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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage that is real or assumed- sharing cultural characteristics[1][2] This shared heritage may be based upon putative common ancestry, history, kinship, religion, language, shared territory, nationality or physical appearance. Members of an ethnic group are conscious of belonging to an ethnic group; moreover ethnic identity is further marked by the recognition from others of a group's distinctiveness.[3] [4]

Brazil is a racially diverse and multiracial country.[5] Intermarriage among different ethnic groups has been part of the country's history.


Ethnic groups

The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) classifies the Brazilian population in five categories: white, black, pardo (brown), yellow, and Indigenous, based on skin color as given by the individual being interviewed in the census.

  • White (49.4% of the population):[6] usually a Brazilian of full or predominant European ancestry or other ancestry (such as German Brazilian) who considers himself or herself to be White[citation needed].
  • Brown (Multiracial) (42.3%):[6] This is a word from colonial times. It was used by the Portuguese to describe what they called a "mixed 'race'" person. Native American European offspring, as well as African European offspring, were called "pardos" without distinction. Currently, it usually means a Multiracial Brazilian of mixed-race features who considers himself or herself to be "Pardo". In practice, most of the people who do not have either "light" or "dark" complexions, but "intermediate" skin colour, will fall under the "pardo" category (full Europeans with brown skin colour included[citation needed]). Most of the "Pardo" people are of mixed European and African (mulatos), but this category also includes people of mixed European and Amerindian (caboclos) and Amerindian and African (cafusos) genetic ancestry[7].
  • Black (7.4%):[6] usually a dark-skinned Brazilian of full or predominant Black African ancestry who considers himself or herself to be Black[citation needed].
  • Yellow or Asian (0.5%): usually a Brazilian of East Asian descent[citation needed], mostly Japanese.
  • Indigenous (0.3%):[8] usually a Brazilian of full or predominant Amerindian ancestry who considers himself or herself to be Amerindian[citation needed].

Brazil's population history

Immigration to Brazil, by Ethnic groups, periods from 1500 to 1933
Source: Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE)
Ethnic group[citation needed] 1500–1700 1701–1760 1761–1829 1830–1855 1856–1883 1884–1893 1894–1903 1904–1913 1914–1923 1924–1933
Africans 510,000 958,000 1,720,000 618,000
Portuguese 100,000 600,000 26,000 16,737 116,000 170,621 155,542 384,672 201,252 233,650
Italians 100,000 510,533 537,784 196,521 86,320 70,177
Spaniards 113,116 102,142 224,672 94,779 52,405
Germans 5,003 2,008 30,000 22,778 6,698 33,859 29,339 61,723
Japanese 11,868 20,398 110,191
Syrians and Lebanese 96 7,124 45,803 20,400 20,400
Others 66,524 42,820 109,222 51,493 164,586

When Brazil was discovered as a new land by the Portuguese in 1500, its native population was composed of between 3 and 6 million Amerindians, living there for about the last 12,000 years.[9] During several decades afterwards, the country remained sparsely inhabited by Europeans, mainly Portuguese.

Another important instance of forced migration has been the Atlantic slave trade. Over 3 million Africans were captured by their enemy neighbors during feuds to be sold and bought, captured and transported to slavery in Brazil, for three and half centuries, adding to the demographic and racial composition of the country.[10]


Immigration discussion and policy in the 19th century

Brazilian ethnic constitution was widely influenced by race-based ideas from the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century, leading Brazil to chose white immigrants as the ideal “race” to constitute Brazilian population, just like the United States, Australia and Canada. As a former European colony Brazil was influenced by European racism, in spite of being the target of European racism (the French Count Gobineau even said that the Brazilian population would eventually become sterile). European visitors, like the French botanist Augustin de Saint-Hilaire predicted that the lack of a "white majority" would hamper the progress of Brazil. The Brazilian immigration policy was closely connected to the so-called “questão da mão-de-obra” (workforce question), which is the name of the legislative discussions, and planters’ concerns about how to substitute the slave workforce. This concern indicates that Brazilian elites were at that moment considering slavery a bad institution and former slaves as undesired population components which should be mixed within the white population.

