Immigration to Brazil

Immigration to Brazil is the movement to Brazil of foreign persons to reside permanently. It should not be confused with the colonisation of the country by the Portuguese, or with the forcible bringing of people from Africa as slaves.

Throughout its history, Brazil has always been a recipient of immigrants, but this began to gain importance in the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century when the country received massive immigration from Europe, the Middle East and East Asia, which left lasting marks on demography, culture, language and the economy of Brazil.

In general, it is considered that people who entered Brazil up to 1822, the year of independence, were colonizers. Since then, those who entered the independent nation were immigrants.

Before 1871, the number of immigrants rarely exceeded two or three thousand people a year. Immigration increased pressure from the first end of the international slave trade to Brazil, after the expansion of the economy, especially in the period of large coffee plantations in the state of São Paulo.

Immigration has been a very important demographic factor in the composition, structure and history of human population in Brazil, with all its attending factors and consequences in culture, economy, education, racial issues, etc. Brazil has received one of the largest numbers of immigrants in the Western Hemisphere, along with the United States, Argentina and Canada.[1]

Counting from 1872 (year of the first census) by the year 2000, Brazil received about 6 million immigrants.

Europeans and Arabs in Brazil (new)
European and Levantine countries from where there was significant emigration to Brazil, early half of the 20th century.
Monumento ao Imigrante2
Monument to the immigrant in Caxias do Sul, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. At the bottom of the monument can be read: The Brazilian nation to the immigrant (Portuguese: A nação brasileira ao imigrante)

Brief history

Total Immigrants By Brazilian States
Total of foreign people authorized to work in Brazil by state in 2009.
Origin of the people that work in Brazil
People authorized to work in Brazil by origin in 2009. Organized by largest ancestry.
  U.S. citizen

Maria Stella Ferreira Levy[2] suggests the following periodisation of the process of immigration to Brazil:

  1. 1820–1876: small number of immigrants (about 6,000 per year), predominance of Portuguese (45.73%), with significant numbers of Germans (12.97%);
  2. 1877–1903: large number of immigrants (about 71,000 per year), predominance of Italians (58.49%);
  3. 1904–1930: large number of immigrants (about 79,000 per year), predominance of the Portuguese (36.97%);
  4. 1931–1963: declining number of immigrants (about 33,500 per year), predominance of the Portuguese (38.45%).

The Brazilian population before immigration

Oscar Pereira da Silva - Desembarque de Pedro Álvares Cabral em Porto Seguro em 1500 (detalhe)
Arrival of the Portuguese to Northeast Brazil in 1500.

When Brazil was invaded as a new land in the New World by the Portuguese in 1500, its native population was composed of about 2.4 million Amerindians[3] whose ancestors had been living there for the last 15,000 to 20,000 years.[4] During the three decades afterwards, the country remained sparsely inhabited by Europeans. Among those few, mainly Portuguese, most were renegades, criminals banished from Portugal, shipwreck survivors, or mutinous sailors. They integrated into the local tribes, using their superior technology to attain privileged positions among them.[5]

After 1530, the Portuguese started to settle in Brazil in significant numbers. However, Portugal had a small population to develop the exploitation of Brazil. By 1550, the colonists started to bring African slaves. From 1500, when the Portuguese reached Brazil, until its independence in 1822, from 500,000 to 700,000 Portuguese settled in Brazil, 600,000 of whom arrived in the 18th century alone.[6][7] The Portuguese settled in the whole territory, initially remaining near the coast, except in the region of São Paulo, from where the bandeirantes would spread into the hinterland. In the 18th century, large waves of Portuguese settled the country, in the wake of the discovery of gold in the region of Minas Gerais, but the number of Portuguese who settled in Brazil in its colonial era was far lower than of African slaves: from 1550 to 1850, some 4 million slaves were brought to Brazil.[7] This should not be taken as meaning that the population of Brazil before independence was mainly Black: the average survival of an African slave in Brazil was of merely seven years after arrival,[8] implying extremely high mortality rates. Although children born to slave women inherited the slave condition, the Portuguese always relied on slaves purchased from slave traders to replace and increase the work force; the natural growth of the slave population was always very small.[9]

In the early 19th century, Brazil was mainly composed of people of three different origins: the indigenous inhabitants, the Portuguese and their descendants, the Africans and descendants, and, naturally, people of varying degrees of "racial" mixture. In 1872, after the arrival of about 350,000 mostly European immigrants and about 1,150,000 Africans forcibly brought to Brazil as slaves, the first Brazilian Census counted 9,930,478 people in Brazil, of which 3,787,289 (38.14%) Whites, 3,380,172 (34.04%) "pardos", 1.954.452 (19.68%) Blacks, and 386,955 (3.90%) "caboclos".[10]

First period: 1820–1871

Immigration properly started with the opening of the Brazilian ports, in 1808. The government began to stimulate the arrival of Europeans to occupy plots of land and become small farmers. In 1812, settlers from the Azores were brought to Espírito Santo and in 1819, Swiss to Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro. After independence from Portugal, the Brazilian Empire focused on the occupation of the provinces of Southern Brazil. It was mainly because Southern Brazil had a small population, vulnerable to attacks by Argentina and the Kaingang Indians.[11]

From 1824, immigrants from Central Europe started to populate what is nowadays the region of São Leopoldo, in the province of Rio Grande do Sul. According to Leo Waibel, these German immigrants were mainly "oppressed peasants and former soldiers of the army of Napoleon". In 1830 a bill was passed forbidding the Imperial government from spending money with the settlement of immigrants, which stalled immigration until 1834, when the provincial governments were charged with promoting immigration.[12]

In 1859, Prussia prohibited emigration to Brazil. This was mainly because of complaints that Germans were being exploited in the coffee plantations of São Paulo. Still, between 1820 and 1876, 350,117 immigrants entered Brazil. Of these, 45.73% were Portuguese, 35.74% of "other nationalities", 12.97% Germans, while Italians and Spanish together did not reach 6%. The total number of immigrants per year averaged 6,000.[13] Many immigrants, particularly the Germans, were brought to settle in rural communities as small landowners. They received land, seed, livestock and other items to develop.

