Asian Brazilians

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Asian Brazilians
Brasileiro Asiático
Brasileiro Oriental
Programa Cultural Comunicação e Arte - Bon Odori - Taikô - foto Kleyton Presidente - 09-10-19 (26).jpg
Total population
1.09% of Brazilian population identified as amarela (yellow) in the 2010 census[nt 1][1][2]
Regions with significant populations
Mainly in São Paulo and Paraná
Other languages of Asia, including Arabic, Chinese dialects and Japanese
Majority Christian:[3] 61.2% Roman Catholicism, 13.3% Protestantism, 12.5% Non-religious, 0.8% other Christian beliefs[4]
Minority: Buddhism, Judaism, Shinto and Shinto-derived Japanese new religions, Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Druze[5]

Asian Brazilians (Portuguese: brasileiros asiáticos) refers to Brazilian citizens or residents of Asian ancestry. The vast majority trace their origins to Western Asia, particularly Lebanon,[6] or East Asia, namely Japan. The Brazilian census does not use "Asian" as a racial category, though the term "yellow" (amarela in Portuguese) refers to people of East Asian ethnic origin.

Beyond the descendants from West Asia and East Asia, there has also been much smaller immigration from Southeast Asia and South Asia, as well as those from the Asian diaspora in the Caribbean and Mozambique.

Brazil has the largest community of Japanese descendants outside of Japan. Japanese immigrants started to move to Brazil in 1908, were directed to the Brazilian coffee plantations.[7]


Recent research has suggested that Asians from the early Portuguese Eastern Empire, known as Luso-Asians first came to Brazil during the sixteenth century as seamen known as Lascars, or as servants, slaves and concubines accompanying the governors, merchants and clergy who has served in Portuguese Asia.[8]

The first substantial Asian immigration to Brazil were a small number of Chinese people (3,000) during the colonial period as coolie slaves. Later waves of Chinese immigrants would come from Hong Kong and Macau, the latter being a former Portuguese colony,[9] as well as China's ethnic Russian community during the 1950s.[10]

Later, significant immigration from Asia to Brazil would start in the late 19th century, when immigration from Lebanon and Syria became important. Until 1922, Levantine immigrants were considered "Turks", as they carried passports issued by the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which then ruled over present-day Lebanon.[11] Various estimates for Lebanese ancestry in Brazil place them at about 7 million.[12][13]

Another important Asian immigrant group to Brazil were from Japan. The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil in 1908. Until the 1950s, more than 250 thousand Japanese immigrated to Brazil. Currently, the Japanese-Brazilian population is estimated at 2.1 million people. It is the largest ethnic Japanese population outside Japan, followed closely by the Japanese community in the United States.

Other East Asian groups are also significant in Brazil. The Korean Brazilian population is estimated to be 50,000, and the Chinese Brazilian population around 250,000. Over 70% of Asian Brazilians are concentrated in the state of São Paulo. There are significant populations in Paraná, Pará, Mato Grosso do Sul, and other parts of Brazil.

Japanese in Brazil[edit]

A poster used in Japan to attract immigrants to Brazil
Little Tokyo in São Paulo
Japanese immigration to Brazil
Source: (IBGE)[14]
Ethnic group Period
1904-1913 1914-1923 1924-1933 1945-1949 1950-1954 1955-1959
Japanese 11,868 20,398 110,191 12 5,447 28,819

Restrictions on Asian immigrants[edit]

Although discussions were situated in a theoretical field, immigrants arrived and colonies were founded through all this period (the rule of Pedro II), especially from 1850 on, particularly in the Southeast and Southern Brazil. These discussions culminated in the Decree 528 in 1890, signed by Brazil's first President Deodoro da Fonseca, which opened the national harbors to immigration except for Africans and Asians.[15] This decree remained valid until 5 October 1892 when, due to pressures of coffee planters interested in cheap manpower, it was overturned by Law 97, which allowed the entry of Japanese immigrants to work on the coffee plantations, as until then, Brazilian immigration was almost exclusively from Europe.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The exact number of Asian descendants remains unknown. Brazil's census does not officially use the term "Asian" as a racial category, instead using the term amarela (yellow) in reference to East Asians. Older estimates for other Asian communities in Brazil, particularly the Lebanese-Brazilian community, make up an estimated 7 million people.


  1. ^ "Censo Demográfi co 2010 Características da população e dos domicílios Resultados do universo" (PDF). 8 November 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  2. ^ The Japan Times Online
  3. ^ Adital - Brasileiros no Japão Archived 2007-03-29 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ (in Portuguese) Study Panorama of religions. Fundação Getúlio Vargas, 2003.
  5. ^ Brazil
  6. ^ Petruccelli, Jose Luis; Saboia, Ana Lucia. "Caracteristicas Etnico-raciais da Populacao Classificacoes e identidades" (PDF). IBGE. p. 53. Retrieved 28 July 2021. descendentes e os asiáticos – japoneses, chineses, coreanos, libaneses, sírios, entre outros
  7. ^ Japanese community in Brazil
  8. ^ East in the West: Investigating the Asian presence and influence in Brazil from the 16th to 18th centuries. By Clifford Pereira, in Proceedings of the 2nd Asia-Pacific regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage. Ed. Hans Van Tilberg, Sila Tripati, Veronica Walker, Brian Fahy and Jun Kimura. Honolulu, Hawai'i, USA. May 2014.
  9. ^ Lesser, Jeffrey (1999). Negotiating National Identity: Immigrants, Minorities and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil. Durham & London: Duke University Press. p. 16. ISBN 0-8223-2260-9.
  10. ^ Ruseishvili, S.A. "Russian immigration to Brazil in the first half of the 20th century: migration routes and adaptation patterns". Cuadernos Iberoamericanos. 8 (3). doi:10.46272/2409-3416-2020-8-3-54-73. Archived from the original on 6 March 2022. Retrieved 4 November 2022. and the third one is the resettlement of the Russians from China during the 1950s.
  11. ^ Recopilaron casi 200 años de los sirio libaneses en Argentina Archived 2014-09-08 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affaires". Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  13. ^ "Lebanon: Geography". Embassy of Lebanon in Brazil (in Portuguese). 1996. Archived from the original on 29 May 2008.
  14. ^ "Estatísticas do Povoamento" [Population Statistics]. IBGE. Archived from the original on 9 August 2007.
  15. ^ Decree No. 528, of June 28, 1890
  16. ^ Masato Ninomiya O centenário do Tratado de Amizade, Comércio e Navegação entre Brasil e Japão Archived December 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. in Revista USP, December 1995/February 1996. p. 248.