Mixed-race Brazilian

Mixed-race Brazilian

Brazilian censuses do not use a "multiracial" category. Instead, the censuses use skin colour categories, with a Pardo (brown) one, that may include people of varied "mixed racial" ancestry, but probably also accounts for non-mixed acculturated Amerindians. According to the 2006 PNAD, "pardos" make up 79.782 million people, or 42.6% of Brazil's population.[1]

According to some DNA researches, Brazilians predominantly possess some degree of mixed-race ancestry, though less than half of the country's population classified themselves as "pardos" in the census[2]. This is not seen as any kind of misclassification, since the census categories are not, and do not pretend to be, based on ancestry, but rather on skin colour.



Before the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500, Brazil was inhabited by nearly five million Amerindians.[3] The Portuguese colonisation of Brazil started in the sixteenth century. In the first two centuries of colonization, 100,000 Portuguese arrived in Brazil (around 500 colonists per year). In the eighteenth century, 600,000 Portuguese arrived (6,000 per year).[4] Another important "race", Blacks, were brought from Africa as slaves, starting around 1550. Many came from Guinea, or from West African countries - by the end of the eighteenth century many had been taken from Congo, Angola and Mozambique (or, in Bahia, from Nigeria). By the time of the end of the slave trade in 1850, around 3.5 million slaves had been brought to Brazil–37% of all slave traffic between Africa and the Americas.[5][not in citation given]

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a considerable influx of mainly European immigrants arrived to Brazil. According to the Memorial do Imigrante, Brazil attracted nearly 5 million immigrants between 1870 and 1953[6][7]. Most of the immigrants were from Italy or Portugal, but also significant numbers of Germans, Spaniards, Japanese and Syrian-Lebanese[8].

The Portuguese settlers were the ones to start the intensive race-mixing process in Brazil. Miscegenation in Brazil, according to many Historians[who?], was not a pacific process as some[who?] used to believe: it was a domination form found from the Portuguese against the Native Brazilian and African populations.[9]

The White Portuguese population in Brazil never outnumbered the non-White one. The numbers of Indigenous peoples[citation needed] and African slaves were much higher during Colonial Brazil. However, in the 19th century, there were more Brazilians of mixed Portuguese descent than those of pure African or Indian descent.[10]

Debret: a Guarani family captured by slave hunters in Brazil.


The first colonists from Portugal who arrived in Brazil were singles or did not bring their wives. For that reason the first interracial marriages[citation needed] in Brazil occurred between Portuguese males and Amerindian females[11].[not in citation given]

In Brazil, people of White/Indian ancestry are historically known as caboclos or mamelucos. They predominated in many regions of Brazil. One example are the Bandeirantes (Brazilian colonial scouts who took part in the Bandeiras, exploration expeditions) who operated out of São Paulo, home base for the most famous bandeirantes.

Indians, mostly free men and mamelucos, predominated in the society of São Paulo in the 16th and early 17th centuries and outnumbered Europeans[citation needed]. The influential families generally bore some Indian blood and provided most of the leaders of the bandeiras, with a few notable exceptions such as Antonio Raposo Tavares (1598–1658), who was European born.


A Brazilian family of the 19th century.

According to some[who?] Historians, Portuguese settlers in Brazil used to prefer to marry Portuguese-born females. If not possible, the second option were Brazilian-born females of recent Portuguese background. The third option were Brazilian-born women of distant Portuguese ancestry. However, the number of White females in Brazil was very low during the Colonial period, causing a large number of interracial relationships in the country.[12]

White/Black relationships in Brazil started as early as the first Africans were brought as slaves in 1550[citation needed]. The Mulattoes (people of White/Black ancestry) were also enslaved[citation needed], though some children of rich aristocrats and owners of gold mines were educated and became important people in Colonial Brazil[citation needed]. Probably, the most famous case was Chica da Silva, a mixed-race Brazilian slave[citation needed] who married[citation needed] a rich gold mine owner and became one of the richest people in Brazil.[13][not in citation given]

Demographics of Brazil from 1835 to 1872[14]
Year white brown black
1835 24.4% 18.2% 51.4%
1872 38.1% 42.2% 19.7%

Other mulattoes largely contributed to Brazil's culture: Aleijadinho (sculptor and architect), Machado de Assis (writer), Lima Barreto (writer), Chiquinha Gonzaga (composer), etc.

In 1835, Blacks made up the majority of Brazil's population. In 1872, their numbers was largely decreased, outnumbered by Mulattoes and Whites.

According to genetic studies, 86% of Brazilians have, at least, 10% of Black African genes.[15]


People of Black African and Native Brazilian ancestry are known as Cafuzos and are historically the less numerous group. Most of them have origin in Black men who escaped slavery and were welcomed by indigenous communities, where have families with local amerindian women.


Miscigenation in the Japanese-Brazilian community[16]
Generation Mixed-race (%)
First 0%
Second 6%
Third 42%
Fourth 61%

A more recent phenomenon in Brazil are intermarriages between Japanese Brazilians and non-Japanese. Though people of Japanese descent make up only 0.7% of the country's population, they are the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, with over 1.5 million people. In the areas with large numbers of Japanese, such as São Paulo and Paraná, since the 1970s large numbers of Japanese-descendants started marrying people of other "races"[which?]. Although interracial relationships are not well accepted in Japan, they are accepted and often celebrated in Brazilian society.

Nowadays, among the 1.5 million Brazilians of Japanese descent, 28% have some non-Japanese ancestry. The number reaches only 6% among the children of Japanese immigrants, but 61% among the great-grandchildren of Japanese immigrants.

Famous mixed-race Brazilians


  1. ^ "PNAD" (in Portuguese). 2006. http://www.ibge.gov.br/home/estatistica/populacao/trabalhoerendimento/pnad2006/brasilpnad2006.pdf. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  2. ^ Mestizo Nation
  3. ^ Folha Online - Brasil 500
  4. ^ Sapo.pt Imigrantes
  5. ^ United States and Brazil: Slavery in Brazil / Brasil e Estados Unidos: A Escravidão no Brasil
  6. ^ "Entrada de imigrantes no Brasil - 1870/1907" (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2007-06-13. http://web.archive.org/web/20070613005222/http://www.memorialdoimigrante.sp.gov.br/historico/e1.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  7. ^ "Entrada de imigrantes no Brasil - 1908/1953" (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2007-06-13. http://web.archive.org/web/20070613005258/http://www.memorialdoimigrante.sp.gov.br/historico/e2.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  8. ^ The Phylogeography of Brazilian Y-Chromosome Lineages. The American Journal of Human Genetics. Retrieved August 16, 2007.
  9. ^ Vermelho.org.br ..:::: Revista Princípios ::::
  10. ^ Home
  11. ^ BRASIL CULTURA | O site da cultura brasileira
  12. ^ http://www.trentu.ca/admin/publications/psr/sample/1012.pdf
  13. ^ Chica da Silva
  14. ^ Skidmore, Thomas E. (April 1992). "Fact and Myth: Discovering a Racial Problem in Brazil". Working Paper 173. http://www.nd.edu/~kellogg/publications/workingpapers/WPS/173.pdf. 
  15. ^ Estudos Avançados - Pode a genética definir quem deve se beneficiar das cotas universitárias e demais ações afirmativas?
  16. ^ "Enciclopédia das línguas do Brasil". http://www.labeurb.unicamp.br/elb/asiaticas/japones.htm. 

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