Being the largest country in both Latin America and South America, most people think that Brazilian people speak Spanish in general. Brazil has always been on my bucket list and I have always been wanting to visit this vibrant country one day, along with Ecuador.
I’ve been stalking this country for quite some time and if someone would have asked me about what language is spoken in Brazil, I was certain it’s Spanish. Surprisingly, among the more than 212 million people living in Brazil, 99 percent are native Portuguese speakers.
There are even more people who speak Portuguese in Sau Paolo, Brazil alone with 12 million speakers than in Portugal which has roughly 10 million speakers. Furthermore, Portuguese is also the official language of some African and Asian countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome, and Principe, East Timor, Cape Verde, and even the Chinese autonomous territory of Macau.
It is in fact ironic that Brazil shares borders with Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, and many other Spanish-speaking countries.
So, I took a quick digging into history to get some insights on why the largest country in South America speaks a different language among its peers.
Colonialism and EmpiresIt all starts back when Christopher Columbus set sail for the Atlantic and discovered the New World. Spain then rushed over to explore and conquer it before any other country had the chance to – specifically Portugal. In fear that Portugal might also be trying to conquer South America, Spain signed a treaty with Portugal in 1494 giving Portugal all lands east of the demarcation line and Spain all lands west.
The treaty allowed Spain to colonize most of Latin America, which is the reason why these countries speak Spanish as their official language. On the other hand, the Portuguese got the east coast of Brazil but didn’t think much about it until around 1530 when the colonization actually started. In the 16th century, there was a large demand for sugar in the world and Portugal’s new colony, which is Brazil, was in abundance of it.
Because of this, Brazil was able to compete with other major empires in the world and found itself in need of much bigger land.
Inland expeditions led to the discovery of gold in Brazil
Later, the Gold Rush occurred which helped Brazil expand even more pushing its borders farther and farther west past the demarcation line is drawn by Spain in the 15th century.
On September 7, 1822, Brazil declared its independence from Portugal and has continued growing since. European Portuguese vs Brazilian Portuguese Comparing Portuguese spoken in Europe and Portuguese spoken in Brazil is like comparing European Spanish to Latin American Spanish. According to history, the European Portuguese has some of its roots from its natives, African slaves, and European immigrants.
Generally, both European and Brazilian Portuguese are similar in terms of most words, tenses, grammar, and vocabulary.
Pronunciation and accent, however, tend to be slightly different from each another.
Though it is the only Latin American country with Portuguese as its official tongue, Brazil is an incredibly diverse country. It is the first country in South America to host the Summer Olympics. Moreover, Brazil has the largest GDP in all of the Latin American countries