Curitiba - Bosque do Papa - Casa de Colono Polones
Polish house in Paraná state.
Picking coffee in Brazil
European immigrants working in a coffee plantation in the State of São Paulo.

Second Period: 1872–1903

In the last quarter of the 19th century, the entry of immigrants in Brazil grew strongly. On one hand, Europe underwent a serious demographic crisis, which resulted in increased emigration; on the other hand, the final crisis of Brazilian slavery prompted Brazilian authorities to find solutions for the problem of work force. Consequently, while immigration until 1871 was focused on establishing communities of landowners, during this period, while this older process continued, immigrants were more and more attracted to the coffee plantations of São Paulo, where they became employees or were allowed to cultivate small tracts of land in exchange for their work in the coffee crop.[11] This also coincided with the decreasing availability of better land in southern Brazil—while the German immigrants arriving in the previous period occupied the valleys of the rivers, the Italians arriving in the last quarter of the century settled the mountainous regions of the state.[14]

During this period, immigration was much more intense: large numbers of Europeans, especially Italians, started to be brought to the country to work in the harvest of coffee.[15] From 1877 to 1903, almost two million immigrants arrived, at a rate of 71,000 per year[16] Brazil's receiving structure, legislation and settlement policies for immigrants were much less organized than in Canada and the United States at the time. Nevertheless, an Immigrant's Hostel (Hospedaria dos Imigrantes) was built in 1886 in São Paulo, and quick admittance and recording routines for the throngs of immigrants arriving by ship at the seaports of Vitória, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Paranaguá, Florianópolis and Porto Alegre were established. The São Paulo site alone processed more than 2.5 million immigrants in its almost 100 years of continuous operation. People of more than 70 different nationalities were recorded.

Italians Sao Paulo
Italian immigrants in the Hospedaria dos Imigrantes, in São Paulo.

In 1850, Brazil declared the end of the slave trade. This had different impacts on the different regions of Brazil. At the time, the region of São Paulo was undergoing a process of economic boom, linked to the expansion of the cultivation of coffee, and consequently needed increased amounts of labour. Other regions, notedly the Northeast, on the contrary, faced economic retraction, and were, consequently, able to dispense workforce. This entailed the replacement of the international slave trade by an internal or interprovincial slave trade, in which Northeastern slaves were sold in large numbers to the Southeast.[17] This temporarily solved the workforce problem in São Paulo and other coffee plantation areas. However, by 1870 the paulista elite came to realise that the Northeastern slaveholders were in fact being able to obtain financial compensation for their slaves, or, in practice, an abolition with compensation.[17] Fears of a situation comparable to the United States, with the division of the country into free provinces and slave provinces arose. Consequently, paulista politicians began to seek measures against the interprovincial traffic, at a time when, anyway, the price of Northeastern slaves was getting higher and higher, due to their increasing scarcity.[17] By the beginning of the 1870s, the alternative of the interprovincial trade was exhausted, while the demand for workforce in the coffee plantations continued to expand. Thus the paulista oligarchy sought to attract new workers from abroad, by passing provincial legislation and pressing the Imperial government to organise immigration.[17][18]

Third period: 1904–1930

Affiche émigration JP au BR-déb. XXe s.
A poster used in Japan to attract immigrants to Brazil. It says "Let's go to South America (Brazil) with the family."

From 1904 to 1930, 2,142,781 immigrants came to Brazil—making an annual average of 79,000 people. In consequence of the Prinetti Decree of 1902, that forbade subsidised emigration to Brazil, Italian immigration had, at this stage, a drastic reduction: their average annual entries from 1887 to 1903 was 58,000. In this period they were only 19,000 annually. The Portuguese constituted 38% of entries, followed by Spaniards with 22%. From 1914 to 1918, due to World War I, the entry of immigrants of all nationalities decreased.[13] After the War, the immigration of people of "other nationalities" redressed faster than that of Portuguese, Spaniards, and Italians. Part of this category was composed of immigrants from Poland, Russia and Romania, who immigrated probably by political issues, and part by Syrian and Lebanese peoples. Both subgroups included a number of Jewish immigrants, who arrived in the 1920s.

From 1931 to 1963, 1,106,404 immigrants entered Brazil. The participation of the Japanese increased. From 1932 to 1935 immigrants from Japan constituted 30% of total admissions.[13] Prior to this yearly Japanese immigrants were numerically limited to no more than 5% of the current Japanese population.[19]

Fourth Period: 1931–1964

With the radicalisation of the political situation in Europe, the end of the demographic crisis, the decadence of coffee culture, the Revolution of 1930 and the consequent rise of a nationalist government, immigration to Brazil was significantly reduced. The focus shifted to culturally assimilating immigrants and "whitening" the population.[20] From 1931 to 1963, 1,106,404 immigrants entered Brazil. The annual arrival of immigrants fell to 33,500. The Portuguese remained the most significant group, with 39.35%, The participation of the Japanese increased, becoming the second most important group, with 12.79%. Particularly from 1932 to 1935 immigrants from Japan constituted 30% of total admissions.[13]

Immigration also became a more urban phenomenon; most immigrants came for the cities, and even the descendants of the immigrants of the previous periods were moving intensely from the countryside. In the 1950s, Brazil started a program of immigration to provide workers for Brazilian industries. In São Paulo, for example, between 1957 and 1961, more than 30% of the Spanish, over 50% of the Italian and 70% of the Greek immigrants were brought to work in factories.

