How many Brazilians live abroad?

Over at Acontece, I found a list (in PT) from 2002 of Brazilians living abroad (estimated at over 2 million). The list is quite long so I’ll borrow the section with the highest numbers. So if you are looking to move somewhere and wish to know more or less how many Brazilians live there, this list is a good place to start. If you are looking to get in touch with the local communities, Brasileiros no Estrangeiro is a nice source. If you are curious where Ciudad del Este is, it’s in Paraguay.

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Within the US, the image below from ePodunk shows partial data from the year 2000 on the percentage of Brazilians vs. other residents by city (see link for the rest of the list).

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A step in the right direction

I know a lot of Brazilians moving back home. If it’s bad everywhere, they’d rather be where it’s bad but it’s good, as the saying goes…(The US is good but it’s bad, Brazil is bad but it’s good.)


“MARCOS SILVA DE PAULA, a 37-year-old Brazilian who moved a decade ago to a Brazilian enclave in Astoria, Queens, can offer a ground-floor view of the city’s economic turmoil.

For many years, Mr. Silva De Paula made a decent living in what is something of a throwback profession — he shines shoes for a living — but he is now planning to return to Brazil with his wife, Miria, and their 3-year-old daughter, Kimberly. Both Mr. Silva De Paula and his wife, who works part time cleaning houses, have seen their incomes plummet in the past year, and in leaving, they will be following in the footsteps of many Brazilian friends who have already made the one-way trip.

Many immigrants are suffering economically these days, but as the recession deepens, Brazilians are among the few who have the option and incentive to return to their homelands. The reason is that Brazil’s economy, while clearly affected by worldwide troubles, has been relatively strong in recent years, so much so that even before the recession, its strength had drawn immigrants home.

On a recent evening, between bites of a Brazilian farmer’s cheese and his wife’s homemade cake, Mr. Silva De Paula sat in the kitchen of his two-bedroom apartment and talked about his decision to move back home.”

The rest of the story here at NYT.

General Amnesty for Foreigners in Brazil

The (Brazilian) Federal government is preparing a proposal for amnesty for close to fifty-thousand foreigners that live illegally in the country. The Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Luiz Paulo Barreto, affirmed this Tuesday that the objective is to legalize the situation of this group of people and to obtain as a counterpart, the same reaction from the countries that harbor Brazilian immigrants.


“O governo federal prepara uma proposta para anistiar cerca de 50 mil estrangeiros que vivem ilegalmente no país. O secretário-executivo do Ministério da Justiça, Luiz Paulo Barreto, afirmou nesta terça-feira que o objetivo é legalizar a situação dessas pessoas e obter como contrapartida a mesma reação dos países que abrigam os imigrantes brasileiros.”


My Take

What the article fails to address is whether this amnesty will actually happen, how the process will be, is it only on a reciprocal basis and for how long will the doors be open to this opportunity. In the meantime, I will attempt to look further into the issue to see if I can dig up some more details.

Scenic Routes through the South

There are a few scenic routes through the South of Brazil which show off the natural beauty of one of Brazil’s most mountainous regions, the Serra Gaúcha. A little further below, I’ll describe two of the more popular ones.

Serra Gaúcha

The Serra Gaúcha, or The Gaucho Highlands, is the mountainous region in the northeastern portion of Rio Grande do Sul, a state in southern Brazil. This mountainous region is home to many Brazilians of German and Italian descent. Consequently, the cities in the Serra Gaúcha reflect German and Italian influences through their architecture, gastronomy and culture.

Several tourist routes run through the most picturesque cities of the Serra Gaúcha, particularly the Rota Romântica, following the tracks of German colonization and also the Italian-flavored route, Caminhos da Colônia.

Caminhos da Colônia

Caminhos da Colônia, Portuguese for “Pathways of the Colony”, is a scenic tourist route of four settlements in the Serra Gaúcha in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. The 35km route runs between the cities of Caxias do SulFlores da CunhaOtávio Rocha and the old settlement of Santa Justina which never developed into a city like the other three.

