From 1889 to 1930, the government was a constitutional democracy, with the presidency alternating between the dominant states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. This period ended with a military coup that placed Getulio Vargas, a civilian, in the presidency; Vargas remained as dictator until 1945. From 1945 to 1961, Eurico Dutra, Vargas, Juscelino Kubitschek, and Janio Quadros were elected presidents. When Quadros resigned in 1961, he was succeeded by Vice President Joao Goulart.
Goulart's years in office were marked by high inflation, economic stagnation, and the increasing influence of radical political elements. The armed forces, alarmed by these developments, staged a coup on March 31, 1964. The coup leaders chose as president Humberto Castello Branco, followed by Arthur da Costa e Silva (1967-69), Emilio Garrastazu Medici (1968-74), and Ernesto Geisel (1974-79) all of whom were senior army officers. Geisel began a liberalization which was carried further by his successor, Gen. JoÆo Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo (1979-85). Figueiredo not only permitted the return of politicians exiled or banned from political activity during the 1960s and 1970s but also allowed them to run for state and federal offices in 1982. Brazil's history prior to becoming an independent country in 1822 is intertwined mainly with that of Portugal. Unlike the other viceroyalties of Latin America, which divided into twenty countries upon attaining independence, the Viceroyalty of Brazil became a single nation, with a single language transcending all diversities and regionalisms. Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking Latin American country, and its Luso-Brazilian culture differs in subtle ways from the Hispanic heritage of most of its neighbors. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, millions of Italians, Germans, Arabs, Japanese, and other immigrants entered Brazil and in various ways altered the dominant social system. Their descendants, however, are nearly all Portuguese-speaking Brazilians.
Except for a small indigenous Indian population, Brazilians are one people, with a single culture.