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Finnish Brazilian

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Title: Finnish Brazilian  
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Subject: Finnish diaspora, Latvian Brazilian, Russians in Brazil, Americans in Brazil, English Brazilian
Collection: Brazilian People of Finnish Descent, European Brazilian
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Finnish Brazilian

Finnish Brazilian
Fino-brasileiro, Brasiliansuomalaiset
Regions with significant populations
Southeastern Brazil
Brazilian Portuguese
Lutheranism · Roman Catholicism · Others
Related ethnic groups
Finnish people · Finnish Argentines

Finnish Brazilian (Portuguese: Fino-brasileiro or Portuguese: Finlandês-brasileiro) is a Brazilian person of full, partial, or predominantly Finnish ancestry, or a Finnish-born person residing in Brazil.

About 170 km (105 mi) from Rio de Janeiro, the area where Penedo is located belongs to the Itatiaia National Park. It is a beautiful mountainous area, covered with the Atlantic Forest, with pleasant temperature and surroundings. The small town was colonized by immigrants from Finland and the architecture, gastronomy and local customs such as saunas, are still present in Penedo.[1]

Penedo is the first Finnish colony in Brazil.[2]


  • History 1
  • Penedo 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


In 1906, the first Finnish immigrants seem to have been sailors who went ashore especially in the port of Rio de Janeiro to settle, although there are reports of Finns working in Brazil since late 19th century as Finnish engineers and technicians, mostly working in the railwaysrailways in Brazil. In 1908, a small Finnish colony was founded, comprising about 20 families. Then in 1909–1910, a group of Finns from northern Sweden and northern Finland emigrated to the southern part of Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul). In the inter-war years about one thousand Finns immigrated to Latin America, mainly to Brazil and Argentina. Especially from the year 1924, Colonia Finlandesa in Argentina received new emigrants from eastern Finland. In Brazil a utopian social experiment, Penedo was started in 1929.

After World War II, immigration from Finland to Latin America continued, but in a much smaller degree. According to Finnish official statistics, about 500 immigrants left for Latin American countries; Venezuela than becoming a main settling country for Finn expats in addition to Brazil and Argentina. In the course of time small Finnish colonies have sprung up within some of South America's major cities, especially in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Caracas. Here, however, we must distinguish between true emigrants and the occasional Finnish resident in Latin American countries for diplomatic service or business.[3]


Penedo is located in Itatiaia National Park.

Penedo, a small village, located right next to Parque Nacional do Itatiaia, became the first true Finnish settlement Finnish immigrants in 1929.[4] The founder of the settlement, Toivo Uuskallio, settled with but a small group of like-minded countrymen aiming to build a community that would live an idealistically prosaic, peaceful torwards nature, and with precepts that included a strict vegan diet, with no foods of animal origin. He arrived in the city of Rio de Janeiro with his wife Liisa. Considering the virgin land of the Itatiaia valley at the time, stating that both he and his wife were marveled with the lush natural beauty of the state, Uuskallio agreed to the government into settling fellow Finnish people in the Itatiaia valley in assigned lands, partof the pro-immigrant plans of the Brazilian government at that time. After taking Portuguese lessons (reportedly at Berlitz), he ended up going by train to the nearby town Barra Mansa, from where he started the exploration and mapping of the region, visiting farms and properties in Rio and neighboring states as means to understand the local farming process and style.

He finally visited Fazenda Penedo, then owned by the São Bento Monastery. With 3,500 hectares, it was crisscrossed by fresh water springs and rivers, that were distributed along several altitudes. He could use the large Casa Grande, the main house in the farm, to accommodate his group. He envisioned that the area would allow them to grow both European and tropical flora. He was not aware that the former use of the farm as a coffee plantation had basically drained the most substantial nutrients from the soil, and that saúva ants were to cut the plants. In 1929, he purchased the property, and a second group of settlers arrived. After working on the land, they were finally able to plant corn, yams, bananas, flowers, and loofah. By 1935, most settlers had their own individual houses. Women took care of the laundry, cooking and vegetable gardens, while men tended the earth, planted and negotiated the crops. Many of the settlers did not adapt well to the new country, and returned home to Finland. When things got ugly with World War II some of them came back to Brazil. The strict vegan philosophy was no longer prevalent, though, and fowl, pig and dairy farming were gradually introduced. Tourism became an alternative. Liisa Uuskallio was the pioneer, using the spacious Casa Grande. Penedo is where Brazilians were introduced to the Finnish sauna. Guests could enjoy the healthy lifestyle, delicious food and fresh-baked breads, and relax in the river. Clube Finlandês opened doors in 1943. Massages and treatments were incorporated into the attractions for visitors. It could be considered the grandfather of today's spas. In 1970, electricity reached the village, and 1980 the first phones were installed.

The Scandinavian style of the houses has been preserved, and the village has kept its European charm. With a number of talented local artisans, handcraft and carpets (Ryijy and Raanu) are offered in local stores for very attractive prices. Decorative candles, hand-woven blankets and throws are also part of the Finnish legacy. As the descendants of the immigrants stopped growing loofah in the 70's, the traditional bathing gloves, sandals, dolls and other items are no longer available. To compensate, food specialties such as fruit preserves, chutney, home-made chocolates and ice cream became well known for their excellent quality. In addition to nature lovers and gourmets, Penedo is popular with adventure seekers. Rappelling, mountaineering and horseback riding are some of the most sought options from tourists.

See also


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