Also See: Major Cities in Brazil
Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is South America and Latin America's largest country, and the fifth largest country in terms of population and size. According to the latest census, undertaken in 2010, the population of Brazil was 190,732,694, although this number has grown significantly in the last three years.
However, because of rapid increases, the results of the census are already out of date. The Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), which runs the Brazilian census and compiles the latest population data, completed its latest estimate in July 2013, and reported that it believed Brazil had 200,674,130 people in 2013.
This is the first time Brazil has topped 200 million, and it continues rising faster than previous estimates as its ever-growing middle class live longer than their parents.
Brazil Population 2013
Throughout Brazil’s history, population growth has been rapid and Brazil is a country of young people. Today, 62% of Brazilians are aged 29 or under.
You can see the speed at which Brazil’s population has grown in this chart, which shows the growth in Brazil’s population between 1550 and 2005. Figures for 1550 to 1872 are estimates but, since then, they have been based on the official census which has run almost continuously on a ten year cycle.
Population growth in Brazil is slowing as the country urbanises and increases its wealth (it is now the sixth largest economy in the world). Brazil’s growth rate between 2005 and 2010, as reported by the United Nations, was 1.26%. This makes Brazil the 107th fastest growing country in the world, which means it is now growing only slightly faster than the world average.
The 2013 estimated population of Brazil has finally surpassed 200 million, reaching 200,674,130 this year. This estimate comes from a report by the national statistics agency, which also shows the population should peak at 228.4 million in 2042.
Largest cities in Brazil
The largest city in Brazil is Sao Paolo. It had an official population of 11,316,149 in 2011 and, as well as being Brazil’s largest city, it is the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere and the world’s seventh largest city.
Rio de Janeiro, perhaps the most famous city in Brazil, is the country’s second city when it comes to population. Slightly over half the size of Sao Paolo, it has a population of 6,355,949. Between 1793 and 1960, Rio was the capital city of Brazil.
Salvador, Brazil’s first capital city, is currently the third largest city in Brazil, with 2,693,605 inhabitants.
The current capital city, Brasilia, is one of the newest capital cities in the world; its construction was masterminded by the Brazilian Government and the majority of the city was constructed between 1956 and 1960. Despite being such a new city, its growth has been staggering, and today the population of Brasilia is 2,562,963, making it the fourth largest city in Brazil.
Ethnicity and Race in Brazil
Brazil’s census addresses ethnicity and race by categorising people mainly by skin colour. It asks people to place themselves into one of a number of categories, some of which would seem unusual to an American or European. As well as ‘indigenous’ (the smallest category), Brazilians are asked to report whether they believe they are white, black, brown or yellow.
The results of the census indicated that 91 million Brazilians were white, 82 million were brown, 15 million were black, 2 million were yellow and 817,000 were indigenous.
This method of classifying race is controversial within Brazil, and IBGE has been criticised for continuing to use it.
Interestingly, Brazil is believed to have the biggest population of uncontacted peoples on earth, and the National Indian Foundation reported 67 uncontacted tribes in the country in 2007, up from 40 just two years prior. It's estimated that about 896,900 Indians live in Brazil, compared to 5 million when Europeans arrived on the continent.
Religion in Brazil
The main religion in Brazil is Christianity, and around 90% of the population is either Catholic (74%) or Protestant (15%). In fact, Brazil has the world’s largest Catholic population.
As well as Christianity, 1.3% of people reported themselves as Spiritists, 0.3% reported themselves as followers of traditional African religions and 1.3% reported themselves as followers of a diverse range of other religions. In addition, 7% of Brazilians reported themselves as being non-religious.
Brazil Population Growth
Brazil's population has been growing very rapidly, growing from 190.7 million in 2010 to 200.6 million in 2013. It's projected that it's population will continue rising longer than previous estimations as the country's middle class continues expanding and living longer. It's currently projected that Brazil's population will peak at 228.4 million by 2042 and finally stabilize around 218 million by 2060.
The country's growth is in many ways hampered by the large number of Brazilian women entering the workforce and choosing to wait longer to have children. The birth rate in Brazil has dropped a great deal since the 1970's, when women had an average of over 4 children. Today, the birth rate is 1.77 births per woman, which is lower than the U.S. rate. It's estimated this rate will fall to 1.5 by 2034 and remain at that level through 2060.
Life expectancy has also grown in Brazil to 71.3 years for men and 78.5 years for women. It's estimated both men and women will live longer than 80 years on average by 2041, which means Brazil will also be dealing with an aging population before long, with greater demands on pensions and health care.