The largest expatriate communities in Portugal

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The largest expatriate communities in Portugal

Portugal has become a new home for numerous expatriate communities. This European country attracts people from all over the world with its beauty, economic potential and favourable living conditions. Find out more about the largest expat communities in Portugal

Use the Guide for any country in the world for a comfortable and safe trip
Use the Guide for any country in the world for a comfortable and safe trip

There are many different expat communities in Portugal that contribute to the country's development and enrich its cultural flavour. Expats in Portugal are represented by a wide range of nationalities and cultures who choose this country as their new home. They come from all over the world for various reasons: searching for economic opportunities, political instability in their home country, studying or simply improving their quality of life. Citizens of the USABrazilChinaSouth Africa and Great Britain predominate among expats. 

With its sun-drenched coastline, sprawling vineyards and centuries-old architecture, Portugal has become a desirable destination for those seeking new beginnings, professional opportunities or simply wanting to enjoy a unique blend of international flavours.

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What countries do expats come from in Portugal?

In recent years, Portugal has seen a marked increase in the number of foreigners choosing the country for permanent residence. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in 2023, the country has 780,000 legal residents, which represents a significant increase of 11% compared to the previous year.

Portugal boasts a diverse and thriving expatriate community, with the largest group being made up of people from different cultures. The largest number of expats are Brazilian nationals, with 239,676, accounting for around 30% of the total expat population.

The second-largest expatriate population is the United Kingdom, with 45,218 people, which is approximately 5.8% of the total number of foreigners. The third place is occupied by Cape Verde with 36,582 residents, which is about 4.7% of the total number of foreigners.

These numbers indicate that Portugal continues to be an attractive country for people from all over the world to live and develop.

Reasons for emigration to Portugal

The following factors contribute to the sharp increase in the number of foreigners living in Portugal:

1. Quality of life: Portugal boasts a high quality of life, mild climate, stunning coastline and a welcoming atmosphere. Many foreigners are attracted to the country's relaxed lifestyle, which offers an excellent work-life balance;

2. Golden Visa Programme: This programme provides residence permits to individuals investing in real estate. It has become a magnet for wealthy investors from all over the world. This initiative is particularly popular among citizens of China, Brazil and Turkey;

3. Technology and start-up hub: Lisbon and Porto have gained recognition as thriving technology centres in Europe, attracting professionals and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. The availability of jobs in the tech industry is a key factor for foreign nationals;

4. EU membership: Portugal's membership in the European Union offers numerous benefits: access to the Schengen area and a stable political and economic environment;

5. Employment opportunities: The expanding labour market, especially in the fields of technology and tourism, attracts professionals and skilled workers. Portugal's dynamic start-up ecosystem also contributes to this influx.

The Brazilian community in Portugal

The Brazilian community in Portugal, which has experienced significant growth in recent years, has become an important element of the country's cultural landscape. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in 2023, the number of Brazilian residents reached 239,676, representing 31% of the total number of foreigners in Portugal. This is an impressive increase of 17% compared to the previous year, when the number of Brazilians was 204,669.

Brazilians choose Portugal for a variety of reasons. Some come to pursue higher education at the country's prestigious universities. Others are looking for employment opportunities, taking advantage of the growing economy and favourable business environment. Investing in Portuguese real estate also attracts many Brazilians who are exploring the market's potential. Some choose Portugal to reunite with family already living here.

Language is a powerful bridge connecting Brazil and Portugal. Portuguese, the official language of both countries, facilitates communication and creates a sense of closeness for Brazilian expats. This linguistic similarity facilitates cultural exchange, as Portuguese and Brazilian cultures share many similarities while maintaining their unique flavour. This cultural affinity is manifested in Portugal through Brazilian music, dance, cuisine and art.

Brazilians form significant communities in different regions of Portugal. The capital city of Lisbon is home to many Brazilians, and neighbourhoods such as Amadora, Lumíar and Caixo do Sodre have become centres of activity. The Algarve cities of Faro and Lagos, in particular, attract Brazilians with their beautiful beaches and tourism industry. University cities such as Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra have become home to many Brazilian students.

The African community in Portugal

Portugal has a long history of cooperation and ties with African countries, and welcomes and embraces a diverse and thriving African community. The African expatriate community in Portugal is a true mosaic of cultures, languages and histories, with people from countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and others. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in 2023, the number of African residents in Portugal was 124,283, representing an important 16% of the total number of foreigners in the country. This is an impressive increase of 16% compared to the previous year, when the number of African expatriates stood at 107,348.

