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 Brazilian People

Brazilians are the friendly and talkative people who inhabit Brazil, in South America. They love to play soccer, to dance and to party. They also work hard and are very creative.

Brazil has a population of over 180 million people and it is the fifth most populous country in the world, after China, India, the US, and Indonesia. The rate at which the population is increasing is slowing down. In the early 1960s, women could expect to have 6 children on average. Such figure fell to an average of 2.4 children per woman in 2004.

The Brazilian population is rather young. Two thirds of the Brazilians are under 29 years of age. The population is unevenly distributed throughout the Brazilian territory, as the map below shows. Three in every four people live in urban centers on or near the coast.

A melting pot

Brazilians descend from people who originally came from many other parts of the world.

The first immigrants were the Indians who arrived from Asia between 7 and 10 thousand years ago, during the Ice Ages.

The first European settlers, the Portuguese, came much later: they only arrived after the explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral's expedition in the year 1500. Other European maritime powers tried to set up colonies along side the Portuguese ones.
The first expedition from England arrived in 1552; France invaded the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1555; and from 1630 to 1654, the Dutch occupied the State of Pernambuco in the northeast of Brazil, at that time the center of sugar cane production.

All these settlers were eventually expelled by the Portuguese. As Portugal began to develop the colony, they brought slaves from Africa, mostly from Nigeria, Benin, and Angola. This slave trade continued in Brazil until the late 19th century, when it was abolished.

Today, Brazilians are the African, European, Native Indian, Asian and Middle-Estern descendents, mostly intermixed. Brazil is a melting pot.

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Immigration from Europe was given a fresh boost in 1808 when laws were passed allowing foreigners to own land in Brazil.

Throughout the 19th century and especially in the early 20th century, many people from Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Poland came to Brazil.

Non-Europeans, like Lebanese, Syrians, and Japanese also came in large numbers.

Some of these people came to work in developing industries, in large cities such as São Paulo.

The Japanese began to arrive in 1905, in an historic ship called Kasato Maru.

By the way, the largest Japanese city outside Japan is located in the Brazilian city of São Paulo, in the district known as “Liberdade” which means “Liberty”
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All the faces in the world

The Portuguese came to Brazil primarily to exploit its natural resources. They settled on the northeast coast where the fertile soils and climate of the coastal plain were ideal for growing sugar cane.

The original colonists survived by sending sugar, timber, gold, and silver back to Europe. Africans were brought as slaves to work on the sugar plantations beginning in the early 1500s. Slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888.

By then, the slave trade already was declining because immigrant laborers replaced slaves on farms and in mines. Migrant workers from Europe came in search of better economic opportunities.
In the early 18th century, more came after great gold mines were discovered in the state of Minas Gerais.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Europeans came to work in the rubber industry in the Amazon or in coffee plantations in southeastern Brazil.

Between 1929 and 1945, the immigration decreased because of the wars in Europe. Nowadays, new groups of immigrants are arriving from Asia and some other countries of South America.

People usually say that Brazilians have all the faces of the world. There is no such a thing as a “typical Brazilian".

The 1991 census recorded that about 55% of the population is of European origin, 39% of mixed race, 5% of African origin, and 0.5% is of Japanese origin.

Brazil is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial nation of immigrants - not unlike the United States. If you walk down a crowded street in Brazil, visit a festival, or go to a soccer game, you will see all kinds of people.

Many of them will be of "mixed race", because right from the first days of the Portuguese settlements, the different peoples of Brazil intermarried.