Portuguese Colonial History

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The Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon

Portuguese colonial history spans over 500 years. The Portuguese Colonial Empire was the first actual world empire and the longest-standing colonial empire in Europe . Its history began in 1415 with the conquest of Ceuta and the Age of Discoveries with the expeditions along the African coast and ended with the return of the last Portuguese overseas province of Macau to the People's Republic of China in 1999.

When Vasco da Gama discovered the sea ​​route to India in 1498 , Portugal rose to become the leading trading and sea ​​power of the 15th and 16th centuries as part of the Indian trade . The kings of the House of Avis , especially Manuel I (1495-1521), led the country to its greatest prosperity. By the 17th century, Portugal was acquiring colonies in the Americas , Africa , Arabia , India , Southeast Asia , and China .

Portugal was initially less interested in seizing larger territories. In order to secure the trade routes to and from India (1526–1857 Mughal Empire ) and eliminate competitors, bases (“ factories ”) were set up on the coasts of Africa and Arabia and cities were conquered, as were the places where the goods were produced. Portugal's small population did not allow the country to take possession of large areas. Brazil was an exception due to the low strength of the native population. Angola and Mozambique were later added as larger colonies in terms of area.

The decline of the Portuguese colonial empire began as early as the 17th century: the British , French and Dutch also began to expand in Asia and wrested a large part of their Asian colonies from the Portuguese.

Portugal was able to hold some of its colonies a little longer than the other colonial powers, namely until the 1970s. The colonial policy of the authoritarian regime ( Estado Novo ) under Salazar (1889–1970) contributed to this. Many other colonies became independent in 1960 ( African Year ) (see Decolonization , Decolonization of Africa ).


The situation in Portugal before expansion

The Kingdom of Portugal had fought bloody battles against the Moors in the Reconquista . It ended for Portugal in 1251 with the conquest of the Algarve . After that there were some disputes with Castile , which ended with the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. The Portuguese bourgeoisie, the Fidalgos , had thus lost their military field of activity and were practically unemployed. Ways were sought to prevent the Fidalgos from taking up arms against the king. The king sought ways to gain more national glory.

Less the quest for power and prestige than economic necessities were the reason for the Portuguese to expand their sphere of influence outside of Europe. The rural exodus in the 13th century had made Portugal dependent on grain imports, since its own agriculture could no longer feed the almost one million inhabitants. It was considered a disgrace to have to import grain from the Muslim Maghreb (also from Sicily , the Baltic States , Normandy and Brittany ). Cloth, iron, copper and weapons also had to be bought abroad. The result was an outflow of cash and precious metals (gold and silver). The only trade goods were salt, cork, olive oil and wine. Although Portugal already had trading posts in Málaga , Rouen and Honfleur , trading posts in Flanders and merchants in Montpellier , Marseille and Montagnac , the volume of foreign trade was not sufficient to advance the country's economy. After all, freedom of trade for the respective merchants could be negotiated with England in 1353. Only two trade routes led to Castile at the end of the 15th century; Portugal was oriented towards the sea. From the 12th century it had a modest navy that was used in the Reconquista against the Moors . Under Fernão I (1345–1383) , the Companhia das Naus was founded to encourage the merchant fleet . At the beginning of the 15th century, two important sea routes connected Portugal with the rest of Europe: one led through the Bay of Biscay and Dieppe to Bruges , the second to Seville . However, the construction of the fleet led to a further loss of workers in agriculture and a higher demand for ship's biscuit, so that even more grain was missing in the country. The focus fell on the Arab wholesalers and the grain market in Morocco , the North African granary at the time .

At the end of the 14th century, Portugal also suffered from a massive shortage of gold. After 1383 not a single gold coin was minted in Portugal. For 50 years only foreign gold and copper coins were in circulation. In addition, there was a silver shortage from 1460, as the traditional silver suppliers of Portugal in Germany failed more and more due to the plague and famine. Gold was painstakingly imported via caravan routes from sub-Saharan African empires. Other trade goods from the region included slaves , in addition to sugar, copper and salt . The end point of these caravans was Ceuta , which was also considered the best port in Morocco. The city on the Strait of Gibraltar thus became the first target of Portuguese expansion outside of Europe.

The Catholic Church also saw the possibility of evangelizing pagan areas in an expansion . She became a crucial factor in Portuguese ventures overseas.

Expeditions under Henry the Navigator

Henry the Navigator. Detail from a 15th century painting

In 1415, under John I , Portugal conquered Ceuta, its first possession outside of Europe. Henry the Navigator (1394–1460), a prince of the Portuguese royal family, initiated the Portuguese voyages of discovery along the African coast from 1418: to secure trade with the African empires south of the Sahara, to find the eastern sea ​​route to India and for the spice trade to be brought under Portuguese control. Heinrich is considered to be the organizer of the voyages of discovery. In 1419 Madeira was taken and in 1427 the Azores . In 1434 Gil Eanes rounded Cape Bojador , which until then had been thought impassable. In 1436 Afonso Gonçalves Baldaia discovered the Rio do Ouro and in 1441 Nuno Tristão and Antão Gonçalves reached the Cabo Branco . In 1445 Dinis Dias came to Cabo Verde , the westernmost point of Africa.

In 1446, explorer Nuno Tristão and 18 of his men (trying to collect fresh water) were killed by locals. The incident south of the Gambia River was the first of its kind. From this point on, the Portuguese naval artillery was reinforced and the landing parties were armed. Attempts to form alliances with the local African rulers at Cabo de Não and Cabo Verde in order to secure the exchange of goods and the slave trade failed. The Portuguese negotiators never returned.

After these failures, no further trips were initially sent out for further exploration of the African coast. The reason was the high costs and the meager profits up until then. The slave trade was not yet lucrative enough; this was criticized at home. But prospects for economic success were there. On the Rio do Ouro, the Portuguese had received gold dust as ransom for Moorish prisoners, and the West African kingdoms of Mali , Kanem and Songhai presented themselves as potential trading partners. In the years that followed, an economically viable basis was created. In addition, Castile was now a European competitor against Portugal, who feared being excluded from the possible wealth of the south by Portuguese claims to the areas explored so far. The dispute over the Canary Islands did the rest; between 1451 and 1454 the two neighbors fought over the islands. On January 8, 1454, Pope Nicholas V intervened in the conflict between the two Catholic powers with the Bull Romanus Pontifex , granting the Portuguese ownership of the territories from Cape Bojador to the southern tip of Africa, although the extent of the territories was still unknown . As a result, the investments for the voyages of discovery were at least politically secured. The Canaries remained in the hands of Castile.

On top of the economic problems came practical problems. With increasing distance more and more provisions had to be transported on board the ships; unknown sea currents and winds had to be mastered. The increasing hostility and defensiveness of the African coastal dwellers towards the south also had to be taken into account.

The Portuguese Colonial Empire in 1500 and the areas explored by Portugal (blue)

In 1455, the first expeditions again penetrated into unknown areas. The Gambia River has been explored. It was believed that the river was a branch of the Nile and that one could reach the Empire of Ethiopia via it . In the 15th century there were repeated diplomatic contacts with the Christian Empire in East Africa, but these were made more difficult by the journey through Muslim Egypt. Portugal hoped for a strong ally against Islam in Africa. The Gambia, however, did not lead to the Reich 6000 kilometers away, and Ethiopia was not particularly enthusiastic about the idea of ​​a war against its strong Muslim neighbors.

One of the expeditions set out to explore the Gambia River went off course in 1456 under Alvise Cadamosto and discovered the eastern islands of Cape Verde . About five years later, other expeditions also discovered the western islands. This gave Portugal a third base in the Atlantic where its ships could take provisions on their way to southern Africa and later to Brazil.

The discovery of the sea route to India

When Henry the Navigator died in 1460, the Portuguese had explored the west coast of Africa as far as Cabo Mesurado in what is now Liberia . However, due to the chronic shortage of money, it was to be almost 10 years before Portugal's seafarers went on a voyage of discovery again. Another reason for the waiting time was King Alfonso V 's lack of interest in exploring the climatically unhealthy and hitherto unprofitable areas of West Africa for the Portuguese, despite his nickname of the Africans . Alfonso V initially devoted himself to conquering other cities and trading centers in Morocco. As early as 1458 Alcácer-Ceguer and 1471 Tangier and Arzila . It was not until 1468 that the businessman Fernão Gomes undertook to explore another 100 leagues of the African coast every year. In return, he received all economic rights in West Africa for five years (the treaty was extended by one year in 1473). The trading post of Arguim and the Atlantic islands were excluded . In 1470 they reached Cabo Três Pontas and in 1471 João de Santarém and Pêro Escobar reached the Gold Coast with the gold mine Shama ( Samma ) in present - day Ghana and Cabo Formoso in the Niger Delta . Between 1471 and 1474 the islands of São Tomé , Príncipe , Fernando Póo and Annobón were discovered. In 1474, Lopo Gonçalves and Rui de Sequeira crossed the equator for the first time and advanced to present-day Gabon .

Portuguese Map of North America and Greenland 1519

João Vaz Corte-Real went as far as Greenland in 1473 in a joint Portuguese - Danish expedition and there is evidence that it got as far as Newfoundland ( Terra Nova do Bacalhau ). Later there should even have been Portuguese settlement attempts in the region and Portuguese expeditions may have advanced as far as Florida in 1500 . Portuguese names on maps from the beginning of the 16th century support this conclusion.

The discoveries under Gomes Agide and the gold from Shama boosted the Portuguese economy. Both of these prompted Castile to go to the Gulf of Guinea and ship slaves to Seville , despite the papal bulls . Then came the War of the Castilian Succession (1474–1479). Finally, in 1479, in the Treaty of Alcáçovas , Castile renounced sovereignty over the Canary Islands , ownership claims to Madeira, the Azores and all areas south of Cape Bojador, and thus exploration of the eastern route to India. For his part, the Portuguese king renounced the throne of Castile.

