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Population of Brazil 1800-2020

The history of modern Brazil begins in the year 1500 when Pedro Álvares Cabral arrived with a small fleet and claimed the land for the Portuguese Empire. With the Treaty of Torsedillas in 1494, Spain and Portugal agreed to split the New World peacefully, thus allowing Portugal to take control of the area with little competition from other European powers. As the Portuguese did not arrive with large numbers, and the indigenous population was overwhelmed with disease, large numbers of African slaves were transported across the Atlantic and forced to harvest or mine Brazil's wealth of natural resources. These slaves were forced to work in sugar, coffee and rubber plantations and gold and diamond mines, which helped fund Portuguese expansion across the globe. In modern history, transatlantic slavery brought more Africans to Brazil than any other country in the world. This combination of European, African and indigenous peoples set the foundation for what has become one of the most ethnically diverse countries across the globe.

Independence and Monarchy

By the early eighteenth century, Portugal had established control over most of modern-day Brazil, and the population more than doubled in each half of the 1800s. The capital of the Portuguese empire was moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1808 (as Napoleon's forces moved closer towards Lisbon), making this the only time in European history where a capital was moved to another continent. The United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves was established in 1815, and when the Portuguese monarchy and capital returned to Lisbon in 1821, the King's son, Dom Pedro, remained in Brazil as regent. The following year, Dom Pedro declared Brazil's independence, and within three years, most other major powers (including Portugal) recognized the Empire of Brazil as an independent monarchy and formed economic relations with it; this was a much more peaceful transition to independence than many of the ex-Spanish colonies in the Americas. Under the reign of Dom Pedro II, Brazil's political stability remained relatively intact, and the economy grew through its exportation of raw materials and economic alliances with Portugal and Britain. Despite pressure from political opponents, Pedro II abolished slavery in 1850 (as part of a trade agreement with Britain), and Brazil remained a powerful, stable and progressive nation under Pedro II's leadership, in stark contrast to its South American neighbors. The booming economy also attracted millions of migrants from Europe and Asia around the turn of the twentieth century, which has had a profound impact on Brazil's demography and culture to this day.

The New Republic

Despite his popularity, King Pedro II was overthrown in a military coup in 1889, ending his 58 year reign and initiating six decades of political instability and economic difficulties. A series of military coups, failed attempts to restore stability, and the decline of Brazil's overseas influence contributed greatly to a weakened economy in the early 1900s. The 1930s saw the emergence of Getúlio Vargas, who ruled as a fascist dictator for two decades. Despite a growing economy and Brazil's alliance with the Allied Powers in the Second World War, the end of fascism in Europe weakened Vargas' position in Brazil, and he was eventually overthrown by the military, who then re-introduced democracy to Brazil in 1945. Vargas was then elected to power in 1951, and remained popular among the general public, however political opposition to his beliefs and methods led to his suicide in 1954. Further political instability ensued and a brutal, yet prosperous, military dictatorship took control in the 1960s and 1970s, but Brazil gradually returned to a democratic nation in the 1980s. Brazil's economic and political stability fluctuated over the subsequent four decades, and a corruption scandal in the 2010s saw the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Despite all of this economic instability and political turmoil, Brazil is one of the world's largest economies and is sometimes seen as a potential superpower. The World Bank classifies it as a upper-middle income country and it has the largest share of global wealth in Latin America. It is the largest Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking), and sixth most populous country in the world, with a population of more than 210 million people.

Population of Brazil from 1800 to 2020

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Sources

Release date

August 2019

Region

Brazil

Survey time period

1800 to2020

Supplementary notes

Data for the years 1800 until 1949 is available here.

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