With the launch of Minha Casa Minha Vida back in 2009 more and more people are happy to move to Brazil, not only from poorer South American countries but from Europe, Asia and North America, many of these visitor don’t set up permanent residency but rather choose to have Brazil as their second home so they can keep an eye on their businesses and investments. Not only are investors cashing on the social housing programme thanks to real estate giants such as London based EcoHouse Group allowing people to invest in their minha casa minha vida developments, but many businesses are opening offices in Brazil due to the runaway success of the Brazilian economy. It’s an understatement to say that immigration has been important for Brazil. In fact the truth is that the whole society has been a crucial blend, for centuries, of the contributions made by successive waves of incomers from Europe and elsewhere. When the Portuguese first discovered the territory in the year 1500, the vast expanse had only about two and a half million native inhabitants. Apart from these, at first there were relatively few people from overseas, just a few thousand soldiers, sailors, traders and explorers. For a long time they tended to huddle in or near coastal regions including the new towns and ports of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo and northwards along the shore from there.
However, in the five hundred years since then the situation has been very different. For nearly three hundred years there were millions of African slaves (until the early nineteenth century) imported to work on the plantations and farms. Over the centuries there were also many more millions of landowners, entrepreneurs, workers and settlers from Portugal, Italy and Germany as well as a score of other countries, not all of them in Europe. In that sense, Brazil’s experience has been very much like its North American counterpart, the USA, (although this has had a very much higher proportion of English speakers, of course!) In terms of ‘free’ immigrants, significant levels of immigration took a long time to develop. This was true at least until the early 1800’s when many of the new ports were opened for the purpose. The inflow of these people was variable and influenced by very many factors. According to historians, the busiest period for this was the half century or so between about 1875 and 1930. During these years an average of about 75,000 immigrants per year poured into Brazil, nearly half of them either Italians or Portuguese. Since then there’s been a steady inflow of people from Europe and other places in particular the Middle East and Far East. Nowadays many Brazilian people have a partial ‘mixed’ heritage. This is a result of the (reasonably) harmonious relations and intermarriage between the races in the last century or so. This is of course in drastic contrast to the conflict of the slavery times and early colonial days. Generally, the country now is a fairly cohesive one and friction between the various ethnic groups in society is not common. The governments of recent times have been at least acceptably successful in helping this. This years World Cup and the upcoming Olympic Games in 2016 will no doubt spark additional interest in the country and hopefully bring even more businesses and investors to Brazil