Among the key African communities that make a significant contribution to the richness of Portugal's multicultural fabric, Cape Verde stands out with 36,582 inhabitants. Representatives of this community not only strengthen cultural ties, but also bring the rhythms of morna and coladeira to Portuguese shores. Guinea-Bissau, with 23,707 inhabitants in Portugal, also makes a unique contribution to the country's diversity by sharing its traditions and cultural practices. The Mozambicans, although not represented by specific numbers, are actively involved in various sectors, promoting educational and cultural exchanges. Finally, the São Tomé and Príncipe community adds to Portugal with its vibrant traditions, dances and cuisine, which reflect the long historical ties between these African countries and Portugal.

One of the key factors contributing to the successful integration of African immigrants into Portuguese society is a common language. Portuguese, the official language of Portugal and several African countries, creates a linguistic bridge that facilitates cultural exchange and mutual understanding.

In addition, Portuguese and African cultures share many similarities, including a deep respect for tradition, strong community ties and a rich culinary heritage. These shared cultural elements are on display during cultural events, festivals and gatherings in Portugal.

African expatriates are scattered throughout Portugal, and there is no one area that dominates their location. However, certain areas of cities such as Lisbon and Porto are home to significant African communities. Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, hosts a significant number of African expatriates, and areas such as Muraria, Martim Moniz and Amadora are centres of activity. Porto, Portugal's second-largest city, also has a growing African community, especially in areas such as Campanha and Paranhos.

Asian community in Portugal

The Asian expat community in Portugal is living proof of the diversity of cultures, languages and histories. It brings together representatives from India, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and many other countries.

According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), 123,838 Asian expats lived in Portugal in 2023, representing an impressive 16% of the total number of expats in the country. This is a significant increase of 16% compared to the previous year, when the Asian community numbered 106,847.

In 2032, the Chinese community stood at 21,996 people, contributing its unique culture and fostering economic ties. India, with 35,413 inhabitants, offers a rich cultural heritage, and its representatives are active in various fields. The Nepalese community, with 23,839 people, adds vibrant traditions and employment opportunities to Portugal's multicultural tapestry.

Language and cultural ties play an important role in the integration of Asians into Portuguese society. Many Asians come from countries where Portuguese is spoken, making it easier for them to transition to life in Portugal. This linguistic similarity facilitates cultural exchange and a sense of connection between the communities.

In addition, Portuguese and Asian cultures share many similarities, such as a deep respect for family, tradition and cuisine. This cultural affinity is evident during cultural events and festivals in Portugal.

The Asian expat community is scattered throughout Portugal, and there is no single neighbourhood that dominates the landscape. However, some areas of cities such as Lisbon and Porto have a higher concentration of Asian residents. The Portuguese capital, Lisbon, is home to a significant number of Asian expats, and neighbourhoods such as Martim Moniz and Anjos are known for their multicultural make-up. Similarly, Porto, Portugal's second largest city, has a growing Asian community, particularly in areas such as Paranhos and Antas.

The British community in Portugal

Portugal, with its gorgeous sunny coastline, is extremely attractive to British expats looking for a second home where they can combine British aesthetics with the allure of Portuguese culture. Over the years, the country has become a real magnet for British citizens who are here for a variety of reasons - from retirees dreaming of spending their golden years in the sun to professionals looking for new opportunities.

The Algarve, with its spectacular coastline, green golf courses and active expat communities, is recognised as one of the most popular destinations for British expats. Cities such as Albufeira, Lagos and Faro have become a real paradise for British retirees, who enjoy the calm, sunny days, delicious seafood and wine, and a relaxed pace of life.

However, the impact of British expats is not only felt in the regions of their primary residence. They actively contribute to the local economy, invest in real estate and support the development of the tourism industry. A variety of businesses, from restaurants to real estate agencies, are thriving, contributing to economic and cultural ties between the two countries.

British expatriates are spread throughout Portugal, with a large concentration in key regions. The Algarve is a prime destination, especially for retirees who dream of a sunny climate. Cities such as Albufeira, Lagos, Faro and Tavira are attractive. At the same time, Lisbon, as a dynamic capital city, attracts professionals and young families, thanks to its lively labour market and cultural experience. Cascais, just outside Lisbon, is recognised for its natural beauty and easy access to city amenities, making it an ideal place to live for British expats who value a balance between nature and city.

The editors of Visit World recommend using the Guide for Portugal for a comfortable and safe trip.

The guide is a detailed written document that contains basic advice on obtaining a visa, crossing the border, getting a job, citizenship, and much more. More details at the link.

Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:

Checklist for obtaining a visa and necessary documents in Portugal;
Legal advice from a local specialist on visa and migration issues;
Travel insurance for foreigners in Portugal;
Medical insurance around the world.

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