Brazilian Slavery was abolished in 1888 but immigration policies were being formulated throughout the second half of the 19th century and culminated in the early Republican period (1890s). Those discussions intended not to be based only in practical experiences but sought to be based in ideas and philosophies considered scientific in the 19th century such as “natural inequality of human beings”, “hierarchy of races”, Social Darwinism and Positivism.

In Brazil, the dominant idea was that the national worker was unable to develop the country, and that only free foreign workers could racially and culturally improve Brazil. The goal was to "whiten" Brazil through new immigrants and through future miscegenation in which former slaves would disappear by becoming “whiter.”[11] In 1878, ten years before the abolition of slavery, Rio de Janeiro hosted the Congresso Agrícola (Agricultural Congress) and that meeting reflected what the Brazilian elite (especially coffee planters) expected from their future workers[12]. Besides national workers were an option to some of the participants, most of them agreed that only immigration would be good to Brazil [13], and, moreover, European immigration. The Congresso Agrícola showed that the elite was convinced that Europeans were racially and culturally superior to other “races”.

Although discussions were situated in a theoretical field, immigrants arrived and colonies were founded through all this period (the rule of Pedro II), especially from 1850 on, particularly in the Southeast and Southern Brazil.

These discussions culminated in the Decree 528 in 1890, signed by Brazil's first President Deodoro da Fonseca, which opened the national harbors to immigration except for Africans and Asians. This decree remained valid until 1907 when it was substituted for one that did not specify the immigrants’ nationalities or origins although Europeans were still favorite immigrants.[14]

As a result of those discussions and policies, Brazil experienced immigration mostly from countries such as Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Poland during the end of the empire and the beginning of the republic period (late 19th and early 20th century). Later immigration, from 1920 on was not so much influenced by that race discussions and Brazil attracted, besides Europeans, more immigrants from Lebanon, Syria and Japan, for example.

Government's racism

The Brazilian government took an obviously racist position in documents such as the 1920 Census, many pages of which were dedicated to the discussion of a "pure race" of white Brazilians. According to theories in the text, the first Portuguese colonists who came to Brazil were part of the blond Germanic nobility that ruled Portugal, while the dark-haired "poor" Portuguese did not come to Brazil and that those blond types disappeared from Portugal because they immigrated to Brazil. According to the theory of the Brazilian Government, published in the 1920 Census, the blond Portuguese of Germanic origin were "restless and migratory", and that's why they immigrated to Brazil. On the other hand, the Portuguese of darker complexions of Celtic or Iberian origin, at first, rarely immigrated to Brazil, and the text explains that it happened because "The peninsular branchyoides, of Celtic race, or the dolicoides, of Iberian race, of sedentary habits and peaceful nature, did not have, of course, that mobility nor that bellicosity nor that spirit of adventure and conquest". The text reported the different levels of intelligence found among blacks and highlights the existence of "lazy blacks" (Gêgis and Angolans) or "laborious blacks" (Timinins, Minas, Dahomeyanos) and also the existence of "peaceful and obedient blacks" and of "rebels and fierce" ones. Also, compared the "levels of morality" found among blacks and reported that Gêgis, Krumanos and Cabindas reveled the "mental inferiority, typical from the lowest types of the black race."

The Brazilian Government said that the Brazilian aristocracy was descended from those earlier dolico-louros (long-blond) "Germanic Portuguese" settlers, who had more eugenics and from whom they inherited their "great qualities of energy, auacia and hardiness". The text stresses that the Portuguese settlers came from the northern regions, theoretically populated by Celtic and Germanic, while the southern regions, such as the Alentejo, "intensely mixed with Semitic blood", rarely sent immigrants to Brazil. About the Brazilian Indians, the text stresses the existence of "white and blond Indians". About the black Africans, it said that "The blacks from the yebú tribe, for example, or from the Cassange or Hausa tribe, although strengthened, had the repulsive ugliness of the pure black type. Those from Mina, or Fula, or Achanti, or Felanin, on the other hand, had great beauty, because of the proportionality of features, the softness of the features, slim of stature, the lighter skin color and the hair less frizzly than that of other nations" and concluded that "Regarding the plastic beauty, none over Mojolos and Sereres, whose incredible complexion has the purity, the grace and nobility of the European type". The texts reported that "Their (black people) presence was so great there, that they became superfluous and useless, with no other application but to serve as agents of crime and turbulence". Finally, the writers of the texts reported that the blacks of Rio de Janeiro had "simian features".[15]

