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White Brazilians make up 49.7% of Brazil's population, or around 93 million people, according to the IBGE's 2006 PNAD (National Research by Sample of Dwellings). Whites are present in the entire territory of Brazil, although the main concentrations are found in the South and Southeastern parts of the country. White Brazilians are all people who are full or mainly descended of European and other White immigrants.

Brazil has the largest White population in the Southern Hemispheremarker, and the third largest in the World, after the United States and Russia. The main ancestries of White Brazilians are Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, German and Lebanese.


Brazil received more European immigrants in its colonial era than did the United States of Americamarker. Between 1500 and 1760, 700,000 Europeans settled in Brazil, compared to 530,000 in the United States.

Most of the immigrants were ethnically Portuguese, but some of the first settlers were, actually, Portuguese Jews. According to Manolo Florentino and Cacilda Machado, 45% of the Portuguese established in São Paulo in 1801 were from Minho, 20% from the Azores Islands, 16% from Lisbonmarker and 19% from other parts. In all Brazil's History, most immigrants came from Northern Portugal.
Another characteristic of the Portuguese colonization is that it was done mostly by males. The lack of European women was a problem faced during much of Brazil's colonization. The Portuguese Crown even sent orphaned women for marriage with the settlers, but a large part of the settlers were involved in relationships with indigenous women and with their African slaves. However, not all Portuguese colonists were in interracial relationships: at the end of the 16th century, Whites made up half of Brazil's population. It is remarkable that most Portuguese settlers arrived in Brazil in the 18th century: 600,000 in a period of only 60 years. The exploitation of gold in the region of Minas Geraismarker has been a crucial factor in the arrival of this contingent of immigrants.

Before the nineteenth century, the French invaded twice, establishing brief and minor settlements (Rio de Janeiromarker, 1555–60; Maranhãomarker, 1612–15); In 1630, the Dutch made the most significant attempt to seize Brazil from Portuguese control. At the time, Portugal was in a dynastic union with Spain, and the Dutch hostility against Spain was transferred to Portugal. The Dutch were able to control most of the Brazilian Northeast - then the most dynamic part of Brazil - for about a quarter century, but were unable to change the ethnic makeup of the colonizing population, which remained overwhelmingly Portuguese by origin and culture. Sephardic Jews of Portuguese origin moved from Amsterdam to New Holland; but in 1654, when the Portuguese regained control of Brazil, most of them were expelled, as well as most of the Dutch settlers. A very small number of others appear to have managed to enter Brazil from European countries other than Portugal. But it was only in 1818, after 700,000 from Portugal had settled, that the Portuguese rulers abandoned the principle of restricting settling in Brazil to Portuguese nationals. In that year over two thousand Swiss migrants from the Canton of Fribourgmarker arrived to settle in an inhospitable area near Rio de Janeiro that would later be renamed Nova Friburgomarker. The presence of German immigrants had great importance for the occupation of Southern Brazil. They founded rural communities that later became prosperous cities, as was the case of São Leopoldomarker, Joinvillemarker and Blumenaumarker.

The end of the slave trade (1850) and the abolition of slavery (1888) were crucial to the entry of millions of Europeans to Brazil. The production of coffee, the main product of Brazil at the time, began to suffer a shortage of workers. The Brazilian Government then opened its doors to immigrants. From 1875, the Italians began to enter Brazil in huge numbers. From 1884 to 1933, 1.4 million Italians immigrated to Brazil, 70% of whom settled in São Paulomarker. Brazil is now the country with the largest population of Italian descent outside of Italymarker itself: 25 million Brazilians are of Italian descent.

The period of the great European immigration in Brazil, between 1880 and 1930, brought to the country more than 5 million Europeans. A majority were Italians and Portuguese, followed by Spaniards, Germans, Poles, and Ukrainians. It is notable that most of this more recent wave of immigrants from Europe settled in Southern and Southeastern Brazil.

