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A Historical Perspective On Family Life, Aspects Of The Contemporary Family, Perspectives Of The Future

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, with 170 million inhabitants distributed throughout twenty-six states and the Federal District. The official language is Portuguese. When the Portugueses arrived in 1500, there were between two and five million Indians living in the territory. They spoke around one thousand different languages (UnB revista 2001). As frequently happens with those who are colonized, Indians were seen as inferior and became objects of acculturation. However, the Indians' rich languages, costumes, and way of life influenced the new "owners" of the land and their culture.

A native Brazilian family waits to see a doctor at one of few government health clinics available in a remote area of Estado do Rondonia. STEPHANIE MAZE/CORBIS

The Portuguese colonization was marked by depredation. The Portuguese exploited the riches of the land and exported them to Europe. During this period Brazil used slaves from different African countries for the sugar cane trade. Brazilian culture is therefore a peculiar mixture of three peoples— native Indians, Africans, and Portuguese.

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural Aspects