Immigration to Brazil is the movement to Brazil of foreign persons to reside permanently. It should not be confused with the colonisation of the country by the Portuguese, or with the forcible bringing of people from Africa as slaves.

Throughout its history, Brazil has always been a recipient of immigrants, but this began to gain importance in the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century when the country received massive immigration from Europe, the Middle East and East Asia, which left lasting marks on demography, culture, language and the economy of Brazil.

In general, it is considered that people who entered Brazil up to 1822, the year of independence, were colonizers. Since then, those who entered the independent nation were immigrants.

Before 1871, the number of immigrants rarely exceeded two or three thousand people a year. Immigration increased pressure from the first end of the international slave trade to Brazil, after the expansion of the economy, especially in the period of large coffee plantations in the state of São Paulo.

Immigration has been a very important demographic factor in the composition, structure and history of human population in Brazil, with all its attending factors and consequences in culture, economy, education, racial issues, etc. Brazil has received one of the largest numbers of immigrants in the Western Hemisphere, along with the United States, Argentina and Canada.[1]

Counting from 1872 (year of the first census) by the year 2000, Brazil received about 6 million immigrants.

Brief history

Total of foreign people authorized to work in Brazil by state in 2009.
People authorized to work in Brazil by origin in 2009. Organized by largest ancestry.
  U.S. citizen

Maria Stella Ferreira Levy[2] suggests the following periodisation of the process of immigration to Brazil:

  1. 1820–1876: small number of immigrants (about 6,000 per year), predominance of Portuguese (45.73%), with significant numbers of Germans (12.97%);
  2. 1877–1903: large number of immigrants (about 71,000 per year), predominance of Italians (58.49%);
  3. 1904–1930: large number of immigrants (about 79,000 per year), predominance of the Portuguese (36.97%);
  4. 1931–1963: declining number of immigrants (about 33,500 per year), predominance of the Portuguese (38.45%).

The Brazilian population before immigration

Arrival of the Portuguese to Northeast Brazil in 1500.

When Brazil was invaded as a new land in the New World by the Portuguese in 1500, its native population was composed of about 2.4 million Amerindians[3] whose ancestors had been living there for the last 15,000 to 20,000 years.[4] During the three decades afterwards, the country remained sparsely inhabited by Europeans. Among those few, mainly Portuguese, most were renegades, criminals banished from Portugal, shipwreck survivors, or mutinous sailors. They integrated into the local tribes, using their superior technology to attain privileged positions among them.[5]

After 1530, the Portuguese started to settle in Brazil in significant numbers. However, Portugal had a small population to develop the exploitation of Brazil. By 1550, the colonists started to bring African slaves. From 1500, when the Portuguese reached Brazil, until its independence in 1822, from 500,000 to 700,000 Portuguese settled in Brazil, 600,000 of whom arrived in the 18th century alone.[6][7] The Portuguese settled in the whole territory, initially remaining near the coast, except in the region of São Paulo, from where the bandeirantes would spread into the hinterland. In the 18th century, large waves of Portuguese settled the country, in the wake of the discovery of gold in the region of Minas Gerais, but the number of Portuguese who settled in Brazil in its colonial era was far lower than of African slaves: from 1550 to 1850, some 4 million slaves were brought to Brazil.[7] This should not be taken as meaning that the population of Brazil before independence was mainly Black: the average survival of an African slave in Brazil was of merely seven years after arrival,[8] implying extremely high mortality rates. Although children born to slave women inherited the slave condition, the Portuguese always relied on slaves purchased from slave traders to replace and increase the work force; the natural growth of the slave population was always very small.[9]

In the early 19th century, Brazil was mainly composed of people of three different origins: the indigenous inhabitants, the Portuguese and their descendants, the Africans and descendants, and, naturally, people of varying degrees of "racial" mixture. In 1872, after the arrival of about 350,000 mostly European immigrants and about 1,150,000 Africans forcibly brought to Brazil as slaves, the first Brazilian Census counted 9,930,478 people in Brazil, of which 3,787,289 (38.14%) Whites, 3,380,172 (34.04%) "pardos", 1.954.452 (19.68%) Blacks, and 386,955 (3.90%) "caboclos".[10]