Current trends

North American workforce to Brazil (new)
People authorized to work in Brazil by North American countries in 2009. Organized by number of people.
European works in Brazil (new)
People authorized to work in Brazil by European countries in 2009. Organized by number of people.
Immigration of South America to Brazil
People authorized to work in Brazil by South American countries in 2009. Organized by number of people.

During the 1970s Brazil received about 32,000 Lebanese immigrants escaping the civil war, as well as smaller numbers of Palestinians and Syrians.[21]

During the 1990s Brazil received small numbers of immigrants from the former republics of Yugoslavia, from Afghanistan and West Africa (mostly Angolans).[22] Recent immigration is mainly constituted by Chinese and Koreans and, in a smaller degree, by Argentines and other Latin American immigrants.[23]

The increase in Bolivian immigrants in Brazil is one of the social consequences of the political crisis affecting that country.[24] The majority of the Bolivians come from cities such as La Paz, Sucre, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and Cochabamba. Usually they enter Brazil through Cuiabá, in Mato Grosso, or San Mathias, in Bolivia, which borders Caceres, Mato Grosso and Corumbá, in Mato Grosso do Sul.

Between 1,200 and 1,500 Bolivian immigrants come to Brazil every month looking for a job. Most of them work in the illegal textile industry in the Greater São Paulo.[25] There are an estimated 200,000 Bolivians living in the Greater São Paulo, majority is of undocumented immigrants.[26]

In 2009, the country was home to 3,982,000 foreign born people, that represents 2.36% of the Brazilian population. The major work visas concessions were granted for citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom.[27]

In 2010, Brazil is home to 4,251 refugees from 76 different nationalities. The largest refugee ancestries were Angolan (1,688), Colombian (583), Congolese (402), Liberian (259), and Iraqi (197).[28]

Due to the Bolivarian diaspora, in 2017 22,000 new Venezuelan refugees sought shelter in Brazil; this number was expected to greatly increase for 2018.[29]

Immigrants (2012)[4]
Country Population
PortugalPortugal 277,727
JapanJapan 91,042
ItalyItaly 73,126
SpainSpain 59,985
ArgentinaArgentina 42,202
ChinaChina 35,953
GermanyGermany 29,224
United StatesUnited States of America 27,953
UruguayUruguay 26,271
ChileChile 25,561
South KoreaSouth Korea 19,341
FranceFrance 18,011
ParaguayParaguay 15,626

Refugees in Brazil in 2018 by nationalities

The data are from the months of January to April of the same year.[30]

Country Total
VenezuelaVenezuela 14 449
HaitiHaiti 1 428
CubaCuba 733
ChinaChina 461
BangladeshBangladesh 326

Visa policy

Permanent visas may be granted to individuals intending to establish residence in Brazil. Permanent Visas apply to:[31]

  • Technicians or professionals with a work contract pre-approved by the Brazilian Ministry of Labor, National Department of Employment. This visa must be applied for in Brazil.
  • Professors, technicians and high-level researchers who wish to immigrate to Brazil to undertake research work in an institution of higher learning or of research in science and technology. This visa must be applied for in Brazil.
  • Foreign investors with initial transfer of foreign capital equivalent to no less than US$50,000 and an investment plan pre-approved by the Brazilian National Council on Immigration (CNIG). This visa must be applied for in Brazil.
  • Administrators, managers or directors hired by a commercial enterprise or civil organization resulting from foreign investment described in item 3 above, with a work contract pre-approved by the Brazilian Ministry of Labor, National Department of Employment. This visa must be applied for in Brazil.
  • A retired person, 60 years of age or older, accompanied by up to two dependents, and able to transfer monthly, in accordance with the laws of the country of origin, the amount equivalent to US$2,000. In the case of more than two dependents, the applicant must transfer the amount equivalent to US$1,000 for each additional dependent.
  • Spouse, partners in a common law union regardless of gender, or minor dependent of Brazilian citizen or of a permanent resident of Brazil;
  • Ancestors of a Brazilian national or of a permanent resident of Brazil;
  • Siblings of a Brazilian citizen or of a permanent resident of Brazil, if orphan, single and under 18 years of age;
  • Minor children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of a Brazilian citizen or of a permanent resident of Brazil.

Binational unions

  • Formed by a Brazilian and other people from other country:
In Brazil
Ethnic origin Percentage
Portuguese 32%
Italians 9%
Japanese 8%
Outside Brazil
Ethnic origin Percentage
U.S. citizens 40%
Portuguese 17%
Argentinians 14%

Immigration law

Federal Constitution

Retrato de D. Maria I;
Portuguese people have a differentiated treatment according to Paragraph 1, Article 12, of the Federal Constitution of Brazil. Due to strong cultural and historical ties between the two countries.

Article 12. The following are Brazilians:

II - naturalized:

a) those who, as set forth by law, acquire Brazilian nationality, it being the only requirement for persons originating from Portuguese-speaking countries the residence for 1 (one) uninterrupted year and good moral repute;

b) foreigners of any nationality, resident in the Federative Republic of Brazil for over 15 (fifteen) uninterrupted years and without criminal conviction, provided that they apply for the Brazilian nationality.

Paragraph 1. The rights inherent to Brazilians shall be attributed to Portuguese citizens with permanent residence in Brazil, if there is reciprocity in favour of Brazilians, except in the cases stated in this Constitution.

