A million and a half people live in Brazil’s remote capital, Brasilia. The site was deliberately selected because it was thought that Brazil would never attain its fated greatness unless it ventured away from the comforts of the coast, particularly Rio de Janeiro. The high plain of the area, the planalto, presents a flat landscape with agreeable weather year-round. The city was built in three years and dedicated in 1960, a planned capital in almost every detail.
Government buildings are spaced far from each other and the city is tracked by highways. The highways are laid out with as few intersections as possible to permit a continuous traffic flow. It is not a place for walking for there are few sidewalks.
The city is remote from other Brazilian cities; it is 450 miles from Belo Horizonte, and Rio de Janeiro is nineteen hours away by bus.
A royal decree expels those of Jewish extraction from Spain. Brazil Metro Map Many go underground, and some migrate to Spanish colonies in the Western Hemisphere. In August, Brazil Metro Map Christopher Columbus begins his voyage across the Atlantic. On October 12, he reaches land at what is now Watling’s Island in the Bahamas. Columbus is convinced that he is near the Asian coast, as he has significantly underestimated the earth’s circumference in his calculations. He names the island San Salvador and claims it in the name of God and the Spanish Crown. Kidnapping some of the Taino natives he encounters, as well as taking flora and fauna samples from his explorations in the immediate region around the Bahamas (including Hispaniola, meaning Spanish Isle), Columbus and his crew sail for Europe. 1493 Christopher Columbus arrives in Portugal in March. Ferdinand and Isabella reward Columbus by naming him Admiral of the Ocean Sea and governor of the islands he has discovered. They grant him a share in all the wealth he might find in the region.
Columbus organizes a larger expedition to return to Hispaniola. He establishes a permanent Spanish colony there, although relations quickly deteriorate between the Spanish soldiers and the Taino natives. Columbus returns to Spain, leaving an interim governor in his place. The problems between the Spanish and natives continue, but diseases introduced by the Spanish are already taking their toll on the native population. Where the population in early 1492 was estimated to have been over 5 million, by 1540, only a few thousand Taino will remain on Hispaniola. Adding to the natives’ troubles will be the encomienda, a grant from the Crown of land and native labor that will first be made to Columbus in 1499. Over time, this practice will become prevalent in the Spanish colonial empire and will be the source of much misery and hardship for natives, who will become essentially enslaved by Spanish encomenderos.
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