Tomas Pueyo Profile picture
Aug 13 19 tweets 6 min read
Why do Brazilians speak Portuguese and not Spanish?

Because of the rotation of the Earth and the distance between Puerto Rico and Cape Verde:
It's 1494

Just 6 years earlier, in 1488, Portugal discovered a path to the Indian Ocean passing below Africa. If they could establish a trade route to the Indies, they could break the Muslim monopoly on the Silk Road and get crazy rich. But the Spanish want in too...
But just 2 years earlier, in 1492, Spain discovered America while looking for another route to the Indies. Now Portugal wants in too...

After some negotiations, they sign the Treaty of Tordesillas: the eastern path is for Portugal, the western path for Spain.
What will be the limit between the 2 spheres of influence? They settle on the midpoint between Spain's islands in the Caribbean and Portugal's islands on Africa's west coast—Cape Verde.
Move the Caribbean islands or Cape Verde east, or Brazil west, and they would have fallen on the Spanish side and speak Spanish to this day

Alas, this line gives the Brazilian tip of America to Portugal. But they don't know that, because Brazil has not been discovered yet!
In another world, Portugal would have kept its focus on Africa & Asia, and Spain on America for so long that Spain would have reached & conquered Brazil. Hard to fight that after the fact.

But Portugal was about to discover Brazil independently! Because of the Earth's rotation
6 years after Tordesillas, in 1500, the Portuguese stumble upon Brazil without looking for it. How come?

The Volta do Mar
The Portuguese pioneered Atlantic sailing and soon realized the winds and currents were so strong and consistent that the fastest way to travel required a big detour to harness them. For example, coming back from India, it was fastest to go near America
The Portuguese discovered this because they realized the winds and currents formed a "gyre" in the North Atlantic.

They then assumed the inverse was true in the South Atlantic. They were right.
The Portuguese knowledge of winds and currents was so strong that that the 1st time Bartolomeu Dias rounded Africa's tip, he didn't realize he had because he was too far from the coast! He saw the Cape of Good Hope on the way back.
Over time, the Portuguese understood better the winds, currents, and geography of Africa, and started going way into the South Atlantic to round Africa's tip... Until they stumbled upon Brazil.
Brazil was perfect for Portugal:
• On the good side of the Treaty of Tordesillas
• A perfect pit stop for the ships
• Perfect for timber
• They could use their slave trade from Africa to bring slaves into Brazilian plantations
This video gives a chilling sense of the scale of that slave trade:
And why are there gyres in the Atlantic? Because of the rotation of the Earth. It's the Coriolis Force…
So to summarize:
1. Brazil belonged to Portugal's sphere of influence because to define it, Spain and Portugal took the midpoint between Cape Verde and Spain's Caribbean islands in the Treaty of Tordesillas
2. The Earth's rotation causes the Coriolis force, which causes the Atlantic gyres, which made it useful for ships from Europe to Asia to pass by Brazil on their way below Africa's tip
In other words, Brazilians speak Portuguese and not Spanish because Brazil fell in Portugal's sphere of influence due to the distance between the Caribbean and Cape Verde; and Portugal found Brazil and needed it because of the Atlantic gyres caused by the rotation of the Earth.
I'll publish next week 2 articles, a brief history of Spain, and a brief history of Portugal. Follow me to get them, or sign up to my newsletter
If you want a taste of it, you can head to my article or thread about France

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Jul 22
There are few threats of total human extermination:
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2. An alien civilization
3. A misaligned Artificial General Intelligence

Only #3 is possible in the next decades, and 2 new facts make it even more probable (scary!):
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Both went on to have a political revolution a few decades later. These 2 facts are connected.
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1. Ppl think it's bad to live forever

But if you ask it in a different way:
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Luckily, it works very well even if you start before 50, and you can even gain some years if you start at 80:
The actual data is this, I simplified the first graph for legibility.
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