On July 28, 1921, representatives Andrade Bezerra and Cincinato Braga proposed a law whose Article 1 provided: "It is prohibited in Brazil immigration of individuals from the black race." On October 22, 1923, representative Fidélis Reis produced another project of law on the entry of immigrants, whose fifth article was as follows: 'It is prohibited the entry of settlers from the black race in Brazil and, to Asians, it will be allowed each year, a number equal to 5% of those existing in the country.(...)'.[16]

In 1945, the Brazilian government issued a decree favoring the entrance of European immigrants in the country: "The entry of immigrants comes from the need to preserve and develop, in the ethnic composition of the population, the more convenient features of their European ancestry".[16]

Gilberto Freyre's work

In 1933, Brazilian anthropologist Gilberto Freyre published his famous book Casa-Grande & Senzala (English: The Masters and the Slaves). The book appeared in a moment that science was explaining that some races were superior to other ones and in the same period of the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. Freyre's work was very important to change the mentality, especially of the white Brazilian elite, who considered the Brazilian people as "inferior" because of their African and Amerindian ancestry. In this book, Freyre refuted the idea that Brazil would have an "inferior race" because of the race-mixing. Then, he pointed the positive elements that permeate the Brazilian cultural formation because of miscegenation (especially between Portuguese, Indians and blacks). Freyre's book has changed the mentality in Brazil, and the mixing of races, then, became a reason to be a national pride. However, Freyre's book created the Brazilian myth of the Racial democracy, so that Brazil was a "post-racial" country without racism. This theory was later challenged by several anthropologists who claim that, despite the race-mixing, the "white" Brazilian population still occupies the top of the Brazilian society, while Blacks, Indians and mixed-race people are largely found in the poor population. This analysis is evident in Darcy Ribeiro's book O Povo Brasileiro.

Racial makeup and genetic studies

Nowadays, most Brazilians classify themselves as being Whites, closely followed by the Brown group. Recent genetic studies found a high degree of racial admixture in all ethnic groups of Brazil, concluding that the vast majority of Brazilians have some amount of European, African and Amerindian ancestry.


According to a genetic study about Brazilians, on the paternal side, 98% of the White Brazilian Y Chromosome comes from a European male ancestor, only 2% from an African ancestor and a complete absence of Amerindian contributions. On the maternal side, 39% have a European Mitochondrial DNA, 33% Amerindian and 28% African female ancestry[17]. This analysis, however, only shows a small fraction of a person's ancestry (the Y Chromosome comes from a single male ancestor and the mtDNA from a single female ancestor, while the contributions of the many other ancestors is not specified).[18].

Analyzing the Afro-Brazilians' Y chromosome, which comes from male ancestors through paternal line, it was concluded that half (50%) of African-Brazilian population have at least one male ancestor who came from Europe, 48% who came from Africa and 1.6% who was a Native American. Analyzing their mitochondrial DNA, that comes from female ancestors though maternal line, 85% of them have at least a female ancestor who came from Africa, 12.5% Native American and only 2.5% a female ancestor who came from Europe[19].[20]

According to another study, in all Brazil's regions, European ancestry predominates in the population. The percentage, however, varies from region to region. It was calculated that to the population of Northern Brazil as a whole, the genetic contribution would be 47% European, 41% Amerindian and 12% African. In the Northeast Brazil, the distribution would be 51% European, 36% African and 13% Amerindian. In Southern Brazil 82% European, 11% Amerindian and 7% African.[21]

Another study, focused on the autosomal contribution (which is about the sum of the ancestors of each individual, the overall picture), found out that the average Brazilian would be about 80% European in all regions except in the South where they would be, on average, about 90% European (regardless of census classification).[22]

According to another different study, European ancestry predominates in the Brazilian population. The Brazilians as a whole, from all regions, and of all complexions, would lie more closely to the European group than to the African populations or to the Mestizos from Mexico, from the genetical point of view.[23]

Descendants of colonial settlers

Brazil's racial base are its colonial settlers (Amerindians[citation needed], Portuguese and Africans):

