São Paulo refers to both a state and city in Brazil, but this article will only cover the scope of the city itself. As of 2016, it had an urban population of 11,967,825.
São Paulo is the largest city of Brazil and the largest city proper in the Americas and the southern hemisphere. It's also one of the top 10 largest metropolitan areas in the world. São Paulo is a global city with a strong influence in the arts, entertainment, finance and commerce, and the city hosts the largest gay pride parade in the world. Known colloquially as Sampa or Cidade da Garoa (city of drizzle), the municipality had a 2011 population of 11.31 million.
The 2018 population of São Paulo is estimated at over 12 million residents.
At the 2010 IBGE Census, São Paulo was home to 10,659,386 people, a figure that is estimated to have grown to 11.9 million in 2016. The density in the city proper is 7,216.3 people per square kilometer (18,690 per square mile), but the metropolitan region is home to over 21 million people, with a much lower density of 2,469 people per square kilometer.
Greater São Paulo actually has many definitions, but the legal definition of Região Metropolitana de São Paulo has 39 municipalities with a 2016 estimated population of 21 million people. This definition includes 38 smaller cities around São Paulo. Because the city has such a huge urban sprawl, there is another definition for its metropolitan area: Complexo Metropolitano Expandido, which is the same as a Combined Statistical Area in the United States. By this definition, greater São Paulo is the third largest city in the world with more than 27 million residents.
Historical Immigration into São Paulo
São Paulo residents, known as Paulistanos, are some of the most ethnically diverse in the country. At the end of slave trafficking in Brazil in 1850, the city replaced African labor with voluntary immigrants to work its coffee plantations. This brought in a wave of German, Portuguese and Swiss immigrants, followed by additional waves of Portuguese and Italian immigrants from the mid-19th century through the beginning of the 20th century.
This means the state of São Paulo has one of the largest immigrant communities in Brazil. When slavery was abolished in 1888, the city received huge swells of European immigrants, and by 1897, Italians accounted for more than 50% of São Paulo's population. From 1908 to 1941, a large number of Japanese immigrants arrived, while Koreans and Chinese moved to the region in the 1960's. In present day, São Paulo is seeing a huge wave of migration from Bolivia.
In 1920, the Governor of São Paulo even noted the city's huge immigrant population by saying, "If the owner of each house in São Paulo display the flag of the country of origin on the roof, from above São Paulo would look like an Italian city."
São Paulo Demographics
São Paulo is still a city of immigrants today, and a study by the University of São Paulo shows the diversity. 81% of students said they were descendants of foreign immigrants, with the most common ancestry groups being: Italian (30.5%), Portuguese (23%), Spanish (14%), Japanese (8%), German (5.6%), African (2.8%), Arab (2.4%) and Jewish (1.2%).
In the metropolitan area, there are:
- 6 million of Italian descent
- 3 million of Portuguese descent
- 1.7 mllion of African descent
- 1 million of Arab descent
- 665,000 of Japanese descent
- 400,000 of German descent
- 250,000 of French descent
- 150,000 of Greek descent
- 120,000 of Chinese descent
- 120,000 to 300,000 Bolivian immigrants
- 50,000 of Korean descent and
- 40,000 Jews
The ethnic breakdown of São Paulo according to the 2010 Census was 65.6% white, 26.5% brown or mixed people, 5.5% black, 2.2% Asian and 0.2% Amerindian.
São Paulo Population Growth
From 1950 to 1975, São Paulo was one of the fastest growing urban areas on earth. From 1980 to 2000, it also ranked 4th in population among the urban areas of the world, but it has since been displaced from this list by the unprecedented growth in areas like Delhi. The state of São Paulo has more than 44 million residents in 2016,) which is more than the US state of California in an area with just 2/3 the land.
São Paulo's central city continues to grow, and in the last decade, it has grown by over one million. 57% of its urban area population still lives in the central city, but growth in the suburbs is picking up. While the speed at which the central city grew began to slow in the 1980s, the suburban growth has climbed steadily since the 1960s with no sign of slowing.
By 2030, the United Nations projects São Paulo will have a population of over 23 million people, approximately 10 million more people than Rio.