Paragraph 2. The law may not establish any distinction between born and naturalized Brazilians, except in the cases stated in this Constitution.[32]

Statute of Foreigner

Article 112. Are conditions for the granting of naturalization:

I - civilian capacity, according to Brazilian law;

II - to be registered as permanent resident in Brazil;

III - continuous residence in the territory for a minimum period of 4 (four) years immediately preceding the application for naturalization;

IV - read and write the Portuguese language, considering the conditions of naturalizing;

V - exercise of occupation or possession of sufficient assets to maintain itself and the family;

VI - proper procedure;

VII - no complaint, indictment in Brazil or abroad for a felony that is threatened in minimum sentence of imprisonment, abstractly considered, more than 1 (one) year.

VIII - good health.

LGBT immigration equality by country or territory
LGBT immigration equality by country or territory
  Recognition of same-sex couples in national immigration laws

Article 113.The period of residence prescribed in Article 112, item III, may be reduced if the naturalizing fill any of the following conditions:

I - have a child or spouse of Brazil;

(Including same-sex spouse, see also: Same-sex immigration policy in Brazil)

II - be son of a Brazilian;

III - have provided or can provide relevant services to Brazil, in the opinion of the Minister of Justice of Brazil;

IV - commend themselves by their professional, scientific or artistic; or

V - to be owner in Brazil, real estate, whose value is equal to at least a thousand times the greatest value of reference, or be provided with industrial funds of equal value, or hold quota shares or amount of paid-in least identical in commercial or civil society, aimed principally and permanently, the operation of industrial or agricultural activities.

Sole Paragraph. The residence will be at least 1 (one) year, in cases of items I, II, and III; 2 (two) years in Item IV; and 3 (three) years in Item V.[33]


A group of Palestinian immigrants in São Paulo.

Since the 1980s, the Brazilian government has offered amnesty to foreigners in irregular situation[34] in four different campaigns, benefiting tens of thousands of foreigners living in Brazil. The latest campaign began in July 2009 by presidential decree, and though it officially ended at the close of 2009, some cases are still pending. Until now, 41,816 foreigners received amnesty through the 2009 amnesty program, though there are another 2,000 cases expected to be finished in early 2010. Though the large majority of immigrants live in São Paulo, other cases were based largely in Rio de Janeiro and Paraná. The breakdown by country/continent is the following: 16,881 Bolivians, 5,492 Chinese, 4,642 Peruvians, 4,135 Paraguayans, 2,700 Africans (including North Africa), 2,390 Europeans, 1,129 Koreans, 469 Argentines, 274 U.S. citizens, 186 Cubans.

While foreigners who received amnesty obtained the right to work and access health and education services, they are unable to vote or run for public office. They may opt to apply for citizenship after a probation period of residency in order to obtain these rights. Officially, amnesty intends to cut down on illegal activity and human rights violations, particularly with Bolivians in São Paulo. But it seems to fit in with the Lula administration's international policies, including ramped up diplomacy and establishing ties with other nations, but also establishing itself as a competitor with developed countries. By showing that it is a center for immigrants in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in South America, and more importantly, that it is supposedly a benevolent and welcoming country for immigrants, it helps Brazil's international public image.[35]

Those who would benefit from the amnesty, following publication of the law in the Brazilian Official Gazette in July 2009, have up to 180 days after the time of their temporary residence permit (valid for 2 years) to apply. They must also aver their clean criminal record or submit a recent, official document of good conduct from the originating country. During these two years, they must not exceed 90 consecutive days spent abroad. Ninety days prior to the expiration of the temporary residence permit, they must aver their self-sufficiency in Brazil. If they can prove they are eligible for a permanent residence permit. Only ten years after receiving a permanent residence permit may be eligible for naturalization to be Brazilian.[36]

The result of immigration to Brazil


Immigration to Brazil, by national origin, periods from 1830 to 1959
Source: Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE)
origin 1830–1855 1856–1883 1884–1893 1894–1903 1904–1913 1914–1923 1924–1933 1945-1949 1950-1954 1955-1959 1960-1969 197,587 immigrants from many nationalities arrived 1970-1972 15,558 immigrants.The largest majority from Portugal
Portuguese 16,737 116,000 170,621 155,542 384,672 201,252 233,650 26,268 123,082 96,811
Italians 100,000 510,533 537,784 196,521 86,320 70,177 15,312 59,785 31,263
Spaniards 113,116 102,142 224,672 94,779 52,400 4,092 53,357 38,819
Germans 2,008 30,000 22,778 6,698 33,859 29,339 61,723 5,188 12,204 4,633
Japanese 11,868 20,398 110,191 12 5,447 28,819
Syrians and Lebanese 96 7,124 45,803 20,400 20,400 N/D N/D N/D
Others 66,524 42,820 109,222 51,493 164,586 29,552 84,851 47,599

Immigration has been a very important demographic factor in the formation, structure and history of the population in Brazil, influencing culture, economy, education, racial issues, etc. Brazil has received the third largest number of immigrants in the Western Hemisphere, after only Argentina, Canada and The United States.

European diaspora

Cerimonia de bencao dos alimentos
Brazilian people from Curitiba, Paraná celebrating the Ukrainian Easter.
A Portuguese immigrant in Rio de Janeiro, 1895.
Lavoura de café
European immigrants and a Brazilian coffee plantation.

