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Brazilian People

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Brazilian People


1st row: • Adriana Lima • Santos Dumont • Alice Braga • Ayrton Senna • Chico Buarque
2nd row: • Fernando Haddad • Fernando Meirelles • Gisele Bündchen • Gustavo Kuerten • Hugo Hoyama
3rd row: • Joaquim Barbosa • Marcos Pontes • Luiz Gushiken • Machado de Assis • Marina Silva
4th row: • Neymar • Oscar Niemeyer • Índio pataxó • Pedro II • Pelé
5th row: • Zilda Arns • Rodrigo Santoro • Seu Jorge • Sérgio Vieira de Mello • Vinícius de Moraes
Total population
c. 201.032.714 Brazilians (2013)
Regions with significant populations
 Brazil        201 million[1]
 United States 1,066,559[2]
 Japan 210,032[2]
 Paraguay 201,527[2]
 Portugal 140,426[2]
 Spain 128,238[2]
 United Kingdom 118,000[2]
 Germany 95,160[2]
 Italy 67,000[2]
 France 44,622[2]
  Switzerland 44,089[2]
 Belgium 43,000[2]
 Bolivia 31,928[2]
 Argentina 27,135[2]
 Netherlands 27,097[2]
 Uruguay 26,482[2]
 Israel 10.040[2]
Other countries 275,579[2]
Portuguese (99%)
Indigenous languages (0.2%)
German (Hunsrückisch, Pomeranian and Plautdietsch) (0.8%)
Predominantly Roman Catholic (68%)
Protestantism (19%)
No religious affiliation (7.4%)
Spiritism (1.3%)
Islam (0.5%)
Judaism (0.5%)
Afro-Brazilian religions (0.3%)
Related ethnic groups
Portuguese • Italians • Latin Americans • Africans • Indigenous peoples • Japanese • Brasiguayos • Other Lusophone peoples • Jews • German • Arabs • Other Europeans

Brazilians (brasileiros in Portuguese, IPA: [bɾɐ̞ziˈlejɾus][3]) are all people born in Brazil. A Brazilian can be also a person born abroad to a Brazilian parent or a foreigner living in Brazil who acquired Brazilian citizenship.

Who is a Brazilian?

According to the Constitution of Brazil, a Brazilian citizen is:

  • Anyone born in Brazil, even if to foreign parents. However, if the foreign parents were at the service of a foreign State (such as foreign diplomats), the child is not Brazilian;
  • Anyone born abroad to a Brazilian parent, with registration of birth in a Brazilian Embassy or Consulate. Also, a person born abroad to a Brazilian parent who was not registered but who, after turning 18 years old, went to live in Brazil;[4]
  • A foreigner living in Brazil who applied for and was accepted as a Brazilian citizen (naturalized Brazilian).

According to the Constitution, all people who hold Brazilian citizenship are equal, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or religion.[4]

A foreigner can apply for Brazilian citizenship after living for 4 (four) uninterrupted years in Brazil and being able to speak Portuguese. A native person from an official Portuguese language country (Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea Bissau and East Timor) can request the Brazilian nationality after only 1 uninterrupted year living in Brazil. A foreign born person who holds Brazilian citizenship has exactly the same rights and duties of the Brazilian citizen by birth, but cannot occupy some special public positions such as the Presidency of the Republic, Vice-presidency of the Republic, Minister (Secretary) of Defense, Presidency (Speaker) of the Senate, Presidency (Speaker) of the House of Representatives, Officer of the Armed Forces and Diplomat.[4]

The Portuguese prerogative

According to the Brazilian Constitution, the Portuguese people have a special status in Brazil. Article 12, first paragraph of the Constitution, grants to citizens of Portugal with permanent residence in Brazil "the rights attached to Brazilians", excluded from the constitutional prerogatives of Brazilian born. Requirements for the granting of equality are: habitual residence (permanent), the age of majority and formulation of request from the Minister of Justice.

In Brazil, the Portuguese may require equal treatment with regard to civil rights; moreover, they may ask to be granted political rights granted to Brazilians (except the rights exclusive to the Brazilian born). In the latter case, this requires a minimum of three years of permanent residence.

The use of citizenship by non-Brazilian nationals (in this case, Portuguese) is a rare exception to the principle that nationality is a sine qua non for citizenship, granted to the Portuguese – if with reciprocal treatment for the Brazilians in Portugal – due to the historic relationship between the two countries.

