Italian Brazilian

Italian Brazilian

Infobox Ethnic group
group= flagicon|Italy Italian Brazilian flagicon|Brazil
"Ítalo Brasiliano" · "Ítalo Brasileiro"

Italian immigrants in Brazil
poptime="c." 28,000,000 Italian Brazilians 15% of Brazil's population [ Consulta Nazionale Emigrazione. Progetto ITENETs – “Gli italiani in Brasile”; pp. 11, 19] (Acessed September 10, 2008)] [ COLLI, Antonello. Italiani in Brasile, 25 milioni di oriundi. L´Italia nel´Mondo Website] (Acessed September 10, 2008)]
popplace=Brazil:Mainly Southern and Southeastern Brazil
langs= Predominantly Portuguese. Some also speak Italian and/or Italian dialects
rels= Predominantly Roman Catholic
related= White Brazilian, Italian people
An Italian Brazilian (Italian: "Ítalo-Brasiliano", Portuguese: "Ítalo-Brasileiro") is a Brazilian citizen of full or partial Italian ancestry. There are 28 million Brazilians of Italian descent, the largest population of Italian background outside of Italy itself.

Italians in Brazil

Italian Brazilians ethnicity in Brazil

Brazilians of Italian descent are the 4th most populous group of Brazilians, just behind the descendants of Portuguese settlers, descendants of African slaves, and Amerindians. Italian surnames are common among Brazilians since 28 million Brazilians have Italian ancestors.

Although victims of some prejudice in the first decades and in spite of the persecution during the Second World War, Brazilians of Italian descent managed to mingle and to incorporate seamlessly into the Brazilian society.

Brazilians of Italian descent tend to be very participant in all aspects of Brazilian public life. Many Brazilian artists, footballers, models and personalities are or were of Italian descent. Also are or were of Italian descent, several States Governors, Congressmen, mayors and ambassadors. Three Presidents of Brazil were of Italian descent: Pascoal Ranieri Mazzilli, Itamar Franco, and dictator Emílio Garrastazu Médici.


According to the Brazilian Constitution, anyone born in Brazil is a Brazilian citizen by birthright. In addition, many who were born in Italy have become naturalized citizens after settling in Brazil. In recent years, a considerable number of Brazilians of Italian descent have in turn acquired Italian citizenship becoming dual citizens, as they do not lose their Brazilian citizenship by doing so. Italian law grants citizenship to those of Italian descent, on some conditions, without requiring them to live in Italy or speak fluent Italian.

History of Italian immigration in Brazil

Italian crisis in late 19th century

Italy only united as a sovereign national state in 1861. Before that Italy was politically divided several kingdoms, ducates and other small states. It was only a geographic region, the Italian peninsula. This fact influenced deeply the character of the Italian emigrant. "Before 1914, the typical Italian emigrant was a man without a clear national identity but with strong attachments to his town or village of birth, to which half of all migrants returned." [ [ GABACCIA, Ottanelli, Italian workers of the world, University of Illinois Press] ] The feeling of a national Italian identity and of a united ethnic group was created later on for those emigrants, when they were already in Brazil. [ [ ALESSIO, Francesco Saverio. Emigrazione Italiana in Brasile. Website] (Acessed September 10, 2008)]

During the early 19th century, many Italians fled the political persecutions in Italy, mainly after the failure of revolutionary movements in 1848 and 1861. Although very small, these well educated and revolutionary group of emigrants left a deep mark where they settled. [Generations. Family Tree plus v.8,5. Software to design genealogical trees. Additional information of groups of immigrants that settled in the USA] In Brazil, the most famous Italians of this epoch were Giuseppe Garibaldi and Libero Badaró. Despite that, the mass Italian emigration that shaped Brazilian culture started only after the Italian unification.

During the last quarter of the 19th century, the newly united Italy suffered an economic crisis. In the Northern regions, there was unemployment due to the introduction of new techniques in agriculture, while Southern Italy remained underdeveloped and untouched by modernization in agrarian structure. [ IBGE. Brasil 500 anos - Italianos - Regiões de Origem] (Acessed September 10, 2008)] Thus, poverty and lack of jobs and income stimulate the northern and southern Italians to emigrate to Brazil (as well as to other countries, such as Argentina and the United States). Most of the Italian immigrants were very poor peasants, mainly farmers. [ [ DEL BOCA, Daniela; VENTURINI, Alessandra. Italian Migration. Working paper in CHILD Centre for Household, Income, Labor and Demographic Economics. 2001] (Acessed September 10, 2008)]

Brazilian need of immigrants


thumb|A_ship_with_Italian immigrants in the Port of Santos: 1907.]

