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ACRE - History
Acre is in the western extreme of Brazil, in the middle of the Amazon forest. The long distances from the coast, the wild forest and the non-existance of a resource to be economically explored caused that the settlement of the area was delayed for several centuries.
According to the Treaty of Tordesillas, the area of Acre belonged to Spain; because of the difficulties, however, the Spanish Crown didn´t have much interest in the area, either, until the 18th century. The
visited the area and established a few settlements. The Treaties of Madrid (1750) and Santo Ildefonso (1777), which adopted the uti possidetis (the land would belong to the country which settled it), recognized the boundaries of the Portuguese possessions as being the basins of rivers Guaporé and Madeira (Eastern from the current borders).
Even with the possession, neither the Portuguese nor the independent Brazil (after 1822) were motivated to develop the area until around the middle of the 19th century. In 1839, the American Charles Goodyear discovered the process of vulcanization of rubber, which allowed its use in vehicle tires; the rubber trees, which were explored only in low scales, became a huge factor of attraction to a large part of the Amazon forest, including Acre.
The extraction of the rubber from the trees was a manual process, requiring large amounts of human work. Many Brazilians migrated to Acre, but, in particular, the cearenses (people from the
Brazilian State of Ceará, who faced a prolongued drought period from 1877 through 1880, moved in hordes to Acre.
The sudden valorization of the rubber called the attention from the Bolivians, who claimed the possession of the area; in 1867, Brazil and Bolivia signed the Treaty of Ayacucho, to define the borders. However, technical difficulties (to phisically determine the boundaries determined by the treaty) and the impetus of the rubber explorers caused that the Brazilian settlements penetrated well inside Bolivian land.
Years of political disputes followed. In 1900, the Brazilian government recognized the Bolivian soveregnity on parts of Acre. However, the Brazilian population which inhabited those parts rebelled against the Bolivian government, and proclaimed the independent Republic of Acre (with the declared intention of, later on, be anexed to Brazil); the Republic lasted only eight months, being extinguished by the Brazilian government. The Bolivians took over again, but still had to handle with the rebels.
In the first years of the 20th century, there were military combats between Bolivia and Brazil. On November 17th of 1903, a Brazilian diplomatic team led by the Baron of Rio Branco (after whom the capital city of Acre was nominated) signed the Treaty of Petropolis; Brazil acquired Acre from Bolivia, paying about two million sterling pounds; furthermore, small areas in the States of Amazonas and Mato Grosso would be given to Bolivia. The law nr. 1181, from February 25th 1904, created the Territory of Acre, as part of the Brazilian federation.
After settling with Bolivia, Brazil had to talk with Peru, which also claimed parts of Acre. After diplomatic and military actions, the Baron of Rio Branco, again, negotiated with the Peruvian government, and on September 8th 1909, an agreement was reached. The area of Acre was definely incorporated to Brazil, which gained its final (current) boundaries.
In the first decades of the 20th century, competition of other producers (particularly from Eastern Asian countries, where rubber trees are cultivated - in opposition to the Brazilian rubber, which is all from natural trees) caused the Brazilian rubber to loose value, with a consequent stagnation of Acre.
In 1962, Acre became a Brazilian State (acreans could elect their own governor and be fully represented on the Congress).
The State is still one of the least populated and less economically developed of Brazil.
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