We are known as the happiest and most diverse people in the world. Our population reflects an enormous variety of physical and cultural characteristics, the legacy of our racial melting pot. Portuguese settlers, indigenous tribes and African slaves are part of our genetic and cultural make-up, together with Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Arab and Asian influences. The mixture of races and their harmonious coexistence created a rich diversity and was the foundation of a people that we now call Brazilian.
Before the Portuguese discovered this land, Brazil was inhabited by indigenous people who lived off the richness of the land in a tropical climate. There was such a high degree of interracial relations between the Portuguese settlers, other European immigrants and African slaves that at the beginning of the Brazilian Empire, two-thirds of the Brazilian population was of mixed, African or indigenous descent. According to the 2000 census, conducted by the Brazilian Institute for Statistics (IBGE), 54% of Brazilians considered themselves white, 38% mestizo, 6% black, 1% Indian and 1% Asian. However, recent DNA studies of Brazilians revealed that looks can be misleading and the mixture of races is much higher than indicated by the census.
The racial characteristics of each Brazilian state are directly derived from the colonization process. The regions in the north and northeast are composed of a population with African origins; skin color and strong cultural traditions reflect the legacy of this interracial mixture. The majority of the population were slaves. With the abolition of slavery and growing urbanization, many descendents of slaves migrated to urban areas in search of work and are spread throughout Brazil.
The strong European influence has resulted in a large white population. Most light skinned, blond people can be found in the south of Brazil, and many cities still feature French, German or other schools that preserve European traditions and language instruction.
It’s this mixture that makes us so special and defines our people. It’s this variety of ancestries, life experiences and harmonious coexistence with different people, classes and cultures that makes us unique as a people. We are different, yet similar. We are all part of the same country. We share the same joy and the same sadness, as together we dream of a better future for our beloved Brazil.