Like other European countries Portugal has a long history of emigration dating back to the colonial past. Immigration, in turn, is a relatively recent phenomenon. After immigration, beginning in 1974, had overcome emigration for almost three decades there has been a growing migration deficit since the mid-2000s. In other words, at levels that are only parallel to the population movements of the 1960s and 1970s.
According to the UN, Portugal presented na emigration rate of 22.1% against an immigration rate of 8.1%, being the origin of migrations to countries with more stable economies in Europe – the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Germany – and the destination of migrations originating in Cape Verde, Romania and Brazil. Considering the four countries analyzed in the project, Portugal not only has the highest percentage of exits but also distances a lot from the others (4.9%; Australia 2.2%; Angola: 1.9%). The same source indicates that among the total number of portuguese emigrants (2 306 321), 4% lived in Germany (98 464), 1% in Australia (20 044) and 1% in Angola (15 528). UN data indicate the presence of 837,257 immigrants in Portugal, in 2015, among which Angolans represent 18% of the flows (151,273), Germans 3% (26,048) and Australians 0.1% (1 164) only.
Among countries of the European Union (EU 28) Portugal stays at the twenty-first place, with just 3.8% of foreign residents between population (Observatório das Migrações).
In the context of the european crisis of recent years, where effects of economic and labor contractions were more pronounced in Portugal than in many other countries of the EU, Portugal has registered successive decreases in the number of foreigners living in the country. However, from 2015, according to Eurostat values, not only did the number of foreigners resident in Portugal has been growing again (figure 1), as the structure of the ten most representative nationalities has also changed (figure 2).
Gráfico 1: International migrations (permanent movements) from and to Portugal, 2006-2016
Chart elaborated by the project “Transits” based on Eurostat values, Database on Population and Social Conditions, Demography and Migration (pop).
Despite the reduction registered in relation to 2015 (- 1.6%) Brazil has remained the most expressive nationality in 2016, representing 20.4% of the total number of foreign residents in Portugal. After Brazilians, there are the Cape Verdeans (9.2%), the Ukrainians (8.7%), the Romanians (7.7%) and the Chinese (5.7%) which have grown 5.5% compared to the previous year.
Gráfico 2: Top representative nationalities of foreigners residing in Portugal
Chart elaborated by the project “Transits” based on data from SEF.
On the other hand, there have been more and more citizens from European Union countries choosing Portugal to live. The French registered a growth of 33.8% compared to 2015, and in 2016 they were in ninth place (2.8%) ahead of the spanishs (2.8%). In its turn, the United Kingdom was in sixth place (4.9%), with growth of 12.5%, supplanting Angola (4.3%) and Guinea Bissau (3.9%).Acquisitions of portuguese nationals of non-EU citizens are one of the responsible for the registered changes.