In the 100 years from 1872–1972 at least 5.35 million immigrants came to Brazil, of whom 31% were Portuguese, 30% Italian, 13% Spanish, 5% Japanese, 4% German and 16% of other unspecified nationalities.[6]

In 1897, São Paulo had twice as many Italians as Brazilians in the city. In 1893, 55% of the city's population was composed by immigrants and in 1901 more than 80% of the children were born to a foreign-born parents.[5] According to the 1920 census, 35% of São Paulo city's inhabitants were foreign born, compared to 36% in New York City. São Paulo's multicultural population could be compared to any major American, Canadian or Australian city. About 75% of the immigrants were Latin Europeans, particularly from three major sources: Italy, Portugal and Spain. The rest came from different parts of Europe, the Middle East and Japan.[37] Some areas of the city remained almost exclusively settled by Italians until the arrival of waves of migrants from other parts of Brazil, particularly from the Northeast, starting in the late 1920s.

According to historian Samuel H. Lowrie, in the early 20th century the society of São Paulo was divided in three classes:[37]

  • The high group: composed of graduated people, mainly by Brazilians born to Brazilian parents, who were related to the high-class farmers or other people with privileges.
  • The working class: composed of immigrants and their second and third generations descendants. They were the most numerous group, mainly factory workers or traders.
  • The semi-dependent group: composed of former slaves and low-class workers of the Empire.
Owners of industries in São Paulo(1962) [6]
Ethnic origin Percentage
Italians 35%
Brazilians 16%
Portuguese 12%
Germans 10%
Syrians and Lebanese 9%
Russians 2.9%
Austrians 2.4%
Swiss 2.4%
Other Europeans 9%
Others 2%

According to Lowrie, the fact that Brazil already had a long history of racial mixture and that most of the immigrants in São Paulo came from Latin European countries, reduced the cases of racism and mutual intolerance. However, the Brazilian high class was more intolerant, with most of them marrying other members of the elite. In some cases, to marry an immigrant was accepted if the person had achieved fortune or had some prestige. Lowrie reports that as much as 40% of the São Paulo high-class society mixed with an immigrant within the next three generations.

While in São Paulo the Italians predominated, in the city of Rio de Janeiro the Portuguese remained as the main group. In 1929, as many as 272,338 Portuguese immigrants were recorded in the Federal District of Brazil (nowadays the city of Rio de Janeiro), more Portuguese born people than any other city in the world, except for Lisbon (which had 591,939 inhabitants in 1930).[38]

Lista de Passageiros do Kasato Maru
List of passengers of the ship Kasato Maru bringing the first Japanese immigrants to Brazil, 1908.
São Paulo City in 1886
Immigrants Percentage of immigrants in foreign born population [7]
Italians 48%
Portuguese 29%
Germans 10%
Spanish 3%
São Paulo City in 1893
Year Immigrants Percentage of the City [8]
Italians 45,457 35%
Portuguese 14,437 11%
Spanish 4,818 3.7%
Rio de Janeiro City(Guanabara)
Year Immigrants Percentage of the City[2] [9]
1872 84,283 30.65%
1890 124,352 / 155,202 23.79% / 29.69%
1900 195,894 24.14%
1906 210,515 25.94%
1920 239,129 20.65%
1940 228,633 12.96%
1950 210,454 8.85%
Rio de Janeiro City(1890)
Group Population Percentage of the City [10]
Portuguese immigrants 106,461 20.36%
Brazilians who were born to a Portuguese father or mother 161,203 30.84%
Portuguese immigrants and descendents 267,664 51.2%
Rio de Janeiro City in 1940(Guanabara)
Immigrants Population[2]
Portuguese 154,662
Italians 17,457
Spanish 12,212
Germans 10,185
Japanese 538
Others 33,579
Immigrants by Brazilian state according to 1920 Census (including naturalized immigrants)[39]
State Immigrants Percentage within the state population
São Paulo 839,135 18.2%
Federal District (Rio de Janeiro city) 252,958 22.0%
Espírito Santo 20,532 4.5%
Santa Catarina 39,212 5.8%
Rio Grande do Sul 165,974 7.5%
Mato Grosso 25,556 10.3%
Goiás 1,814 0.3%
Minas Gerais 91,349 1.5%
Rio de Janeiro 53,261 3.4%
Paraná 66,387 9.6%
Pernambuco 12,010 0.5%
Piauí 344 0.0%
Paraíba 661 0.0%
Pará 22,824 2.3%
Maranhão 1,681 0.2%
Ceará 980 0.0%
Bahia 10,999 0.3%
Amazonas 17,525 4.8%
Alagoas 747 0.0%
Sergipe 422 0.0%
Acre 3,564 3.8%

In the South of Brazil, there were three main groups of immigrants: Germans, Italians and Slavs (mainly Poles and Ukrainians). The Germans had been settling Rio Grande do Sul since 1824. The first settlers came from Holstein, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Hannover. Later, people from Hunsrück and Rhineland-Palatinate predominated. There were also people from Pomerania, Westphalia and Württemberg. These immigrants were attracted to work as small farmers in the region of São Leopoldo. As a result of the great internal migration of people in Rio Grande do Sul, Germans and second generation descendants started to move to other areas of the Province.

A similar process has occurred in Santa Catarina, with initially two main destinations for German immigrants (Blumenau, created in 1850, and Joinville in 1851) and then the immigrants or their descendants moved to other areas. Arriving in larger numbers than Germans, in the 1870s, groups of Italians started settling northeast Rio Grande do Sul. Similar to Germans, they were also attracted to develop small familiar farming production. In Paraná, on the other hand, the main group of immigrants was composed of Eastern Europeans, particularly Poles.[40][41]

In southern Brazil, the immigrants settled in colônias (colonies), which were rural areas, composed of many small farms, settled by the families. Some of these colonies had a great development and gave birth to major Brazilian cities, such as the former German community of Joinville (500,000 inhabitants—the largest city of the state of Santa Catarina) or the former Italian community of Caxias do Sul (405,858 inhabitants). Other colonies did not have a great development and remained small and agrarian. In these places, it is possible to feel more intensely the impact of the immigration, as many of these towns are still predominantly settled by a single ethnic group.

