Pedro Alvares Cabral
After the return of Vasco Da Gama from his expedition to India, Portugal sought to control the spice trade in the Indian Ocean. Within six months of his return, they sent a fleet of 13 ships, led by Pedro Alvares Cabral, into the Indian Ocean in an attempt to control it.
After fighting a bloody battle for control of Indian trading ports, and for control of the Indian Ocean, Portugal was successful in its efforts. They built trading ports and navel bases along the coasts of Africa and Asia, helping to insure that they could maintain their control in the region.
As Cabral traveled to the Indian Ocean, they stopped along the eastern coast of South America, where he claimed Brazil for Portugal.
Brazil became an important outpost of the Portuguese Empire. Here, farmers were able to produce crops, such as cotton, tobacco and sugar, which could then be shipped back to Portugal or traded with other nations.
In order to provide enough labor, slaves were brought in from Africa to help farm these new crops.