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HISTORY OF BRAZIL With an estimated 156 million inhabitants Brazil has the largest population in Latin America and ranks sixth in the world The majority of Brazilian people live in the south-central area which includes the industrial cities of Sao Paulo Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte Urban growth has been rapid by 1991 75 of the total population was living in urban areas Skidmore 110 Rapid growth has aided economic development but has also created serious social environmental and political problems for major cities Four major groups make up the Brazilian population the Portuguese who colonized in the 16th century Africans brought to Brazil as slaves various other European Middle Eastern and Asian immigrant groups who have settled in Brazil since the mid-19th century and indigenous people of Tupi and Guarani language Skidmore 131 Intermarriage between the Portuguese and indigenous people or slaves was common Although the major European ethnic culture of Brazil was once Portuguese waves of immigration have contributed to a diverse ethnic and cultural heritage From 1875 until 1960 about 5 million Europeans immigrated to Brazil settling mainly in the four southern states of Sao Paulo Parana Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul Immigrants have come mainly from Italy Germany Spain Japan Poland and the Middle East The largest Japanese community outside Japan is in Sao Paulo Despite class distinctions national identity is strong and racial friction is a relatively new phenomenon Abreu 278 Indigenous full-blooded Indians located mainly in the northern and western border regions and in the upper Amazon Basin constitute less than 1 of the population Skidmore 211 Their numbers are declining as contact with the outside world and commercial expansion into the interior increase Brazilian Government programs to establish reservations and to provide other forms of assistance have existed for years but are controversial and often ineffective Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas Approximately 80 of all Brazilians belong
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