Symbol of Conquest: A Padrão in Sagres

On the Gold Coast, the Portuguese built Fort São Jorge da Mina ( Elmina ) in 1482. The post, manned by a garrison of 63 men, became an important trading post for the exchange of goods for gold . The already long title of the Portuguese kings ( rei de Portugal e do Algarve, Senhor de Septa, Senhor d'Alcacere em Africa ) was now joined by the Senhor de Guinea . From now on, the discoverers were instructed to erect stone columns ( Padrões, singular: Padrão ) at prominent points on the coast instead of wooden crosses, which underlined Portugal's claims to possession. The year of the erection, the name of the navigator and the reigning king were written in Latin and Portuguese on the pillars . The first explorer to set these pillars was Diogo Cão , who discovered the mouth of the Congo in 1482 .

The division of the world between Spain and Portugal

Back in Lisbon, Cão was approached by a man named Christopher Columbus , who asked for his help with his project to explore the western sea route to India. However, Columbus found no support in Portugal. It is assumed today that the Portuguese king was informed about the cold, poor country in the west from the secret journey of Corte-Real in 1473 and therefore did not consider it worthwhile to explore it. In addition, people in Portugal knew that Columbus made a mistake in calculating the circumference of the earth and the distance to India. In addition, there was the successful journey of Diogo Cão, which gave hope for an early circumnavigation of Africa. Nevertheless, King John II is said to have made bitter reproaches when Columbus stopped in Lisbon in 1493 on the way back from his first voyage and reported on his discovery. However, it did not take long for the king to determine that the newly discovered areas were south of the Canary Islands and, according to the Treaty of Alcaçovas , belonged to Portugal. The claim was immediately forwarded to the Spanish royal family and a squadron under Francisco de Almeida prepared to occupy the islands. A dispute between Spain and Portugal threatened. Finally, Pope Alexander VI. the world in the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) into an eastern, Portuguese sphere and a western one for the then competitor Spain , which was specified in the Treaty of Zaragoza (1529). From the American continent, the east of Brazil was intended as a Portuguese sphere of influence. The treaty was in principle in force until 1777, but was not complied with in many parts. The Portuguese carried out expeditions and possibly also attempted colonization in North America. In Brazil, they quickly expanded beyond the treaty line. In return, Spain occupied the Philippines and engaged in the Moluccas .

In 1485 Diogo Cão had presumably come as far as Walvis Bay in Namibia on a second voyage . Finally , three years later, Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope and headed as far as the Groot-Visrivier River in what is now east South Africa . As early as 1487, the Portuguese Pêro da Covilhã and Afonso de Payva had set out to travel the coasts of the Indian Ocean on Arab ships with the further aim of forging an alliance with the Christian Emperor of Ethiopia against the Arabs . They entered the Red Sea from Alexandria and Suez . De Payva separated from his companions to travel directly to Ethiopia, but disappeared on the way, while de Covilhã traveled to Aden and on to India's Malabar coast , to the trading city of Sofala in present-day Mozambique, and eventually to Madagascar . In another journey he visited the port city of Hormuz . Finally, in 1493, de Covilhã reached the court of Emperor Na'od I of Ethiopia at Aksum . De Covilhã remained in Ethiopia until his death in 1530. The Portuguese-Ethiopian military alliance aimed at stopping Islam in Africa never came about, but de Covilhã had already sent his travel reports from Cairo to Lisbon. They are no longer preserved today; it is believed that they were available to Vasco da Gama when he embarked on his journey. In principle, his job was only to explore the route from Groot-Vis to Sofala, because the route from the East African trading city to Goa in India was already one of the busiest sea routes and was served by Arab traders.

The three caravels São Gabriel , São Rafael and São Miguel were placed under command along with the supply ship Berrio da Gama. The ships were equipped with what was then the most modern naval artillery , since an armed conflict with the Arabs was expected. They would not let their trade monopoly in the Indian Ocean be taken away without a fight. On July 8, 1497, da Gama set sail. Bartolomeu Dias traveled to the Cape Verde Islands as an advisor. To avoid the lulls in the Gulf of Guinea , da Gama sailed south along the mid-Atlantic instead of along the African coast, before turning east and reaching the South African coast in early November. In the Saint Helena Bay , the ships were overhauled and trade contacts were made with the locals. Only after several attempts was it possible to circumnavigate the Cape of Good Hope on November 22nd and da Gama landed in Angra de São Braz ( Mossel Bay ) on November 25th, where he set up a padrão and gave up the supply ship. At Christmas they reached a stretch of coast in South Africa that Vasco da Gama called Natal ( Christmas ). On January 10, 1498, the fleet anchored in Delagoa Bay , where Maputo , the capital of Mozambique , is today. Due to the friendly inhabitants, Vasco da Gama called the country Terra da Boa Gente ( Land of the Good People ). Sofala was missed on the onward journey, but on January 22 they reached the mouth of the Zambezi , where a padrão was again built. In March, the Ilha de Mozambique was discovered . On April 7, 1498, the fleet came to Mombasa , where Arab merchants first attempted to prevent da Gama's further voyage. Here one met Christians from Ethiopia and Syria and Chinese traders. The Portuguese found support in Melinde ( Malindi ), a trading town a little further north that was in competition with Mombasa. From here the Arab pilot Ahmad ibn Majid (Melemo Cama) guided Vasco da Gama through the waters. On April 29, 1498, the equator was crossed and on May 17 or 18 the Indian mountains of the Western Ghats came into view. The squadron anchored in the small port town of Capocate north of Calicut on 20 May 1498 . A commercial treaty was concluded with the Samorim (ruler) of Calicut, but when, after a few incidents with Arab traders, sentiment gradually turned against the Portuguese, they left the city at the end of August. They sailed a little north to the Angedives before finally leaving India on October 5th with the holds full of spices. After a journey of three months they reached Mogadishu . It continued to Melinde, past Mombasa, a little later the São Rafael had to be given up because the team had been decimated too much by illness. The last Padrão was erected on the Mozambique island of Ilha de São Jorge . On June 10, 1499, the first ship from da Gama's fleet reached Lisbon, Vasco da Gama did not return home until September due to the illness of his brother Paulo , where he was received with great honor. A quarter of the crew had perished on the voyage. The poet Luís de Camões wrote down the story of the ride in the Portuguese national epic The Lusiads ( Os Lusiades ).

Control of the Indian Ocean

Afonso de Albuquerque (image from the 16th century)

Immediately after Vasco da Gama's return, a second trip to India was prepared. On March 9, 1500, 13 ships with a crew of 1500 men under the command of Pedro Álvares Cabral put to sea. Like da Gama before, Cabral made a wide swerve west of Cape Verde to avoid the trade winds . On April 21, a mountain came into view that was christened Monte Pascoal ( Osterberg ) and on April 23, 1500, Cabral became the first European to land on the coast of Brazil near present-day Porto Seguro and claim the land for Portugal. For the first few years, Brazil served only as a stopover on the Europe-India route until its riches ( brazilwood , diamonds) were discovered. The discovery did not attract much attention even at this time. This may be because Cabral initially thought Brazil was a larger island or because it was already known to exist. The coast may have been sighted by other sailors before, with some accounts suggesting Portuguese expeditions to South America in the 1490s. Several caravels were lost in a storm on Cabral's voyage across the South Atlantic. Among the victims was Bartolomeu Dias, the discoverer of the Cape of Good Hope. The fleet had been torn apart in the storm. While Cabral was stopping in Mozambique, Diogo Dias sailed north along the east coast of Madagascar until he reached Mogadishu and finally Berbera at the entrance to the Red Sea. The ships met again at Quíloa ( Kilwa ) in East Africa. We continued to Melinde and with Arab pilots hired there to Calicut. Again there were fisticuffs with Arab traders. Finally the Portuguese trading post was stormed and later 28 Portuguese were killed. Cabral did not sail away like da Gama, he seized the cargo of an Arab fleet in port and had the ships burned. After that, Cabral shelled the city. Over 600 residents are said to have died. Cabral continued to Cochin with his squadron . The city-state, like its neighbors Cannanore ( Kannur ) and Coulão ( Kollam ), was subordinate to the ruler of Calicut, which is why they gladly formed an alliance with Portugal against him. This gave Portugal trading bases on the Malabar Coast . The now beginning spice trade finally brought the income to cover the investments. Cabral was still exploring the Monomotapa gold mines (now in Zimbabwe and Mozambique) before returning to Lisbon in 1501.

In 1503 the Seychelles ( Ilhas do Almirante ) and Socotra ( Socotorá ) were discovered. In the same year, Afonso de Albuquerque received permission from the ruler of Cochin to build the first Portuguese fort in India. The Italian-Arab trade monopoly in India trade was broken. Of course, the former merchants tried to defend themselves against the Portuguese competition. Egypt's Mamluk Sultan threatened to destroy Palestine and the holy sites if the Portuguese did not withdraw, but Portugal was undeterred by the threats. The Portuguese now began to systematically build up a base system to secure their presence and the lucrative trade that went with it. In 1505, King Manuel I appointed the military leader Francisco de Almeida as the first viceroy of Portuguese India and sent him to India with 22 ships and 2,500 men, including 1,500 marines. In the same year, de Almeida conquered the East African trading cities of Sofala, Quíloa and Mombasa, hitherto in opposition to Portugal. The latter has also been a competitor to the Portuguese-friendly Melinde. Near Goa , de Almeida landed in India and built a fort and trading post in friendly Cannanore. Cochin was the first capital of the Portuguese in India. De Almeida's son Lourenço , meanwhile, continued south and became the first Portuguese to enter Ceylon , which would be conquered by the Portuguese during the course of the 16th century. On the way back, on March 17, 1507, Lourenço de Almeida destroyed the fleet of the ruler of Calicut near Cannanore.