First period: 1820–1876

Immigration properly started with the opening of the Brazilian ports, in 1808. The government began to stimulate the arrival of Europeans to occupy plots of land and become small farmers. In 1812, settlers from the Azores were brought to Espírito Santo and in 1819, Swiss to Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro. After independence from Portugal, the Brazilian Empire focused on the occupation of the provinces of Southern Brazil. It was mainly because Southern Brazil had a small population, vulnerable to attacks by Argentina and the Kaingang Indians.[11]

From 1824, immigrants from Central Europe started to populate what is nowadays the region of São Leopoldo, in the province of Rio Grande do Sul. According to Leo Waibel, these German immigrants were mainly "oppressed peasants and former soldiers of the army of Napoleon". In 1830 a bill was passed forbidding the Imperial government from spending money with the settlement of immigrants, which stalled immigration until 1834, when the provincial governments were charged with promoting immigration.[12]

In 1859, Prussia prohibited emigration to Brazil. This was mainly because of complaints that Germans were being exploited in the coffee plantations of São Paulo. Still, between 1820 and 1876, 350,117 immigrants entered Brazil. Of these, 45.73% were Portuguese, 35.74% of "other nationalities", 12.97% Germans, while Italians and Spanish together did not reach 6%. The total number of immigrants per year averaged 6,000.[13] Many immigrants, particularly the Germans, were brought to settle in rural communities as small landowners. They received land, seed, livestock and other items to develop.

Polish house in Paraná state.
European immigrants working in a coffee plantation in the State of São Paulo.

Second Period: 1877–1903

In the last quarter of the 19th century, the entry of immigrants in Brazil grew strongly. On one hand, Europe underwent a serious demographic crisis, which resulted in increased emigration; on the other hand, the final crisis of Brazilian slavery prompted Brazilian authorities to find solutions for the problem of work force. Consequently, while immigration until 1876 was focused on establishing communities of landowners, during this period, while this older process continued, immigrants were more and more attracted to the coffee plantations of São Paulo, where they became employees or were allowed to cultivate small tracts of land in exchange for their work in the coffee crop.[11] This also coincided with the decreasing availability of better land in southern Brazil—while the German immigrants arriving in the previous period occupied the valleys of the rivers, the Italians arriving in the last quarter of the century settled the mountainous regions of the state.[14]

During this period, immigration was much more intense: large numbers of Europeans, especially Italians, started to be brought to the country to work in the harvest of coffee.[15] From 1877 to 1903, almost two million immigrants arrived, at a rate of 71,000 per year[16] Brazil's receiving structure, legislation and settlement policies for immigrants were much less organized than in Canada and the United States at the time. Nevertheless, an Immigrant's Hostel (Hospedaria dos Imigrantes) was built in 1886 in São Paulo, and quick admittance and recording routines for the throngs of immigrants arriving by ship at the seaports of Vitória, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Paranaguá, Florianópolis and Porto Alegre were established. The São Paulo site alone processed more than 2.5 million immigrants in its almost 100 years of continuous operation. People of more than 70 different nationalities were recorded.

Italian immigrants in the Hospedaria dos Imigrantes, in São Paulo.

In 1850, Brazil declared the end of the slave trade. This had different impacts on the different regions of Brazil. At the time, the region of São Paulo was undergoing a process of economic boom, linked to the expansion of the cultivation of coffee, and consequently needed increased amounts of labour. Other regions, notedly the Northeast, on the contrary, faced economic retraction, and were, consequently, able to dispense workforce. This entailed the replacement of the international slave trade by an internal or interprovincial slave trade, in which Northeastern slaves were sold in large numbers to the Southeast.[17] This temporarily solved the workforce problem in São Paulo and other coffee plantation areas. However, by 1870 the paulista elite came to realise that the Northeastern slaveholders were in fact being able to obtain financial compensation for their slaves, or, in practice, an abolition with compensation.[17] Fears of a situation comparable to the United States, with the division of the country into free provinces and slave provinces arose. Consequently, paulista politicians began to seek measures against the interprovincial traffic, at a time when, anyway, the price of Northeastern slaves was getting higher and higher, due to their increasing scarcity.[17] By the beginning of the 1870s, the alternative of the interprovincial trade was exhausted, while the demand for workforce in the coffee plantations continued to expand. Thus the paulista oligarchy sought to attract new workers from abroad, by passing provincial legislation and pressing the Imperial government to organise immigration.[17][18]

