The history of immigration to Brazil began at the very moment when the Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral arrived at the Brazilian coast, on a beach near what is now Porto Seguro, Bahia, on April 22nd, year 1500. From that day on, native Indians and European settlers began the great miscegenation that characterizes our people, with whom a few decades later African Negroes, who arrived in the country as slaves, collaborated, and from the nineteenth century, Also the Asians.
In the first centuries of our colonization, European immigration was basically Portuguese, with occasional exceptions, mainly from Dutch invaders on the Northeast coast and French in Baía de Guanabara. The Lusitanians founded thousands of cities, such as the first capitals of the country, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. Some of them still preserve the airs and many of the constructions of the times in which they were created. Worth mentioning is Morretes, in Paraná; Paraty, in Rio de Janeiro; Ouro Preto, in Minas Gerais, and Alcântara, in Maranhão.
In the first decades of the 19th century, Brazil began to receive a large influx of immigrants from other European countries, who came in search of work opportunities, fleeing a Europe in crisis. Many began to buy land and settle in colonies gathering people of the same origin.
The Germans preferred to settle in the South because of their colder climate, close to what they were accustomed to. There, they founded dozens of small cities, among them: Nova Petrópolis, in Rio Grande do Sul, and Blumenau and Pomerode, in Santa Catarina. To visit these destinations is to travel to Germany without leaving Brazil, as can be seen in the architecture, habits and biotype of the citizens. It is good to remember that in Blumenau happens the second largest Oktoberfest in the world, behind only Munich.
The great Italian immigrant flow brought workers to the then growing city of São Paulo and peasants to coffee farms in the countryside of the state. Their creation was the city of Pedrinhas Paulista, in the 1950s. Many also went to the South of the Country. In the mountains of Rio Grande do Sul, they dedicated themselves to the planting of grapes and founded Bento Gonçalves and Caxias do Sul. Gramado, a city nearby, was also strongly influenced by the Italians in the region, as well as the Germans. Both occupied it from 1875.
It is also worth mentioning other cities originating from European colonies. One of the best known is Petrópolis, near Rio de Janeiro, built by the initiative of the emperor D. Pedro II, on the top of the mountain, to escape the inclement heat of the capital of Rio. It was erected by German settlers, who were joined by Italians, French, English and Swiss.
The Swiss people, in fact, are present in Campos de Jordão, in the state of São Paulo, and Garanhuns, in the interior of Pernambuco. Due to the cold climate, architecture, organization and daily life, both cities are known as "The Brazilian Switzerland" and attract many tourists in the winter. Just as it attracts Holambra, in São Paulo, because of its resemblance to Netherlands.
One of the great riches of Brazil is to house so many immigrants and so many countries within its territory. Choose your favorite accent and “bon viaggio,” “gute Fahrt,” “goede reis” or, to put it simple, have a good trip!