Traditionally, Portugal has been a country with a history of emigration to foreign lands, as well as to the overseas empire. During the early centuries of empire, only relatively small numbers of Portuguese emigrated to reside permanently in its colonies. After the establishment of the second, largely Brazilian empire in the 17th century, however, greater numbers of Portuguese left to seek their fortunes outside Europe. It was only toward the end of the 19th century, however, that Portuguese emigration became a mass movement, at first, largely to Brazil. While Portuguese-speaking Brazil was by far the most popular destination for the majority of Portuguese emigrants in early modern and modern times, after 1830, the United States and later Venezuela also became common destinations.
   Portuguese emigration patterns have changed in the 20th century and, as the Portuguese historian and economist Oliveira Martins wrote before the turn of the century, Portuguese emigration rates are a kind of national barometer. Crises and related social, political, and economic conditions within Portugal, as well as the presence of established emigrant communities in various countries, emigration laws, and the world economy have combined to shape emigration rates and destinations.
   After World War II, Brazil no longer remained the favorite destination of the majority of Portuguese emigrants who left Portugal to improve their lives and standards of living. Beginning in the 1950s, and swelling into a massive stream in the 1960s and into the 1970s, most Portuguese emigrated to find work in France and, after the change in U.S. immigration laws in the mid-1960s, a steady stream went to North America, including Canada. The emigration figures here indicate that the most intensive emigration years coincided with excessive political turmoil and severe draft (army conscription) laws during the First Republic (1912 was the high point), that emigration dropped during World Wars I and II and during economic downturns such as the Depression, and that the largest flow of Portuguese emigration in history occurred after the onset of the African colonial wars (1961) and into the 1970s, as Portuguese sought emigration as a way to avoid conscription or assignment to Africa.
   1887 17,000
   1900ca. 17,000 (mainly to Brazil)
   1910 39,000
   1912 88,000 (75,000 of these to Brazil)
   1930ca. 30,000 (Great Depression)
   1940ca. 8,800
   1950 41,000
   1955 57,000
   1960 67,000
   1965 131,000
   1970 209,000
   Portuguese Emigration Overseas (figures rounded off; does not include illegal emigration)
   Despite considerable efforts by Lisbon to divert the stream of emigrants from Brazil or France to the African territories of Angola and Mozambique, this colonization effort failed, and most Portuguese who left Portugal preferred the better pay and security of jobs in France and West Germany or in the United States, Venezuela, and Brazil, where there were more deeply rooted Portuguese emigrant communities. At the time of the Revolution of 25 April 1974, when the military coup in Lisbon signaled the beginning of pressures for the Portuguese settlers to leave Africa, the total number of Portuguese resident in the two larger African territories amounted to about 600,000. In modern times, nonimperial Portuguese emigration has prevailed over imperial emigration and has had a significant impact on Portugal's annual budget (due to emigrants' remittances), the political system (since emigrants have a degree of absentee voting rights), investment and economy, and culture.
   A total of 4 million Portuguese reside and work outside Portugal as of 2009, over one-third of the country's continental and island population. It has also been said that more Portuguese of Azorean descent reside outside the Azores than in the Azores. The following statistics reflect the pattern of Portuguese emigrant communities in the world outside the mother country.
   Overseas Portuguese Communities Population Figures by Country of Residence (estimates for 2002)
   Brazil 1,000,000
   France 650,000
   S. Africa 600,000
   USA 500,000
   Canada 400,000
   Venezuela 400,000
   W. Europe 175,000 (besides France and Germany)
   Germany 125,000
   Britain (UK) 60,000 (including Channel Islands)
   Lusophone Africa 50,000
   Australia 50,000
   Total: 4,010,000 (estimate)

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


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