Brazilian Population, by Race, from 1872 to 1991 (Census Data)
Ethnic group White Black Brown Yellow (Asian) Undeclared Total
1872 3,787,289 1,954,452 4,188,737 - - 9,930,478
1890 6,302,198 2,097,426 5,934,291 - - 14,333,915
1940 26,171,778 6,035,869 8,744,365 242,320 41,983 41,236,315
1950 32,027,661 5,692,657 13,786,742 329,082 108,255 51,944,397
1960 42,838,639 6,116,848 20,706,431 482,848 46,604 70,191,370
1980 64,540,467 7,046,906 46,233,531 672,251 517,897 119,011,052
1991 75,704,927 7,335,136 62,316,064 630,656 534,878 146,521,661

IBGE's 1998 PME

In 1998, the IBGE, within its preparation for the 2000 Census, experimentally introduced a question about "origem" (ancestry) in its "Pesquisa Mensal de Emprego" (Monthly Employment Research), in order to test the viability of introducing that variable in the Census. This research interviewed about 90,000 people in six metropolitan regions (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, and Recife) .

Here are its results for both the White population and the population in general::

Brazilian Population, by ancestry, 1998
Ancestry % of Whites % of all races
Brazilian 83.11% 86.09%
Italian 15.72% 10.41%
Portuguese 14.50% 10.46%
Spanish 6.42% 4.40%
German 5.51% 3.54%
Indigenous 4.80% 6.64%
Black 1.30% 5.09%
Arab 0.72% 0.48%
Japanese 0.62% 1.34%
African 0.58% 2.06%
Jewish 0.25% 0.20%
Others 4.05% 2.81%
Total 137.58% 133.52%

Notice that the total is higher than 100% because of multiple answers.


White Brazilians are descended from colonial settlers, who came mainly from Portugalmarker from 1500 to 1822. Another portion is descended from diverse groups of immigrants who arrived after independence, mostly Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards and Germans and, in a lesser degree, Middle Easterns. Whites of colonial ancestry predominate in most of Brazil's regions (North, Northeast, Central-West and parts of the Southeast). Whites of post-colonial descent are largely represented in all the Southern states and in parts of the Southeast, mostly São Paulomarker.

Colonial whites

Different from the colonists who settled in North America, who brought their entire families, the Portuguese colonization was almost exclusively composed of men, with a limited presence of women. This lack of women worried the Jesuits, who asked the Portuguese King to send any kind of Portuguese women to Brazil, even prostitutes if possible. The King sent a few orphan girls: in 1551 three sisters arrived, in 1553 nine, in 1559 seven more. This small number of white women arriving did not have a significant impact in the early formation of the Brazilian population, so that most of the first Portuguese settlers were related to the native Indians or African slave women. Over time, the number of Portuguese women immigrating to Brazil started to grow, but not very significantly. In the first half of the 19th century, the records of the District of Inhaúma, in Rio de Janeiromarker, showed that among the Portuguese immigrants, 90% were men and 10% were women. This male predominance prevailed throughout the colonialmarker period. Historically, the male Portuguese settler preferred to marry a Portuguese born female. But, since their number in Brazil was very small, the second option was to marry a white Brazilian, born to Portuguese parents. The third option was a white Brazilian female of distant Portuguese origin. The scarce presence of white women, either Portuguese or Brazilian, provided the high degree of miscegenation in colonial Brazil (and recent genetic studies found a high degree of Amerindian and African ancestries in white Brazilians, that confirms this early integration).

The census of 1872 revealed the existence of 3,787,289 whites in Brazil, most of them of colonial ancestry. This category included people of direct or of relatively unmixed Portuguese ancestry, as well as lighter skinned mixed-race people who tended to be identified as whites. Despite the largest arrivals of European immigrants, particularly between 1880 and 1930, the nowadays white Brazilian population is still mainly descended from whites of colonial extraction.

