31 Mar 2022


Brazil Migration, Immigration, and Emigration

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Religious Impact

Historical Perspective

Religion has a considerable impact on the Brazilian society, both in historical terms and in the prospects of the present society. Migration, immigration, and emigration have had a notable influence on the religion of the country. Questions have been raised as to whether religion has had any role to play in fueling conflicts within the country. In Brazil, religion is considered as being more than a belief system as it serves as the heart and the social and cultural system of the country (Fox and Sandler, 2004). The country has come across various religions, which have changed over the years, although Brazil has still managed to retain notable aspects of its tradition. The influence that religion has had in the country becomes apparent even to those individuals who come to visit Brazil. More than 90 percent of the Brazilian population is associated with some form of religion, although most of them are Roman Catholics. However, it is worth noting that a considerable number of other beliefs are well represented in Brazil (Swatos, 2005).

About the Brazilian religion history, it has played a vital role in shaping the history of the country itself. Christianity first became apparent in the country around the sixteenth century after Jesuit missionaries entered the country and introduced Roman Catholicism, which all Portuguese settlers in the country observed (PEW Research Center, 2010). As years passed, each person was supposed to pay church tax as well as adopt Roman Catholic faith. Even though the Inquisition process was not affiliated with Brazil, it was apparent in all colonies, as priests received salaries from the government, while they also had considerable influence over leaders (Swatos, 2005).

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After the attainment of independence, Brazil incorporated freedom of religion to its constitution, although Roman Catholicism still served as the official religion of the state. Upon the arrival of African slaves in Brazil, they came with various unique religious beliefs, which they could not practice openly, forcing them to follow their unique traditions and ceremonies, which were later referred to as Afro-Brazilian religions. By 1891, the church and the state separated officially, while no official religion governed the country. Nonetheless, Roman Catholic Church remained a vital force in the government and daily life.

Current Perspective

Presently, the religion of Brazil is mostly dominated by Roman Catholics, making the country rank as having the most Catholic believers globally, despite there being a reduction in percentage. One of the major reason that has resulted in this reduction is the notion that only a few active Catholics are apparent in Brazil at the currently. Most of the individuals who consider themselves as Catholics do not practice the religion. For example, even though most of the Catholics in Brazil are baptized as well as married in the church, most of them lack interest in participating in church initiatives or attending mass (Fox and Sandler, 2004).

Women attend the church in higher numbers than men do, while more individuals that are elderly go to church as opposed to young persons. The Catholic Church has embarked on various initiatives to make young people develop an interest in the church as well as boost attendance, although these efforts have not been fruitful. The emergence of other religions within the country has also served as a major reason as to why Roman Catholic is losing followers (Fox and Sandler, 2004). For instance, syncretism has been considered as part of the religion of Brazil for many years. It serves as a merger of religious beliefs, which aims to incorporate the diverse aspects they contain. It is mostly a combination Afro-Brazilian religions and Roman Catholicism, while the modern and extensively accepted religions comprise of Candomble and Umbanda (Swatos, 2005).

Most of the individuals associated with these religions and other related ones reside in urban areas, including Sao Paulo and Rio. African slaves initially introduced most of the rituals that they exercised in Brazil before they integrated with the religion of Brazil in a gradual manner, while they would summon their Gods via songs, dances, and chants, making them be persecuted as satanic and pagans (Fox and Sandler, 2004). Presently, they usually offer candles, food, and flowed as offerings to spirits. They still witness unjust treatment from the south of the country even though a considerable number of Christians still follow the two religions (PEW Research Center, 2010).

Moreover, other religions are also represented in the country also in small numbers, including Islam, Buddhists, and Jews among others. Indians can be found in the Amazon practicing their religions, even though other Brazilians are perceived as atheists or agnostic, despite representing an insignificant portion of the population. Nonetheless, despite there being a diversity of religions within the country, religion has not played any part in fueling conflicts within the country as the country respects religious diversity, which its population affiliates itself (Swatos, 2005).

