The former army captain – whose rise to prominence has been marked by divisive rhetoric and derogatory remarks about women, gay people and ethnic minorities – was inaugurated in the capital Brasilia on New Year’s Day.
He has promised a crackdown on corruption, drugs and violent crime that saw 63,000 people killed in Brazil last year, as well as close alignment with the US and business-friendly economic policies.
US President Donald Trump sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the ceremony on Tuesday, which was also attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr Netanyahu tweeted upon his arrival in Brasilia to congratulate his “friend” Mr Bolsonaro, who has said he plans to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The 63-year-old was greeted by crowds of supporters draped in Brazilian flags as he made his way to the presidential palace in an open-top Rolls-Royce, waving to the crowds alongside wife Michelle.
Dozens of guards on horses surrounded the couple, with 3,000 police officers patrolling the event alongside military tanks, fighter jets and even anti-aircraft missiles.
Journalists were made to arrive at locations around the palace seven hours before the festivities began, and many complained on Twitter of officials confiscating food they had brought for the wait.
The increased security came at Mr Bolsonaro’s request, as he was stabbed in the stomach at a rally in September as opponents took issue with some of his divisive rhetoric.
Mr Bolsonaro received huge backing during the election from conservative sectors of Brazil, including Christian evangelical churches, but has made a string of controversial comments over the years.
In 2014, he told federal deputy Maria do Rosario at the chamber of deputies that he would not rape her because “you are not worthy of it”.
Three years prior, he said he would “rather his son die in a car accident than be gay”.
Mr Bolsonaro has also said he is “in favour” of torture, has appeared to advocate the sterilisation of poor people, and is an outspoken supporter of the military regime that led Brazil from 1964 to 1985.
He has faced charges of inciting rape and for hate crimes because of his comments, but his law-and-order rhetoric and plans to ease gun control managed to resonate with many voters among Brazil’s 210 million population.
His victory stopped a streak of four consecutive presidential election wins by the left-leaning Workers’ Party and is the highlight of a political career that saw him spend almost 30 years in Congress.
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