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     The country’s economic history is marked by a succession of cycles, each of them based on then exploitation of a single export commodity: timber (brazil wood) in the first years of Portuguese colonization; sugarcane in the 16th and 17th centuries; precious metals (gold and silver) and gems (diamonds and emeralds) in the 18th century, and finally coffee. Paralleling these cycles, small scale agriculture and cattle raising were developed for local consumption. Small factories started to be established in mid 19th century. More industrialization took place during the years of World War I, and in the 1930’s, with an extensive industrialization process from the 1950’s to the 1970’s.

     Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of iron and a major exporter of steel. Major manufactured goods include motor vehicles, aircraft, electrical and electronic appliances, textiles, garments and footwear. Brazil is the largest producer of coffee and sugar (from sugar-cane). The production of grains has grown consistently, including wheat, rice, corn and particularly, soybeans.*

* Source: Permanent Mission of Brazil to the OAS.


 Updated: 18 March 2008