Religion and Culture


Religion in Brazil was formed from the meeting of the Catholic Church with the religious traditions of African peoples and indigenous slave peoples. This confluence of beliefs during the Portuguese colonization of Brazil led to the development of a wide range of syncretic practices within the umbrella of the Brazilian Catholic Church, characterized by traditional Portuguese festivities, and in some cases, Allan Kardec’s Spiritism (a religion that incorporates elements of spiritualism and Christianity). Religious pluralism increased during the 20th century and the Protestant community has grown to include more than 22% of the population. The most common Protestant denominations are Pentecostal and Evangelical. Other Protestant branches with a notable presence in the country are Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Lutherans, and the Reformed tradition.

Roman Catholicism is the predominant faith of the country. Brazil has the largest Catholic population in the world. According to the Demographic Census of 2000 (the PNAD survey does not investigate religion), 73.57% of the population followed Roman Catholicism; 15.41% Protestantism; 1.33% Kardecist spiritualism; 1.22% other Christian denominations; 0.31% of Afro-Brazilian religions; 0.13% Buddhism; 0.05% Judaism; 0.02% of Islam; 0.01% of the Amerindian religions; 0.59% of other religions, undeclared or indeterminate; while 7.35% do not have religion.

However, in the last ten years, Protestantism, particularly in forms of Pentecostalism and evangelism, has spread in Brazil, while the proportion of Catholics has decreased significantly. After Protestantism, individuals who do not profess any religion are also a significant group, which exceeds 7% of the population at the 2000 census. The cities of Boa Vista, Salvador and Porto Velho have the highest proportion of irreligious residents in Brazil. Teresina, Fortaleza and Florianopolis were the most Roman Catholic in the country. Greater Rio de Janeiro, not including the city itself is the most irreligious and less Roman Catholic periphery in Brazil, while the Greater Porto Alegre and the Great Fortress are on the opposite sides of the lists, respectively.


According to the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), urban areas already account for 84.35% of the population, while the southeast region is still the most populated, with more than 80 million inhabitants. The largest urban agglomerations in Brazil are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, all in the Southeast Region, with 21.1, 12.3 and 5.1 million inhabitants respectively. Most state capitals are the largest cities in their states, with the exception of Vitória, the capital of Espírito Santo, and Florianopolis, the capital of Santa Catarina.


The central culture of Brazil is derived from the Portuguese culture, due to its strong colonial ties with the Portuguese Empire. Among other influences, Portuguese introduced the Portuguese language, Roman Catholicism and colonial architectural styles. However, culture was also strongly influenced by European cultures and African, indigenous and non-Portuguese traditions. Some aspects of Brazilian culture were influenced by the contributions of Italians, Germans and other Europeans, as well as Japanese, Jewish and Arab immigrants who arrived in large numbers in the south and southeast of Brazil during the 19th and 20th centuries. Native Amerindians influenced the language and cuisine of Brazil; and Africans influenced language, cooking, music, dance and religion.

Brazilian art has been developed since the sixteenth century in different styles ranging from the baroque (the dominant style in Brazil to the early nineteenth century) to romanticism, modernism, expressionism, cubism, surrealism and abstractionism. Brazilian cinema goes back to the birth of the medium at the end of the 19th century and has gained a new level of international recognition since the 1960s.