The tour route passes through the beautiful wine country of Rio Grande do Sul, highlighting the cities colonized by Italian immigrants (some of which still speak a dialect of Venetian called Talian) more than 100 years ago. Highlights include viewing wineries, cathedrals, museums, old mills and the bucolic and beautiful Italian region of the Serra Gaúcha.

Rota Romântica

The Rota Romântica, Portuguese for the “Romantic Route”, is a scenic tourist route that runs through 13 municipalities located in the mountainous Serra Gaúcha region. The area was first colonized by German immigrants in the first half of the 19th century.

The strong German influence can still be seen in each of these beautiful towns and villages – this truly sets the tour route apart from others in Brazil. The Germanic roots are visible in the architecture, gastronomy and occasionally in the accent and language (Riograndenser Hunsrückisch) of the people – and, of course, in their Northern European appearance.

There’s an official website in Portuguese for more info on the ‘Caminhos’ scenic route however its in bad need of repairs. Likewise, for the Rota site, go here (also in Portuguese). In addition, if you’d like to read a magazine articIe I wrote on Italian immigration to Brazil, you can find it on my site here

Here’s the Microregion of Rio Grande do Sul where the Caminho is, while the Rota passes through the region just below the area marked in red.

A Myriad of Ethnic Mixtures

Note: This post doesn’t seem to be spacing some of the words correctly. I attempted to fix it.

One reason I love Brazil is for its diverse nature, its mistura (mixture) of ethnicities, how so much mixing is still happening and most importantly, how these mixtures are changing the literal and figurative face of Brazil.

The Remix

The Native Brazilians, or Brasis, only had other Brasis to mix with (not a small number, as they numbered in the several millions and had been living there for the last 15,000-20,000 years) until the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500. The Portuguese then brought the Africans into the mix, albeit through a life of servitude. For a long while, these three ethnicities mixed and formed the bulk of the first kind of Brazilian.

In the late 19th and 20th centuries Italian, German, Spanish, Arab and Japanese immigrants settled Brazil and played an important role in its culture. If you ever have wondered why these later immigrants all settled into the lower Brazilian states (such as Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul), it is solely because the cash crops that needed to be grown would prosper only in these types of humid climates (the North & Northeast has long been arid).

This new blood brought with it a new kind of lifestyle, creating a multicultural and multiethnic society. Brazil was a colony of Portugal for over 3 centuries. Large numbers of settlers coming from Portugal arrived during this period (nearly 1 million) and brought their culture to the colony. The native inhabitants of Brazil had a strong contact with the colonists. Many were exterminated, others mixed with the Portuguese. For that reason, Brazil holds Amerindian influences in its culture, mainly in its food and language (Brazilian Portuguese has hundreds of words of Native American origin, mainly from the Tupi-Guarani).

Black Africans, who were brought as slaves to Brazil, also participated actively in the formation of Brazilian culture. Although the Portuguese colonists forced their slaves to become “more civilized” (that meant to convert to Catholicism and speak Portuguese) their cultural influences were absorbed by the inhabitants of Brazil of all races and origins. Some regions of Brazil, especially Bahia, have obvious African legacy in the music,food, language, etc.

Immigrants from Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan and the Middle-East played an important role in the areas they settled (mostly Southern and Southeastern Brazil). They organized communities that became important cities (Joinville and Caxias do Sul, for example) and brought important contributions to the culture of Brazil.

Current Trends

After the First World War and during and after the Second World War three other waves of immigrants came to Brazil from Europe and Asia, in the wake of great disturbances that were caused by the wars. Jewish immigration became important. In the second half of the 20th century, immigration to Brazil was greatly reduced, in part because checks on entrance of foreigners became more rigid, but also because immigration pressures decreased as wealth and political and economic stability increased in those countries which contributed most. During the 1970s Brazil received quite a large number of Lebanese immigrants escaping the civil war, as well as a considerable number of other Middle Easterners like Palestinians and Syrians. During the 1990s Brazil received small numbers of immigrants from the former republics of Yugoslavia, from Afghanistan and West Africa (mostly Angolans and Nigerians). Recent immigration is mainly constituted by Chinese and Koreans and, in a smaller degree, by Argentines and other Latin American immigrants.