Third period: 1904–1930

A poster used in Japan to attract immigrants to Brazil. It says "Let's go to South America (Brazil) with the family."

From 1904 to 1930, 2,142,781 immigrants came to Brazil—making an annual average of 79,000 people. In consequence of the Prinetti Decree of 1902, that forbade subsidised emigration to Brazil, Italian immigration had, at this stage, a drastic reduction: their average annual entries from 1887 to 1903 was 58,000. In this period they were only 19,000 annually. The Portuguese constituted 38% of entries, followed by Spaniards with 22%. From 1914 to 1918, due to World War I, the entry of immigrants of all nationalities decreased.[13] After the War, the immigration of people of "other nationalities" redressed faster than that of Portuguese, Spaniards, and Italians. Part of this category was composed of immigrants from Poland, Russia and Romania, who immigrated probably by political issues, and part by Syrian and Lebanese peoples. Both subgroups included a number of Jewish immigrants, who arrived in the 1920s.

From 1931 to 1963, 1,106,404 immigrants entered Brazil. The participation of the Japanese increased. From 1932 to 1935 immigrants from Japan constituted 30% of total admissions.[13] Prior to this yearly Japanese immigrants were numerically limited to no more than 5% of the current Japanese population.[19]

Fourth Period: 1931–1964

With the radicalisation of the political situation in Europe, the end of the demographic crisis, the decadence of coffee culture, the Revolution of 1930 and the consequent rise of a nationalist government, immigration to Brazil was significantly reduced. The focus shifted to culturally assimilating immigrants and "whitening" the population.[20] From 1931 to 1963, 1,106,404 immigrants entered Brazil. The annual arrival of immigrants fell to 33,500. The Portuguese remained the most significant group, with 39.35%, The participation of the Japanese increased, becoming the second most important group, with 12.79%. Particularly from 1932 to 1935 immigrants from Japan constituted 30% of total admissions.[13]

Immigration also became a more urban phenomenon; most immigrants came for the cities, and even the descendants of the immigrants of the previous periods were moving intensely from the countryside. In the 1950s, Brazil started a program of immigration to provide workers for Brazilian industries. In São Paulo, for example, between 1957 and 1961, more than 30% of the Spanish, over 50% of the Italian and 70% of the Greek immigrants were brought to work in factories.

Current trends

People authorized to work in Brazil by North American countries in 2009. Organized by number of people.
People authorized to work in Brazil by European countries in 2009. Organized by number of people.
People authorized to work in Brazil by South American countries in 2009. Organized by number of people.

During the 1970s Brazil received about 32,000 Lebanese immigrants escaping the civil war, as well as smaller numbers of Palestinians and Syrians.[21][verification needed]

During the 1990s Brazil received small numbers of immigrants from the former republics of Yugoslavia, from Afghanistan and West Africa (mostly Angolans).[22] Recent immigration is mainly constituted by Chinese and Koreans and, in a smaller degree, by Argentines and other Latin American immigrants.[23]

The increase in Bolivian immigrants in Brazil is one of the social consequences of the political crisis affecting that country.[24] The majority of the Bolivians come from cities such as La Paz, Sucre, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and Cochabamba. Usually they enter Brazil through Cuiabá, in Mato Grosso, or San Mathias, in Bolivia, which borders Caceres, Mato Grosso and Corumbá, in Mato Grosso do Sul.

