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Christ watches over the city
The other landmark is the around 130 foot (40 m) tall statue of Christ that stands on top of the approx. 2,300 foot (700 m) high Corcovado rocks to the west of the Sugar Loaf with his arms stretched out over the city. A winding road through a section of ancient rain forest and a rack railway reach the top. The mountain ridge from which the Corcovado rises separates the southern part of the planned rich suburb of Barra da Tijuca from the northerly National Park da Tijuca.
Rio de Janeiro owes its stunning beauty to its position on the west- ern shore of the wide Guanabara Bay, at the foot of the slopes of the Morros, and the foothill of the Brazilian mountains that is covered in lush vegetation.
This surely also impressed the Portuguese discoverer, Andre Gon-calves when he entered Gunanabara Bay on New Year's Day 1502. He mistakenly imagined there to be a river and named it Rio de Janeiro or "January River." Because the bay is an ideal natural harbor Goncalo Coelho built a Portuguese settlement at Urea, the hill below the Sugar Loaf. The first foundations of Cidade de Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro were laid in 1565 in the place that is now the center of the city.
Brazil
When gold was found in the early eighteenth century at the Gerais mines to the south of present-day Brasilia it led to a wave of immigration from Europe. The town quickly grew beyond its walls and replaced Bahia as the colonial capital in 1763. The gold mines were soon exhausted but after a short economic downturn the country turned to exporting coffee. When the Portuguese Royal family fled here to escape Napoleon in 1808 the colony grew even faster. New buildings were constructed, old ones were restored, new streets were driven through the town, and the public water supply was extended.

Brazil shares a border with almost every other country in South America--only Chile and Ecuador are untouched--and covers almost half the continent. It is the fifth largest country in the world, behind Russia, Canada, China, and the U.S.A., with an area of eight and a half million square kilometers.
Despite its vast expanse of territory, Brazil's population is concentrated in the major cities of its coast. The urban sprawls of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo dominate the southern coast. Further north, towns such as Salvador and João Pessoa retain the colonial atmosphere of the early Portuguese settlers. The great interior, much of which is covered by the rainforest basin of the Amazon, remains sparsely settled.

Portuguese Discoveries (1487-1497) 
In the 15th and 16th centuries Portugal, an Iberian Kingdom with barely a million inhabitants, was hemmed in by the Atlantic in front and by a hostile Castile behind. After years of struggle against the Moorish occupation, the Portuguese turned their attention and energy to the sea and what lay beyond. While the Spaniards set out in search of a route to the Orient by voyaging to the West, the Portuguese opted for the so-called Southern Cycle down the African coast. Reaching the Cape of Good Hope in 1487, they were led by the navigator, Vasco da Gama, across the Indian Ocean to discover the sea route to the Far East in 1497. They knew of the existence of lands across the Atlantic and they had made several expeditions to the West before Columbus discovered the Antilles in 1492, but they had kept the knowledge to themselves in order to forestall the ambitions of Spain, England, and France. For a small nation, secrecy was the only available method of safeguarding the rewards of bold and successful exploration against exploitation by more powerful maritime rivals. 
Brazil
The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) settled the question of possession of the new lands between Spain and Portugal. It was agreed that territories lying east of a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands should belong to Portugal, the lands to the west to Spain. This imaginary line, from pole to pole, cut through the eastern- most part of the South American continent and constituted Brazil's first frontier, although the formal discovery by Pedro Alvares Cabral did not take place until six years later in 1500
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