The Brazilian census board says that the non-whites in Brazil will outnumber the white population this year.
This means there are more people of African descent in Brazil than in any country outside of Africa itself, making Brazil second only to Nigeria in terms of its black population.
But only about 6% of African-Brazilians consider themselves to be fully-black - the overwhelming majority classify themselves as mixed-race.
Paulo Cabral of the BBC's Brazilian service explains the latest statistics.
Professor Jose Jorge de Carvalho, an anthropologist from the University of Brasilia, told the World Today what is generally meant by 'black' in Brazil.
Many Brazilian universities have adopted affirmative action policies or quotas to try to boost the number of black and mixed-race students in higher education.
The BBC's Gary Duffy says this move has divided opinion in the country and provoked lengthy legal and political battles.
First broadcast 2 November 2009