Brazilian units of measurement

A number different units of measurement were used in Brazil to measure quantities including length, mass, area, and capacity, as those units were derived from Portugal and those units had notable local variances.

In 1814, as part of the Portuguese Empire, Brazil adopted the new Portuguese metric system, which was based in the original metric system, but with its units having Portuguese traditional names. This system was not widely adopted however, soon being abandoned and the Portuguese customary units continuing to be used.

In 1862, the International Metric System finally became compulsory in Brazil.[1][2]

Pre-metric units

A number of units were used with local variations.[1]

Length

A number of different units were used in Brazil to measure length. One pé (foot) was equal to 0.33 m (with local variations). Some of other units are given below:[1][3]

1 polegada (inch) = 1/12 pé[3]

1 palmo (palm) = 2/3 pés

1 vara (yard) = 3 1/3 pés

1 passo geométrico = 5 pés

1 braça (fathom) = 6 2/3 pés

1 légua (league) = 20000 pés.

Mass

A number of different units were used in Brazil to measure mass. One libra was equal to 459.05 g (with local variations). Some of other units are given below :[1][3]

1 onça = 1/16 libra

1 marco = 1/2 libra

1 arroba = 32 libras (One arroba métrica is equal to 15 kg.)(In Santos market Exchange, one arroba was 10 kg.[4])

1 quintal = 128 libras

The quilate used to measure to mass of gems was equal to 3.075 grains, and the outava used to measure mass of topazes was 57.17 grains.[5]

Area

Different units were used to measure area in Brazil and those units had notable local variations. One tarefa was equal to 3000 to 4000 m2. One alqueire was equal to 2.42×104 or 4.84×104 m2 (it was equal to 8 salamis and it was 33 l in Minas Gerais[1][4]).

Capacity

A number different units with notable local variations were used in Brazil. One almude was equal to 31.944 l.[1] One alqueire was equal to 40 to 320 l (generally for grain 33 l[4]) (According to some sources, 1 alqueire = 5.324 l, alqueire (salt) = 4.076 l, 1 alqueire (common) = 3.626 l, 1 alqueire (Bahia) = 3.524 l, and 1 alqueire = 1/6 almude[3]).[1] Some of other units are provided below:[1][3]

1 moio = 10 almudes

1 pipa = 12 almudes

1 tonel = 30 almudes.

The cargueiro (mule load) was consisted 2 small barrels of 40 l each.[4]