  • At least 50% of the Brazilian paternal ancestry would be of Portuguese origin.[24]
  • Most Brazilians would have on average a predominant European ancestry (80% European contribution for each individual in all of Brazil, except in the South where the average Brazilian would be about 90% European), regardless of census classification and complexion, according to what a study found.[22]
  • 86% of Brazilians would have over 10% of their genes coming from Africans, according to a study based on about 200 samples [25]
  • Over 60 million Brazilians would have some Amerindian ancestry.[26]

Descendants of immigrants

The largest influx of European immigrants to Brazil occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. According to the Memorial do Imigrante statistics data, Brazil attracted nearly 5 million immigrants between 1870 and 1953.[27][28] These immigrants were divided in two groups: a part of them was sent to Southern Brazil to work as small farmers. However, the biggest part of the immigrants was sent to Southeast Brazil to work in the coffee plantations. The immigrants sent to Southern Brazil were mainly Germans (starting in 1824, mainly from Rhineland-Palatinate, the others from Pomerania, Hamburg, Westphalia, etc) and Italians (starting in 1875, mainly from the Veneto and Lombardia). In the South, the immigrants established rural communities that, still today, have a strong cultural connection with their ancestral homelands[citation needed]. In Southeastern Brazil, most of the immigrants were Italians (mainly from the Veneto, Campania, Calabria and Lombardia), Portuguese (mainly from Beira Alta, Minho and Alto Trás-os-Montes), Spaniards (mainly from Galicia and Andalusia).

Notably, the first half of the twentieth century saw a large inflow of Japanese (mainly from Honshū, Hokkaidō and Okinawa) and Arab (from Lebanon and Syria) immigrants.

Populations of immigrants and descendants in Brazil with over 1 million members:

Main groups of settlers and immigrants in Brazil, from 1500 to 1970
Nationality/origin Number of settlers Number of Brazilian descendants
Africans [note 1] 4,000,000 Most of the population[25]
Flag of Portugal.svg Portuguese 2,450,000 Most of the population[29]
Flag of Italy.svg Italians 1,622,491 25 million[30]
Flag of Spain.svg Spaniards 716,052 15 million[31]
Flag of Japan.svg Japanese 248,007 1.6 million.[32]
Flag of Germany.svg Germans [note 2] 240,000 Between 5 and 18 million[33][34]
Flag of Poland.svg Poles [note 3] 110,243 1.8 million[35]
  1. ^ It includes all people who were brought from Sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. ^ It does not include Germans who immigrated with Russian passports (see Volga Germans) and from other German-speaking countries (Austria, Switzerland, etc)
  3. ^ Most of the Poles immigrated to Brazil with Russian passports
Total of entries of immigrants in the Port of Santos, São Paulo (1908–1936) - Gender[36].
Nationalities Total  % Male  % Female
Portuguese 275,257 67.9 32.1
Spaniards 209,282 59.4 40.6
Italians 202,749 64.7 35.3
Japanese 176,775 56.2 43.8
Germans 43,989 64.3 35.7
Turks 26,321 73.4 26.6
Romanians 23,756 53.2 46.7
Yugoslavians 21,209 52.1 47.9
Lithuanians 20,918 58.6 41.4
Syrians 17,275 65.4 34.6
Poles 15,220 61.9 38.1
Austrians 15,041 72.7 27.3
Others 47,664 64.9 35.1
Total 1,221,282 63.8 36.2

Racial disparities

According to the 2007 Brazilian national resource, the white workers had an average monthly income almost twice that of blacks and pardos (brown). The blacks and brown earned on average 1.8 minimum wages, while the whites had a yield of 3.4 minimum wages. Among workers with over 12 years of study, the difference was also large. While the whites earned on average R$15.90 per hour, the blacks and brown received R$11.40, when they worked the same period. Among the 1% richest population of Brazil, only 12% were blacks and brown, while whites constituted 86.3% of the group. In the 10% poorest there were 73.9% of blacks and brown, and 25.5% of whites.