The lack of workers

In 1850, under British pressure, Brazil finally passed a law banning the international slave trade. The enforcement of this law was very irregular (this being the origin of the Brazilian expression "para inglês ver" - for the Englishmen to see - meaning something a law that is not intended to be actually enforced). But the increased pressure of the abolitionist movement, on the other hand, made clear that the days of slavery in Brazil were coming to an end. So the discussion about European immigration to Brazil became a priority for Brazilian landowners.

An Agriculture Congress in 1878 in Rio de Janeiro discussed the lack of labor and proposed to the government the stimulation of European immigration to Brazil. Immigrants from Italy, Spain and Portugal were considered the best ones, because they were white and, mainly, Catholics. Therefore, the Brazilian government started to attract more Italian immigrants to the coffee plantations.

The "Whitening Project"

At the end of the 19th century, the Brazilian government was influenced by eugenics theories. According to some scholars, it was necessary to bring immigrants from Europe to enhance the Brazilian population. Brazil issued laws prohibiting the entry of Asian immigrants in 1889 and the situation changed only with the Immigration Law of 1907.

The increasing of European immigrants made some scholars to believe that in some decades, the Blacks would disappear from Brazil through miscegenation. [ SANTOS, Sales Augusto dos. Historical roots of the "whitening" of Brazil. Translated by Lawrence Hallewell. Latin American Perspectives. Issue 122, Vol. 29 No I, January 2002, p 62.]

On July 28, 1921, representatives Andrade Bezerra and Cincinato Braga proposed a law whose Article 1 provided: "It is prohibited in Brazil immigration of individuals from the black race"." On October 22, 1923, representative Fidélis Reis produced another project of law on the entry of immigrants, whose fifth article was as follows: "'It is prohibited the entry of settlers from the black race in Brazil and, to Asians, it will be allowed each year, a number equal to 5% of those existing in the country".(...)'. [ RIOS, Roger Raupp. Text excerpted from a judicial sentence concerning crime of racism. Federal Justice of 10ª Vara da Circunscrição Judiciária de Porto Alegre, November 16, 2001] (Accessed September 10, 2008)]

In 1945, the Brazilian government issued a decree favoring the entrance of European immigrants in the country: "The entry of immigrants comes from the need to preserve and develop, in the ethnic composition of the population, the more convenient features of their European ancestry".

Beginning of Italian settlement in Brazil

thumb|Stone_house_in_Nova_Veneza,_in_the_State_of_Santa Catarina, landmark of Italian immigration.The Italian immigration in Brazil increased after 1850 when the enforcement of the law proscribing the international slave trade created labor shortages. Then, the Brazilian government, headed by Emperor Pedro II, instituted an open-door immigration policy towards Europeans. The Brazilian government had yet created the first colonies of immigrants ("colônias de imigrantes") in the early 19th century. These colonies were established in rural areas of the country, being settled by European families, mainly Germans immigrants that colonized many areas of Southern Brazil. Following the same project, colonies with Italian immigrants were also created in southern Brazil.

The first groups of Italians arrived in 1875, but the boom of Italian immigration in Brazil happened in late 19th century, between 1880 and 1900, when almost one million Italians arrived.

A great number of Italians was naturalized Brazilian at the end of the 19th Century, when the 'Great Naturalization' conceded automatically citizenship to all the immigrants residing in Brazil prior to November 15, 1889 "unless they declared a desire to keep their original nationality within six months." [ [ BUCKMAN, Kirk. Italian Citizenship, Nationality Law and Italic Identities] ]

During the last years of the 19th century, the denouncements of bad conditions in Brazil increased in the press. Reacting to the public clamor and many proved cases of mistreatments of Italian immigrants, the government of Italy issued, in 1902, the Prinetti decree forbidding subsidized immigration to Brazil. In consequence, the number of Italian immigrants in Brazil fell drastically in the beginning of the 20th century, but the wave of Italian immigration continued until 1920.IBGE - Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística]

About one half of the Italian immigrants came from Northern Italy regions of Veneto, Lombardy, Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. About 30% emigrated from Veneto. On the other hand, during the 20th century, Central and Southern Italians predominated in Brazil, coming from the regions of Campania, Abruzzo, Molise, Basilicata and Sicily.

Areas of settlement

Among all Italians who immigrated to Brazil, 70% went to the State of São Paulo. In consequence, São Paulo has more people with Italian ancestry than any region of Italy itself. [ PEREIRA, Liésio. A capital paulista tem sotaque italiano. SP450 Website. Especiais - Agência Brasil] (Acessed September 10, 2008)] The rest went mostly to the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Minas Gerais.

Due to the internal migration, many Italians, second and third generation descendants, moved to other areas. In the early 20th century, many rural Italian workers from Rio Grande do Sul migrated to the west of Santa Catarina and then further north to Paraná.

