Comparison of data from the population censuses since 1940 shows a drop in the percentage of foreign population from 3.42% (1940) to 0.52% (1991).
Today the percentage of foreigners in the Brazilian population, at 0.6 to 0.7%, is rather small (cf. Argentina at 3%). There are an estimated 1.5 million foreigners currently living in Brazil, while the 2000 census quotes a total number of 683,830 (legal) immigrants. Foreigners are deemed to be persons who were born abroad, regardless of their citizenship. Numbering 213,200 persons, around 31% originate from Portugal, 70,932 (10%) from Japan and 55,032 (8%) from Italy (cf. Fig. 1). Large proportions of immigrants from Portugal, Japan and Italy were born in their respective countries as the descendants of Brazilians and have dual citizenship.
Since the 1990s, about 50% of all immigrants have arrived in Brazil from neighbouring South American countries (cf. "Regional migration").
Thus it emerges from the Brazilian Census of 2000 that, of the immigrants born abroad who entered the country between 1990 and 2000, 12% came from Paraguay alone (11,156 persons) (cf. Fig. 2).
Disregarding the high number of Brazilian returnees from these countries, the second and third most common countries of origin in the period between 1990 and 2000 are the USA with 8.2% of all immigrants (7,628 persons) and Japan with 5.8% (5,364 persons) respectively.
The residence permits with work permits granted by the Ministry of Labour in the years 2004 and 2007 were mostly awarded (not allowing for Latin American migrants) to immigrants from the USA and European states such as the United Kingdom,
Italy, France and Germany, but also to Asian migrants from the Philippines, India, Japan and China (cf. Fig. 3).
A large proportion of immigrants in recent decades were originally Brazilian emigrants. The 2000 census revealed that two thirds of all immigrants between 1990 and 2000 were Brazilian citizens who had previously lived abroad (cf. "The emigrant population").