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Afro-Portuguese people

Afro-Portuguese people
Total population
149,982 retain one of PALOPs nationalities[1]
(about 1.3% of Portugal's population, possibly much higher)
Regions with significant populations
Lisbon metropolitan area, Algarve, Porto Metropolitan Area
various African languages
and Portuguese creoles
Predominantly Roman Catholicism, Afro-Portugueses religions,
Protestantism, Sunni Islam and Irreligious minorities
Related ethnic groups
Afro-Brazilians, Cape Verdeans in Portugal, Angolans in Portugal

Afro-Portuguese, African-Portuguese, or Black Portuguese are Portuguese citizens or residents of Portugal with total or partial ancestry from any of the Sub-Saharan ethnic groups of Africa. Most of those perceived as Afro-Portuguese trace their ancestry to former Portuguese overseas colonies in Africa.

Alternatively, Afro-Portuguese may also refer to various populations of Portuguese descent, to various degrees, living throughout Africa, often speaking Portuguese or Portuguese creole, the Luso-Africans or Portuguese Africans, often also adopting Portuguese cultural norms, from which the Black Portuguese population in Portugal often derive.


Black Portuguese citizens are descendants or migrants issuing from the former Portuguese African colonies, (Angola, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Cape Verde and Mozambique), even if residual numbers originate in other Sub-Saharan African countries. The colonies were abolished in 1951, transformed into overseas provinces by the Estado Novo regime and became integral parts of Portugal.

These communities arrived in Portugal after the independence of the African overseas provinces, in 1974–75, mainly after the Portuguese economic growth of the second half of the 1980s. They should not be confused with the population, overwhelmingly white Europeans born in Portugal, that "returned" from the same colonies immediately after their independence, the so-called retornados — Portuguese settlers and descendants of Portuguese settlers born in former African colonies who relocated to Portugal after independence and in second half of the 1980s.

According to the Portuguese Foreigners and Borders Services, in 2006, this is the breakdown of Africans legally in Portugal:[2] (see table)

Country Citizens
Angola 33,215
Cape Verde 65,485
Guinea-Bissau 24,513
Mozambique 5,854
São Tomé and Príncipe 10,761
other African 10,154
Total 149,982

The Portuguese nationality law privileges Jus sanguinis and a sizable number of Black-Africans in Portugal maintained their respective nationality of origin. Even if the nationality law of 1959 was based on the principle of Jus soli, the changes made in 1975 and 1981 changed it to a Jus sanguinis law after the independence of the African provinces, which denied naturalization not only to first generation migrants, but also to their children and grandchildren. Still this legislation had special clauses: Portuguese nationality was granted to citizens proceeding from Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe and East Timor, as well as those born under Portuguese administration in Goa, Daman and Diu and Macau if legally living in Portugal for six years. All other migrants need to live in the country for a period of ten years.

A new 2006 law granted Portuguese nationality to the second generation, if living in Portugal for at least five years. It also removed differences between countries of origin, giving the influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe, most notably Ukrainians. The law was announced in 2005 by Prime minister José Sócrates and granted Portuguese nationality to children born in Portugal of foreign parents, as he stated:"those children did not spoke another language other than Portuguese and only studied in Portuguese schools, but had nationality denied."[3] In 2015, Francisca Van Dunem became the first black Portuguese becoming minister in the Portuguese government.

The arrival of these black Africans in Portugal, coupled with their difficulty in accessing full citizenship, enhanced, from the 1970s onwards, the processes of ethnic and racial discrimination.[4][5][6] This is the result of multiple factors, from institutional and juridical, to socio-cultural (the construction of stereotypical ethno-racial differences), residential (with the concentration of black migrants in degraded ghettos in Lisbon area, although this does not occur elsewhere in the country) and economical (the poorly qualified professional and educational profile of the migrants).[7][8][9][10] coupled with a parallel strengthening of black identity in African migrants, even surpassing national origins.[11] In 2016, the UN committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination visited Portugal and recommended that Portugal implement specific measures for the Afro-descendent community, in as in cases where some black Portuguese, today full adults, are without citizenship even in cases where siblings can be full Portuguese citizens, such as those born before 1981 or after their parents become legal migrants.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "Quadro de Avaliação e Responsabilização 2008 (QUAR)". Estatísticas 2006 (in Portuguese). Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  2. ^ Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, Estatísticas 2006.
  3. ^ População-Portugal: Lei amplia nacionalização de imigrantes
  4. ^ J. Vala et al. (2002), Cultural Differences and hetero-ethnicization in Portugal: the perceptions of black and white people, Portuguese Journal of Social Sciences, 1(2), pp. 111-128.
  5. ^ J. Vala et al. (1999), Expressões dos racismos em Portugal: Perspectivas psicossociológicas, Lisboa, Instituto de Ciências Sociais.
  6. ^ J. Vala et al. (1999), A construção social da diferença: Racialização e etnicização de minorias e Racismo subtil e racismo flagrante em Portugal, in Novos dos racismos: Perspectivas comparativas, Oeiras, Celta.
  7. ^ R. Cabecinhas (2003), Categorização e diferenciação: A percepção do estatuto social de diferentes grupos étnicos em Portugal, Sociedade e Cultura, 5, pp. 69-91.
  8. ^ R. Cabecinhas & L. Amâncio (2003), A naturalização da diferença: Representações sobre raça e grupo étnico, Actas da III Jornada Internacional sobre Representações Sociais, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro/Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, pp.982-1007.
  9. ^ R. Cabecinhas & L. Cunha (2003), Colonialismo, identidade nacional e representações do ‘negro’, Estudos do Século XX, 3, pp. 157-184.
  10. ^ José Machado Pais (1999), Consciência Histórica e Identidade - Os Jovens Portugueses num Contexto Europeu, Lisboa, Secretaria de Estado da Juventude / Celta.
  11. ^ António Concorda Contador (2001), Cultura Juvenil Negra em Portugal, Oeiras, Celta.
  12. ^ "The Portuguese denied citizenship in their own country" (in Portuguese). Al Jazeera. Retrieved July 1, 2017.