In 1507 Afonso de Albuquerque occupied the island of Socotra and at the entrance of the Persian Gulf in the Strait of Hormuz the important city of Hormuz . A fortress was built right away, but as there were not enough men, the city had to be abandoned again in 1508 for the time being. With the conquest of Socotra and Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf were blocked for Egyptian and Venetian ships, which is why the Sultan of the Mamluks sent a war fleet. When the fleets met in 1508 near present-day Mumbai , Lourenço de Almeida was killed, after which his father began a campaign of revenge and sacked the cities of Chaul ( Tschoul ) and Kalikut. At the end of the year Albuquerque reached the Malabar coast and brought Almeida instructions from the king that Albuquerque should take over the office of governor of India and de Almeida was deposed. De Almeida refused, however, on the grounds that he first had to avenge his son's death before he would resign from office. On February 3, 1509, de Almeida destroyed the Egyptian fleet in the naval battle of Diu , thereby winning Portugal's supremacy in the Indian Ocean. De Almeida resigned his post and went back to Portugal. However, he and 64 other Portuguese died near present-day Cape Town fighting with locals.

The Portuguese colonial empire in the 16th century (green)

On November 25, 1510, Albuquerque finally managed to conquer Goa. The Portuguese were able to take Goa in the spring of 1510, but lost it again for a short time to the Adil Shahi dynasty. Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula were reached for the first time. At the end of 1510, the power center of Calicut also fell into the hands of Portugal. The first attempt to conquer Malacca on the strait named after her failed, but in 1511 she was taken with great losses. Thus the largest spice market and the Indo-Chinese trade was in the hands of Portugal. Trade treaties were concluded with the rulers of Burma , Java and Kochinchina . In 1513 Albuquerque planned to conquer Mecca and Suez , but in the same year the capture of Aden failed . The further plans for conquest in the direction of the Red Sea were then abandoned.

In 1515, Albuquerque conquered Hormuz for the second time. On the way back he received the news that Manuel I had deposed him. Albuquerque's successes had raised fears that he might one day turn against the king. Albuquerque died embittered in Goa on December 16, 1515.

The exploration of East Asia

Ruins of Sao Paulo in Macau

After the initially failed conquest of Aden in 1513, expansion continued eastwards. As early as 1511/12, António de Abreu and Francisco Serrão explored the islands of Southeast Asia with three ships. Java, Timor , Ambon , Seram ( formerly: Ceram ), the Banda Islands and Alor are among their discoveries. They were the first to reach the western Pacific. Furthermore, de Abreu described the coast of New Guinea , where he did not land. Jorge de Meneses was the first European to set foot on the island in 1526 and is regarded as New Guinea's European discoverer. Serrão arrived in a second trip to the northern Molucca islands of Ternate , on which a Portuguese trading post was built in 1513. The Portuguese took advantage of the rivalry between the local Sultans Ternate and Tidore to set up a trading base here. Later, Serrão also explored the north coast of Borneo . Diogo Lopes de Sequeira visited the ports of Pedim and Pacém on Sumatra and sighted the Nicobar Islands .

Portuguese carrack on Japanese painting

Jorge Álvares was the first Portuguese to sail to China, landing at the mouth of the Pearl River on the island of Lintin in May 1513 (other sources: 1515) , where he set up a padrão . He was followed from 1514 to 1516 by the Italian Raffaello Perestrello , who visited Canton for Portugal on the junk of a Chinese merchant . In 1517 Fernão Pires de Andrade fought with the Chinese army near Tamão (Tuen Mun 屯門) in what later became the New Territories of Hong Kong . In 1519 Tamão was occupied by the Portuguese. Perestrello had reported that the Chinese emperor wanted good relations with Portugal, whereupon Albuquerque sent Tomé Pires in 1520 with a diplomatic mission to Beijing via Nanjing . There Pires was first placed under arrest on the advice of the former ruler of Malacca. Only when Emperor Zhengde arrived in Beijing was Pires able to see him. However, since Zhengde died shortly thereafter in 1521, Pires was sent back to the Pearl River until the new emperor would send him new instructions. However, Emperor Jiajing was hostile to the Portuguese. In the same year, all Portuguese except Pires were executed in Tamão. It was not until 1543 that the Chinese resumed trade and in 1557 the Portuguese were allowed to settle in Macau, which became the center of Portuguese trade in East Asia. In 1543 the Portuguese reached the Japanese island of Tanegashima . Portugal organized trade between China and Japan in the following century (see China trade ). They were excluded from Japan trade in 1639 in favor of the Dutch, whose settlement in Japan was restricted to Dejima in Nagasaki Bay .

A 16th-century map seems to prove that Portuguese explorers, not British or Dutch, were the first Europeans to discover Australia. The map shows accurate geographic details along Australia's east coast in Portuguese. The Portuguese Cristóvão de Mendonça thus led a fleet of four ships into Botany Bay in 1522 , almost 250 years before James Cook .

decline of colonial power

Personal union of Spain (yellow) and Portugal (green) around the year 1600. (Light yellow: claimed by Spain)

Between 1505 and 1515 the spice trade across the Mediterranean came to a standstill, but from 1516 goods from India returned to Europe via Alexandria. The Portuguese were also unable to stop trade via the pilgrimage route to Mecca. Nor about the Silk Road and the port cities of Palestine and the Black Sea .

Profits from trade with India and Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries were considered the private property of the Portuguese king. Under Manuel I (1495-1521) they were not made profitable, but invested in magnificent buildings and the court. The Manueline style still bears witness to this today. Other beneficiaries were the church, the nobility and the upper bourgeoisie, which took part in the trips with investments. Most of the people went away empty-handed. Corruption was rampant among colonial officials. Under John III. (1521-1557) foreign debts rose immeasurably. In 1549 the Portuguese branch in Antwerp had to be closed. Sebastian I (1557–1578) had to declare national bankruptcy .

The Portuguese Colonial Empire in 1700

In 1578, King Sebastian I was killed in the Battle of Alcácer-Quibir while attempting to conquer all of Morocco . His successor was Henry I , who remained childless as a cardinal. The last male member of the House of Avis died with him and Portugal fell to Spain in a personal union. In addition, 40,000 Portuguese and mercenaries had perished in the Moroccan adventure, leading to a long weakening of Portugal's military clout. The treasury had to be used for the most part to redeem Portuguese prisoners from Moroccan captivity. Larger reserves had not been created anyway, so that one could no longer keep up in the competition with the other European nations.

The Portuguese Colonial Empire in 1800

The territorial decline of the Portuguese colonial empire began in the 17th century when the Dutch also began to get involved in Africa, America and Asia and wrested from the Portuguese much of their Asian colonies such as Malacca, Ceylon and the Spice Islands ( see also Dutch-Portuguese war ). In addition, Portugal was automatically at enmity with England in personal union with Spain, which is why England now also took action against the colonies of its previous closest ally, Portugal. On the east coast of Africa, Oman conquered most of the Portuguese possessions.

On November 1, 1755, the kingdom received another severe blow with the Lisbon earthquake . The capital was almost completely destroyed. Portugal became the plaything of the more powerful European states and Lisbon was occupied by Napoleon's troops in 1807 . The Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro became the new seat of government. In 1815, after the end of the war, Brazil received the status of a kingdom ruled in personal union with Portugal. When Brazil was supposed to regain the status of a colony, the Portuguese crown prince had himself crowned as Peter I as Emperor of Brazil and declared the country's independence in 1822, with which Portugal finally lost its largest and richest colony. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the last remaining areas were Mozambique and Angola , as well as a few small possessions in West Africa, India and East Asia. The hinterland of these colonies did not come under real Portuguese control until this period. Before that, beyond Brazil, people were limited to trading posts, thin coastal strips and protective treaties with local rulers. Real colonial power was built up in the claimed territories only after the loss of Brazil. In the liberal constitution of 1822 , the Portuguese nation was described as a "union of all Portuguese of both hemispheres", reinforcing unity between the mother country and the colonies. Article 1 of the subsequent constitution, the Charter of 1826 , stated that the Kingdom of Portugal was the political union of all Portuguese. Article 2 enumerated the areas and Article 3 stressed that Portugal would not waive claims to these areas. Portuguese was defined in Title II, Article 7: "All who were born in Portugal and its possessions and are not currently Brazilians."

Even earlier, the natives of the colonies had been given the opportunity to obtain Portuguese citizenship rights as assimilado . To do this, five conditions had to be met. You had to be over 18, speak the Portuguese language, be able to provide for your family, acquire the knowledge to fulfill your duties as a citizen and, last but not least, not have been a deserter or a draft evader.

Portugal's plan of connecting the South African colonies, the Mapa Cor-de-Rosa 1886

In 1885, Portugal's claims to the territory of the Belgian Congo failed due to an objection from Germany. Portugal only received the guarantee for its possessions in Cabinda, Angola and Mozambique, but without defining the internal borders. The requirement here was that troops and civilian officials had to be sent to occupy the claimed areas. However, the dream of a land bridge between the possessions of Angola and Mozambique clashed with British plans for an English colony from the Cape to Cairo . Although France and Germany supported a Portuguese buffer, Portugal could not muster the resources for an effective occupation despite the erupting national enthusiasm for colonialism. After all, some expeditions were sent out to what is now Malawi , Zambia and Zimbabwe , so that in 1887 Portugal's Foreign Minister Henrique Barros Gomes presented the colonial powers with a map on which the areas claimed by Portugal were colored pink, the Mapa Cor-de Rosa . Britain rejected the claims and in January 1890 issued an ultimatum for Portugal to withdraw from Rhodesia and Nyasaland . Otherwise, they threatened to break off diplomatic relations and even sent a warship to Lisbon. The retreat of the Portuguese king in the face of the British threat and the Portuguese defeat at the Battle of the Pembe Ford (1904) against insurgent Ovambo were to be partly responsible for triggering the events that were to lead to the overthrow of the monarchy in Portugal in 1910.

