In 1997, Brazilian President, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, center, and Portuguese President, Jorge Sampaio, left, speak with children during the Brazilian Independence Day parade in Brasilia, Sunday Sept. 7, 1997. Sampaio was on a three-day state visit to Brazil including visits to the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres).

The Rio Olympics opening ceremony used dance, choreography and a large mechanical wheel to draw attention to the nation’s history dating back to when Portuguese colonists arrived on the nation’s shores around 1500.

The colonists from Portugal were in desperate pursuit of a red wood called Pau Brazil that led to the name of the nation and became a harbinger of large-scale deforestation centuries later. Sugarcane, gold and precious metals later became hot commodities as the African slave trade arrived. Middle Eastern merchants and Japanese immigrants began arriving in the in 1800s and 1900s, contributing to the diversity of the nation. 

Portuguese rule ended in 1822, at which point Brazil became a self-ruled monarch. The monarchy ended in 1889. The country celebrates Independence Day on Sept. 7 and Republic Day on Nov. 15 to mark the historic shifts in government in 1822 and 1889.

Military and Civilians parade on Brazil Independence Day, on September 7, 2014, in Sao Paulo. Photo by Fabio Vieira/Fotoarena/Sipa USA 

That doesn’t mean there aren’t barriers between the two nations. Residents of both nations like to crack jokes about each other, and many Brazilians find it nearly impossible to understand the language when they visit cities like Lisbon.