13.4% of white Brazilians were graduated, compared to 4% of blacks and brown. 24.2% of whites were studying in a College or University, compared to 8.4% of blacks and brown. In 2007, 57.9% of white students between 18 and 24 years old were attending a University or a College. However, only 25.4% of black and brown students of the same age group studied at the same level. Of just over 14 million illiterates in Brazil, nearly 9 million were black or pardo. The illiteracy rate among white people over 15 years old was 6.1%. Among blacks and brown of the same age group over 14%.[37]

Almost half of the Brazilian population (49.4%) is white. The brown form 42.3%, the black 7.4%, and the indigenous or "yellow", according to the IBGE, only 0.8%. The region with the highest proportion of brown is the north, with 68.3%. The population of the Northeast is composed of 8.5% of blacks, the largest proportion. In the South, 78.7% of the population is white.

Races and ethnicities by region

     White majority (European, Arab, Jew)      Mixed-race majority (Two or more races)

Historically, the different regions of Brazil had their own migratory movements, which resulted in racial differences between these areas. The Southern region had a greater impact of the European immigration and has a large White majority, which contrasts with the Northern and Northeastern regions, which have a large Pardo (mixed-race) majority. In Northern Brazil, the main racial contribution was of the native Amerindians, with a smaller European and African influence. In Northeastern Brazil, the main contribution was of Africans, with a smaller European and Amerindian influence. The Southeastern region of Brazil had a more balanced ratio of European, African and Amerindian admixture.[38]

The Census of 2007 revealed that the self-reported White population had its higher proportion in the state of Santa Catarina (86.6%) and the lowest in Bahia (20.9%). The Pardo (brown) proportion was higher in Amazonas (72.4%) and lower in Santa Catarina (9.4%). The Black proportion varied from 15.7% in Bahia to 2.4% in Amazonas. Because of their small number, the Amerindian and Asian population were counted together and they had a higher proportion in Mato Grosso and Roraima (2.3%) and a lower proportion in Paraíba (0.1%).

State[39] White (%) Multiracial (mixed-race) (%) Black (%) Asian or Amerindian (%)
Acre 27,1 67,8 4,1 1,0
Alagoas 30,6 65,4 3,8 0,3
Amapá 27,6 62,2 8,1 2,0
Amazonas 21,6 72,4 2,4 3,6
Bahia 20,9 62,9 15,7 0,6
Ceará 34,3 62,4 3,1 0,2
Brazilian Federal District 41,6 49,5 7,4 1,3
Espírito Santo 42,2 48,6 8,5 0,7
Goiás 40,6 52,7 6,1 0,5
Maranhão 25,5 63,9 9,5 1,0
Mato Grosso 35,3 54,6 7,8 2,3
Mato Grosso do Sul 49,1 43,4 5,3 2,2
Minas Gerais 45,7 44,2 9,7 0,4
Pará 23,6 69,4 6,2 0,8
Paraíba 36,5 57,5 5,8 0,1
Paraná 70,3 25,5 3,0 1,1
Pernambuco 37,9 55,2 6,3 0,6
Piauí 23,5 69,9 6,4 0,2
Rio de Janeiro 54,5 32,4 12,6 0,4
Rio Grande do Norte 37,1 58,5 3,9 0,4
Rio Grande do Sul 82,3 11,4 5,9 0,4
Rondônia 34,4 58,8 5,8 1,0
Roraima 23,5 65,1 9,2 2,3
Santa Catarina 86,6 9,4 3,6 0,4
São Paulo 67,2 25,4 6,2 1,3
Sergipe 28,8 61,3 8,7 1,3
Tocantins 24,5 67,1 7,2 1,2


The South of Brazil is the region with the largest percentage of Whites. According to the 2005 census, people of European ancestry account for 79.6% of the population.[40] In colonial times, this region had a very small population.

The region what is now Southern Brazil was originally settled by Amerindian peoples, mostly Guarani and Kaingangs[41]. Only a few settlers from São Paulo were living there. This situation made the region vulnerable to attacks from neighboring countries. This fact forced the King of Portugal to decide to populate the region. For this, settlers of the Portuguese Azores islands were sent to the coast.

To stimulate the immigration to Brazil, the king offered several benefits for the Azorean couples. Between 1748 and 1756, six thousand Azoreans moved to the coast of Santa Catarina. They were mainly newly married who were seeking a better life. At that time, the Azores were one of the poorest regions of Portugal. They established themselves mainly in the Santa Catarina Island, nowadays the region of Biguaçu. Later, some couples moved to Rio Grande do Sul, where they established Porto Alegre, the capital. The Azoreans lived on fishing and agriculture, especially flour. They composed over half of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina's population in the late 18th century.[42] [42] The state of Paraná was settled by colonists from São Paulo due to their proximity (Paraná was part of São Paulo until the mid-19th century).