Portugal received its last territorial gain after World War I , when it regained the Kionga Triangle through the Treaty of Versailles as compensation for the German occupation of northern Mozambique . During World War II , Portugal remained neutral. Despite this, Portuguese Timor and Macau were occupied by the Japanese ( See: Battle of Timor ). Portugal got the two colonies back after the end of the war.

Portuguese colonial empire since 1945 and decolonization

Portugal's Overseas Provinces in the 20th Century with Year of the Loss
Situation in Portugal's African colonies in late 1970's
Control post of the PAIGC 1974

In contrast to other colonial powers such as Great Britain or France, Portugal kept its last colonies until the 1970s, despite the bloody colonial wars in Portuguese Guinea, Angola and Mozambique. This imperial insistence against the general trend towards decolonization and against economic sanity was the result of the colonial policies of the authoritarian Estado Novo ( Portuguese : ' The New State ') under António de Oliveira Salazar and his successor Marcelo Caetano . Liberal democracies had emerged in Britain and France after World War I , granting their colonies limited autonomy. The autonomy efforts of the British and French colonies, which were strengthened by the rise of liberalism, led to the complete independence of most of the colonies after the Second World War . By contrast, Portugal had hardly moved away from dictatorial principles until 1974. After the crisis-ridden First Portuguese Republic , the monarchy grew into the dictatorship of the so-called New State under António de Oliveira Salazar (1889-1970), which tried to keep Portugal in an important role. The attempts at autonomy in the Portuguese colonies were suppressed with military force. In the end, Portugal had more soldiers in the African colonies than in its own country (80% of the army in 1974) and military spending absorbed almost 60% of the national budget. It was only after the Carnation Revolution , which ended the authoritarian regime in 1974, that the now democratic government released its African colonies into independence. The Indian possessions had already been annexed by India in the 1950s and 1960s . The same happened to Fort São João Baptista d'Ajudá , occupied by Dahomey in 1961 . The annexations were only recognized by Portugal after the Carnation Revolution. Portuguese Timor ( East Timor ) was to be prepared for independence at the time, while Macau was only granted internal autonomy in 1976, as the People's Republic of China demanded clarification of the Hong Kong issue before any takeover.

Civil war broke out between the leading parties in Portuguese Timor and the growing threat from Indonesia forced the local FRETILIN to unilaterally proclaim independence on November 28, 1975 . Just nine days later, East Timor was occupied and annexed by Indonesia . Neither the declaration of independence nor the annexation by Indonesia were recognized by Portugal. For the UN , too , East Timor remained a "dependent territory under Portuguese administration" until 1999 when the former colony came under UN administration .

In Macau, the Portuguese administration existed until the peaceful return to the People's Republic of China on December 20, 1999. This ended Portugal's more than 500-year-old colonial history.

The consequences for the present

Today, apart from mainland Portugal , only the two archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira belong to Portuguese national territory. They now have an autonomous status.

Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, dark blue: member states; light blue: observer status; red: seat of the CPLP

Portugal and the seven former colonies that use Portuguese as an official language are organized in the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP). Mauritius and Equatorial Guinea have observer status, and the People's Republic of China applied for it for Macau in 2006. Since 2006, the Jogos da Lusofonia ( Lusophonic Games ), a sporting event in which the Portuguese -speaking countries and regions compete against each other, has been held regularly. In addition to the Jogos da Lusofonia members Macau and the states with Portuguese as an official language, Equatorial Guinea, India and Sri Lanka are associated. Ghana , the Indonesian island of Flores and Spanish Galicia , whose regional language Galician is related to Portuguese, are considering participation.

Portugal was already a destination for immigrants from the former colonies with the independence of the colonies and even more so after its accession to the European Community . In 2006, 418,000 foreigners were living legally in Portugal, of whom 68,000 were from Cape Verde, 64,000 from Brazil, 34,000 from Angola and 25,000 from Guinea-Bissau. The number of Chinese, mostly from Macau, is increasing.

In the former colonies, the Portuguese have also left their mark on the population. In all of them there is a mixed population with the respective native ethnic groups, which is called Mestiços , with a different proportion of the population , partly there is also a remaining Portuguese population. Portuguese creole languages ​​are spoken in Sri Lanka, Malacca, and the Cape Verde Islands and Flores.

The Economy in the Portuguese Colonial Empire

Map of West Africa from the 16th century

Prior to overseas expansion, Portugal was a predominantly agricultural country. Once the voyages of discovery began, trading posts were set up along the African coast from which trade with the hinterland was conducted. Fortifications secured trade routes and spheres of influence. In 1444 the Companhia de Lagos was founded, which received the trading monopoly for Africa.

As early as 1441, Antão Gonçalves had brought the first black African slaves to Portugal. Before that, the Moors and the indigenous people of the Canary Islands had been enslaved, but this was difficult because both peoples were very defensive. Hunting was easier with black Africans. You caught them yourself, mostly they were bought from Moorish or black African traders. From the Arguim trading base (in present-day Mauritania ), founded in 1448, a brisk trade in slaves began , which financed further Portuguese voyages of discovery; other riches had not been found until then. Only sugar production, mostly on Madeira, also brought profits.

In 1444, 280 slaves arrived in the Portuguese city of Lagos , 46 of whom were Henry the Navigator's share of the profits. Around 1450, 700 to 800 slaves came to Portugal every year. With the discovery of the Congo River in 1482, the slave trade increased significantly. 12,000 people were sold annually in the slave markets of Lisbon and Lagos. During this period, the Congo developed as the main supplier of slaves, later it became Angola.

Much of the slaves were sold to Castile, Aragon and the rest of Europe. Only a part remained in Portugal and was used there in agriculture (such as the sugar cane plantations on Madeira) or in the house. Half a ton of gold came from Elmina every year and the first spice , Guinea pepper ( Afromomum melegueta ) from West Africa. In 1493/94 1711 hundredweight were imported, between 1498 and 1504 then 2440 hundredweight. Other traded goods were gum arabic , civet cats , cotton and ivory . These goods were exchanged for wheat, cloth, clothing, coral necklaces and silver. Fishing, whaling and seal hunting brought further profits .

In order to advance the exploration of foreign territories, the trading rights on the African coast were awarded to Fernão Gomes for a total of six years in 1469 and the rights of use from Brazil to Fernão de Noronha in 1502 . In return, the businessmen undertook to explore a fixed length of coast every year.

The backbone of the economic power Portugal: A caravel around the year 1500

When Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India in 1498, the way to the Asian market was open. With Vasco da Gama's second trip to India in 1502, profits exceeded investments for the first time. The Portuguese royal family made a profit of 400 percent. Arab and Italian competition was eliminated by occupying areas on the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Aden . Other cities were conquered on the East African coast and in India, as well as Ceylon and areas of Southeast Asia . Various goods came to Portugal from India: pepper ( Piper nigrum ), the most expensive spice in the Middle Ages (in Lisbon, pepper brought a profit of 500 percent), ginger , cloves , nutmeg , camphor , borax , wormwood , cardamom , turmeric , abelmosk , opium , sarsaparilla and aloe . Ceylon contributed cinnamon, which was extorted as a tribute to local rulers for protection agreements. Upon reaching the Spice Islands , Portugal gained control of the production sites of spices, such as cloves from the Moluccas and nutmeg from the Banda Islands .

From Africa, the trade in slaves began to travel to Arabia and America. Other traded goods included ivory, gold, diamonds and precious woods, such as brazilwood from South America and sandalwood , which was exported from Timor to China, where Portugal established trading posts as part of trade with China in the mid-16th century . Since both Chinese and Japanese were forbidden to leave their country, Portugal traded between the two empires via Nagasaki in the era of the Nanban trade (1571-1638), bringing silk and firearms to Japan in exchange for silver.

Sugar cane plantations began in Brazil in the 16th century . While Indians were the first to be used here as cheap labour, they were soon replaced by African slaves who were less susceptible to European diseases. In 1649 the General Society of Commerce of Brazil ( Companhia Geral do Comércio do Brasil ) was founded, which had wide-ranging commercial monopolies in Brazil. It was to exist until 1720. From the 19th century coffee was also grown in the colonies (Brazil 1805, Portuguese Timor 1815).

During the personal union with Spain (1580-1640), the Portuguese were increasingly harassed by the Spaniards in their trading areas. Portugal threatened to be relegated to a simple Spanish province. In addition, Persians, Arabs from Oman as well as the Netherlands and England, who were at war with Spain, increasingly pushed Portugal out of their colonies. After being liberated from Spanish rule, Portugal suffered further losses at the hands of the Netherlands, including in India, Southeast Asia and the Gold Coast. The Dutch could be expelled from Brazil again, but the lucrative trade between Japan and China was lost to the Netherlands after the Shimabara uprising . Not only did Oman drive Portugal out of the Middle East, but much of the east coast of Africa and the slave trade associated with it was also lost.

