Chinese people in Portugal

Chinese people in Portugal
Chinese people in Portugal
Total population
0.09% of the Portuguese population[1]
Includes only legal residents with People's Republic of China nationality
Regions with significant populations

Chinese (primarily Mandarin; some migrants from Mozambique and Macau speak Cantonese), Portuguese[3]

Related ethnic groups

Ethnic Chinese in Mozambique, other overseas Chinese groups[4]

Chinese people in Portugal form the country's largest Asian community, but only the twelfth-largest foreign community overall.[5]


Migration history

There are records of Chinese slaves in Lisbon as early as 1540.[6] According to modern historians, the first known visit of a Chinese person to Europe dates to 1540 (or soon after), when a Chinese scholar, apparently enslaved by Portuguese raiders somewhere on the southern China coast, was brought to Portugal. Purchased by João de Barros, he worked with the Portuguese historian on translating Chinese texts into Portuguese.[7] Other records show that Dona Maria de Vilhena, a Portuguese woman from Evora, Portugal, owned a Chinese male slave in 1562.[8] Many Chinese men were kidnapped as children from Macau and sold as slaves in Lisbon.[9] In the 16th century, a small number of Chinese slaves were owned by Portuguese in southern Portugal, 29-34 people.[10] The Portuguese prized Chinese slaves.[11] In 1595 a law was passed banning the selling and buying of Chinese slaves.[12] On 19 February 1624, the King of Portugal forbade the enslavement of Chinese of either sex, but this was often ignored.[13] The Qianlong Emperor also called for the trade to be stopped in 1744, and reiterated his order in 1750.[9]

Small communities of Chinese people formed in Portugal in the mid-20th century.[14] Some members of the Chinese community in Mozambique also moved to Portugal as the process of decolonisation in Mozambique began in the 1970s and its independence drew near.[15] However, mass Chinese migration to Portugal did not begin until the 1980s; the new migrants came primarily from Zhejiang, with some from Macau as well.[16] There were expectations that the 1999 transfer of sovereignty of Macau back to the People's Republic of China would result in as many as 100,000 Chinese migrants from Macau settling in Portugal.[17] Between 1985 and 1996, 5,853 Chinese acquired Portuguese nationality; however, most of these were residents of Macau and did not reside in Portugal or migrate there later.[18]

Demographic characteristics

According to surveys undertaken by Chinese associations, Chinese residents of Portugal have a very young average age, with 29.6% younger than 30, and 38.5% between 31 and 40 years old. Over three-quarters live in Lisbon, Porto, or Faro.[19]


82.6% of the Chinese workforce in Portugal are employees. However, the number of entrepreneurs has shown an upward trend, nearly doubling from 9.4% in 1990 to 17.4% in 2000.[20] Four-fifths of the self-employed are drawn from the population of recent migrants from Zhejiang; rates of entrepreneurship in the other groups are much lower.[21] Chinese migrants from Mozambique and the other ex-Portuguese colonies, due to their fluency in Portuguese and familiarity with local business practices, are able to enter the mainstream economy and find professional employment, especially as bank employees, engineers, and doctors.[22][23]

Most Chinese-owned firms are small family enterprises, in the services, retail, and import-export sectors.[24] Their suppliers are Chinese-owned firms in other parts of Europe; Portuguese firms are among their clients but rarely among their suppliers.[25] There is a tendency for Chinese business owners to seek out areas with few other Chinese, to avoid competition and find new markets.[2]



  1. ^ INE 2007
  2. ^ a b de Oliveira 2003, p. 10
  3. ^ Santos Neves & Rocha-Trindade 2008, p. 163
  4. ^ de Oliveira 2003, p. 9
  5. ^ Santos Neves & Rocha-Trindade 2008, p. 162
  6. ^ Boxer 1939, p. 542–543
  7. ^ Mungello 2009, p. 81
  8. ^ Fonseca 1997, p. 21: "e o chinês, também António, ainda há pouco referido e que era condutor das azémolas de D. Maria de Vilhena"
  9. ^ a b Teixeira Leite 1999, p. 20: "Já por aí se vê que devem ter sido numerosos os escravos chineses que tomaram o caminho de Lisboa — e por extensão o do Brasil ... Em 1744 era o imperador Qianlong quem ordenava que nenhum Chinês ou europeu de Macau vendesse filhos e filhas, prohibição reiterada em 1750 pelo vice-rei de Cantão."
  10. ^ Mancall 2007, p. 228
  11. ^ Finkelman & Miller 1998, p. 737
  12. ^ Dias 2007, p. 71
  13. ^ de Pina-Cabral 2002, pp. 114–115: "From very early on, it was recognized that the purchase of Chinese persons (particularly female infants) caused no particular problems in Macao, but that the export of these people as slaves was contrary to the safeguarding of peaceable relations with the Chinese authorities. This point is clearly made by a Royal Decree of 1624 ... [t]hese good intentions were, howerver, difficult to uphold in the territory where the monetary purchase of persons was easily accomplished and the supply very abundant, particularly of young females."
  14. ^ de Oliveira 2003, p. 9
  15. ^ Santos Neves & Rocha-Trindade 2008, p. 164
  16. ^ de Oliveira 2003, p. 9
  17. ^ de Oliveira 2003, p. 9
  18. ^ de Oliveira 2003, p. 8
  19. ^ Santos Neves & Rocha-Trindade 2008, p. 162
  20. ^ Santos Neves & Rocha-Trindade 2008, p. 163
  21. ^ Santos Neves & Rocha-Trindade 2008, p. 164
  22. ^ de Oliveira 2003, p. 12
  23. ^ Santos Neves & Rocha-Trindade 2008, p. 163
  24. ^ Santos Neves & Rocha-Trindade 2008, p. 166
  25. ^ Santos Neves & Rocha-Trindade 2008, p. 167


Further reading

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chinese people in Germany — Total population 71,639 (2004)[1] (Includes only People s Republic of China nationals) Regions with significant populations Berlin[2], Fran …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese people in Sri Lanka — Total population Various estimates Related ethnic groups Chinese people There have been Chinese people in Sri Lanka since the 1700s.[1] Though their numbers dwindled in the decades after independence, in the 1990s and 2000s a new wave of Chinese… …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese people in Kazakhstan — Total population Disputed Regions with significant populations Almaty[1] Related ethnic groups Overseas Chinese The number of Chinese people in Kaz …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese people in Papua New Guinea — 巴布亞新幾內亞華人 巴布亚新几内亚华人 Total population 5,000–20,000[1][2] Languages Tok Pisin and English; Cantonese (among older people); …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese people in Japan — Kanteibyou Temple in Yokohama Chinatown Total population 655,377 (as of 2008 …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese people in Spain — Chinese people on the street in Madrid, Spain. Total population 145,425 (2009)[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese people in Iran — Total population 2,000 3,000 Regions with significant populations Tehran and other major cities Languages Chinese; Persian not widely spoken Religion Not known …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese people in Korea — Regions with significant populations North Korea: Sinuiju, Pyongyang, Chongjin[1] South Korea: Seoul, Incheon, Busan …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese people in Pakistan — Total population 10,000 (2009 est.)[1] Regions with significant populations Islamabad · Karachi · Lahore Languages …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese people in Kenya — Total population 3,000–10,000[1] Regions with significant populations Nairobi, Mombasa[1][2 …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.