Italians in Brazil – Number and distribution

By | January 2, 2022

The figures of the Brazilian census of 1920 find sufficient confirmation in an inductive calculation made on the basis of our statistics and which, starting from the number of arrivals, deducts from these the repatriated and re-emigrated and the dead. According to this census there were 558,405 first generation Italians in that year, divided as follows: state of S. Paolo 398,797, state of Rio Grande do Sul 49,136, Minas Geraes 42,943, Federal District 21,929, Espirito Santo 12,553, Rio de Janeiro 10,000, Paraná 9046, Santa Catharina 8062; the others divided among the remaining states. The great majority of Italians therefore appeared gathered in the southern and central states (where, however, Bahia, Matto Grosso and Goyaz only counted, respectively, 1448, 810 and 268). Most of the Italians residing in the northern and north-eastern states were concentrated in the capitals. In the north, the majority of Italians dedicated themselves to trade and crafts in urban centers. The colony, formed only in a very small part by the survivors of the failed colonization enterprises attempted in 1894 in Bahia, in 1895 in Pernambuco and Piauhy and in 1899 in Pará, is, in general, of recent formation, the result of a re-migration from the center, which occurred especially during the rubber age (in 1907 4000 Italians were calculated only in Manáos and Pará) and then ended with the crisis of this product. For Brazil 1997, please check

Other movements took place, in the early years, from São Paulo towards Minas Geraes (20,000 Italians contributed to the construction of Bello Horizonte in 1894), towards the Federal District, the states of Paraná and Santa Catharina, where the small property flourished.. Even today there are currents of internal re-migration: such as that from Rio Grande do Sul for S. Catharina, especially of descendants of Italians, in search of more fertile lands, and from S. Paolo towards Paraná, for the planting of new coffee fazende.

Of the Italians residing in the state of São Paulo, a large part is in the capital itself, whose Italian population has remained practically unchanged over the last decade. This is thanks to a phenomenon of attraction for which, while many are the Italians who flock to the state of San Paolo from other areas as the one that still has the greatest sum of resources in the Federation, many are the Italians who, already in the state of Sao Paulo, they leave the interior hand by hand for the capital. This phenomenon, from the Italian point of view, is healthy. The gradual concentration of the element and of the Italian blood in the very heart of the state of San Paolo, allows our element to preserve that relative supremacy that was conquered from the very beginning and which was the most progressive of San Paolo, the most enterprising, the strongest state of the confederacy. The Italian character of the city of San Paolo, visible through the language, construction, industries, city activity in general – moreover confided to a large part of the second generation element – therefore survives and resists with sufficient vigor blows of the time and to the new migrations.

Not insignificant influence, although not equally decisive, had the Italian element in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. There, as in the state of S. Catharina and in Paraná itself, there are the best stable Italian agricultural colonies, and the names of New Trento, New Venice, New Italy still attest to the tenacity and spirit of our pioneers.

Italian people in Brazil