English sugar from Jamaica and Barbados and tobacco from Virginia flooded the market as early as the second half of the 17th century, causing the price of these Portuguese exports from Brazil to plummet. Several treaties gave England free trading rights in Portugal and its colonies, while Portuguese traders were disadvantaged by English taxes there. Although an import ban on woolen fabrics was obtained in the late 17th century to protect the domestic market, England and Portugal signed the Methuen Treaty in 1703 . He stipulated that England could again export textiles to Portugal and its colonies without any obstacles, while Portugal had to pay lower taxes in England for its wine exports than its French competitors. Although this promoted port wine production in the north of the mother country, the domestic textile production that was just beginning went under, which later also delayed the industrial revolution in Portugal. Attempts were made to finance Portugal's trade deficit with England with gold and diamonds from Brazil. Payments increased from 447,347 pounds of gold (1741) to 1,085,558 pounds of gold (1760).

The destruction of the capital Lisbon by the earthquake of 1755 finally pushed Portugal back to the bottom of the economic powerhouses in Europe. In competition with other colonial powers, Portugal was more and more often at a disadvantage. During the Napoleonic Wars , France tried three times to occupy the Portuguese motherland. The beginning of industrialization came to a standstill. The country was devastated by the scorched earth tactics employed by both the French and English. Between 1810 and 1820, Portugal itself became a de facto protectorate of Great Britain. When what had become the most important colony, Brazil, gained independence in 1822, the end of economic power was sealed.

Slavery in Brazil. Painting by Jean-Baptiste Debret (1768-1848).

As early as 1807, Great Britain banned the slave trade ( Slave Trade Act 1807 ) and from then on also actively fought the slave trade of other European countries. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, slavery and the slave trade were outlawed. Slavery was finally abolished in Portugal and its colonies in 1869.

The colonies became more and more of a loss-making business. Portugal was unable to develop Mozambique, which is why almost a third of the country was leased to the British companies Mozambique Company and Niassa Company in 1891 . As a result, the colony was effectively dominated by British and South African capital, and the British pound was more widely used than the Portuguese escudo. In the Angola Treaty , Germany and Great Britain agreed on a joint loan on August 30, 1898, for which the Portuguese colonies were intended as a pledge. In the event of Portugal's expected default, Angola, northern Mozambique and Portuguese Timor were to fall to Germany, and southern Mozambique to Britain. However, as early as 1899 the treaty was undermined by the extension of the British guarantee of protection for Portugal and all its possessions. The First World War finally saved Portugal's colonies from further German expansionist efforts in Africa.

The administration of the colonies

Francisco de Almeida , the first Portuguese Viceroy of India, in a 16th-century portrait by an unknown hand, National Museum of Ancient Art , Lisbon
Capitanías Hereditarias in Brazil in 1534

As the distances between Portugal and the Indian possessions were too great for them to be managed effectively from Portugal, the Portuguese established the Estado da Índia , under the regency of a governor or viceroy appointed by the Portuguese monarch who possessed wide-ranging powers. Unlike the Spanish colonial empire , however, the official title of viceroy was only a title sporadically bestowed on persons of great merit. Not every governor of the Estado da Índia was automatically promoted to viceroy. For example , Afonso de Albuquerque (“Afonso the Great”), who laid the actual cornerstone of the Portuguese colonial empire in Asia and Africa, only remained governor. The capital was Goa on the west coast of India. The possessions in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, China, Japan and East Africa were administered from here.

The Brazilian coast divided King John III. in the 16th century in 15 Capitanías Hereditarias and gave them to nobles and people from the middle class. In 1549, São Salvador da Bahía de Todos os Santos , modern-day Salvador da Bahia , was made the capital of all capitanías and a governor-general was installed.

Angola ( Portuguese West Africa ) was declared a colony in 1575 and elevated to a crown colony in 1589 . The Cape Verde Islands formed several crown colonies as early as 1495, which were united into one in 1587. Cacheu on the West African coast became the Capitanía in 1640 . Bissau was separated from it as an independent Capitanía in 1696 and placed under the suzerainty of the Crown Colony of Cape Verde in 1753 as a separate colony.

From 1702 Timor had its own governor, who first resided in Lifau and later in Dili , and was responsible for all of the possessions in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Previously, the relevant Captain General had taken on these tasks. The sovereignty of Goa remained.

In 1714 Brazil was made a viceroyalty and in 1763 the capital was relocated to Rio de Janeiro in the economically booming south . In 1757 the Indian possessions received the right to send deputies to the Portuguese Parliament.

Mozambique (a colony under Goa since 1609), which had been subject to a captain-general under the sovereignty of Goa since 1569, became a colony directly under the rule of Portugal in 1752.

After the Portuguese royal family had to flee Lisbon from Napoleon, Rio de Janeiro became the seat of government of the empire. In 1815 Brazil received the status of a kingdom, which was ruled jointly in personal union with Portugal. When Brazil was later to lose this rank and Portugal was to be subordinated again, Peter I declared independence from Portugal.

In 1844 Macau was declared an independent overseas province ( província ultramarina ) with sovereignty over the Southeast Asian possessions, but as early as 1883 Macau and Portuguese Timor, the last remaining possession in the Indonesian archipelago, were again merged with the Estado da Índia and administered from Goa.

Bissau and Cacheu were reunited as the colony of Portuguese Guinea in 1879. In 1883 Cabinda ( Portuguese Congo ) became a protectorate of Portugal. In 1932 Cabinda was placed under Angolan sovereignty and from 1934 it was considered a dependent territory of Angola . In 1946, Cabinda was reestablished as a separate district, which remained in place until 1975. Cabinda unilaterally proclaimed an independent republic that was not recognized by Portugal and was eventually annexed by Angola.

Since the colonies and the mother country were officially equal from 1822, administration was now carried out by the respective ministries in Lisbon. The result, however, was that the colonies were constantly disadvantaged. From 1835 the Ministry of the Navy was therefore responsible for the administration of the colonies, from 1851 the newly founded Ministry for Overseas Territories ( Conselho Ultramarino ) took over the task. However, this was dissolved again in 1868 due to lack of funds and the administration went back to the Ministry of the Navy. The governors of the colonies were restricted in their freedom of decision. All matters had to be coordinated with the administration in Lisbon.

In 1946, Portuguese India received the designation Overseas Province , which was also used for the other Portuguese colonies from 1951. In this way, one no longer wanted to be considered a colonial power, but rather a “multiethnic and pluricontinental nation” (Nação Multirracial e Pluricontinental), whose overseas provinces are an integrated and inseparable part. The term Portuguese Colonial Empire ( Império Colonial Português ) was also no longer used. No real differences in administration resulted from this, but the Portuguese colonies were given the right to representation in the Parliament of Lisbon . In addition, Macau and Portuguese Timor became independent overseas provinces without sovereignty from Goa. A few years later, the Portuguese territories in India and Ajudá in West Africa were lost.

In the early 1970s there were again minor reforms, and in 1971 Mozambique and Angola became states ( estado ) within Portugal. Residents of Portuguese Timor received limited Portuguese citizenship in 1972, with the conversion of the overseas province to an autonomous region . The Carnation Revolution eventually brought most of Portugal's possessions on the road to independence. After brief interim administrations, the African territories were granted independence. The annexations of individual Portuguese possessions by India and Dahomey were recognized.

Shortly after Portuguese Timor unilaterally declared independence in 1975, it was occupied by Indonesia. Since the occupation was never recognized internationally, East Timor officially remained Portuguese territory until gaining independence in 1999.

Macau was officially declared Chinese territory under Portuguese administration in 1976 and the possession was granted internal autonomy. The People's Republic of China was gradually granted more and more rights of objection until 1999, when Macau was finally returned to China.

The former colonies and bases of Portugal


Henry the Navigator conquering Ceuta in 1415. Imaginative depiction of history by Jorge Colaço (1864–1942) on wall tiles in the vestibule of Porto São Bento train station

Africa was the first destination of Portugal's expansion efforts. What first began with a continuation of the Reconquista in Morocco became, under the leadership of Henry the Navigator, a targeted exploration of the African coast with the sea ​​route to India as the ultimate goal. These secured bases that were set up or conquered like a string of pearls along the African coast. They also served as trading posts inland for gold, ivory and slaves. In 1454, Pope Nicholas V granted Portugal property rights to the west coast of Africa. Portugal ruled the island of Hormuz from 1515 (intermittently) to 1622.

On the east coast of Africa, the Portuguese were pushed back by the Arabs from Oman and the other great powers of Europe gradually took over the spheres of influence of Portugal, which with its small population could not hold the extensive empire permanently. In addition, there was the period of personal union with Spain, which temporarily demoted Portugal to a province. In 1869 slavery was ended in Portugal and its colonies. In Africa, only a few small colonies remained until the 20th century, which were finally released into independence after costly colonial wars and the Carnation Revolution of 1974. This was insufficiently prepared; in several cases there was chaos, dictatorship and civil war, which continued to affect the countries for decades to come.


Portugal's former possessions on Morocco's coast

In 1415, Portugal captured the port city of Ceuta from the Moors during the Reconquista . It became Portugal's first base in Africa. In 1437, the Portuguese failed to capture Tangier, so they had to scrap their plans to attack Tunis and Cairo as well. In 1458 they failed to take the city either, but in 1471 Tangier was finally conquered. Today's Moroccan region of Tanger-Tétouan around Cape Spartel was given the name Algarve ultramar ( Algarve beyond the sea ). Around 1520, Portugal finally controlled almost all of Morocco's port cities on the Atlantic. However, most of them were abandoned between 1541 and 1550 for economic reasons. The constant attacks of the Moors made the cities unprofitable. In 1578, against all advice, King Sebastian I tried to conquer all of Morocco with a large army and make himself the Christian Emperor of the Maghreb . On August 4, 1578, the "Day of Shame", the Portuguese army was crushed at the Battle of Alcácer-Quibir . Out of 17,000 Portuguese soldiers, only 60 returned to Lisbon. The king fell too. After the liberation of Portugal from the personal union with Spain (1580-1640), Ceuta remained with Isla Perejil as the only Portuguese colony after the Treaty of Lisbon in 1668 with Spain. Tangier was given to the English King Charles II (England) together with Bombay in 1661 as a dowry for Catherine of Braganza . In 1769, Portugal gave up its last city in Morocco , Mazagão ( now El Jadida ). The population was evacuated to Brazil, where they founded the town of Nova Mazagão in what is now the state of Amapá .