Unidentified woman and baby in Rio de Janeiromarker, 1855.
Portrait of Francisca "Chiquita" in Rio de Janeiro, 1891
Unknown Brazilian girl, 1889
Unknown young Brazilian man, 1850
Unknown family, 1860
Portrait "Redenção do Can", showing a Brazilian family each generation becoming "whiter" (black grandmother, mulatto mother and white baby), 1895
A Brazilian soldier, 18th century
A 19th century Brazilian family in Rio de Janeiro

Post-colonial whites

Latin American oligarchies, which remained predominantly of European origin, felt bothered with the large numbers of blacks and mixed Indians that made up the majority of the population. As a result, countries such as Argentinamarker, Uruguaymarker and Brazil started to encourage the arrival of European immigrants, in order to make the white population grow and to dilute the African and Amerindian blood in their population. Argentina even had an article in its Constitution prohibiting any attempt to prevent the entry of European immigrants in the country. In the case of Brazil, the immigrants started arriving in huge numbers during the 1880s. From 1886 to 1900, almost 1.4 million Europeans arrived, of whom over 900,000 were Italians. During this period of 14 years, Brazil received more Europeans than during the over 300 years of colonization.

According to Darcy Ribeiro before 1850 no more than 500,000 Europeans settled in Brazil IBGE estimated that the number was close to 700,000 Portuguese.. The mass European immigration to Brazil only started in the second half of the 19th century, from 1850 to 1970 some 5 million Europeans arrived, because of three main reasons:

  • to "whiten" Brazil, since the Amerindian and African elements predominated in the population, a fact that bothered the local elite, that considered these races inferior. Then, they thought they needed to bring European people in order to elevate the racial status of the local population. This Brazilian thinking was shared with other Latin American countries, such as Argentina and Uruguay.

  • to populate inhospitable areas of Brazil, mostly the Southern provinces, with vast areas without a developed economy.

  • to replace the African manpower, since the Atlantic slave trade had its end in Brazil in 1850 and the coffee plantations were spreading in the region of São Paulo.

These immigrants had a larger and more visible impact in the state of São Paulo, along with the three southern states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarinamarker and Paranámarker. In the southern states there were entire regions composed of German and Italian-speaking inhabitants. The immigrants remained closed in ethnic communities for decades. The Portuguese language only started to be used by these communities many decades after their arrival, as a result of their contact with Brazilians and with immigrants from other countries, but also because of the forced assimilation during the Getúlio Vargas's government, mostly inside the German community. In contrast to the early Portuguese colonists, these immigrants arrived with their entire families in Brazil, with large numbers of women and children. As a result, the areas where they were concentrated, most remarkably the central parts of Southern Brazil, became predominantly white. The first immigrants faced difficulties, such as the dense forest and attacks by Indians. The following generations had the benefits from the pioneer immigrants, such as the easy access to lands, and most of them became small landowners. Later, industrialization and urbanization helped these communities to be economically and culturally integrated to the major Brazilian society.

In São Paulo, paulistas of Italian descent outnumbered those of earlier extraction. In this region, Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards and Arabs were easily integrated, since they had a close contact with the large local Brazilian population. At first working on coffee farms, later they moved to cities and participated in the process of industrialization of Brazil. Even though there are areas in São Paulo that are still considered "ethnic neighborhood" (for example the "Italian" Moocamarker or the "Jewish" Bom Retiromarker) these immigrants, in contrast to those in Southern Brazil, did not close themselves in ethnic communities, which resulted in a fast integration with Brazilians and inter-ethnic marriages.

Italian Brazilian girls in Caxias do Sul, 1934.
Germans arriving to São Leopoldomarker, 1824.
Ukrainian family in Brazil, 1891.
Portuguese immigrant in Rio de Janeiro, 1895.
Brazilian Oktoberfestmarker in Santa Cruz do Sulmarker, 2007.
Italian family in Southern Brazil, 1901.
Passport of a Portuguese immigrant, 1927.
Italians arriving to São Paulomarker, ca. 1890.

Regions of settlement

European immigration to Brazil by State
State Percentage
São Paulomarker 55.3%
Rio de Janeiromarker 12.4%
Minas Geraismarker 7.6%
Rio Grande do Sul 7.3%
Paranámarker 4.5%
Santa Catarinamarker 3.0%
Pernambuco 2.2%
Other states 7.7%

Most European immigrants entered Brazil for the states of São Paulomarker, Rio de Janeiromarker and Minas Geraismarker. Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais received most of the Portuguese settlers since the 16th century. São Paulo received most of the Italians and other immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the impact of the European immigration was larger in Southern Brazil. This region received a smaller number of immigrants, but since it had a small population, the arrival of the Europeans was greater to its demography. Pernambuco was also an important place to the arrival of Portuguese immigrants. In the rest of Brazil, most Europeans and their descendants arrived from other states and had a smaller impact in the population's ethnicity.


