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Interpreting the Evidence

Transportation in the Interior of the State of Bahia, Brazil, 1915

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Global History and Geography

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:


  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Transportation in the Interior of the State of Bahia, 1915 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Two riders with packs on a bullock and a small horse in the State of Bahia, Brazil, 1915.
Historical Context
Brazil is a vast country.  Covering almost half of South America, it is the fifth largest country in the world in size and population.  It has the largest rainforest in the world, but also one of the world’s largest cities.  The Portuguese settled the country in the sixteenth century and named it Brasil after the brasilwood tree, which was used to make red dye.  Today, Brazil is a republic with twenty-six states.  It is home to many cultures and a country of contrasts –, rich and poor, industrial and agricultural, urban and rural.

The state of Bahia in the Northeast Region of Brazil was originally the center of colonial life in the Portuguese colonies in the Americas. The explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral landed on the coast of Bahia in 1500 and claimed the territory for Portugal.  Bahia was settled by sugar plantation owners, who enslaved Africans.  Bahia’s capital city, Salvador, was founded in 1549.  It served as the capital of the Portuguese colonies in the Americas until gold was discovered to the south and the increasing importance of mining caused the capital to be moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1763.

Today, Bahia is known as the "Soul of Brazil," because of its blend of African, European, and Indigenous heritage.  The state has Brazil’s largest concentration of people of African descent – seventy percent. Although the plantation system and slavery created a huge gap between the wealthy and the poor that exists to this day, Bahians have a rich cultural tradition and have always played a prominate role in the art, music, and literature of Brazil.
Essential Question
How does geography impact human settlement and economy?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and discuss the impact of geography on development and economy.
Historical Challenges
Research slavery in Brazil. When did it begin, and when did it end? Why were slaves used in Brazil? Which people were used as slaves? How did slavery change Brazil?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: What is the climate like in Bahia? Are the animals in this photograph native to Brazil?
English Language Arts: Many famous Brazilian writers came from Bahia. Who are some of Brazil's famous authors, and what did they write? What percentage of Brazilians today can read?