As a social consequence of the political situation in Bolivia, many Bolivians now live in Brazil. 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. There are an estimated 200,000 Bolivians living in the Greater São Paulo, majority is of illegal immigrants.


As happened with several other countries in the Americas, such as the United States, which encountered immigration from many countries, Brazil quickly became a melting pot of races and nationalities, but being peculiar in the sense of having the highest degree of intermarriage in the world. Immigrants found there a strong social and cultural tolerance toward inter-racial marriage, with large numbers of mulattoes, mestizos and mixed European/African/Indian people. Correspondingly, this free disposition of Brazilians toward inter-racial and inter-ethnic reproduction, though it was not accompanied by an entire lack of racism, reflected in low psychological and social barriers to intermarriage between Europeans, Middle Easterners and Asians of several origins, as well as between people of different religions.

Another likely consequence of strong immigration from North and South Europeans and Asians was the development of a work ethic and education-based personal progress ethic which were, perhaps, lacking in the Brazilian ethos so far, as well as the importation of much needed skills acquired by these people in their countries of origin. As a result, distribution of wealth, economic resources and education has largely accrued to the states in the South and Southeast.


Cabloco = European + Amerindian.

Mulato = African + European.

Cafuzo = Amerindian + African.

Issei, Nissei, Sansei, Yonsei = First, Second, Third & Fourth Generation Japanese-Brazilian.

(There is a joke for any generation past Nissei, in which they say they should be called Numsei. In proper Portuguese, it would be “nem sei” which means “I don’t even know”)

This article on Wikipedia has some interesting charts which break down the different waves of immigration by year and ethnicity. It is also where I took much of my information.

For related news on Brazil’s ethnic mix, check out this post!

Ciao Italia, Ciao Brasil – Also In PT

Here’s an article I wrote a few years back on Italian immigration to Brazil. (Traduzi lá abaixo) Enjoy!

As you probably know, the Italian word ciao is not only used for “hello” but also for “goodbye.” It is rooted in the Italian word schiavo, or slave, with the inferred meaning of being at the service of another person. Around 1875, droves of northern Italians came to the service of the Brazilian government by filling the gaps, which the abolition of the slave trade brought about in Brazil.

Although the Brazilian slave trade ended in 1850, slaves were in no way lacking due to Brazil’s more than three-hundred year history of legalized servitude. In 1888, the adoption of the Golden Law by the Imperial Princess Regent Isabel, officially ended slavery in Brazil.

During this period of decline, the government anticipated the effect this would have on the economy and thereby made public the need for foreign manpower. The need was soon met by poverty-stricken Italians from the north of Italy when Brazilian ships, offering free passage, docked at their ports.

Italy which became unified in 1871, was still very much a young country and the national identity wasn’t yet formed. The advent of social and economic changes made land ownership in northern Italy a difficult task.

When they began seeing government-sponsored posters showing off Brazil’s beauty, this ultimately made immigrating a pliable alternative. In the mind of the Italian, coffee soon became the “green gold.”

In one sense it was a win-win situation. The Italians were filled with hope of a better life while Brazil began preparing to receive them, albeit at a better price than the cost of importing slaves.

The First Settlement

More than one million Italians within a 20 year period became accustomed to calling Brazil their home. The first wave settled into small and isolated government funded colonies in the Serra Gaúcha region of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. A few years later, they forced the government to create bigger colonies, one of them being the modern day city of Caxias do Sul.

While growing accustomed to the local culture, they infused some of their own too. Most of the Italians spoke their own variety of Italian called Talian, which is similar to Venetian but with a great deal of loanwords. Eventually, they began doing what they knew best, which was grape-growing and wine making. Even today, the Serra Gaúcha region produces some of the best wines in Brazil.