Many Brazilians are partly of Portuguese ancestry. Before independence, an estimated 700,000 Portuguese came to then Portuguese colony. The census of 1872 counted 3,787,289 White Brazilians, of which the overwhelming majority descended from these Portuguese colonists, given that mass migration only started from 1875.

About 1.5 million Portuguese immigrants arrived in Brazil after independence, most of them in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most of these immigrants settled in Rio de Janeiro. According to the 1920 census, there were 433,577 Portuguese living in Brazil, of whom 172,238 in the Federal District (nowadays the city of Rio de Janeiromarker) and 28,661 in other parts of the state, followed by 167,198 in São Paulo, 18,228 in Minas Gerais and 14,211 in Parámarker.

It was estimated that around 5 million Brazilians can acquire Portuguese citizenship, due to the last Portuguese nationality law that grants citizenship to grandchildren of Portuguese nationals.


About 680,000 Spaniards came to Brazil, starting in the late 19th century. Most of them were attracted to work in the coffee plantations in the State of São Paulomarker. Today, there are an estimated 15 million Brazilians of direct Spanish descent.


About 1,600,000 Italians arrived in Brazil, starting in 1875. First they settled in rural communities across Southern Brazil. In the late 19th century, the Brazilian State offered land to immigrants, in conditions that made it possible to buy them. However, these opportunities came to an end, as the land open to distribution became scarce. In the early 20th century, their destination were mostly the coffee plantations in the Southeast, especially São Paulo, where they worked for the local landowners, either for a wage or under a contract that allowed them to use a portion of land for subsistency, in exchange for labour in the plantation.

Italians made up the main group of immigrants to Brazil in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (outnumbering the Portuguese, who came in second place). Until 1904, 76.22% of all Italian immigrants had entered São Paulo and, of all immigrants in the period from 1885 to 1889, 81.93% were of Italian origin. They remained as the main immigrant group until the 1940s In the 1920 census, there were 558,405 Italians living in Brazil, the vast majority in the state of São Paulomarker (398,797) followed by Rio Grande do Sul (49,136), Minas Geraismarker (42,943) and in the Federal District of Rio de Janeiromarker (21,929). Today there are close to 25 million Brazilians of Italian origin.


About 210,000 Germans immigrated to Brazil, starting from 1824. Most of them established themselves in rural communities across Southern Brazil. These communities eventually evolved into cities such as São Leopoldomarker, Novo Hamburgomarker, Santa Cruz do Sulmarker, Blumenaumarker, Pomerodemarker, among others. In the southern states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, Germans were 20% of their population in the 1930s. According to the German Consulate in Porto Alegremarker, there are 3 million people of German descent living in these two states, and 5 million in Brazil as a whole..


Poles came in significant numbers to Brazil after 1870. Most of them settled in the State of Paranámarker, working as small farmers. From 1872 to 1959, 110,243 "Russian" citizens entered Brazil. In fact, the vast majority of them were Poles, since, up to 1917, Poland was under Russian rule and ethnic Poles immigrated with Russian passports.


Ukrainians came to Brazil primary between 1895 and the Second World War, settling mostly in Parana marker and working as small farmers. They currently number approximately 400,000.


Besides the Europeans, many Brazilians descend from Caucasoid Arabs, mostly Syrian and Lebanese people. About 100,000 Syrians and Lebanese immigrants came to Brazil between 1884 and 1933. The Arab Brazilian population is estimated at about 10 million people. Different sources claim that the Brazilian population of Lebanese descent is about 7 million people while Lebanon has a population of over 4 million people.


