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|Brazil is a major mineral and metal producer, has magnificent fauna and flora, and superb architecture. In 1693 gold was discovered in Ouro Preto and Brazil produced about half of the world's gold. In 1726 diamond was discovered in the region of Tijuco in the Province of Minas Gerais, 150 km east of Bello Horizonte. The country became independence from Portugal in 1822 as the Brazilian Empire. In 1876, an Englishman succeeded in obtaining from the Amazon region seeds of rubber trees and secretly transferred them to England, where they were planted in the royal gardens at Kew. Some of the seedlings which spouted were sent to Ceylon and Singapore. Thus, began the rubber industry in the East. Today, Brazil is the largest producer of niobium, and produces a large number of other metals. The Mineral Research Center in Rio de Janeiro is the countries main Government establishment for mineral research. The country has been a republic since 1889 with its capital in Brazilia.|