Ethnic compositionBrazil is made up of a tapestry of ethnicities, with a considerable share of the population having a racial mix. The country’s population is formed by indigenous people (distributed in hundreds of ethnic groups, with the Guarani and Ticuna among the largest ones), descendants of European migrants and settlers (mainly Portuguese, but also Dutch, German, Italian, and Polish -- depending on the region and the time period of the migratory movement) and descendants of African slaves and migrants. There is also a considerable number of Brazilians of East Asian and Middle Eastern descent.
According to the latest census, 45 percent of Brazilians considered themselves Pardos in 2022, a category used by the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) to designate people with a mixed ethnic ancestry, while 43 percent were white and another 10.6 were Black. Nevertheless, the ethnic distribution varies considerably across the country. For instance, in the North, 70 percent of the population identify as Pardo Brazilian, while this share fell to 21 percent in the South, where nearly 73 of inhabitants are white.
A country with young populationBrazil is experiencing a demographic change typical in many developing countries, with a substantial increase in life expectancy and median age while fertility and mortality rates fall. The average age of the Brazilian population has been rising in recent years, from a low of 16.8 years in 1965 to 32.4 years in 2020. It remains, however, far from the median age registered in developed countries such as Japan, Italy, or South Korea, where it exceeds 43 years. A large share of the Brazilian population is young; as of 2022, the number of inhabitants below the age of 15 was more than double those aged 65 or above.
Declining fertility rates and rising life expectancy are the leading factors behind this increase in the median age. In 1920, the fertility rate in Brazil stood at 5.9 births per woman, increasing to above six during the baby boom of the 1950s before turning to the downward trend experienced ever since. In 2020 it stood at its lowest level, 1.74 births per woman, falling below the replacement fertility rate, which is around 2.1 live births per woman in most industrialized countries, but slightly higher in developing nations.
The average life expectancy at birth in 2021 was 72.75 years, compared to the average of 73.34 years registered a decade earlier, and only slightly above the average in the Latin American and Caribbean region. This value differed between women and men, with the former having an average life expectancy about seven years higher than males. Simultaneously, both the infant mortality rate and the adult mortality rate have decreased to its lowest values, reflecting, among others, a better prevention system and greater access to and quality of health care and education. However, since 2019, the adult mortality rate skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.