More recently, third and fourth generations have been migrating to other areas, then nowadays it is possible to find people of Italian descent in Brazilian regions where the immigrants had never settled, such as in the Cerrado region of Central-West, in the Northeast and in the Amazon rainforest area, in the extreme North of Brazil.

Italian influences in Brazil

Italian influences in Brazilian Portuguese

Nowadays, most Brazilians with Italian ancestry speak Portuguese as their native language. Italian language and dialects along with all foreign languages were forbidden to be used in the press, radio and in the schools during the Estado Novo dictatorship of the president Getúlio Vargas from 1938 to 1945. During the Second World War, Italian, German and Japanese were forbidden to be used publicly. [ THOMÉ, Nilson. A Nacionalização do Ensino no Contestado, Centro-Oeste de Santa Catarina na Primeira Metade do Século XX; pp.16] (Acesso em 9 setembro 2008)] [ [ BOLOGNINI, Carmen Zink, PAYER, Maria Onice. Línguas Estrangeiras, Línguas de Imigrantes. In: Ciência e Cultura vol.57 no.2 São Paulo Apr./June 2005; pp 42.] (Acesso em 9 setembro 2008)]

The Italian dialects influenced the Portuguese spoken in some areas of Brazil. In São Paulo, the diversity of the languages of the immigrants resulted in a accent which differs substantially from the "Caipira" accent that prevailed before the arrival of the Italians. The new accent resulted from the influence of Italian accents in the Portuguese language. Currently, the Italian influence in the Portuguese spoken in São Paulo is not as great as in the past, although the accent of the city's inhabitants still has some traces of Italian accents common in the beginning of the 20th century. It is noteworthy that the Italian influence in the spoken language of São Paulo is fairly widespread up to embrace those who are not of Italian descent. The lexic influence of Italian in Brazilian Portuguese, however, remained quite small.

A similar phenomenon occurred in the interior of Rio Grande do Sul, but encompassing almost exclusively the people of Italian origin. On the other hand, there exists a different phenomenon, the dialect named Talian, which emerged mostly in the northeastern part of the state (Serra Gaúcha). Talian is a dialect mostly based on the Venetian language, but with influences from other Italian dialects and Portuguese language. [ Enciclopédia de Línguas do Brasil - Línguas de Imigração Européia - Talian (Vêneto Brasileiro)] (Accessed September 11, 2008)] In southern Brazilian rural areas marked by bilingualism, even among the monolingual Portuguese-speaking population, the Italian-influenced accent is fairly typical.

t. Vito Festival

St. Vito Festival is one of the most important Italian festivals in São Paulo. It is a celebration in honor of Saint Vito, the patron saint of Polignano a Mare, a city in the Puglia region, in Italy. Many Italian immigrants in Brás, a São Paulo district, came from Puglia. Festa de São Vito is also a time when the Italian community in São Paulo gathers to party and eat traditional food. Other important Italian celebrations in São Paulo are Our Lady of Casaluce, also in Brás (May), Our Lady of Achiropita, in Bela Vista (August), and St. Gennaro, in Mooca (September). Italian immigrants from the Puglia region who moved in great numbers to the Brás neighborhood in São Paulo at the end of the nineteenth century brought along a devotion to Saint Vito, a Christian martyr who was killed in June of 303 a.D.

Just like Polignano a Mare, eventually Brás had a church devoted to St. Vito. An association was formed and hosted the first festival in June 1919. As São Paulo grew, so did the Italian community and St. Vito Festival. Today, about 6 million of São Paulo's 10,886,518 inhabitants are Italians and descendants (known as "oriundi"), according to statistics provided by Conscre, a São Paulo state council for foreign communities. An estimated 140,000 people are expected to attend the festival in 2008.

Other Influences

* Use of "ciao" ("tchau" in Portuguese) as a " salutation (all of Brazil),
* Adoption of the "pizza", pasta and panetone in the national cuisine (initially in the South and Southeast, now in all of Brazil),
* Wine production (in the South),
* A bunch of loan words (italianisms), such as "ravióli, espaguete, macarrão, nhoque, pizza, lasanha, panetone, esquifoso, feltro, pivete, bisonho, cicerone", and many others.
* Softening of the Brazilian pronunciation (mostly São Paulo, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul). [ [] ]
* Early introduction of more advanced low-scale farming techniques (Minas Gerais, São Paulo and all Southern Brazil).


ee also

*List of Italo-Brazilians
*Italian Argentine
*Italian American
*Italian diaspora
*Demography of Brazil
*White Latin American
*List of Portuguese words of Italian origin

External links

* [] . A site for descendants from Italians in Brazil

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