With the development of cattle in the interior of Rio Grande do Sul, African slaves began arriving in large numbers. By 1822, Blacks were 50% of Rio Grande do Sul's population. This number decreased to 25% in 1858 and to only 5.2% in 2005. Most of them came from Angola.[43]

After independence from Portugal (1822) the Brazilian government started to stimulate the arrival of a new wave of immigrants to settle the South. In 1824 they established São Leopoldo, a German community. Major Schaeffer, a German who was living in Brazil, was sent to Germany in order to bring immigrants. From Rhineland-Palatinate, the Major brought the immigrants and soldiers. Settlers from Germany were brought to work as small farmers, because there were many land holdings without workers. To attract the immigrants, the Brazilian government had promised large tracts of land, where they could settle with their families and colonize the region. The first years were not easy. Many Germans died of tropical disease, while others left the colonies to find better living conditions. The German colony of São Leopoldo was a disaster. Nevertheless, in the following years, a further 4,830 Germans arrived at São Leopoldo, and then the colony started to develop, with the immigrants establishing the town of Novo Hamburgo (New Hamburg). From São Leopoldo and Novo Hamburgo, the German immigrants spread into others areas of Rio Grande do Sul, mainly close to sources of rivers. The whole region of Vale dos Sinos was populated by Germans. During the 1830s and part of the 1840s German immigration to Brazil was interrupted due to conflicts in the country (War of the Farrapos). The immigration restarted after 1845 with the creation of new colonies. The most important ones were Blumenau, in 1850, and Joinville in 1851, both in Santa Catarina state; these attracted thousands of German immigrants to the region. In the next five decades, other 28 thousand Germans were brought to Rio Grande do Sul to work as small farmers in the countryside.[44] Until 1914, it is estimated that 50 thousand Germans settled in this state.

Another immigration boom to this region started in 1875. Communities with Italian immigrants were also created in southern Brazil. The first colonies to be populated by Italians were created in the highlands of Rio Grande do Sul (Serra Gaúcha). These were Garibaldi and Bento Gonçalves. These immigrants were predominantly from Veneto, in northern Italy. After five years, in 1880, the great numbers of Italian immigrants arriving caused the Brazilian government to create another Italian colony, Caxias do Sul. After initially settling in the government-promoted colonies, many of the Italian immigrants spread themselves into other areas of Rio Grande do Sul seeking further opportunities. They created many other Italian colonies on their own, mainly in highlands, because the lowlands were already populated by Germans and native gaúchos. The Italian established many vineyards in the region. Nowadays, the wine produced in these areas of Italian colonization in southern Brazil is much appreciated within the country, though little is available for export. In 1875, the first Italian colonies were established in Santa Catarina, which lies immediately to the north of Rio Grande do Sul. The colonies gave rise to towns such as Criciúma, and later also spread further north, to Paraná.

A significant number of Poles have settled in Southern Brazil. The first immigrants arrived in 1869. From 1872 to 1959, 110,243 "Russian" citizens entered Brazil. In fact, the vast majority of them were Poles, since Poland was under Russian rule and ethnic Poles immigrated with Russian passports.[45]


The Southeastern region of Brazil is the ethnically most diverse part of the country. Whites make up 58.8% of its population, and those of mixed-race and African descent make up, together, 40.2%. It has the largest percentage of Asian Brazilians, composing 0.8%, and small Amerindian community (0.2%).

Southeast Brazil is home to the oldest Portuguese village in the Americas, São Vicente, São Paulo, established in 1532.[46] The region, since the beginning of its colonization, is a melting pot of Whites, Indians and Blacks. The Amerindians of the region were enslaved by the Portuguese. The race mixing between the Indian females and their White masters produced the Bandeirante, the colonial inhabitant of São Paulo, who formed expeditions that crossed the interior of Brazil and greatly increased the Portuguese colonial territory. The main language spoken by these people of mixed Indian/Portuguese heritage was Língua geral, a language that mixed Tupi and Portuguese words.