First Settlers in Londrina(1930's)[11]
Ethnic Group Population
Brazilians 1.823
Italians 611
Japanese 533
Germans 510
Spanish 303
Portuguese 218
Polish 193
Ukrainians 172
Hungarians 138
Czechoslovakians 51
Russians 44
Swiss 34
Austrians 29
Lithuanians 21
Yugoslavs 15
Romanians 12
English 7
Argentinians 5
Syrians 5
Danes 3
Australians 2
Belgians 2
Bulgarians 2
French 2
Latvian 2
Liechtensteiner 2
North-Americans 2
Swedes 2
Estonians 1
Indian 1
Norwegian 1
Total Foreign Born Population 2.923( 61,6%)
Some southern Brazilian towns with a notable main ancestry
Town name State Main ancestry Percentage
Nova Veneza Santa Catarina Italian 95%[42]
Pomerode Santa Catarina German 90%[43]
Prudentópolis Paraná Ukrainian 70%[44]
Treze Tílias Santa Catarina Austrian 60%[45]
Dom Feliciano Rio Grande do Sul Polish 90%[46]


Immigration arabe ; carte couverture - 1908
Cover of the magazine "O Immigrante", published by Italian immigrants in Brazil.
Passaporte português de 1927
Passport of a Portuguese immigrant, 1927.
Kolonien Suedbrasilien
German colonies in Southern Brazil.
Casal imigrantes portugueses
A couple of Portuguese immigrants in São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo, Brazil (1887).
Curitiba Parque Tingui
Ukrainian church in Curitiba, Paraná.
Escola italianos
Italian students in Campinas, São Paulo.
Italian disembarkment in Santos, São Paulo, 1907.
Ryu Mizuno
Ryu Mizuno (at center), who organized the first travel of Japanese immigrants to Brazil.
Ukrainians in Brazil
Ukrainians in Brazil.
Students and teachers at a German school in Blumenau in 1866
German kids in Blumenau, Santa Catarina, 1866.
German Vitoria Brazil 1875
German near the city of Vitória, Espírito Santo, 1875.
Municipalities that the Pomeranian language is co-official in Espírito Santo.
Angolan immigration to Brazil

There is a small but recognizable community of Angolans in Brazil consisting mainly of immigrants and expatriates from Angola. There are an estimated 1,125 Angolan citizens registered in Brazil, most Angolan citizens in the country are on student or work visas. In addition to the modest number of Angolan expats currently residing in Brazil, millions of Afro-Brazilians have considerable Angolan ancestry as a result of the transatlantic slave trade shipping many slaves from Angola to Brazil.

Antônio Prado

Antônio Prado is a municipality in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. It is surrounded by the municipalities Ipê, Flores da Cunha, Vila Flores, Nova Roma do Sul, São Marcos, Nova Pádua, and Protásio Alves. It is 184 km from Porto Alegre.

The town is named in honor of Antônio da Silva Prado, who planned the Italian immigration to Brazil.

It contains the most important ensemble of architecture built by Italian Brazilians. The Italian language (Talian dialect, of Venetian origin), gastronomy and architecture are the most important aspects of Antônio Prado’s culture.

In the town’s Historical Center it is possible to see 48 houses built in wood and masonry. They were landmarked by the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (IPHAN, The Brazilian National Historical and Artistical Heritage Institute) and serve to prove the care with which they were built, and later preserved by the descendants of those immigrants. But the preservation of the roots of the Italian colonization is not limited to the landmarking of the architectural group. In Antônio Prado, the residents keep the traditions of their ancestors alive, through choral singing, industrial arts, and gastronomy.

The municipality is also an eco-tourism destination, with beautiful waterfalls inside the araucaria forest. The natural beauties are also present in that destination, attracting an increasing number of visitors and practisers of adventure sports; who find perfect places for their practice there. Among the most common activities in the surroundings of this town are rappel and whitewater rafting.

Arab Brazilians

Arab Brazilians are Brazilian citizens of Arab ethnic, cultural, linguistic heritage and identity. The majority of Arab Brazilians trace their origin to the Levantine lands of the Arab World, known in Arabic as Bilad al-Sham, primarily from Lebanon and Syria, as well Palestine.

Asian Brazilians

Asian Brazilians (Portuguese: brasileiros asiáticos) are Brazilian citizens of full or predominantly South Asian, East Asian and Southeast Asian ancestry or an Asian-born person permanently residing in Brazil. The vast majority of the Asian community in Brazil is made of immigrants from South Asia and East Asia, although there have also been smaller numbers of Southeast Asians, including a small number of Asians from the Caribbean, Mozambique and Kenya. The 2011 estimate for Brazilian gypsies is about 800,000, but they are not counted as Asian, although they have distant ancestors coming from South Asia. People of West-Asian (including Jewish) origin generally do not self-identify as Asian in Brazil as their phenotype since Greco-Roman and Persian conquest has an overlapping with Greece and Iran. On the other hand in some states like Amapa, the Amerindian and East Asian population are put in one category.

Brazil–Taiwan relations

The Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Federative Republic of Brazil do not have official diplomatic relations, as Brazil recognises the People's Republic of China as having jurisdiction over Taiwan. However, the two nations maintain unofficial diplomatic relations via economic and cultural offices.

Cuban immigration to Brazil

Cuban Brazilians (Spanish: Cubanobrasileño, Portuguese: Cubano-brasileiro) are Brazilians of full, partial, or predominantly Cuban ancestry, or a Cuban-born person residing in Brazil. Many Cubans are doctors working in the North and Northeast Region of Brazil.