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.[25] There are an estimated 200,000 Bolivians living in the Greater São Paulo, majority is of undocumented immigrants.[26]

In 2009, the country was home to 3,982,000 foreign born people, that represents 2.36% of the Brazilian population. The major work visas concessions were granted for citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom.[27]

In 2010, Brazil is home to 4,251 refugees from 76 different nationalities. The largest refugee ancestries were Angolan (1,688), Colombian (583), Congolese (402), Liberian (259), and Iraqi (197).[28]

Immigrants (2012)[4]
Country Population
Portugal 277,727
Japan 91,042
Italy 73,126
Spain 59,985
Argentina 42,202
China 35,953
Germany 29,224
United States of America 27,953
Uruguay 26,271
Chile 25,561
South Korea 19,341
France 18,011
Paraguay 15,626

Visa policy

Permanent visas may be granted to individuals intending to establish residence in Brazil. Permanent Visas apply to:[29]

  • Technicians or professionals with a work contract pre-approved by the Brazilian Ministry of Labor, National Department of Employment. This visa must be applied for in Brazil.
  • Professors, technicians and high-level researchers who wish to immigrate to Brazil to undertake research work in an institution of higher learning or of research in science and technology. This visa must be applied for in Brazil.
  • Foreign investors with initial transfer of foreign capital equivalent to no less than US$50,000 and an investment plan pre-approved by the Brazilian National Council on Immigration (CNIG). This visa must be applied for in Brazil.
  • Administrators, managers or directors hired by a commercial enterprise or civil organization resulting from foreign investment described in item 3 above, with a work contract pre-approved by the Brazilian Ministry of Labor, National Department of Employment. This visa must be applied for in Brazil.
  • A retired person, 60 years of age or older, accompanied by up to two dependents, and able to transfer monthly, in accordance with the laws of the country of origin, the amount equivalent to US$2,000. In the case of more than two dependents, the applicant must transfer the amount equivalent to US$1,000 for each additional dependent.
  • Spouse, partners in a common law union regardless of gender, or minor dependent of Brazilian citizen or of a permanent resident of Brazil;
  • Ancestors of a Brazilian national or of a permanent resident of Brazil;
  • Siblings of a Brazilian citizen or of a permanent resident of Brazil, if orphan, single and under 18 years of age;
  • Minor children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of a Brazilian citizen or of a permanent resident of Brazil.

Binational unions

  • Formed by a Brazilian and other people from other country:
In Brazil
Ethnic origin Percentage
Portuguese 32%
Italians 9%
Japanese 8%
Outside Brazil
Ethnic origin Percentage
U.S. citizens 40%
Portuguese 17%
Argentinians 14%

Immigration law

Federal Constitution

Portuguese people have a differentiated treatment according to Paragraph 1, Article 12, of the Federal Constitution of Brazil. Due to strong cultural and historical ties between the two countries.

Article 12. The following are Brazilians:

II - naturalized:

a) those who, as set forth by law, acquire Brazilian nationality, it being the only requirement for persons originating from Portuguese-speaking countries the residence for 1 (one) uninterrupted year and good moral repute;

b) foreigners of any nationality, resident in the Federative Republic of Brazil for over 15 (fifteen) uninterrupted years and without criminal conviction, provided that they apply for the Brazilian nationality.

Paragraph 1. The rights inherent to Brazilians shall be attributed to Portuguese citizens with permanent residence in Brazil, if there is reciprocity in favour of Brazilians, except in the cases stated in this Constitution.

Paragraph 2. The law may not establish any distinction between born and naturalized Brazilians, except in the cases stated in this Constitution.[30]

Statute of Foreigner

Article 112. Are conditions for the granting of naturalization:

I - civilian capacity, according to Brazilian law;

II - to be registered as permanent resident in Brazil;

III - continuous residence in the territory for a minimum period of 4 (four) years immediately preceding the application for naturalization;

IV - read and write the Portuguese language, considering the conditions of naturalizing;

V - exercise of occupation or possession of sufficient assets to maintain itself and the family;

VI - proper procedure;

VII - no complaint, indictment in Brazil or abroad for a felony that is threatened in minimum sentence of imprisonment, abstractly considered, more than 1 (one) year.