In the late 17th century the Bandeirantes found gold in the area that nowadays is Minas Gerais. A gold rush took place in Brazil, and thousands of Portuguese colonists arrived during this period. The confrontation between the Bandeirantes and the Portuguese for obtaining possession of the mines led to the Emboabas' War. The Portuguese won the war. The Amerindian culture declined, giving space to a stronger Portuguese cultural domination. In order to control the richness, the Portuguese Crown moved the capital of Brazil from Salvador, Bahia to Rio de Janeiro. Thousands of African slaves were brought to work in the gold mines. They were landed in Rio de Janeiro and sent to other regions. By the late 18th century, Rio de Janeiro was an "African city": most of its inhabitants were slaves. No other place in the world had so many slaves, since the end of the Roman Empire.[47] In 1808 the Portuguese Royal Family, fleeing from Napoleon, took charge in Rio de Janeiro. Some 15 thousand Portuguese nobles moved to Brazil. The region changed a lot, becoming more European.

After independence and principally after 1850, Southeast Brazil was "inundated" by European immigrants, who were attracted by the government to replace the African slaves in the coffee plantations. Most immigrants landed in the Port of Santos and has been forwarded to the coffee farms within São Paulo. The vast majority of the immigrants came from Italy. Brazil attracted nearly 5 million immigrants between 1870 and 1953. The large amounts of Italians are visible in many parts of Southeast Brazil. Their descendants are nowadays predominant in may areas. Northeast São Paulo is 65% Italian, for example.[48]

The arrival of immigrants from several places of Europe, the Middle-East and Asia produced an ethnically diverse population. The city of Bastos, in São Paulo, is 11.4% Japanese[citation needed]. The city of São Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan itself. [49] The capital of São Paulo is also home to the largest Arab population outside the Levant region.


The population of Northeast Brazil is a result of an intensive race mixing. According to the 2006 census people of Multiracial background make up 62.5% of the population. Those of total or predominantly Black ancestry account for 7.8%. This region did not have any effect of the European immigration that took place in Southern Brazil in the 19th century. The Northeast is the poorest part of Brazil and did not need immigrants[citation needed]. By the way, since the late 19th century, thousands of people from this region move to the richest parts of Brazil, mainly São Paulo.

The ethnic composition of the population starts in the 16th century. The Portuguese settlers rarely brought women, which led to relationships with the Indian women. Later, interracial relationships occurred between Portuguese and African females. The coast, in the past a place to the arrival of millions of Black slaves from Angola, Nigeria and Benin to embrace the plantations of sugar-cane, is where nowadays there is a predominance of Mulattoes, those of Black and White ancestry. Salvador, Bahia is considered the largest Black city outside of Africa, with over 80% of its inhabitants being African-Brazilians. In the interior, there is a predominance of Indian and White mixture.[50]


Northern Brazil, largely covered by the Amazon rainforest, is the Brazilian region with the largest Amerindian influences, both in culture and ethnicity. Inhabited by diverse indigenous tribes, this part of Brazil was reached by Portuguese and Spanish colonists in the 17th century, but it started to be populated by non-Indians only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The exploitation of rubber used in the growing industries of automobiles, has emerged a huge migration to the region. Many people from the poor Northeast Brazil, mostly Ceará, moved to the Amazon area. The contact between the Indians and the northeastern rubbers created the base of the ethnic composition of the region, with its mixed-race majority.


The Central-West region of Brazil was inhabited by diverse Indians when the Portuguese arrived in the early 18th century. The Portuguese came to explore the precious stones that were found there. As it was a far away region, very few African slaves were brought to this area[citation needed]. Who, in fact, worked as slaves in the gold mines were the local Indians[citation needed]. The contact between the Portuguese and the Indians created a mixed-race population[citation needed]. Until the mid-20th century, Central-West Brazil had a very small population. The situation changed with the construction of Brasilia, the new capital of Brazil, in 1960. Many workers were attracted to the region, mostly from northeastern Brazil.

A new migratory movement started arriving from the 1970s. With the mechanization of agriculture in the South of Brazil, rural workers of that region, many of them of German and Italian origin migrated to the Central-West Brazil.


