Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 km. It is bordered on the north by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the French overseas region of French Guiana; on the northwest by Colombia; on the west by Bolivia and Peru; on the southwest by Argentina and Paraguay and on the south by Uruguay. Numerous archipelagos form part of Brazilian territory, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz. It borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and occupies 47 percent of the continent of South America.
Brazil was inhabited by numerous tribal nations prior to the landing of explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500, who claimed the area for Portugal. Brazil remained a Portuguese colony until 1808, when the capital of the empire was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro after French forces led by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Portugal. In 1815, it was elevated to the rank of kingdom upon the formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Its independence was achieved in 1822 with the creation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. The country became a presidential republic in 1889, when a military coup d'état proclaimed the Republic, although the bicameral legislature, now called Congress, dates back to the ratification of the first constitution in 1824. An authoritarian military junta had led the nation from 1964 until 1985. Brazil's current Constitution, formulated in 1988, defines it as a federal republic. The Federation is composed of the union of the Federal District, the 26 states, and the 5,564 municipalities.
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