Brazil has a population of 207,7 million people, according to an estimate by Brazilian Institute of geography and Statistics (IBGE) published in the Union’s Official Journal in 30/08/2017. The most populated city in the country is São Paulo (in the state of São Paulo), with 12,1 million inhabitants, what amounts to 5,8% of the Brazilian population living in a single city. After that, still regarding the most populated cities, follow: Rio de Janeiro (in the state of Rio de Janeiro), with 6,5 million; Salvador (in the state of Bahia) and Brasília (in the Federal District), with around 3 million inhabitants each – the national capital constituting a special case because the Federal District, with an area of 5.800 km2, forms a single city, Brasília, subdivided into 31 administrative areas.
Most of the population live in urban areas, around 84% of the inhabitants, while the remaining 16% live in rural zones. But this is a recent phenomenon, observed from the 1960s on, after the country entered a period of rapid industrialization started in the 1950s. Since the factories installed in urban areas needed handwork and since there was the expectancy of a better quality of living in the cities, the population was encouraged to migrate. Until then, most of the Brazilian population lived in the country. This rural exodus occurred in a few decades window and the following accelerated growth of urban population had a tremendous impact on the country’s social structure, producing poverty belts around the big centers, where access to sanitation, health, housing and employment was scarce.
Currently, more than half of the Brazilian population (precisely 56,5% of the population, what amounts to 117,2 million people) live in only 310 cities, which is also the amount of cities in the country with more than 100 thousand inhabitants. This amount corresponds to 5,6% of all cities existing in Brazil, spread over the federation’s 27 units (26 states plus the Federal District). Thus, 56,5% of the Brazilian population live in just 5,6% of the cities, while the remaining population, that corresponds to 43,5% of the total, live in the remaining 94,4% of the cities. The cities with more than 500 thousand inhabitants, that amount to 42, concentrate 30,2% of the country’s population (62,6 million people). Most of the Brazilian cities (68,3% of the total) have up to 20 thousand inhabitants and hold only 15,5% of the population (what corresponds to 32,2 million people).
With a total area of 8,5 million km2, Brazil is the fifth biggest country in the world in territorial extension and the sixth in population. Among the states that compose the Federative Republic of Brazil, the three most populated ones are located in the southwest region of the country, the first ones to start urbanization and industrialization processes, while the five least populated states are located in the North region, characterized by the imposing presences of the Amazon Forest, the Amazon river and its stream feeders.
São Paulo is, thus, the most populated state, with 45,1 million inhabitants, what amounts to 21,7% of the country’s population, followed by Minas Gerais, with 21,1 million, and Rio de Janeiro, with 16,7 million people. Following them, the most populated state outside of the Southwest region is Bahia, with 15,3 million inhabitants, followed by Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná, both in the South region, with 11,3 million people each. The least populated state, on the other hand, is Roraima, with 522,6 thousand inhabitants, followed by Amapá, with 797 thousand; Acre, 829 thousand; Tocantins, 1,5 million; and Rondônia, 1,8 million. The amount of inhabitants by km2 in the North region states is below 6 people, while in the most industrialized and urbanized states demographic densities of over 360 inhabitants per km2 are registered.
The improvement of health conditions, sanitation and education in recent decades has been promoting a significant increase of the Brazilian population’s life expectancy. In 1940, Brazilians were expected to live an average of only 46 years. In 2016, the average life expectation of the Brazilian population exceeds 75 years. On the other hand, this increase in Brazilian’s life expectancy in a few decades, allied with the expressive decrease of birth rates, demand a review of public policies in areas like education, health, assistance and social security, as the number of youths decrease and the number of elders increase. Among the more than 200 million inhabitants of Brazil, 51,4% are women and 48,6% are men. The average number of children per woman dropped from 6,3 to 1,9 in a period of just 50 years, between 1960 and 2010 – year of the last census by the IBGE foundation.
In terms of religious creeds, the 2010 census shows the evangelicals as the segment that grew the most in Brazil, increasing from 6,6% of the population, in 1980, to 22,2% - the term “evangelical” refers to pentecostal, neopentecostal and protestant alike. On its turn, the percentage of catholics, although showing a progressive decrease at each census performed, continues to represent the majority of the population, this time with an index of 64,6%. The 2010 census also registered 2,0% of spiritists and 0,3% of followers of African-matrix religions, although this data may be underestimated, since people participating in the survey could only choose one religious creed – what ignores the country’s existing culture of religious eclecticism and the simultaneous attendance of more than one religious doctrine. Finally, those who declared themselves non-religious amounted to 8,0% of the population.
Regarding ethnic origins, The National Survey per Domicile Samples published by the IBGE foundation based on data from 2015, showed a practically egalitarian distribution of self-declared white, 45,2% of he population, and self-declared brown, 45,1%. The survey only gave three options to the question “what is your color?”: white, black or brown. The population who self-declared black corresponded to 8,9% of the interviewed. The 2010 census on the other hand pointed to a population of almost 2 million “yellow” (1,1%) and of only 817 thousand “indigenous” (0,4% of the country’s population) – the estimated number of indigenous people living in the country when the first foreigners arrived (the Portuguese, in this case) is estimated between 1 million and 5 million, in the year 1500. The indigenous population was concentrated in rural areas (60,8%), while only 15,6% of the total Brazilian population lived in these regions.