  1. ^ Smith 1987
  2. ^ Marcus Banks, Ethnicity: Anthropological Constructions (1996), p. 151 "'ethnic groups' invariably stress common ancestry or endogamy".
  3. ^ "Anthropology. The study of ethnicity, minority groups, and identity," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2007.
  4. ^ Bulmer, M. (1996). "The ethnic group question in the 1991 Census of Population". in Coleman, D and Salt, J.. Ethnicity in the 1991 Census of Population. HMSO. pp. 35. 
  5. ^ Bibliothèque Virtuelle Gilberto Freyre - L'oeuvre
  6. ^ a b c Sintese_2006_semlinks.indd
  7. ^
  8. ^ Brazil - Brasil - BRAZZIL - News from Brazil - The life and death of Orlando Villas Boas - Brazilian Indians, Ecology, Amazon- January 2003
  9. ^ The vanishing art of Brazil's Indians
  10. ^ Slavery in Brazil
  11. ^ VAINFAS, Ronaldo. Dicionário do Brasil Imperial. Rio de Janeiro: Objetiva, 2002, p 152.
  12. ^ SANTOS, Sales Augusto dos. Historical roots of the “whitening” of Brazil. Translated by Lawrence Hallewell. Latin American Perspectives. Issue 122, Vol. 29 No I, January 2002, p 62.
  13. ^ LIMA, Sílvio C.S. Determinismo biológico e imigração chinesa em Nicolau Moreira (1870-1890). 123 p. Dissertation (Master degree in History of Health Sciences) Rio de Janeiro: Fiocruz, 2005. [1], p. 104
  14. ^ Ibid., p. 110
  15. ^ Text from the 1920 Brazilian Census
  16. ^ a b RIOS, Roger Raupp. Text excerpted from a judicial sentence concerning crime of racism. Federal Justice of 10ª Vara da Circunscrição Judiciária de Porto Alegre, November 16, 2001 (Accessed September 10, 2008)
  17. ^ The Ancestry of Brazilian mtDNA Lineages
  18. ^ Os Genes de Cabral
  19. ^ Afrobras - DNA do negro
  20. ^ Genetic signatures of parental contribution in black and white populations in Brazil
  21. ^ Color and genomic ancestry in Brazilians
  22. ^ a b DNA de brasileiro é 80% europeu, indica estudo.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Os Genes de Cabral
  25. ^ a b Estudos Avançados - Pode a genética definir quem deve se beneficiar das cotas universitárias e demais ações afirmativas?
  26. ^ Retrato molecular do Brasil
  27. ^ "Entrada de imigrantes no Brasil - 1870/1907" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  28. ^ "Entrada de imigrantes no Brasil - 1908/1953" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  29. ^ Os Genes de Cabral
  30. ^ People of Italian descent in Brazil
  31. ^ People of Spanish descent in Brazil
  32. ^ People of Japanese descent in Brazil
  33. ^ As diferentes fases da imigração alemã no Brasil
  34. ^ "Brasil alemão" comemora 180 anos
  35. ^ People of Polish descent in Brazil
  36. ^ Imigração portuguesa
  37. ^ Em 2007, trabalhadores brancos ganharam quase duas vezes mais que os negros, diz IBGE
  38. ^ Frequency of Continent-Specific mtDNA Haplotypes in the Brazilian mtDNA Pool
  39. ^ IBGE. "Síntese de Indicadores Sociais 2007" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 28 October 2007. 
  40. ^ "PNAD" (in Portuguese) (PDF). 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  41. ^ Página do Gaúcho - Índios - Os grupos indígenas e sua distribuição
  42. ^ a b Imigrantes: Açorianos
  43. ^ RS VIRTUAL - O Rio Grande do Sul na Internet - História - Colonização - Negros - A história dos gaúchos sem história
  44. ^ Germans
  45. ^ Uma história oculta: a imigração dos países da Europa do Centro-Leste para o Brasil [2]
  46. ^ RankBrasil - Homologação de recordes no Brasil - Cidade Mais Velha do Brasil
  47. ^ Pdt - Rj
  48. ^ Fundação Lorenzato
  49. ^ São Paulo é tudo de bom - Turismo, eventos e entretenimento na cidade de São Paulo
  50. ^ Regiões do Brasil

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