rock. The final result was that the Brazilian Gold Rush became the biggest in recorded history.
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