Portuguese speakers are one of the largest linguistic minority groups in Massachusetts. Drawn to New England first by the whaling and fishing industries starting in the early 1800s, Portuguese and Cabo Verdeans have lived here for hundreds of years, while the more recent waves of Brazilian immigration began in earnest in the 1980s.
According to the most recent US Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) three-year estimates, there were nearly 439,000 people of Brazilian, Cabo Verdean or Portuguese ancestry alone in the state between 2011 and 2013, not counting immigrants and their descendants from other Portuguese-speaking lands. ACS estimated that about one-third of the 439,000 were born in Brazil, Cabo Verde or Portugal. Unofficial sources within our communities estimate that numbers of Portuguese speakers in the state are considerably higher, based on service statistics, school enrollments and other data sources.
It is difficult to get an exact number of Portuguese speakers in Massachusetts because the full US Census of all households every 10 years does not track this population separately, and Portuguese speakers identify with a variety of different ethnic and racial groups. MAPS is working with the Census Bureau and other community organizations to obtain a more accurate profile of our communities.
The state’s largest population of Portuguese speakers traditionally has lived in Southeastern Massachusetts, but in the MAPS service area there are large enclaves in greater Boston, greater Lowell and Framingham/MetroWest. Most MAPS clients come from Brazil, Cabo Verde or Portugal, but the area also has attracted newcomers from Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, and other parts of the Portuguese-speaking world.
For recent MAPS service statistics, please see our Annual Reports.
MAPS is dedicated to providing assistance to Portuguese speakers of all backgrounds in order to promote a better quality of life and a stronger, more unified presence in Massachusetts.