European immigration to Brazil

European immigration to Brazil refers to the movement of European people to Brazil. It should not be confused with the colonisation of the country by the Portuguese.

French Brazilians

French Brazilians (French: Franco-Brésilien; Portuguese: Franco-brasileiro or Galo-brasileiro) refers to Brazilian citizens of full of partial French ancestry or persons born in France who reside in Brazil. Between 1850 and 1965 around 100,000 French people immigrated to Brazil. The country received the second largest number of French immigrants to South America after Argentina (239,000). It is estimated that there are 2 million Brazilians of French descent today.

Haitian Brazilian

A Haitian Brazilian (Portuguese: Haitiano-Brasileiro, French: Haïtien Brésilien, Haitian Creole: Ayisyen-Brezilyen) is a Brazilian person of full, partial, or predominantly Haitians ancestry, or a Haitian-born person residing in Brazil.

Haitian immigration to Brazil become a migratory phenomenon that gained large after the earthquake that rocked Haiti in 2010. The presence of Haitians in Brazil was negligible before the political instability that affected the country in 2004. Since then, the presence of military peacekeepers UN (mostly Brazilian), Haitians have come to see in Brazil a reference point, a fact that was reinforced after the disaster, which triggered the great migratory wave that started in 2010.

Illegal immigration to Brazil

Illegal immigration to Brazil is the entry in Brazil of foreign nationals without government permission, and in violation of the Brazilian immigration laws.

As the country's economy improves it has found itself a magnet for illegal immigration. Many illegal immigrants have also arrived particularly from Haiti and Bolivia.

Immigration Museum of the State of São Paulo

The Immigration Museum of the State of São Paulo (Brazilian Portuguese: Museu da Imigração do Estado de São Paulo) is a museum of immigration in the Mooca neighbourhood in east São Paulo, Brazil. It is located in the Immigrant Inn building, which opened in 1887.The "Historical Center of Immigrants" was created in 1986. The Immigration Museum (Brazilian Portuguese: Museu da Imigração) was formally created on 25 June 1993 by an official decree by Luís Antônio Fleury Filho, managing the collection of the Historical Center. The first "Immigrant Fest" took place in 1996. The "Memorial of the Immigrant" was created in 1998, which was renamed the Immigration Museum in 2010. Renovations of the building started in 2010, which lasted 3.5 years and cost R$20 million. It reopened on 31 May 2014 as the Immigration Museum of the State of São Paulo.Its exhibition areas include a wooden wall engraved with over 14,000 surnames, a long-term exhibition called Migrate: Experiences, Memories and Identities (Brazilian Portuguese: Migrar: Experiências, Memórias e Identidades), a reproduction of a dormitory and a dining room, and over 200 items such as furniture and suitcases, as well as temporary exhibitions. It also has a digital collection. The museum has over 12,000 items donated by immigrants, migrants and their descendants.The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Entrance is R$10, with free entrance on Saturday, and free late nights every other Friday (open until 8 p.m.). The museum also has a library (Brazilian Portuguese: Centro de Preservação Pesquisa e Referência), which is open Tuesday-Friday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Indian immigration to Brazil

There is a small community of Indians in Brazil who are mainly immigrants and expatriates from India. There are currently about 9,200 people of Indian origin living in the country and a majority of them live in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. There are also a number of people of Indian origin (mainly from the former Portuguese colony of Goa) who came to Brazil from both Britain's and Portugal's African colonies in the later half of the twentieth century.

Italian Brazilians

Italian Brazilians (Italian: italobrasiliani, Portuguese: ítalo-brasileiros) are Brazilian citizens of full or partial Italian descent.There are no official numbers about how many Brazilians have Italian ancestry, as the national census conducted by IBGE does not ask the ancestry of the Brazilian people. In the last census to ask about ancestry, from 1940, 1,260,931 Brazilians said to be the child of an Italian father, while 1,069,862 said to be the child of an Italian mother. Italians were 285,000 and naturalized Brazilians, 40,000. Therefore, Italians and their children were just over 3.8% of Brazil's population in 1940.A 1999 survey, conducted by the sociologist, former president of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), Simon Schwartzman, indicated that 10.5% of Brazilian respondents claimed to have Italian ancestry; hence they would make up around 20 million descendants in a national population of 200 million. An Italian source, from 1996, cites the number of 22,753,000 descendants. The Embassy of Italy in Brazil, in 2013, reported the number of 31 million descendants of Italian immigrants in Brazil (about 15% of the population), half of them in the state of São Paulo.

Jamaican immigration to Brazil

Jamaican Brazilian (Portuguese: Jamaicano-brasileiro) is a Brazilian person of full, partial, or predominantly Jamaican ancestry, or a Jamaican-born person residing in Brazil.

Luxembourgish Brazilians

Luxembourgish Brazilians refers to Brazilian citizens of full, partial, or predominantly Luxembourgish ancestry, or Luxembourg-born immigrants in Brazil. There are an estimated 50,000 Brazilians of partial Luxembourgish descent.

Luxembourgish immigration to Brazil occurred mainly around 1828, when nearly 1,000 Luxembourgers settled there.

Nigerian immigration to Brazil

A Nigerian Brazilian (Portuguese: Nigeriano-brasileiro) is a Brazilian person of full, partial, or predominantly Nigerian ancestry, or a Nigerian-born person residing in Brazil.