For more than 80 years, the city of Caxias do Sul has reveled in their talent for grape growing with a biennial celebration called the Festa da Uva, or Grapefest. The Festa da Uva doubles as a chance to celebrate Italian heritage and sell unique locally made products. as well as offer wine and cheese tasting events.

The Second Settlement

The next wave of Italians to put down roots in Brazil settled themselves mainly in the southeastern state of São Paulo. The need for manpower was much stronger there, due to the vast hole left in big business by the emancipation of the local workforce. In and around São Paulo, the landowners might have been powerful but coffee was the real king.

Not only did the Italians come at an advantageous price but they were also renowned for their love of coffee. The production of coffee required greater care and maintenance than other cash crops and the Brazilians needed experienced growers. The match seemed made in heaven.

Soon after their arrival in São Paulo, the Italians found themselves taking on the role of the slaves they were replacing. Coffee barons turned greedier and were demanding the same amount of work for a cheaper cost.

As a result of poor working conditions, many rebellions occurred which caused the Italian government to halt the influx of immigrants to Brazil. Eventually the farm workers earned enough to purchase small pieces of land where they would build a house and operate a small farm of their own. Others moved to areas where the job offerings weren’t so scarce.

Italian Influences

The capital city of São Paulo, of the same name as the state, is known by many Brazilians today as the “City of Italians.” because over a quarter of its inhabitants were Italian. According to the Italian Embassy in Brazil, over 25 million Brazilians are of Italian descent, a great majority of them hailing from southern or southeastern Brazil.

A quick look through any Brazilian telephone book will give an idea of how widespread they have become. In the same respect, listening in on a random telephone conversation will expose the myriad of loanwords adopted into the Portuguese language.

Some examples are novela (soap-opera), favorito (favorite), caricatura (caricature), espaguete (spaghetti) and desenho (drawing). If in São Paulo, listen carefully to their accent to notice the Italian influence.

No matter where one travels within Brazil, one is confronted with a true melting pot of ethnicities and cultures. Although Italian-Brazilians only make up a small percentage of the population of Brazil they seem to be all over. People with African, German, Japanese or Portuguese blood also seem to be in every corner. But that is another story.

E agora em português!

Como vocês já sabem provavelmente, a palavra italiana ‘ciao’ não é usada somente para dizer ‘oi’, mas também para dizer ‘tchau’. Tem raízes na palavra italiana ‘schiavo’, ou escravo, com um sentido inferido de ser à vontade de alguém. Cerca do ano 1875, uma turba de italianos do norte vieram ao serviço do governo brasileiro por enchendo as brechas que a abolição da escravidão causou no Brasil.

Mesmo que o tráfico dos escravos terminasse em 1850, os escravos estavam faltando de jeito nenhum devido à história de mais de trezentos anos de servitude legalizado no Brasil. Embora no ano 1888, a adoção da Lei Áurea, pela Princesa Isabel, oficialmente terminou o tráfico dos escravos no Brasil.

Durante este período de declínio, o governo antecipou o efeito que a Lei Áurea teria no economia e desse modo deu publicidade à necessidade para trabalhadores estrangeiros. Essa necessidade foi atingida logo pelos italianos pobres do norte da Itália quando os navios brasileiros, oferecendo uma passagem grátis, acoplaram em seus portos.

O pais da Itália que foi unificado em 1871, era um pais novo e a identidade nacional ainda não foi dada forma. A chegada de mudanças sociais e economias fez a propriedade da terra na Itália do norte, uma tarefa difícil.

Quando eles começaram a ver anuncias patrocinadas pelo governo brasileiro que mostraram a beleza do Brasil, as imagens acabaram mudando as mentes dos imigrantes. Na mente do italiano, o café logo se tornou o “ouro verde”.

Em um sentido, foi uma situação ganha-ganha, ou seja uma que gera um resultado positivo para ambas partes em negociação. Os italianos foram enchidos com a esperança de uma vida melhor enquanto o Brasil começou a preparar-se para recebê-los, só de um preço melhor do que o custo de importar os escravos.