Alcácer-Ceguer ( Alcazarquivir, El Qsar es Seghir, al-Qasr al-Kabir ) 1458 1550 Conquered in 1458, abandoned in 1550 for economic reasons
Arzila ( Asilah ) 1471 1589 Conquered in 1471, abandoned in 1541 for economic reasons, Portuguese again in 1577, lost again in 1589
Azamor ( now Azemmour ) 1486 1541 1486 vassal of Portugal and subject to tribute, conquered by Portugal in 1508 after a rebellion, conquered again in 1513 after failure to pay tribute, abandoned by Portugal in 1541 for economic reasons
Ceuta 1415 1668 Conquered by Portugal in 1415, in 1437 Portugal is supposed to renounce Ceuta after a failed attempt to conquer Tangier, but does not do so, in 1640 Portugal frees itself from the personal union with Spain and in 1668 renounces Ceuta as a colony in favor of Spain
Mazagão ( Mazagan, today El Jadida ) 1502 1769 Conquered by Portugal in 1502, expanded into a harbor fortress in 1506, the fortifications were rebuilt in 1541, the Moors attacked in 1562 and abandoned by Portugal in 1769
Mogador ( Essaouira ) 1506 1525 1506 Construction of Fort Castelo Real de Mogador , conquered by the Moroccans in 1525
Safim ( Safi ) 1488 1541 Founded in 1488 as a Portuguese trading post, abandoned in 1541 for economic reasons
Santa Cruz do Cabo de Gué ( Agadir ) 1505 1541 Founded in 1505 as a Portuguese trading post, conquered by the Wattasids in 1541
Tangier 1471 1661 1437 and 1458 attempts to conquer Portugal's Tangiers fail, 1471 Portugal conquers Tangiers, 1661 as a dowry to England

Between Morocco and the Gold Coast

PAIGC rebel flag salute in 1974

Henry the Navigator organized several expeditions along the African coast with the aim of discovering the sea route to India. In 1434 the Portuguese rounded the dreaded Cape Bojador and in 1445 they reached Cape Verde , in 1448 the trading post and the fortress of Arguim were built, which became an important trading post for slaves. In 1455 the Italians Antoniotto Usodimare and Alvise Cadamosto explored the Gambia River for Portugal . In 1456 Cadamosto discovered the eastern Cape Verde Islands. Some historians have attributed the discovery to Genoese António da Noli ; this version is now considered refuted. In 1461, Diogo Afonso also discovered the western islands of the archipelago. In the same year, da Noli, as the first governor of Cape Verde, established small military stations on the islands of Santiago and Fogo and in 1462 the first settlement of Ribeira Grande (today: Cidade Velha ) in southern Santiago, the first permanently inhabited European settlement in the tropics. The first settlers were Portuguese exiles, pardoned criminals, Flemish and Genoese adventurers, and Sephardic Jews from the Iberian Peninsula. By 1480 the entire coast of Guinea was known. In 1487 a trading post was set up in Oden ( Ouadâne ), a junction of caravan routes some 550 km inland in present-day Mauritania. In 1532 Ribeira Grande received city rights and the independent diocese of Santiago de Cabo Verde was established. From here the missionary work in West Africa began. In 1614 the colony of Cacheu and in 1753 the colony of Bissau was founded on the mainland, which was under the suzerainty of Cape Verde until its unification as the colony of Portuguese Guinea in 1879. Parts of the mainland areas claimed by Portugal were annexed by France . It was not until 1915 that Portugal was able to subdue the hitherto independent tribes. In the 1940s, Bissau, the capital of Portuguese Guinea since 1941, had a certain importance as an alternative airport for the Panamerican Clipper . During the Estado Novo , Cape Verde gained notoriety through the Tarrafal concentration camp on the island of Santiago, where many insurgents from the colonies and dissidents from the mother country were imprisoned. A war of independence raged in Portuguese Guinea from 1963, during which the rebels managed to take control of a large part of the country and set up a provisional government. On September 24, 1973, the PAIGC declared the independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde as a common state, but it was not until 1974 that Guinea-Bissau became the first overseas province after the Carnation Revolution to become finally independent. Cape Verde declared independence in 1975, separate from Guinea-Bissau.

Between Morocco and the Gold Coast
possession acquisition loss story
Arguim 1448 1633 1448 construction of a Portuguese fortress (other source: 1440/1455), 1461 construction of a fortress, 1633 lost to the Netherlands (now Mauritania )
Cape Verde Islands 1456/61 1975 Discovered in 1456 (eastern part) and 1461 (western part), settled from 1462, granted independence in 1975
Oden ( Ouadâne ) 1487 16th century Established as a Portuguese trading post in 1487, fell into disrepair again in the 16th century
Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau ) 1614 1974 1446 arrival of Nuno Tristão , 1614 founding of the Cacheu colony , 1753 founding of the Bissau colony , 1879 unification of the two colonies to form Portuguese Guinea , conquest of the hinterland by 1915, released into independence in 1974
Ziguinchor (now in Senegal ) 1645 1888 Founded by the Portuguese in 1645, lost to France in 1888

Portuguese Gold Coast

Fort Sao Jorge da Mina in Elmina

Under Afonso V "the African" (1443-1481), Portugal explored the Gulf of Guinea to Cape St. Catherine. In 1471, the Portuguese under João de Santarém and Pedro and Pêro Escobar first sailed the Gold Coast . Under John II (1481-1495), the first fortress of São Jorge da Mina was built there in 1482 by Diogo de Azambuja , which became Portugal's main base in West Africa until 1637. The Portuguese bases served more as trading centers than as starting points for large-scale conquests. The gold, ivory and slave trade in particular flourished. The income of the crown doubled in one fell swoop. With the discovery and colonization of America , the slave trade in particular, which had previously been operated mainly by Arab states, experienced an upswing. England entered the lucrative business as early as 1553, and other European nations soon followed: Sweden , Denmark , the Netherlands , Brandenburg and France , who in turn established bases. In the 17th century the Portuguese possessions on the Gold Coast were lost to the Netherlands. 1690 ended the period of the Portuguese in present-day Ghana .

Portuguese Gold Coast
Accra 1557 1578 Portuguese fortress burned down by locals
Fort Duma 1623 1636 at the mouth of the Ankober (Rio da Cobra)
Fort St Antonio in Axim 1500 (1502?) 1642 1500 (1502?) Portuguese trading post, 1514 destroyed by locals, 1515 Portuguese trading post again, 1541 reconstruction, 8 February 1642 taken by the Dutch
Fort San Sebastian in Shama ( Samma ) 1526 1600 1526 Portuguese; until 1558 English; from 1558 Portuguese; 1590 start of construction, 1600 abandoned again, between 1600 and 1640 French (?), 1640 lost to the Netherlands
Fort São Jorge da Mina ( St. George's Castle or Elmina Castle ) in Elmina ( El Mina ) 1482 1637 1482 Construction of the Portuguese fort, 1486 São Jorge da Mina receives municipal rights, 1540s reconstruction of the fort, 1596, 1606, 1607, 1615, 1625 unsuccessful attacks by the Dutch, 1637 conquered by the Netherlands
Cape Coast Castle ( Fort Carolusburg , Fort Karlsborg) in Cape Coast hist. Ogua (Ugwà) 1637 before 1637 Portuguese base, 1638 Dutch
Fort Dom Pedro in Anashan 1683 1690 1640 British, 1683-1690 Portuguese (after they evacuated Fort Cará again)
Fort Cará (present-day Osu Castle (Osu, Ossu, Ursue)) 1558 1683 1558 Portuguese lodge, 1576 destroyed by locals, 1580 French, 1583 Portuguese but later abandoned, 1650 Swedish, 1652 fortress construction started by Sweden, 1658 Danish, 1659 Dutch, 1661 Danish (after official purchase from the Portuguese), 1679–1683 Portuguese (The Danish commander sold the fort back to the Portuguese.), 1683 under the control of the local Akwamu

Between the Gold Coast and the Cape of Good Hope

Portuguese fortress on Sao Tome
Portuguese troops in the colonial war in Angola

In 1471 São Tomé was discovered by João de Santarém and in 1472 Principe 1474 Lobo Gonçalves crossed the equator . In 1482 Diogo Cão reached the mouth of the Congo . In 1485, Diogo Cão went again to the Congo on a second trip and made contact there with the Mani-Congo , the ruler of the Congo Empire . The ruler was converted to Christianity, the Portuguese built churches and schools. However, some Congolese nobles rejected the missionaries' demand that polygamy be abolished. There was a revolt. Although the previous king swore by Christianity, he was overthrown in 1507 by his cousin, who himself had been baptized in 1491. His dynasty ruled the Congo until overthrown by the Portuguese in the 18th century.

