Indigenous peoples in Brazil

The demographic census carried out in Brazil in 2010 revealed that there were 896,917 people self-identifying as indigenous, or 0.47% of the total Brazilian population. Of these 383,298 live in urban areas. The largest number of indigenous inhabitants in all of the Brazilian states is found i Roraima where they represent 11% of the total population (around 168,000 individuals).

There are 305 different ethnic groups speaking 274 indigenous languages. Of these groups, only four- including the Guarani- have populations in excess of 20,000 individuals. Half of the indigenous peoples in Brazil comrpise less than 500 members. It is estimated that there are 46 peoples living in voluntary isolation.

Indigenous lands

Brazil has a territory of 851,196,500 ha. A total of 698 Indigenous lands (ILs) cover an area of 115,499,953 ha, equivalent to 13.56% of the national territory. Most ILs are located in the Amazônia Legal, which covers an approximate total area of 13,822,141 ha. the remaining 1.39% ILs are found in the northeast, southeast, south and mid-west of Brazil.

Legislation

The 1988 Brazilian Constitution recognizes indigenous peoples as the first and natural owners of the land and garantees their rights to land. Prospecting and mining of mineral wealth on indigenous lands may only be done with the authorization of the National Congress, after hearing from the communities involved. Thes communities must be garanteed participation in the benefits of the mining. Removal of indigenous peoples from their lands is prohibited. 

Brazil ratified the ILO Convention 169 in 2002 and signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007.

Yearly update

Download the 2016 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Brazil to learn about major developments and events during 2015.