The ethnic group most often associated with Paraná is the Poles, who settled in tightly knit farming communities around Curitiba in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Poles migrated to Brazil in three main waves: the smallest number between 1869 and 1889, the largest during the period of so-called “Brazil fever” that swept Poland and the Ukraine between about 1890 and 1898, and the next-largest contribution in the years just before World War I. Most of the Poles settling in the vicinity of Curitiba arrived in the 1880s with subsequent immigrants settling further afield in south-central Paraná.

Well into the twentieth century, the Polish community was culturally isolated, but as Curitiba expanded, absorbing many of the old farming settlements, assimilation accelerated. Today the lives of most of the approximately one million paranaenses of Polish origin are indistinguishable from those of their non-Polish neighbours. In recent years, however, there has been a revival of interest in people’s Polish heritage, and, wherever there are large concentrations of Poles, Polish language classes, folk dance and music groups are being established to preserve or revive folk traditions.

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