In 1488 Bartolomeu Dias reached the Cape of Good Hope . From 1491 Portugal expanded its sphere of influence to the region south of the Congo estuary and began to evangelize the locals. From 1520 to 1526, the Portuguese Baltasar de Castro and Manuel Pacheco explored the Congo River. In 1576 the Portuguese founded Luanda . From 1641 to 1648 the Dutch occupied Angola. They could not hold out there, but in 1652 the Dutch managed to establish themselves at the Cape of Good Hope. In 1721 Portugal built the Fort São João Baptista d'Ajudá to re-establish itself on the Gulf of Guinea after the bases on the Gold Coast had also been lost to the Netherlands. However, you could only bring the immediate area under your control. Only as a regional center of the slave trade did São João Baptista d'Ajudá play a certain role in the 18th century. On September 10, 1885, however, Portugal concluded a treaty with the Kingdom of Dahomey in the hinterland of São João Baptista d'Ajudá , through which Portugal took over the protectorate over its entire coast in early 1886. In 1892, however, Dahomey fell to France. Likewise, in 1885 Portugal's claims to the Belgian Congo on the opposite side failed due to an objection from Germany and in 1890 Lisbon had to renounce the connection of Angola and Mozambique to form a closed South African colonial empire due to British pressure. On August 1, 1961, newly independent Dahomey , today's Benin , occupied São João Baptista d'Ajudá. The uprising of national forces in Angola, which began in early summer 1959, was brutally crushed in 1964. Another armed uprising led by the Marxist MPLA in 1972 was brutally crushed in 1973. Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe only gained independence after the Carnation Revolution in Portugal in 1974. Cabinda was annexed by Angola, although it was originally intended to become a separate state. Shortly thereafter, Angola plunged into decades of civil war.

Between the Gold Coast and the Cape of Good Hope
possession acquisition loss story
Angola , also Portuguese West Africa 1575 1975 1483 Portuguese navigator Diogo Cão lands in the region, 1576 founding of the capital Luanda , 1484 occupation of the coastal strip, 1641–1648 Dutch interim rule, afterwards Portuguese again, 1840 founding of Moçâmedes , 1886 area between Kunene and Kubango Portuguese, 1891 area between Kubango and Kassai Portuguese, 1894 Luanda (Northeast) Portuguese, gained independence in 1975
Annobon 1474 1778 Discovered and settled in 1474, ceded to Spain in 1778 (today: Equatorial Guinea )
benin 1486 1852 Establishment of a Portuguese trading post by Afonso de Aveira , 1852 British protectorate (today in Nigeria )
Fernando Po ( Bioko ) 1474 1778 Discovered 1472/73, taken possession of in 1474, occupied by the Netherlands 1642–1648, ceded to Spain in 1778 (now: Equatorial Guinea )
Portuguese Congo ( Cabinda ) 1883 1975 Battle of Ambuila on October 29, 1665: Portugal gains control of the region, since 1883 protectorate, from 1956 under a joint governor general with Angola, 1975 Cabinda was supposed to become independent as a separate state, but was annexed by Angola.
Ouidah with the Fort São João Baptista d'Ajudá 1680 1961 1680 construction of a fortress, shortly afterwards abandoned, 1721 fortress of São João Baptista de Ajudá rebuilt, 1727 city conquered by King Dossou Agadja of Dahomey, 1728 Portuguese again, 1822 Brazilian after Brazil gave up the fortress in 1844, Portuguese again, but also Portugal 1858 gives up the fortress, 1861 Dahomey donates the fortress to France, 1865 Portugal successfully reclaims the fortress, 1961 annexed by Dahomey , 1975 annexation recognized by Portugal
Rio Muni 1778 only trade rights between the Niger and the Ogooué River , ceded to Spain (now: Equatorial Guinea )
Sao Tome and Principe 1471/72 1975 between 1469 and 1471 discovery of São Tomés, 1472 discovery of Principes, 1493 first successful settlement, 1500 first settlement on Principe, 1641–1648 Dutch occupation, 1648 French occupation, 1975 granted independence

East Africa

Fort Jesus in Mombasa/ Kenya
Ilha de Mozambique
Portuguese soldiers in the colonial war in Mozambique

After circumnavigating the Cape of Good Hope, the way to the Indian Ocean was open. In 1498 Vasco da Gama traveled north towards India along the African coast, which until then had belonged to the sphere of influence of the Arabs. Along the way he made a pact with the city of Melinde . The tactics of the Portuguese in the following years was that they sailed into the ports with heavily armed ships and demanded that the ruler there make himself a subject of the Portuguese. If this demand was not met, then the city was plundered.

The action was justified as a holy Christian war. Since even the big cities were not used to having to defend themselves and were also outgunned, the Portuguese had an easy game. In 1503, Ruy Lourenço Ravasco attacked Zanzibar and forced the city to pay a tribute. In 1505 Sofala was conquered and a Portuguese fortress was built there. Francisco de Almeida sacked Kilwa , Mombasa and Baraawe in the following years . The same fate befell Zaila ( Saylac ) a second time in 1517 and 1528. By 1506, Portugal extended its claim to power to the entire coast of Tanganyika . However, this rule only existed on paper because Portugal did not colonize this area. Portugal established a number of bases along the rest of the East African coast in the years that followed, and by 1520 conquered all the Muslim sultanates between Sofala and Cape Guardafui to secure the sea route to India.

In contrast to West Africa, early attempts were made to penetrate inland in search of gold. Already in 1501 Pedro Álvares Cabral had visited the gold mines of the Monomotapa in today's border area between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, 1514/15 António Fernandes reached today's Zimbabwe by bypassing the kingdom of Monomotapa in the interior of Mozambique. In 1543 Portuguese auxiliaries under Cristóvão da Gama defended the Negus of Ethiopia against the Muslim Somali ruler Ahmed Graññ's , but a conversion of the Ethiopian Orthodox country to the Catholic faith failed. Slave trade was also practiced. The kidnapped Africans were primarily sold to the Arab countries.

The Yaruba dynasty from Oman gradually began to conquer the Portuguese bases in the 17th century, followed later by European competitors. Finally, Mozambique remained as the last colony, in the south of which (Delagoa Bay) Portugal faced Dutch, British-South African and Austrian colonial claims. In 1890, under English pressure, Portugal also had to forego a land connection to Angola, their colony on the west coast of Africa. During World War I, German troops occupied northern Mozambique, for which Portugal received the Kionga Triangle in 1919, which was annexed to Mozambique. FRELIMO 's armed struggle against the Portuguese colonial rulers began in 1964, but only after the Carnation Revolution in Portugal was Mozambique granted independence after a one-year transition phase.

East Africa
possession acquisition loss story
Brava ( Baraawe ) 1506
Grande Comore 1500 1505 occupied by Portugal for five years
Lamu Island

Melinde ( Malindi ) 1500 1630 1498 Vasco da Gama reaches Melinde, 1500 alliance between Melinde and Portugal, Portuguese trading post, 1593 transfer of the Portuguese main base to Mombasa, 1630 abandonment of the trading post
Mogadishu 1698
Mombasa 1500 1729 1498 Vasco da Gama reaches Mombasa, 1505 conquered by Portugal, 1528 renewed attack by Portugal, 1593 conquered by Portugal, construction of Fort Jesus , 1698 lost to Oman, 1728 to 1729 again Portuguese, then lost to Oman
Moçambique ( Mozambique ), also Portuguese East Africa 1502 1975 1498 Vasco da Gama reaches Mozambique and takes possession of it for Portugal, 1502 occupies Ilha de Moçambique and Sofala as bases, 1510 fort São Sebastião de Moçambique on the island, 1530 foundation of Sena , 1537 foundation of Tete on the Zambezi , 1544 foundation of Quelimane and Laurenço Marques ( Maputo ), 1875 Delagoa Bay in the south becomes Portuguese, 1885 occupation of the hinterland, 1893 border of the areas around the Zambezi fixed, 1897 final border with the British colonies, 1917–1918 north occupied by Germany, 1919 Kionga Triangle annexed, 1964–1974 FRELIMO War of Independence, gained independence in 1975
Pemba Island
Quíloa ( Kilwa Kisiwani ) 1505 1512 1502 visited by Vasco da Gama, 1505 Francisco de Almeida destroys the city and builds a fort, 1512 conquered by Arabs, again Swahili - city -state
Zanzibar 1503 1698 Reached by Vasco da Gama in 1499, Portuguese trading post from 1503, occupied by João Homere for Portugal in 1505, lost to Oman in 1698
Ilha do São Lorenço , also Santa Apolonia ( Madagascar ) 1506 1550 August 10, 1500 Diogo Dias is the first European to set foot in Madagascar, 1506 naval base in Matatane on the east coast, allegedly southern and south-eastern coast of the island owned by Portugal until 1550


The historian Cordeiro reports from the Portuguese João Vaz Corte-Real that he reached Newfoundland ( Terra (Nova) do Bacalhau ) and Greenland in 1473 in a joint Portuguese- Danish expedition . His secret reports from the poor country across the Atlantic are said to have been one of the reasons why Portugal did not finance Christopher Columbus ' expedition to the west. In 1498, João Fernandes Lavrador explored the coast of the Labrador Peninsula , which was named after him . On May 12, 1500, Manuel I gave Gaspar Corte-Real , a son of João Vaz Corte-Real, ownership of "some islands and the terra firma" in the Northwest Atlantic. Gaspar also undertook voyages of discovery near Newfoundland, Labrador and Greenland. He disappeared on one of his trips, as did his father and brother Miguel .

There is speculation about the Portuguese navigator João Álvares Fagundes , who explored the south coast of Newfoundland in 1520. Some scholars credit Fagundes with reaching as far as the Gulf of St. Lawrence . Fagundes is said to have received a captaincy over the areas he discovered as a reward and founded a colony there. However, this is said to have been abandoned after a short time, as was a colony of the Corte-Reals on Labrador. It was said to be too cold for the settlers, so they tried their luck further west. The new colony is said to have been at Ingonish or at Mira Bay , both on Cape Breton Island . Hostile Indians are said to have forced the colony to give up. There is no certainty about the existence of the Portuguese colonies in North America, but maps from around 1500 show Newfoundland, Labrador and even Greenland as Portuguese territory ( Cantino planisphere ). The areas are also called Terra Cortereal and Terra del Rey de Portugal . What is certain is that since that time Portuguese fishermen have been coming to the coast of Newfoundland to catch fish for the Portuguese national dish, bacalhau .