VIII - good health.

LGBT immigration equality by country or territory
  Recognition of same-sex couples in national immigration laws

Article 113.The period of residence prescribed in Article 112, item III, may be reduced if the naturalizing fill any of the following conditions:

I - have a child or spouse of Brazil;

(Including same-sex spouse, see also: Same-sex immigration policy in Brazil)

II - be son of a Brazilian;

III - have provided or can provide relevant services to Brazil, in the opinion of the Minister of Justice of Brazil;

IV - commend themselves by their professional, scientific or artistic; or

V - to be owner in Brazil, real estate, whose value is equal to at least a thousand times the greatest value of reference, or be provided with industrial funds of equal value, or hold quota shares or amount of paid-in least identical in commercial or civil society, aimed principally and permanently, the operation of industrial or agricultural activities.

Sole Paragraph. The residence will be at least 1 (one) year, in cases of items I, II, and III; 2 (two) years in Item IV; and 3 (three) years in Item V.[31]


A group of Palestinian immigrants in São Paulo.

Since the 1980s, the Brazilian government has offered amnesty to foreigners in irregular situation[32] in four different campaigns, benefiting tens of thousands of foreigners living in Brazil. The latest campaign began in July 2009 by presidential decree, and though it officially ended at the close of 2009, some cases are still pending. Until now, 41,816 foreigners received amnesty through the 2009 amnesty program, though there are another 2,000 cases expected to be finished in early 2010.[needs update] Though the large majority of immigrants live in São Paulo, other cases were based largely in Rio de Janeiro and Paraná. The breakdown by country/continent is the following: 16,881 Bolivians, 5,492 Chinese, 4,642 Peruvians, 4,135 Paraguayans, 2,700 Africans (including North Africa), 2,390 Europeans, 1,129 Koreans, 469 Argentines, 274 U.S. citizens, 186 Cubans.

While foreigners who received amnesty obtained the right to work and access health and education services, they are unable to vote or run for public office. They may opt to apply for citizenship after a probation period of residency in order to obtain these rights. Officially, amnesty intends to cut down on illegal activity and human rights violations, particularly with Bolivians in São Paulo. But it seems to fit in with the Lula administration's international policies, including ramped up diplomacy and establishing ties with other nations, but also establishing itself as a competitor with developed countries. By showing that it is a center for immigrants in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in South America, and more importantly, that it is supposedly a benevolent and welcoming country for immigrants, it helps Brazil's international public image.[33]

Those who would benefit from the amnesty, following publication of the law in the Brazilian Official Gazette in July 2009, have up to 180 days after the time of their temporary residence permit (valid for 2 years) to apply. They must also aver their clean criminal record or submit a recent, official document of good conduct from the originating country. During these two years, they must not exceed 90 consecutive days spent abroad. Ninety days prior to the expiration of the temporary residence permit, they must aver their self-sufficiency in Brazil. If they can prove they are eligible for a permanent residence permit. Only ten years after receiving a permanent residence permit may be eligible for naturalization to be Brazilian.[34]

The result of immigration to Brazil


Immigration to Brazil, by national origin, periods from 1830 to 1959
Source: Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE)
origin 1830–1855 1856–1883 1884–1893 1894–1903 1904–1913 1914–1923 1924–1933 1945-1949 1950-1954 1955-1959 1960-1969 197,587 immigrants from many nationalities arrived 1970-1972 15,558 immigrants.The largest majority from Portugal
Portuguese 16,737 116,000 170,621 155,542 384,672 201,252 233,650 26,268 123,082 96,811
Italians 100,000 510,533 537,784 196,521 86,320 70,177 15,312 59,785 31,263
Spaniards 113,116 102,142 224,672 94,779 52,400 4,092 53,357 38,819
Germans 2,008 30,000 22,778 6,698 33,859 29,339 61,723 5,188 12,204 4,633
Japanese 11,868 20,398 110,191 12 5,447 28,819
Syrians and Lebanese 96 7,124 45,803 20,400 20,400 N/D N/D N/D
Others 66,524 42,820 109,222 51,493 164,586 29,552 84,851 47,599

Immigration has been a very important demographic factor in the formation, structure and history of the population in Brazil, influencing culture, economy, education, racial issues, etc. Brazil has received the third largest number of immigrants in the Western Hemisphere, after only Argentina,Canada and The United States.

