About 170 km (105 mi) from Rio de Janeiro, the area where Penedo is located belongs to the Itatiaia National Park. The small town was colonized by immigrants from Finland and the architecture, gastronomy and local customs such as saunas, are still present in Penedo.
In 1906, the first Finnish immigrants seem to have been sailors who went ashore especially in the port of Rio de Janeiro to settle, although there are reports of Finns working in Brazil since late 19th century as Finnish engineers and technicians, mostly working in the railways in Brazil. In 1908, a small Finnish colony was founded, comprising about 20 families. Then in 1909–1910, a group of Finns from northern Sweden and northern Finland emigrated to southern Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul). In the inter-war years about one thousand Finns immigrated to Latin America, mainly to Brazil and Argentina. Especially from the year 1924, Colonia Finlandesa in Argentina received new emigrants from eastern Finland. In Brazil a utopian social experiment, Penedo was started in 1929.
After World War II, immigration from Finland to Latin America continued, but in a much smaller degree. According to Finnish official statistics, about 500 immigrants left for Latin American countries; Venezuela than becoming a main settling country for Finn expats in addition to Brazil and Argentina. In the course of time small Finnish colonies have sprung up within some of South America's major cities, especially in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Caracas. Here, however, we must distinguish between true emigrants and the occasional Finnish resident in Latin American countries for diplomatic service or business.