The history of the Jews in Brazil is relatively long and complex as it stretches over many centuries. Jews settled in Brazil during the Dutch rule of the Northeast, setting up the first synagogue in the Americas, in Recife, as early as 1636. Nowadays Brazil has about 196,000 Jews, but most of them are Ashkenazi Jews, descendants of immigrants from Germanymarker, Polandmarker, Russiamarker and Ukrainemarker, and the smaller Sephardic community is mostly composed of immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East.


The demographics of Brazilian ethnicities is a ticklish issue: in the most recent censuses, the accepeted practice as far as ethnicity was concerned was to leave attribution of ethnicity to the person interviewed her/himself. Census data, therefore, reflect not actual genetic ancestry but cultural self-consciousness about ethnicity.

By Brazilian states

The Brazilian states with the highest percentages of (self-acknowledged) Whites are the three located in the South of the country: Santa Catarinamarker, Rio Grande do Sul and Paranámarker. These states, along with São Paulomarker, were settled mainly by German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish immigrants. The other states in the list are those whose population is mainly of Portuguese ancestry.

The Brazilian states with the lowest percentages of (self-acknowledged) Whites are those located in the North and Northeast regions of Brazil. Both had a stronger African and Amerindian influence to the population's ethnic composition.

Source: IBGE 2000

By Population

By cities and towns

In a list of the 144 Brazilian towns with the highest percentages of White people, all the cities were located in two states: Rio Grande do Sul or Santa Catarinamarker. Another fact is that all these towns are settled predominantly by Brazilians of German and Italian descent. It is important to note that, in the late 19th century, many German and Italian immigrants created small communities across Southern Brazil. These communities were settled, in many cases, exclusivily by European immigrants and their descendants.The Brazilian towns with the largest percentages of Whites are:

  • 1) Montaurimarker (Rio Grande do Sul): 100% White (1,615 inhabitants)
  • 2) Leoberto Leal (Santa Catarina): 99.82% (3,348 inhabitants)
  • 3) Pedras Grandesmarker (Santa Catarina): 99.81% (4,849 inhabitants)
  • 4) Capitãomarker (Rio Grande do Sul): 99.77% (2,751 inhabitants)
  • 5) Santa Tereza (Rio Grande do Sul): 99.69% (1,604 inhabitants)
  • 6) Cunhataí (Santa Catarina): 99.67% (1,740 inhabitants)
  • 7) São Martinho (Santa Catarina): 99.64% (3,221 inhabitants)
  • 8) Guabijumarker (Rio Grande do Sul): 99.62% (1,775 inhabitants)

The Brazilian towns with the lowest percentages of Whites are located in Northern and Northeastern Brazil. Some of the towns are Indian reservations, others are Quilombos (rural areas settled by descendants of escaped African slaves).


|| Portuguese || 100,000 || 600,000 || 26,000 || 16,737 || 116,000 || 170,621 || 155,542 || 384,672 || 201,252 || 233,650
|| 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
Immigration to Brazil, by Ethnic groups, periods from 1500 to 1933
Ethnic group 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 - - - - - -
Italians - - - - 100,000 510,533 537,784 196,521 86,320 70,177
Spaniards - - - - - 113,116 102,142 224,672 94,779 52,405
Others - - - - - 66,524 42,820 109,222 51,493 164,586

Conception of White

Self-reported ancestry of Whites from Rio de Janeiro (2000 survey)
European only 48%
European and African 25%
European, African and Amerindian 15%
European and Amerindian 14%

The ancestry is quite irrelevant for racial classifications in Brazil. A genetic resource conducted by UFMGmarker on self-identified White Brazilians found that, on the paternal side, 2.5% of them had an African lineage and none of them revealed Amerindian ancestry. On the maternal side, 33% had an Amerindian lineage and 28% African. This finding reflected the centuries of miscegenation between Portuguese males and African or Amerindian females, given that few female Portuguese immigrants arrived during Brazil’s colonization. A survey in Rio de Janeiro also concluded that “racial-purity” is not important for a person to be classified as White in Brazil. The survey asked respondents if they had any ancestors who were European, African or Amerindian. As much as 52% of the Whites from Rio reported they have some non-European ancestry, with 38% reporting to have some Black African ancestry (25% of Whites reported to be of African and European ancestry, while another 15% reported to be of African, Amerindian and European ancestry). Moreover, 14% of the Whites reported to be of Amerindian and European ancestry. In consequence, only 48% of the Whites from Rio claimed to be of strictly European ancestry. Then in Brazil to have African or Amerindian ancestry and identify as White is not inconsistence, neither is it a problem for them to admit to having non-White ancestors (even though the “whitening ideology” may lead them to downplay these ancestors and the stigma associated with being Indian or African may have prevented more people from reporting non-White ancestors). The survey also found that only 25% of Black Brazilians claimed strictly African ancestry, with a larger segment of both Blacks and Browns, 35% and 36% respectively, claiming to be of African, Amerindian and European ancestries.