European diaspora

Brazilian people from Paraná celebrating the Ukrainian Easter.
A Portuguese immigrant in Rio de Janeiro, 1895.
European immigrants and a Brazilian coffee plantation.

In the 100 years from 1872–1972 at least 5.35 million immigrants came to Brazil, of whom 31% were Portuguese, 30% Italian, 13% Spanish, 5% Japanese, 4% German and 16% of other unspecified nationalities.[6]

In 1897, São Paulo had twice as many Italians as Brazilians in the city. In 1893, 55% of the city´s population was composed by immigrants and in 1901 more than 80% of the children were born to a foreign-born parents.[5] According to the 1920 census, 35% of São Paulo city's inhabitants were foreign born, compared to 36% in New York City. São Paulo's multicultural population could be compared to any major American, Canadian or Australian city. About 75% of the immigrants were Latin Europeans, particularly from three major sources: Italy, Portugal and Spain. The rest came from different parts of Europe, the Middle East and Japan.[35] Some areas of the city remained almost exclusively settled by Italians until the arrival of waves of migrants from other parts of Brazil, particularly from the Northeast, starting in the late 1920s.

According to historian Samuel H. Lowrie, in the early 20th century the society of São Paulo was divided in three classes:[35]

  • The high group: composed of graduated people, mainly by Brazilians born to Brazilian parents, who were related to the high-class farmers or other people with privileges.
  • The working class: composed of immigrants and their second and third generations descendants. They were the most numerous group, mainly factory workers or traders.
  • The semi-dependent group: composed of former slaves and low-class workers of the Empire.
Owners of industries in São Paulo(1962) [6]
Ethnic origin Percentage
Italians 35%
Brazilians 16%
Portuguese 12%
Germans 10%
Syrians and Lebanese 9%
Russians 2.9%
Austrians 2.4%
Swiss 2.4%
Other Europeans 9%
Others 2%

According to Lowrie, the fact that Brazil already had a long history of racial mixture and that most of the immigrants in São Paulo came from Latin European countries, reduced the cases of racism and mutual intolerance. However, the Brazilian high class was more intolerant, with most of them marrying other members of the elite. In some cases, to marry an immigrant was accepted if the person had achieved fortune or had some prestige. Lowrie reports that as much as 40% of the São Paulo high-class society mixed with an immigrant within the next three generations.

While in São Paulo the Italians predominated, in the city of Rio de Janeiro the Portuguese remained as the main group. In 1929, as many as 272,338 Portuguese immigrants were recorded in the Federal District of Brazil (nowadays the city of Rio de Janeiro), more Portuguese born people than any other city in the world, except for Lisbon (which had 591,939 inhabitants in 1930).[36]

