As the largest city, and capital city, of the Brazilian state of Paraná, Curitiba is the 8th most populous city in all of Brazil and the largest in Brazil’s South Region. The Metropolitan area of Curitiba comprises 26 municipalities, with a combined population reaching over 3.2 million as the seventh most populous metropolitan area in Brazil. Curitiba has an estimated 2019 population of 1.9 million.
According to the 2010 census, the racial and ethnic composition of Curitiba’s 1.9 million people breaks down as the following:
- White: 78.9% White
- Pardo (multiracial): 16.0% Pardo
- Afro Brazillian: 2.9%
- Asian: 1.4% Asian
- Amerindian: 0.2%
As with the rest of Southern Brazil, the population of Curitiba is made up of descendants of European settlers, mainly of Portuguese and Spanish heritage.
Curitiba has a large Jewish community that was first established in the 1879s. With the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, many notable German Jewish academics moved to Brazil, with many settling in Curitiba.
1915 saw the arrival of Japanese immigrants, with an even greater influx arriving in 1924. Curitiba has come to be home to the second largest Japanese community in all of Brazil, behind only São Paulo. It is estimated that there are more than 40,000 Japanese Brazilians living in Curitiba.
Around the end of the 17th century, agriculture was not yet a large industry in the region and used for subsistence. The primary economy of the region was mineral extraction. A huge influx of European immigrants arrived in the second half of the 19th century, consisting mainly of Germans (although mainly from Russia), Poles, Ukrainians and Italians.
Curitiba popped up around this time as an important trading post between the Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo state, a route upon which cattlemen would be driving their herds, until the Paranaguá Curitiba railroad was finished in 1885.
Around the start of the 20th century, the wealth coming from the yeba mate mills benefited Curitiba greatly as mill owners built large homes in the capital. Many of these homes have been preserved in the Batel and Alto da Glória districts of Curitiba.
Post Second World War in the 1940s, French architect Alfred Agache was brought on to create the first city plan for Curitiba. He created a plan with a "star" of boulevards, downtown public amenities, and an industrial area. While the city tried to follow this plan, it soon proved too expensive.
The largest expansion to the population of Curitiba occurred after the 1960s, when innovative urban planning allowed the population to grow to more than a million people from some hundreds of thousands.
Prior to this, Curitiba was seeing steady rise year on year, more than doubling it’s population in the years between 1950 and 1960 from 138,000 to 361,000. The following decades saw this trend continue, reaching 609,000 in 1970 and 843,000 in 1980. Come 1990, the city had made it well past a million, with an estimated 1.3 million by 1991.
Today, Curitiba is known as the world's greenest and most innovative city (https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/may/06/story-of-cities-37-mayor-jaime-lerner-curitiba-brazil-green-capital-global-icon) thanks to its sustainable urban planning over the last few decades. The city has more than 50 square metres of green space for every person despite its large and growing population.