The conception of Whiteness in Brazil is based on the skin color of a person, which contrasts with the conception of race and ancestry, as used in the United States. According to the 1991 Census, 55% of the children whose mother was White and father was Brown were classified as Whites. Another 6% of children born to both Brown parents were classified as Whites and 2% of children born to a Black-Black couple were also identified as Whites. This analysis shows that the ancestry of a person is quite insignificant to racially classify people in Brazil.

The lack of White women in the first centuries of colonization led to an intense mixture between Portuguese and Indians in Brazil, resulting in an olive-skinned population whose descendants (Mamelucos) were perceived as Whites in the racial sensibity of Brazilians. Light Mulattoes were also culturally and biologically seen as Whites. The incredible growth of the White Brazilian population over the centuries was not through massive immigration of Europeans to the country (the massive European immigration only reached large numbers in the late 19th century). The growth was mainly through multiplication of light Mamelucos and Mulattoes, usually perceived as Whites by Brazilian standards of race. An important factor about Whiteness in Brazil is the racial stigma of being Indian or Black, which is undesirable and avoided for a large part of the population. Scientific racism largely influenced race relations in Brazil since the late 19th century. The predominant non-White, mostly Afro-Brazilian population was seen as a problem for Brazil in the eyes of the predominantly White elite of the country. In contrast to the United States or South Africa that avoided the mixture of races, including with anti-miscegenation law, in Brazil they never existed. On the other hand, it was expected the growth of miscegenation between Whites and non-Whites, because many members of the Brazilian elite really believed that in this process the Black population would disappear through assimilation into the White population. Then a strict conception of Whiteness based on blood purity never existed in Brazil, because it would be almost impossible to define who was White, since racial miscegenation reached a larger proportion of the population. Racial purity was also avoided by the Brazilian wealthier classes, because many members of the 19th century Brazilian elite would be classified as Mulatto by North American or European standards of race. As a result of that desire of whitening its own population, the Brazilian ruling classes encouraged the arrival of massive European immigration to the country. In the 1890s 1.2 million European immigrants were added to the country's 5 million White population. Today the Brazilian areas with larger proportions of Whites tend to have been destinations of massive European immigration between 1880 and 1930.

Even though expectations of the Brazilian elite to whiten its own population through European immigration came to an end in the 1930s, the whiten ideology still influences racial relations in Brazil today. In general the population still expects that Afro-Brazilians must biologically whiten themselves by marriage with lighter skinned people, or culturally through the assimilation of the traditions of the dominant White population. This leads mixed-race people to be perceived as Whites, and this is more evident when a non-White person becomes wealthier and is incorporated in the ruling classes. In the past, and still today, people of mixed-race ancestry who became wealthier were treated as Whites, even though in some cases their African ancestry was remembered when opponents wanted to offend them, as happened with many Mulatto politicians. This way, the light Mulatto is often seen as White in Brazil, especially when the person becomes part of the elite. For example, the greatest Brazilian writer, Machado de Assis, was a Mulatto. However, once he gained fame and prestige, people started to accept him as a White man, and on his death certificate he was classified as a “White man”. Better educated, and then wealthier Brazilians usually see themselves as Whites (a strict association between richness and whiteness). A study showed that when mixed-race Brazilians get wealthier they start to be perceived as Whites by others, who usually avoid associating a wealthy person with a non-White racial category. The study also showed that only mixed-race people can “become White” when they get richer, while typically Black people will always be perceived as Blacks, no matter how rich they get. Better educated Black Brazilians are more than eight times more likely as persons of a low level of education to identify themselves as Blacks. It showed that less educated Black Brazilians avoid being associated as Black (usually choosing the word “Moreno” to classify themselves, a more popular word also meaning Brown). Better educated Black Brazilians, on the other hand, are more likely to see themselves as Blacks, while better educated mixed-race people usually jump to the White category.The conception of White also varies from region to region. In the predominantly non-White North and Northeastern regions there may be some ambiguity on racial classifications, considering the long period of racial miscegenation in them. They contrast with the predominantly White South, where the White population did not mix so much with the non-White one. A study found that people from the predominantly Afro-Brazilian state of Bahia have some difficulty in discerning who is a White person. On the other hand, in the predominantly White state of São Paulo people more easily define who is a White person.