O Primeiro Estabelecimento

Mais do que um milhão dos italianos, dentro de um período de vinte anos, sentiram-se em casa no Brasil. A primeira onda estabeleceu-se nas colônias pequenas e isoladas na região da Serra Gaúcha do estado de Rio Grande do Sul. Poucos anos depois, forçaram o governo criar umas colônias mais grandes, uma delas sendo a cidade moderna de Caxias do Sul.

Enquanto achando-se acostumados com a cultura local, eles infundiram nela um pouco de sua própria cultura também. A maioria dos italianos falaram seu própria variedade de italiano chamado ‘talian’, que é parecido com o dialecto veneziano mas com muitos estrangeirismos. Eventualmente, começaram a fazer o que que eles souberam melhor, cultivando uvas e fazendo vinho delas. Mesmo hoje, a região da Serra Gaúcha produz os melhores vinhos no Brasil.

Por mais de oitenta anos, a cidade de Caxias do Sul tem festejado no seu talento para a cultivação de uvas com uma celebração que ocorre cada dois anos chamada a Festa da Uva. Esta celebração dobra como uma boa oportunidade para comemorar as suas raízes italianas, vender produtos feitos localmente e também oferecer eventos para provar os vinhos.

O Segundo Estabelecimento

A onda seguinte dos italianos para colocar raízes no Brasil estabeleceram-se principalmente no estado do sudeste de São Paulo. A necessidade para trabalhadores estrangeiros era muito mais forte lá, devido ao furo vasto deixou no comércio de café pela emancipação dos escravos. Dentro e ao redor de São Paulo, os proprietários de terras puderam ter sido poderosos, mas o café foi o rei de verdade.

Não somente os italianos vieram em um preço vantajoso mas eram também reconhecidos para seu amor do café. A produção do café requereu um cuidado e uma manutenção mais grandes do que outras colheitas e os brasileiros necessitaram cultivadores experientes. O encontro dos dois pareceu feito no céu.

Logo depois de sua chegada em São Paulo, os italianos encontraram-se no papel dos escravos que substituiam. Os barões do café se tornou mais voraz e eram exijindo a mesma quantidade de trabalho para um custo mais barato.

Em conseqüência das condições de funcionamento pobres, muitas rebeliões ocorreram que fizeram com que o governo italiano parasse o influxo dos immigrantes ao Brasil. Eventualmente os trabalhadores de fazenda ganharam bastantes para comprar partes pequenas de terra onde construiriam uma casa e operariam uma fazenda pequena do seus próprios. Outros se mudaram para as áreas onde as ofertas do trabalho não eram tão escasso.

Influências Italianas

A cidade capital de São Paulo, do mesmo nome como o estado, é conhecida por muitos brasileiros hoje em dia como a “cidade dos italianos” porque mais do que um quarto de seus habitantes era italiano. De acordo com a embaixada italiano no Brasil, cerca de vinte cinco milhão brasileiros vêm da descida italiana, uma grande maioria deles originam do sul ou sudeste do Brasil.

Um olhar rápido pelo qualquer livro telefónico brasileiro dará uma idéia de como popular se tornaram. No mesmo respeito, escutar uma telefonema aleatória exporá a miríade dos estrangeirismos adotados na língua portuguesa.

Alguns exemplos são as palavras ‘novela’, ‘favorito’, ‘caricatura’, ‘espaguete’ e ‘desenho’. Se vocês acham-se em São Paulo, escutar com cuidado seu sotaque para observar a influência italiana.

Não importa onde se viaja dentro do Brasil, se está confrontado com uma mestiçagem verdadeira de etnicidades e de culturas. Embora os italiano-brasileiros componham somente uma porcentagem pequena da população do Brasil, parecem ser em toda parte. O povo com sangue africano, indiano, alemão, japonês ou português parecem também estar em cada canto. Embora essa é uma outra história.

– por Adam Charles