Immigration in São Paulo

Immigration in São Paulo

Immigration in Brazil has been an essential demographic factor in the structure, history, and composition of its human population. In the Western Hemisphere, the country is among the nations that received the most number of immigrants (alongside Argentina, United States, and Canada).


In São Paulo, immigration was a decisive factor in the city’s development. When the country started an immigration program in the 1950s to provide workers in its many industries, the city received over 70% of the Greek, 50% of the Italian, and 30% of the Spanish immigrants to work in its factories. But even before this, the city has already been contracting many of its immigrants, such as in the 1870’s where it contracted a number of its Italian immigrants to work for its coffee plantations. With the city’s large influx of immigrants coming from various nations, São Paulo was regarded to be Brazil’s most multicultural city.


In a statistics, the two nationalities that make up the most in São Paulo immigrants are the Italians and Japanese.


Italian immigrants


According to the Italian government, 25 million of the Brazilians are of Italian descent, making it the largest Italian population outside the country itself. About 6 million (or about 60% of the Italian immigrants) are in São Paulo which makes the city having more people with Italian ancestry than any of Italy’s regions; and thus being named the City of Italians in the early part of the 20th century. Next to Rome, São Paulo has the highest population of Italian-descent people.


Among the industries where Italian immigrants are visible in São Paulo are in the coffee farms and factories.


Japanese immigrants


Next to the Italians, the Japanese make up the most number of immigrants in Brazil. Outside Japan, the country is home to the largest population of Japanese. Most of these people are living in São Paulo.

Like the Italians, Japanese immigrants in São Paulo went to the city to work in its many coffee plantations, which has then led to their exponential growth in the city. To date, there are over 600,000 people in São Paulo with Japanese descent.


The Immigrant Memorial


The Immigrant Memorial is a museum dedicated to the preservation of the history and heritage of the immigrants in São Paulo. It is located in Brás, São Paulo, which is a neighborhood closely associated to the Italian workers’ arrival in the city during the 19th century.


Among the exhibits found in the city are the photos and objects telling the story of immigration in the city.