Ethnic groups

Brazil is a society, which is home to people of many different ethnical backgrounds. As a result, Brazilians usually treat their nationality as a citizenship, rather than as an ethnicity.


Brazilians are mostly descendants of colonial settlers and post-colonial immigrants, African slaves and Brazil's indigenous peoples. Along with several other groups of immigrants who arrived in Brazil, from the 1820s well into the 1970s, most of the immigrants were Portuguese, Italians, Germans and Spaniards, also with significantly large numbers of Japanese, Lebanese Christians and Assyrians.[5]

The Brazilian people have several ethnic groups. First row: White (Portuguese, German, Italian and Lebanese, respectively) and Japanese Brazilians. Second row: African, pardo (cafuzo, mulato and caboclo, respectively) and Native (Indian) Brazilians.
Main Brazilian ethnic groups.

When the Portuguese arrived in South America in the 16th century, Brazil was inhabited by an estimated 2.4 million Amerindians, who had been living there since the Pleistocene. From 1500 until its independence in 1822, Brazil was settled by some 724,000 Portuguese, mostly men.[6] Portugal remained the only significant source of European immigrants to Brazil until the early 19th century. However under the rule of Dutch Brazil from 1630-1654, a smaller, but significant number of Dutch settlers (Dutch Brazilian) and some Jews arrived, the latter seeking religious freedom. They founded the first Synagogue in the Americas, named Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue in the city of Recife. It is estimated, that 80,000 Dutch entered Brazil in that period. At the end of Dutch rule, the Portuguese expelled many of the them, but a lot also fled to the interior of north-eastern Brazil or changed their names to Portuguese ones. The Jews converted into Christianity, as they could not practice their religious beliefs anymore. The Jews who were expelled, took off to what was then named New Amsterdam, today, New York City, founding the oldest Jewish congregation in the USA, the Congregation Shearith Israel. As a result of the Atlantic slave trade, from the mid-16th century until 1855, an estimated 4 million African slaves were brought to Brazil. In 1808, the Portuguese court moved to Brazil and opened its seaports to other nations. Then, other groups of immigrants started to immigrate to the country.

From 1820 to 1975, 5,686,133 immigrants entered Brazil, the vast majority of them Europeans. Portuguese and Italians arrived in equal numbers, and numbered close to 70% of all immigrants. The rest was composed mainly of Spaniards, Germans, Japanese, Syrians, Lebanese and Poles.[5]

The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) classify the Brazilian population in five categories: brancos (white), negros (black), pardos (brown or mixed), amarelos (Asian/yellow) and índios (Amerindian), based on skin color or race. The last detailed census (PNAD) found Brazil to be made up of c. 91 million white people (White Brazilian), 79 million multiracial people (Pardo), 14.7 million black people (Afro-Brazilian), 2-4 million Asian people (Asian Brazilian) and 817,900 indigenous (Amerindian) people.

Nowadays, Brazil is home to the largest Italian, Portuguese, Lebanese and Japanese diaspora and holds the biggest number of multiracial people (Pardo) in the world. There are more people of Lebanese and Portuguese diaspora living in Brazil than in their respective homelands. The German, Spanish, Polish and more interestingly, the Romani People diaspora, is the second largest. Also, Brazil is home to the only still ancient pomeranian speaking (Pomeranian language) community in the world, the language is now extinct.

In the 2005 detailed census, for the first time in two decades, the number of White Brazilians did not exceed 50% of the population. On the other side, the number of pardos (multiracial) people increased and all the others remained almost the same. According to the IBGE, this trend is mainly because of the revaluation of the identity of historically discriminated ethnic groups.

The ethnic composition of Brazilians is not uniform across the country. Due to its large influx of European immigrants in the 19th century, the Southern Region has a large White majority, composing 79.6% of its population.[7] The Northeastern Region, as a result of the large numbers of African slaves working in the sugar cane engenhos, has a majority of pardos and black peoples, respectively, 63.1% and 7.0%.[8] Northern Brazil, largely covered by the Amazon Rainforest, is 71.5% pardo, due to Amerindian ancestry.[9] Southeast (55% White, 35% Pardo, 8% Black, 1% Asian, 0,1% Amerindian) and Central-Western (50% White, 43% Pardo, 5% Black, 1% Asian/Amerindian) Brazil have a more balanced ratio among different racial groups.

