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The transamazon highway was constructed as an east-west road corridor across the Brazilian Amazon during the 1970s. This was one of several interregional road projects promoted by Brazil's then military government as a means of impelling frontier expansion. The military not only sought to relieve agrarian tensions in other parts of Brazil by opening land to landless populations, but also to secure remote portions of the national territory against perceived geopolitical threats by other countries.

Highway construction comprised one component of an integrated model of colonization, which the government implemented by selecting colonists, surveying and demarcating agricultural lots, and otherwise supporting frontier land settlement. The state land agency, INCRA, oversaw design and construction of the road network, which formed a “fishbone” pattern with feeder roads running ...

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