Working in the 1950s in some of her earliest research, American Betty Meggers suggested that the society migrated from the Andes and settled on the island.

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The first European to colonize what is now the Federative Republic of Brazil on the continent of South America was Pedro Álvares Cabral (c.1467/1468-c.1520) on April 22, 1500 under the sponsorship of the Kingdom of Portugal.

From the 16th to the early 19th century, Brazil was a colony and a part of the Portuguese Empire.

The country expanded south along the coast and west along the Amazon and other inland rivers from the original 15 donatary captaincy colonies established on the northeast Atlantic coast east of the Tordesillas Line of 1494 (approximately the 46th meridian west) that divided the Portuguese domain to the east from the Spanish domain to the west.

The country's borders were only finalized in the early 20th century.

For this reason, very little is known about the history of Brazil before 1500.

Archaeological remains (mainly pottery) indicate a complex pattern of regional cultural developments, internal migrations, and occasional large state-like federations.At the time of European discovery, the territory of current day Brazil had as many as 2,000 tribes.The indigenous peoples were traditionally mostly semi-nomadic tribes who subsisted on hunting, fishing, gathering, and migrant agriculture.The current most widely accepted view of anthropologists, linguists and geneticists is that the early tribes were part of the first wave of migrant hunters who came into the Americas from Asia, either by land, across the Bering Strait, or by coastal sea routes along the Pacific, or both.The Andes and the mountain ranges of northern South America created a rather sharp cultural boundary between the settled agrarian civilizations of the west coast and the semi-nomadic tribes of the east, who never developed written records or permanent monumental architecture.When the Portuguese arrived in 1500, the Natives were living mainly on the coast and along the banks of major rivers.