List of passengers of the ship Kasato Maru bringing the first Japanese immigrants to Brazil, 1908.
São Paulo City in 1886
Immigrants Percentage of immigrants in foreign born population [7]
Italians 48%
Portuguese 29%
Germans 10%
Spanish 3%
São Paulo City in 1893
Year Immigrants Percentage of the City [8]
Italians 45,457 35%
Portuguese 14,437 11%
Spanish 4,818 3.7%
Rio de Janeiro City(Guanabara)
Year Immigrants Percentage of the City[2] [9]
1872 84,283 30.65%
1890 124,352 / 155,202 23.79% / 29.69%
1900 195,894 24.14%
1906 210,515 25.94%
1920 239,129 20.65%
1940 228,633 12.96%
1950 210,454 8.85%
Rio de Janeiro City(1890)
Group Population Percentage of the City [10]
Portuguese immigrants 106,461 20.36%
Brazilians who were born to a Portuguese father or mother 161,203 30.84%
Portuguese immigrants and descendents 267,664 51.2%
Rio de Janeiro City in 1940(Guanabara)
Immigrants Population [2]
Portuguese 154,662
Italians 17,457
Spanish 12,212
Germans 10,185
Japanese 538
Others 33,579
Immigrants by Brazilian state according to 1920 Census (including naturalized immigrants)[37]
State Immigrants Percentage within the state population
São Paulo 839,135 18.2%
Federal District (Rio de Janeiro city) 252,958 22.0%
Espírito Santo 20,532 4.5%
Santa Catarina 39,212 5.8%
Rio Grande do Sul 165,974 7.5%
Mato Grosso 25,556 10.3%
Goiás 1,814 0.3%
Minas Gerais 91,349 1.5%
Rio de Janeiro 53,261 3.4%
Paraná 66,387 9.6%
Pernambuco 12,010 0.5%
Piauí 344 0.0%
Paraíba 661 0.0%
Pará 22,824 2.3%
Maranhão 1,681 0.2%
Ceará 980 0.0%
Bahia 10,999 0.3%
Amazonas 17,525 4.8%
Alagoas 747 0.0%
Sergipe 422 0.0%
Acre 3,564 3.8%

In the South of Brazil, there were three main groups of immigrants: Germans, Italians and Slavs (mainly Poles and Ukrainians). The Germans had been settling Rio Grande do Sul since 1824. The first settlers came from Holstein, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Hannover. Later, people from Hunsrück and Rhineland-Palatinate predominated. There were also people from Pomerania, Westphalia and Württemberg. These immigrants were attracted to work as small farmers in the region of São Leopoldo. As a result of the great internal migration of people in Rio Grande do Sul, Germans and second generation descendants started to move to other areas of the Province.

A similar process has occurred in Santa Catarina, with initially two main destinations for German immigrants (Blumenau, created in 1850, and Joinville in 1851) and then the immigrants or their descendants moved to other areas. Arriving in larger numbers than Germans, in the 1870s, groups of Italians started settling northeast Rio Grande do Sul. Similar to Germans, they were also attracted to develop small familiar farming production. In Paraná, on the other hand, the main group of immigrants was composed of Eastern Europeans, particularly Poles.[38][39]

In southern Brazil, the immigrants settled in colônias (colonies), which were rural areas, composed of many small farms, settled by the families. Some of these colonies had a great development and gave birth to major Brazilian cities, such as the former German community of Joinville (500,000 inhabitants—the largest city of the state of Santa Catarina) or the former Italian community of Caxias do Sul (405,858 inhabitants). Other colonies did not have a great development and remained small and agrarian. In these places, it is possible to feel more intensely the impact of the immigration, as many of these towns are still predominantly settled by a single ethnic group.

First Settlers in Londrina(1930´s)[11]
Ethnic Group Population
Brazilians 1.823
Italians 611
Japanese 533
Germans 510
Spanish 303
Portuguese 218
Polish 193
Ukrainians 172
Hungarians 138
Czechoslovakians 51
Russians 44
Swiss 34
Austrians 29
Lithuanians 21
Yugoslavs 15
Romanians 12
English 7
Argentinians 5
Syrians 5
Danes 3
Australians 2
Belgians 2
Bulgarians 2
French 2
Latvian 2
Liechtensteiner 2
North-Americans 2
Swedes 2
Estonians 1
Indian 1
Norwegian 1
Total Foreign Born Population 2.923( 61,6%)
Some southern Brazilian towns with a notable main ancestry
Town name State Main ancestry Percentage
Nova Veneza Santa Catarina Italian 95% [40]
Pomerode Santa Catarina German 90% [41]
Prudentópolis Paraná Ukrainian 70% [42]
Treze Tílias Santa Catarina Austrian 60% [43]
Dom Feliciano Rio Grande do Sul Polish 90% [44]