European Immigration. – We do not know what was the number of the indigenous population existing in Brazil at the time of the discovery, as the data we have on the extent of the two distinct elements, the Portuguese white and the African black, who gathered there throughout the period are very scarce. colonial: only towards the end of the century. XVIII the first statistics begin, not general however, but referring to single provinces or single cities. It is clear that the three fundamental races were mixed in the Brazilian territory in very different proportions: in certain regions the indigenous people mixed with the Whites remained preponderant; in others, and especially around Bahia and in the state of Rio de Janeiro, the black element is still very strong. The migratory currents of Europeans, who flowed in large numbers to Brazil in the second half of the century. XIX, the importance of the white element increased, which tends more and more to absorb or limit the other components. The most recent ethnographic picture of the Brazilian population is that of the 1890 census from which we note how the Whites and Blacks with their Mestizos provided 89% of the population while the natives made up just 11%. (v.ethnography).
After 1890 the variations cannot have been of great entity and always in favor of the white population. The importance of the immigrant element in the ethnic composition of the Brazilian people is evident, but the statistical study must necessarily be limited to the immigration currents provided by the white race, lacking the data for the black element. It can be said that the great migratory flow began with the independence of Brazil, although a few years earlier it had been thought of attracting settlers from Europe; the movement, modest at first, gradually grew especially in the last fifty years with a numerical prevalence of Mediterranean elements and especially of Italians.
According to the data collected and processed by the Directorate General for Statistics, in the space of a century (1820-1919) about 3,600,000 people immigrated to Brazil, almost all of the Indo-European branch. According to this calculation, the first place is held by the Italians who gave 1.378.876 individuals, while the Portuguese were 1.021.271 and the Spaniards 501.378. The Germans follow at a considerable distance with 127,000, the Russians and Poles with 105,000, the Austrians with 80,000 (including the Trentini), the French with 30,000, the British with 20,000, the Swiss with 12,000. There are 245,000 different immigrants and 55,000 included under the name of Turco-Arabs (mostly Syriacs).
In the first year of the period considered (1820) the foreign element was represented only by the Swiss (1682) founders of the colony of New Friborg, but in the whole following century Switzerland sent only 10,000 immigrants. More constant is the flow of Portuguese who, with an annual average of over 6000 immigrants, hold first place in the period 1850-1879 and, overtaken by Italians in the years from 1890 to 1904, resume their place since 1905 with an annual average of over 30,000 immigrants including the five years of the great war. Even the Spaniards, like the Italians, began to arrive after 1880 with an annual average that fluctuated from a minimum of 2,900 people in the decade 1880-1889, to a maximum of 28,697 in the five-year period 1910-1914. The other currents are less regular.
Italian immigration. – According to Healthinclude, the first nucleus of immigrant Italians (180) dates back to 1836, but only after 1860 did the real immigration current begin. In the decade 1860-69, 4916 people arrived, but already in the following decade the Italians were 47.100 with an annual average of 4710 individuals, therefore from 1880 to 1889 they rose to 276.724 and in the decade 1890-1899 they reached the maximum figure of 690.365 providing over the 50% of total immigration. In 1901 another 60,000 Italians arrived in Brazil, but in 1902, also as a result of the provision taken by the Italian government to prohibit the departure of emigrants with paid travel, only 32,000 and therefore the annual figure drops to 13,000 to go back to more than 30,000 in 1912 and 1913. The decrease is even greater in the period of the world war (annual average below 5000).
In the immediate post-war recovery, that is in the five-year period 1920-24, when the annual average of total immigration rises to 74,625, Italians hold second place with an annual average of 12,349 people, and retain second place in the following three years with an annual average of 7,940 people. In 1928, when total immigration rose to 82,061, the Italians (5496) were in third place, being surpassed not only by the Portuguese (33,883), but also by the Japanese (11,169), and in turn slightly exceeded the quota of the Poles (4708), of the Spaniards (4436) and of the Germans (4228). The decrease in Italian immigrants is intimately connected to the new demographic directives of the Italian government and to the measures of complete reclamation.
If the contribution given by Italians to immigration to Brazil is absolutely superior to that provided by any other nationality for the entire period 1820-1924, it should be noted, however, that the classic period of Italian immigration can be said to be represented by the fifty-year period 1875- 1924, since in the first decade of this period Italian immigration fluctuated between 1171 (year 1875) and 15.724 (1883), in the second between 10.102 (1884) and 132.326 (1891), in the third between 104.510 (1897) and 12.857 (1904)); in the fourth (1905-1914) between 13,668 (1909) and 30,886 (1913) and finally in the fifth decade it goes from a minimum of 1050 (1918) to a maximum of 15,839 in 1923.
All these data are based, as mentioned above, on the figures offered by the Brazilian statistics, often diverging from those calculated, on a different basis, by the Italian Emigration Commission. Where the contrast between these figures becomes very open, it is in the calculation relating to the entire Italian population residing in Brazil, since, while the Brazilian census novera, in 1920, about 550,000 Italians (i.e. having Italian nationality, therefore excluding the children of Italians born on Brazilian soil and, therefore, legally Brazilian), according to the calculation (1927) of the Italian Emigration Commissioner, the Italians are equal to approximately 1,840,000.
But the study of the Italian element in Brazil must take into account a large number of elements, in addition to the demographic one, which are difficult and complex to evaluate: elements that must be studied state by state, and more widely for the states of Sao Paulo and Rio. Grande do Sul, where Italians prevail in number and importance over all other foreign immigrants. It will be possible to evaluate the question of Italian emigration by dealing with the state of San Paolo; we therefore refer to the relevant articles.