Ethnic Makeup: Immigration, Migration, and Emigration


Concerning the issue of ethnic composition in Brazil, issues, such as migration, immigration, and emigration have made a notable contribution to the country’s ethnic makeup. About the immigration aspect, Brazil features some immigration centuries from different parts around the world, including the methodical settlement of European aggressors, particularly the Spaniards, Portuguese, Dutch, French, and English, which started around 300 years ago. Originally, a large number of Indians were made slaves while they were forced to work in plantations of sugar (Lesser, 2013). Displacement, enslavement, and extermination resulted to obliteration a large number of Indian populations, leading them to decline from more than 5-6 million to less than 600,000 individuals. By the 16th century, colonialists from Portugal started bringing in African slaves to the country, who mostly came from countries, such as Mozambique, Angola, Guinea, and Nigeria among others. By the 17th century, the displaced Africans’ number was past one of the already settled Europeans (Adler and Gielen, 2003).

During the initial mass immigration phase, European migrants served as agricultural sector workers, coffee cultivators, before embarking on spreading industrialization. The upper classes from Brazil were also eager to ensure they rhymed with Europe ethically, socially, and culturally via European migration (JCWI, 2014). During the second immigration wave, which took place from1910 to 1929, approximately 1.5 million migrants came to the country in search of employment in the agricultural sector (Adler and Gielen, 2003). The migrants came from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Russia, while most of them were seeking to start afresh after the aftermaths of World War I. Nonetheless, emigration to Brazil during the start of the 20th century has grown from Lebanon and Syria (JCWI, 2014). Furthermore, with countries, such as Argentina, Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. tightening up their conditions for immigration during the mid-1920s, Brazil served as the major Japanese destination, while more than 86,577 had penetrated the country by 1929. Here, it is apparent that immigration into the country played a vital role in shaping the country toward the prosperity path (Lesser, 2013).


Concerning the issue of migration, the government of Brazil does not impose an active policy on immigration. Those individuals with a university or higher school qualifications are offered permits. During the recent years, the immigration policy has striven to foster migration whereby the key areas of focus comprise of modern technology, science, foreign capital investment, family reunification, and culture development (JCWI, 2014). However, data from 1940 reveals a significant drop in the international population percentage from around 3.42 percent in 1940 to around 0.52 percent in 1991. By the 1960s, the decline in the foreign population numbers resulted from the notable growth in Brazilian population as well as the ending of recruitment among immigrants. Presently, the foreigners percentage compared to Brazilian population is considerably small at between 0.6 and 0.7 percent. Around 1.5 million individuals from foreign countries currently live in Brazil. With this practice, the country is set to realize benefits from investing in the qualified human capital as well as modern technology and science (Adler and Gielen, 2003).


In Brazil, acquisition of citizenship is gathered from the country. To safeguard emigrant citizen’s rights, Brazil availed dual citizenship possibility in 1996, whose goal was to react to the rapidly rising Brazilian emigrants’ number. This was particularly the case after the U.S. tightened its immigration laws during the 1990s, posing problems to circular migration. The government of Brazil was committed to ensuring that emigrants would manage to sustain formal linkages with their original country (JCWI, 2014). For instance, extraterritorial rights, particularly voting rights outside the nation offer an extra instrument in this care. In Brazil, the nonmoving economy and corruption issues resulted in emigration during the mid-1990. During 1995, Brazilian nationals living legally in countries, such as Japan, USA, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and Canada were more than a million. After about ten years, the figure had risen by more than double (Lesser, 2013). In this case, it is apparent that emigration played a key role in terms of providing residents within the country opportunities to reside in other countries legally, while exploiting their potential to excel there. Although the emigration issue still raises concerns regarding the welfare of Brazil’s population in other countries, adequate measures have been put in place to ensure their well-being is safeguarded (Adler and Gielen, 2003).


Adler, L. L., & Gielen, U. P. (2003). Migration: Immigration and Emigration in International Perspective. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Fox, J., & Sandler, S. (2004). Bringing Religion Into International Relations. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.

JCWI. (2014). International report: Migration good for developing countries. Retrieved from https://www.jcwi.org.uk/2010/05/20/international-report-migration-good-for-developing-countries/

Lesser, J. (2013). Immigration, Ethnicity, and National Identity in Brazil, 1808 to the Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

PEW Research Center. (2010). Can Civilization Survive Without God? Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2010/10/12/can-civilization-survive-without-god/

Swatos, W. H. (2005). Religion and Democracy in Latin America. New York: Transaction Publishers.

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