The integration of races in Brazil did not build a racial democracy, where racism would not exist because all Brazilians saw themselves as equal because of their common multiracial heritage. Even though this theory was dominant in Brazil for decades, and still followed by some today, most scholars now think that miscegenation in Brazil did not create an egalitarian society, but a society divided into gradations of skin color, where the lighter skinned ones are mostly found on the top of it, and the darker skinned ones are mostly found on the bottom.

Genetic researches

The genes can reveal from what part of the world the oldest ancestors of the paternal and maternal line of a person came from. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is present in all human beings and passed down through the maternal line, i.e. the mother of the mother of the mother etc. The Y chromosome is present only in males and passed down through the paternal line, i.e., the father of father of father etc. The mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome suffer only minor mutations through centuries, thus can be used to establish the paternal line in males (because only males have the Y chromosome) and the maternal line in both males and females.

According to a genetic study about Brazilians (based upon about 200 samples), on the paternal side, 98% of the White Brazilian Y Chromosome comes from a European male ancestor, only 2% from an African ancestor and there is a complete absence of Amerindian contributions. On the maternal side, 39% have European Mitochondrial DNA, 33% Amerindian and 28% African female ancestry. 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)..

According to that genetic research (based upon about 200 samples again) over 75% of caucasians from North, Northeast and Southeast Brazil would have over 10% Sub-Saharan African genes, and that this would also be the case with Southern Brazil for 49% of the caucasian population. According to this study, in all United Statesmarker 11% of Caucasians have over 10% African genes. Some researchers have found that the average European American type has approximately 10% to 12% non-White genetic material.

Another genetic research, however, suggested that the white Brazilian population is not genetically homogenous, as its genomic ancestry varies in different regions. Samples of white males from Rio Grande do Sul have showed a huge difference between whites of different localities of Brazil. In a sample from the town of Veranópolismarker, heavily settled by people of Italian descent, the results from the maternal and paternal sides stated almost complete European ancestry. On the other hand, a sample from another region of Rio Grande do Sul has showed significant fractions of Native American (36%) and African (16%) mtDNA haplogroups. The scholars reported that the Brazilian populations are remarkably heterogeneous, as some samples of white Brazilians indicated a complete European ancestry, while others indicated high degree of both Amerindian and African admixture, mainly on the maternal side.

Another study carried out in one thousand individuals from Porto Alegremarker city, Southern Brazil, and 760 from Natalmarker city, Northeastern Brazil, found huge differences between the Whites of these two parts of Brazil. The Whites of Porto Alegre had only 8% of African alleles. On the other hand, the Whites of Natal had 58% White, 25% Black, and 17% Indian admixture. This study found that both persons identified as White or Mixed in Natal have similar ancestries, while persons identified as White in Porto Alegre have an overwhelming majority of European ancestry. Again, this study also suggested the differences of admixture found in White Brazilians of different regions.

One more study carried out on whites of Northeastern Brazilian origin living in São Paulo found 70% European, 18% African and 12% Amerindian admixture.

Another study (covering all regions of Brazil in a sample of 200 people of different colors) 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).