Over 90,000 Nigerians living illegally in Brazil without proper documentation before 1 February 2019 and are to be benefited from amnesty offers by the Brazilian Government. The Nigerian Ambassador to Brazil, Kayode Garrick, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Brasília. Garrick, said that over 2,000 Nigerian potential beneficiaries of the Brazilian amnesty proclamation were among the 5,000 Nigerians currently living in the country. In September 2008, the Nigerian government opened the Casa da Nigéria or "Nigerian Culture House" in the historic Pelourinho neighborhood of Salvador, Bahia, with the support of the governments of Bahia and Brazil.

Same-sex immigration policy in Brazil

Same-sex immigration policy in Brazil or immigration equality is legal in Brazil since December 3, 2003, and the new text is of January 29, 2008. The Federal Police of Brazil, located in the Brazilian Airports, is the responsible by this initial procedure, that forwards the documents to the National Immigration Council of Brazil, located in Brasília, the federal capital. Which examines whether the union is true, such as opposite-sex couples.

Spanish immigration to Brazil

Spanish emigration peaked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and it was concentrated to Argentina, Uruguay and Cuba. Between 1882 and 1930, 3,297,312 Spaniards emigrated, of whom 1,594,622 went to Argentina and 1,118,960 went to Cuba. Brazil only started to be an important destination for immigrants from Spain in the 1880s, but the country received the third largest number of Spanish emigrants, behind only the two aforementioned countries. Spaniards also made up the third largest national group to immigrate to Brazil, after the Italians and Portuguese.Between 1840 and 1849, only 10 Spaniards immigrated to Brazil; 181 did so between 1850 and 1859; 633 between 1860 and 1869; and 3,940 between 1870 and 1879. The number of arrivals increased significantly between 1880 and 1889, when 29,166 Spaniards arrived. Spanish immigration to Brazil was a direct result of the efforts of the Brazilian government to attract European workers to the country, in order to “whiten” the Brazilian population and to replace the African manpower. The Brazilian government spent large amounts of money paying passages of European immigrants by ship (subsidized immigration). A huge propaganda was conducted by the Brazilian government in Spain, with agents that worked for it (ganchos) who went to the country in order to persuade Spaniards to immigrate to Brazil. The Brazilian government offered the free travel by ship to Brazil, and that was decisive in attracting immigrants. Brazil was a country far less attractive than Argentina and Cuba, countries with which the Spaniards maintained cultural relations. Moreover, the working conditions in Brazil were much worse. Thus, the Spaniards who emigrated to Brazil were those who could not afford to pay a passage by ship to Cuba and Argentina, the poorest ones, and took advantage of the offer of free travel to Brazil. For the wretched Spanish peasants, the free passage by ship offered by the Brazilian government seemed a great opportunity to leave poverty.The Spanish community was present in all São Paulo. According to a 1933 research the largest concentration of Spaniards was found in the region of Catanduva, Rio Preto, Araraquara, Santa Adélia etc., with 108,000 Spaniards. Next was the central part of the state in cities such as Campinas, Sorocaba, Itu and Jundiaí, with 28,000. Northwest São Paulo, in cities such as Bauru, Araçatuba and Marília had 45,000 Spaniards. This way, about 75% of the Spanish community in São Paulo was concentrated in the region of Araraquara and in the Northwest and in those areas the towns with most Spaniards were Tanabi, Mirassol, Nova Granada (named after the Spanish city of Granada), São José do Rio Preto and Olímpia. The city of São Paulo had 50,000 Spaniards. The 1913 census in Santos found a population of 8,343 Spaniards out of a population of 39,802 people. In 1931 there were 11,982 Spaniards in that city, out of a population of 125,941 people (or 9.51% of the total population).Reports that Spanish immigrants were living in appalling conditions in Brazil made Spain, in 1909, sent to Brazil the Inspector Gamboa Navarro in order to assess the situation of the Spaniards in the country. Navarro made a report, which showed that employment contracts were "illusory", because they were not respected. In coffee plantations, he wrote that the immigrants slept on the floor and in tiny houses and also reported that the abuses in labour relations were frequent. He concluded that 98% of the Spaniards in Brazil would return to Spain if they could. Three weeks after the publication of that report, Spanish newspaper Gaceta de Madrid proposed a ban on Spanish emigration to Brazil. The newspapers remembered that Italy and Germany had already passed laws on the subject and that Portugal was trying to conduct its immigrants to other countries rather than Brazil. Finally, on August 26, 1910 Spain issued a royal decree prohibiting the free emigration to Brazil. The decree did not have any effect and, curiously, the Spanish immigration to Brazil peaked after it was issued.Other reports suggest that there was a thriving Spanish community in Brazil, particularly those who were able to leave the coffee plantations and to buy their own lands.It is estimated that since Brazil's independence (1822) some 750,000 Spaniards have entered Brazil. This figure represents between 12.5% and 14% of all foreigners entering Brazil since its independence and puts the Spaniards in the third place among immigrants in Brazil, behind the Portuguese and Italians. Immigrants of Spanish origin were among those who had a higher rate of permanent residence in Brazil, overtaken by the Japanese but above nationalities such as Portuguese, Italian or German. This may be due to the large number of families traveling with passage paid by the Brazilian government that left their native Spain to work on coffee plantations of the state of São Paulo. Most Spaniards entered Brazil between 1880 and 1930, with the peak period between 1905 and 1919, when they overcome the entry of Italians.

Uruguayan Brazilians

Uruguayan Brazilian (Portuguese: Uruguaio-brasileiro, Spanish: Uruguayo-brasileño, Rioplatense Spanish: Uruguayo-brasilero) is a Brazilian person of full, partial, or predominantly Uruguayan ancestry, or a Uruguayan-born person residing in Brazil.

Related topics
Immigration to South America
Sovereign states
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other territories

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