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
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
Today, Brazilians are the African, European, Native Indian, Asian and
Middle-Estern descendents, mostly intermixed. Brazil is a melting pot.
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
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
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
People usually say that Brazilians have all the faces of the
world. There is no such a thing as a typical
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