In 2011, the country was home to 1.5 million foreign born people, more than twice as of 2009. The numbers still could be higher, as there are many undocumented people in Brazil as well. For both, the documented and undocumented, most of the foreigners come from Portugal, Bolivia, China, Paraguay, Angola, Spain, Argentina, Japan and the USA.[10] The major work visas concessions were granted for citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom.[11]

In 2010, Brazil is home to 4,251 refugees from 76 different nationalities. The largest refugee ancestries were Angolan (1688), Colombian (583), Congolese (402), Liberian (259), and Iraqi (197).[12]

Brazil is said to be the most miscegenated country in the world, as since the country was discovered, intermarriage between races never has been a problem. But many Brazilians can't trace back their real origin. It's always been nothing unusual, that names which were difficult to pronounce had been changed into easier Portuguese surnames, specially within mixed-race Brazilians.


Main article: White Brazilian
Skin color or
(rounded values)
2000[13] 2008[14]
White 53.74% 48.43%
Black 6.21% 6.84%
Mixed-race 38.45% 43.80%
East Asian 0.45% 0.58%
Amerindian 0.43% 0.28%
Not declared 0.71% 0.07%

Whites constitute the majority of Brazil's population. The country has the second largest White population in the Americas, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere; around 100 million, after only the United States, and the third largest in the World, after the U.S. and Russia. The main European and Arab (largely Levantine) origins in Brazil are Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, German, Polish, Lebanese, and Assyrian. There are people of European descent distributed throughout Brazil; however, the Southeastern and Southern regions have the largest white populations.


Main article: Black Brazilian

Blacks constitute the third largest ethnic group of Brazil, 12 million. These are people who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa. In the country, thes are generally used for Brazilians with at least partial Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Most African Brazilians are the direct descendants of captive Africans who survived the slavery era within the boundaries of the present Brazil, but also with considerable European and Amerindian ancestry (in average, when combined, they surpass 50%, making the Subsaharan African non-dominant according to genetic contribution).

Mixed (Multiracial)

Main article: Pardo

Multiracials constitute the second largest ethnic group of Brazil, 79 million. Multiracials in the country are people of mixed race ancestry, marked by a mixture of Whites, Blacks and Amerindians. The color varies from light to dark. The largest multiracial population is located in Northeastern and Northern Brazil.

East Asian

Main article: Asian Brazilian

Asians constitute the fourth largest ethnic group of Brazil, 2.1 million. The largest Asian ethnic group in the country is Japanese. Brazil has the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan. The others are Chinese, Taiwanese and South Korean.


Main article: Native Brazilian

Amerindians constitute the fifth largest ethnic group of Brazil, 500 thousand. Is the oldest ethinic group in the country, mainly located in Amazon Forest.[15]

Brazilian Population, by Race, from 1872 to 1991 (census data)[16]
Ethnic group White Black Mixed Yellow (Asian) Undeclared Total
1872 3,787,289 1,954,452 4,188,737 9,930,478
1940 26,171,778 6,035,869 8,744,365 242,320 41,983 41,236,315
1991 75,704,927 7,335,136 62,316,064 630,656 534,878 146,521,661

Genetic studies

Genetic studies have shown the Brazilian population as a whole to have European, African and Native Americans components.

Autosomal studies

A recent autosomal DNA study (2011), with nearly 1000 samples from every major race group ("whites", "pardos" and "blacks") all over the country found out a major European contribution, followed by a high African contribution and an important Native American component.[17] "In all regions studied, the European ancestry was predominant, with proportions ranging from 60.6% in the Northeast to 77.7% in the South". The 2011 autosomal study samples came from blood donors (the lowest classes constitute the great majority of blood donors in Brazil[18]), and also public health institutions personnel and health students.

Region[17] European African Native American
Northern Brazil 68.80% 10.50% 18.50%
Northeast of Brazil 60.10% 29.30% 8.90%
Southeast Brazil 74.20% 17.30% 7.30%
Southern Brazil 79.50% 10.30% 9.40%

