Ethnic minorities

   Traditionally and for a half millennium, Portugal has been a country of emigration, but in recent decades it has become a country of net immigration. During Portugal's long period of overseas empire, beginning in the 15th century, there was always more emigration overseas than immigration to Portugal. There were, nevertheless, populations of natives of Africa, Asia, and the Americas who came to Portugal during the 1450-1975 era. Historians continue to debate the actual numbers of migrants of African descent to Portugal during this period, but records suggest that the resident African population in Portugal during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries was a minority of some consequence but not as large as previously imagined.
   After the wars of independence in Africa began in 1961, and after India conquered and annexed former Portuguese Goa, Damão, and Diu in December of that year, Portugal began to receive more migrants from Asia and Africa than before. First came political refugees carrying Portuguese passports from former Portuguese India; these left India for Portugal in the early 1960s. But the larger numbers came from Portugal's former colonial territories in Africa, especially from Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau; these sought refuge from civil wars and conflicts following the end of the colonial wars and independence from Portugal. While a considerable number of the refugee wave of 1975-76 from these territories were of African as well as Afro-European descent, larger numbers of African migrants began to arrive in the 1980s. A major impetus for their migration to Portugal was to escape civil wars in Angola and Mozambique.
   Another wave of migrants of European descent came beginning in the 1990s, primarily from Ukraine, Russia, Rumania, and Moldova. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, and the implosion of the Soviet Union, migrants from these countries arrived in Portugal in some number. At about the same time, there arrived migrants from Brazil and another former colony of Portugal, the isolated, poverty-stricken Cape Verde Islands. The largest number of foreign immigrants in Portugal continue to be the Brazilians and the Cape Verdeans, whose principal language is also Portuguese.
   Different ethnic migrant groups tended to work in certain occupations; for example, Brazilians were largely professional people, including dentists and technicians. Cape Verdeans, by and large, as well as numbers of other African migrants from former Portuguese African territories, worked in the construction industry or in restaurants and hotels. As of 2004, the non-European Union (EU) migrant population was over 374,000, while the EU migrant numbers were about 74,000.
   Of the foreign migrants from EU countries, the largest community was the British, with as many as 20,000 residents, with smaller numbers from France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. About 9,000 Americans reside in Portugal. Unlike many migrants from the non-EU countries noted above, who sought safety and a way to make a decent living, migrants from Europe and the United States include many who seek a comfortable retirement in Portugal, with its warm, sunny climate, fine cuisine, and security.
   Legal Foreign Residents from non- European Union Countries (1999- 2004)
   1999 2004
   Brazil 20,851 Brazil 66,907
   Cape Verde Isl. Cape Verde Isl. 64,164
   Angola 17,721 Angola 35,264
   Guinea Bissau 25,148
   São Tomé 10,483
   Mozambique 5,472
   Ukraine 66,227
   Romania 12,155
   Moldova 13,689

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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