See also


  1. The Phylogeography of Brazilian Y-Chromosome Lineages
  2. Renato Pinto Venâncio, "Presença portuguesa: de colonizadores a imigrantes", chap. 3 of Brasil: 500 anos de povoamento (IBGE). Relevant extract available here
  4. Anita Novinsky, Raízes ocultas do Brasil, O Globo Newspaper, 09.24.2006
  5. Florentino, Manolo, and Machado, Cacilda. Ensaio sobre a imigração portuguesa e os padrões de miscigenação no Brasil (séculos XIX e XX) - 2002 - Portugueses (PDF file)
  6. Paul Louis Jacques Gaffarel, Histoire du Bresil français au seizième siècle (Paris: Maison Neuve, 1878).
  7. Johannes Menne Postma, The Dutch in the Atlantic slave trade, 1600-1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990; ISBN 0521365856), pp. 18-20 ( here at Google Books).
  8. Beth Capelache de Carvalho, "Histórias e lendas de santos: os imigrantes: A colônia judaica (1)", A Tribuna de Santos, 27 June 1982 (reproduced here; accessed 25 May 2009).
  9. Flávia de Ávila, Entrada de Trabalhadores Estrangeiros no Brasil: Evolução Legislativa e Políticas Subjacentes nos Séculos XIX e XX. PhD thesis. Florianópolis: Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, 2003. pp 31-32. (Available here [1.21MB PDF file].) Ávila cites Manuel Diégues Júnior, Imigração, urbanização e industrialização: Estudo sobre alguns aspectos da contribuição cultural do imigrante no Brasil (Brasília: MEC, 1964), p. 18.
  10. Renato Pinto Venâncio, "Presença portuguesa: de colonizadores a imigrantes", chap. 3 of Brasil: 500 anos de povoamento (IBGE). Relevant extract available here.
  11. " A Colônia Suíça de Nova Friburgo", Secretaria Municipal de Educação Prefeitura da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro.
  12. imigracao II
  13. Imigração no Brasil
  14. Câmara Ítalo-Brasileira de Comércio e Indústria
  15. Especiais - Agência Brasil
  17. p.3
  18. / Note 3, p.3
  19. / Table 6, p.10
  20. Fora de foco: diversidade e identidade étnicas no Brasil
  21. A mulher no contexto da imigração portuguesa no Brasil
  23. O povo brasileiro 3
  24. Darcy Ribeiro. O Povo Brasileiro, Vol. 07, 1997 (1997).
  26. Minimanual Compacto de Geografia do Brasil, Editora Rideel. 2003
  28. População estrangeira 1920
  29. Cinco milhões de netos de emigrantes podem tornar-se portugueses
  33. Entrada de estrangeiros no Brasil
  34. O papel da migração internacional na evolução da população brasileira (1872 a 1972)
  35. Proporção estrangeira
  36. População estrangeira 1920
  37. Italiani nel mondo
  38. A imigração alemã no Brasil
  39. Bem-vindo/a ao site do Consulado Geral da Alemanha em Porto Alegre
  40. [1]
  41. Uma história oculta: a imigração dos países da Europa do Centro-Leste para o Brasil [2]
  42. People of Ukrainian descent in Brazil
  43. Memorial do Imigrante
  44. Embaixada do Líbano no Brasil
  45. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil
  46. O Estado de S. Paulo Newspaper
  47. , to see chapter used, see "World Jewish Population, 2007"
  48. PNAD
  49. Sistema IBGE de Recuperação Automática - SIDRA
  51. Sistema IBGE de Recuperação Automática - SIDRA
  52. Source: Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics ([3])
  53. RIBEIRO, Darcy. O Povo Brasileiro, Companhia de Bolso, fourth reprint, 2008 (2008).
  54. As duas cores de Machado de Assis
  55. Miscigenação não leva à democracia racial, diz sociólogo
  56. Os Genes de Cabral
  57. DNAPrint Genomics Website
  58. The polymorphism of the serotonin-2A receptor T102C is associated with age
  59. Blood polymorphisms and racial admixture in two Brazilian populations
  60. Color and genomic ancestry in Brazilians
  61. DNA de brasileiro é 80% europeu, indica estudo.

  • RIBEIRO, Darcy. O Povo Brasileiro . Ed. Companhia de Bolso.

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