A high occurrence rate of consanguineous marriages may favour the onset and increased frequency of autosomal recessive diseases in a population. The population of Monte Santo, Bahia, Brazil, has a high frequency of rare genetic diseases such as mucopolysaccharidosis type VI, whose observed frequency in this population is 1:5000, while the incidence of this disease recorded in other regions of the world varies from 1:43,261 in Turkey to 1:1,505,160 in Switzerland. To verify the influence of consanguineous marriage on the increased frequency of observed genetic diseases in this population, the population structure and frequency of different types of marriage during different time periods were evaluated. A total of 9765 marriages were found in an analysis of parish marriage records from the city. Over three periods, 1860–1895, 1950–1961 and 1975–2010, the inbreeding rates were 37.1%, 13.2% and 4.2% respectively. Although there was a high rate of inbreeding, endogamic marriages were the dominant marriage type in all three periods. In the most recent period, there was an increase in the number of exogamous marriages and those among immigrants, but most of these occurred among individuals from cities that neighbour Monte Santo. The low rate of migration and high frequency of endogamic and consanguineous marriages show that growth of this population is predominantly internal and could explain the occurrence, and increase in frequency, of recessive genetic diseases in the city.