According to an autosomal DNA study from 2010, "a new portrayal of each ethnicity contribution to the DNA of Brazilians, obtained with samples from the five regions of the country, has indicated that, on average, European ancestors are responsible for nearly 80% of the genetic heritage of the population. The variation between the regions is small, with the possible exception of the South, where the European contribution reaches nearly 90%. The results, published by the scientific magazine American Journal of Human Biology by a team of the Catholic University of Brasília, show that, in Brazil, physical indicators such as skin colour, colour of the eyes and colour of the hair have little to do with the genetic ancestry of each person, which has been shown in previous studies (regardless of census classification).[19] "Ancestry informative SNPs can be useful to estimate individual and population biogeographical ancestry. Brazilian population is characterized by a genetic background of three parental populations (European, African, and Brazilian Native Amerindians) with a wide degree and diverse patterns of admixture. In this work we analyzed the information content of 28 ancestry-informative SNPs into multiplexed panels using three parental population sources (African, Amerindian, and European) to infer the genetic admixture in an urban sample of the five Brazilian geopolitical regions. The SNPs assigned apart the parental populations from each other and thus can be applied for ancestry estimation in a three hybrid admixed population. Data was used to infer genetic ancestry in Brazilians with an admixture model. Pairwise estimates of F(st) among the five Brazilian geopolitical regions suggested little genetic differentiation only between the South and the remaining regions. Estimates of ancestry results are consistent with the heterogeneous genetic profile of Brazilian population, with a major contribution of European ancestry (0.771) followed by African (0.143) and Amerindian contributions (0.085). The described multiplexed SNP panels can be useful tool for bioanthropological studies but it can be mainly valuable to control for spurious results in genetic association studies in admixed populations".[20] It is important to note that "the samples came from free of charge paternity test takers, thus as the researchers made it explicit: "the paternity tests were free of charge, the population samples involved people of variable socioeconomic strata, although likely to be leaning slightly towards the ‘‘pardo’’ group".[20]

Region[20] European African Native American
North Region 71.10% 18.20% 10.70%
Northeast Region 77.40% 13.60% 8.90%
Central-West Region 65.90% 18.70% 11.80%
Southeast Region 79.90% 14.10% 6.10%
South Region 87.70% 7.70% 5.20%

An autosomal DNA study from 2009 found a similar profile "all the Brazilian samples (regions) lie more closely to the European group than to the African populations or to the Mestizos from Mexico".[21]

Region[21] European African Native American
North Region 60.6% 21.3% 18.1%
Northeast Region 66.7% 23.3% 10.0%
Central-West Region 66.3% 21.7% 12.0%
Southeast Region 60.7% 32.0% 7.3%
South Region 81.5% 9.3% 9.2%

According to another autosomal DNA study from 2008, by the University of Brasília (UnB), European ancestry dominates in the whole of Brazil (in all regions), accounting for 65.90% of heritage of the population, followed by the African contribution (24.80%) and the Native American (9.3%).[22]

São Paulo state, the most populous state in Brazil, with about 40 million people, showed the following composition, according to an autosomal study from 2006: European genes account for 79% of the heritage of the people of São Paulo, 14% are of African origin, and 7% Native American.[23]

MtDna and y DNA studies

Haplogroup frequencies do not determine phenotype nor admixture. They are very general genetic snapshots, primarily useful in examining past population group migratory patterns. Only autosomal DNA testing can reveal admixture structures, since it analyses millions of alleles from both maternal and paternal sides. Contrary to yDNA or mtDNA, which are focused on one single lineage (paternal or maternal) the autosomal DNA studies profile the whole ancestry of a given individual, being more accurate in describing the complex patterns of ancestry in a given place. According to a genetic study in 2000 who analysed 247 samples (mainly identified as "white" in Brazil) who came from four of the five major geographic regions of the country, the mtDNA pool (maternal lineages) of present-day Brazilians clearly reflects the imprints of the early Portuguese colonization process (involving directional mating), as well as the recent immigrant waves (from Europe) of the last century.[24]

Continental Fraction Brazil Northern Northeastern Southeastern Southern
Native American 33% 54% 22% 33% 22%
African 28% 15% 44% 34% 12%
European 39% 31% 34% 31% 66%

According to a study in 2001, the vast majority of Y chromosomes (male lineages) in white Brazilian males, regardless of their regional source, is of European origin (>90% contribution), with a very low frequency of sub-Saharan African chromosomes and a complete absence of Amerindian contributions. These results configure a picture of strong directional mating in Brazil involving European males, on one side, and European, African and Amerindian females, on the other.[5]

In the Brazilian "white" and "pardos" the autosomal ancestry (the sum of the ancestors of a given individual) tends to be in most cases pred. European, with often a non European mtDNA (which points to a non European ancestor somewhere down the maternal line), which is explained by the women marrying newly arrived colonists, during the formation of the Brazilian people.[25]

See also


External links

  • (Portuguese) Lusotopia
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