Map of Brazil from the 16th century

In 1500 Pedro Álvares Cabral was the first European to reach the coast of Brazil, and from 1501 other Portuguese expeditions explored the coast of Brazil. One of them had Amerigo Vespucci as helmsman. In 1502 they reached Uruguay and the Río de la Plata . Brazil soon grew into Portugal's largest and richest colony. In 1531/32, expeditions were sent inland from Rio de Janeiro and São Vicente for the first time.

In 1807 Lisbon was occupied by Napoleon's troops, the Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil, and Rio de Janeiro became the new seat of government. After the end of the war, Brazil received the status of a kingdom in 1815, which was jointly ruled in personal union with Portugal. After the death of Maria I in 1816, the prince regent in Rio de Janeiro became Johann VI. crowned king of Brazil and Portugal. When he was asked to return to Portugal in 1820, he did so, but the crown prince refused, had himself crowned Emperor of Brazil as Peter I and declared Brazil's independence on September 7, 1822, giving Portugal its largest and richest colony for good lost.

The fourth Portuguese India Fleet, en route to India, reached the island of Trindade in 1502 and in the same year Fernão de Noronha discovered the island of Fernando de Noronha , named after him . De Noronha originally named the island São João . Fernando de Noronha was settled and, like Trindade, came to Brazil after its independence.

possession acquisition loss story
Barbados 1536 1620 discovered by Pedro Campos , outpost abandoned by Brazilian Jews in 1620
Brazil 1500 1822 1500 Discovery of Brazil, from 1530 colony, 1624 to 1654 Northeast as New Holland Dutch, 1714 Viceroyalty, 1815–1822 personal union United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarve , 1822 independent
Cisplatina (now Uruguay ) 1808(?) 1822 Possessed by Portugal in 1808, other source: occupied by Portugal in 1816, 1815–1822 United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve , independent in 1822 as part of Brazil
Colonia do Sacramento ( Colonia del Sacramento ) 1680 1777 Colony founded in 1680, occupied by Spain in the same year, returned to Portugal in 1681, 1705–1715 as a no man's land under Spanish-Argentine administration, 1715–1722 Spanish-Argentine, 1722 administered by Portugal, occupied by Spain in 1735 and Portuguese governor deposed in 1737 , 1762 renewed attack by Spain, 1763 back to Portugal, 1777 cession to Spain
French Guiana 1809 1817 occupied by Portugal during the Napoleonic Wars

labrador (?) 1499 1526 Discovered by João Fernandes Lavrador in 1498 and named after him, colony in 1499, abandoned in 1526
Terra Nova ( Newfoundland ) (?) 1521 1526 Possibly discovered as early as 1473 by João Vaz Corte-Real and named as Terra Nova do Bacalhau ( New Land of Stockfish ), explored by Portuguese expeditions in 1500, construction of a colony in 1521, abandoned in 1526, since then only visited by fishermen


middle East

In 1507, Afonso de Albuquerque occupied several towns on the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz for Portugal . The aim was to eliminate competition from traders from Arabia, Egypt , Genoa and Venice by blocking the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf from their ships. In the same year, Afonso de Albuquerque landed on the island of Socotra , near the capital Suq, believing they were freeing Christians there from the Arab-Islamic yoke. When they realized that they were not so welcome after all, the Portuguese withdrew in 1511. In 1513 the attempt to conquer Aden failed. The plan to conquer Mecca and Suez was then abandoned. The other possessions in the Arab world were gradually lost in the 17th century. Persia conquered Bahrain (1602), Gamru (1615) from the Portuguese and, with the help of the English, the possessions on the Strait of Hormuz (1622). Nasir ibn Murshid and his cousin Sultan ibn Saif I of the Yaruba dynasty expelled the Portuguese from Oman by 1650 . Later, the Yaruba also conquered the Portuguese possessions in East Africa and plundered Bombay in 1655.

middle East
possession acquisition loss story

Bahrain ( Arad Fort ) 1521 1602 Lost again to Persia after 81 years
Gamru (today: Bandar Abbas / Iran ) 16th century 1615 Acquisition 1506, 1515 or 1521 depending on the source, city fortified by the Portuguese, conquered by Persia in 1615,

Hormuz ( Ormuz, Hormuz ) 1507 1622 1507 conquest of Hormuz, construction of Forte de Nossa Senhora da Vitória , 1508 abandoned, 1515 Albuquerque reconquers Hormuz, construction of Forte de Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Ormuz on Gerun , 1621 construction of Forte de Queixome on Qeshm , 1622 Persia takes with them English help Hormuz and the forts
Muscat 1507 1650 Vasco da Gama was the first Portuguese to reach Muscat on his journey to India, 1507 Portugal conquered Muscat, 1523 and 1526 recaptured after revolts, 1550–1552 occupied by the Turks, 1581 destroyed again by the Turks, 1588 fort rebuilt by the Portuguese, 1650 by Sultan ibn Saif I and lost to Oman
Quriyat ( Curiate, Kuriyat ) 1507 1648 1507 Portugal conquers the city and fortress, 1522 revolt, 1607 fortress rebuilt, 1648 conquered by Nasir ibn Murshid and lost to Oman
Socotorá ( Socotra ) 1507 1511 Portuguese in 1507, surrendered in 1511 to the Sultan of Mahra
Sohar ( Zohar ) 1507 17th century 1507 Portugal conquers the city until 1649 Nasir ibn Murshid forces withdrawal, lost to Oman
Sur 1507 17th century conquered by Nasir ibn Murshid and lost to Oman

Other bases included Fort Sibo ( El Sib ) near Muscat, Calayate ( Qalhat, Kalhat ), Matara ( Matrah ), Borca ( Barkah , Al Batha ) and Cassapo ( Khasab ) in Oman.

Portuguese India

Portuguese possessions in India
Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panaji

In 1498, the Portuguese Vasco da Gama succeeded in doing what European seafarers had long tried to achieve by sea in India. Portugal began to conquer areas in India from 1505 and set up trading bases there. Under the first viceroy of the "Estado da Índia" ( State of India ) Francisco de Almeida and his successor, the governor Afonso de Albuquerque, the Portuguese position of power was systematically expanded. In 1507, Lourenço de Almeida led a punitive expedition against Quilon, since the Portuguese head of the trading post had just been murdered there. A year later, Chaul and Calicut are sacked by Francisco de Almeida. In 1509 he destroyed the Arab-Egyptian fleet off Diu and Portugal gained complete naval supremacy in the Indian Ocean. In 1510 Goa and Calicut were conquered. In 1535 the important trading center of Diu fell into Portuguese hands. 1538 and 1546/47 sieges of Diu could be repelled. At first the Muslims (Egyptians and Turks) and the Indian empires were the opponents, but from the 17th century the Netherlands, England and later other major European powers emerged as competitors. Then came the war against the Marathas in the 18th century. Portugal lost most of its bases and was only able to hold onto a small remnant into the 20th century. In 1954, local Indian nationalists took control of the Portuguese possessions of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, creating a pro-Indian administration. The Republic of India denied Portuguese troops access to the enclaves through its territory. In 1961 India occupied the last enclaves of Goa, Diu and Damão (Daman). The small Portuguese garrison of 3,000 men could not oppose the superiority. In combat, the NRP Afonso de Albuquerque was destroyed. In 1974, the annexation by India was recognized by Portugal.

Portuguese India (Estado da India)
possession acquisition loss story
Baçaím (Bassein, now Vasai-Virar ) 1534 1739 In 1530 and 1531 the city was burned down by the Portuguese, in 1533 the entire coast was devastated, on December 23, 1534 the area was handed over to the Portuguese, in 1720 the Marathas conquered the port of Kalyan , in 1737–1739 the remaining areas were lost to the Marathas
Bom Bahia (Bombay, now Mumbai ) 1534 1661 1508 Portuguese Francisco de Almeida reaches the bay and names it Bom Bahia ( Good Bay ), 23 December 1534 Treaty of Baçaím transfers region to the Portuguese, 1626 English raid, 1655 Sultan ibn Saif I of Oman sacks Bombay, 1661 as a dowry to England
Cannanore (Kannur) 1502 1663 1502 trading base, 1505 erection of St. Angelo Fort , 1663 lost to the Netherlands
Chaul ( Tschoul ) 1521 1740 1507 sack of Chauls, 1521 construction of a fort on the south bank of the river Kundalika , 1531 new fort Santa Maria do Castello made of stone, a city is built around the fort, a treaty of 1558 prevents its fortification, 1570/71 destruction of the city by Ahmadnagar , reconstruction and Fortification of the city, new fortress of Morro de Chaul on the north bank of the river, further attacks on the city are repelled, expansion of the fortifications until 1613, siege by the Marathas from March to October 1739, ceded to the Marathas in 1740
Chittagong 1528 1666 1528 Founding of a trading post, conquered by the Moguls in 1666
cochin 1502 1663 1500 the Portuguese Pedro Álvares Cabral lands in Cochin, 1502 foundation of a trading post, 1503 first European fortress in India (Fort Manuel), until 1510 capital of Portuguese India, 1524 Vasco da Gama dies in Cochin, 1663 lost to the Netherlands
Coulao ( Quilon, Kollam ) 1502 1661 1502 construction of a Portuguese trading post, 1507 punitive expedition against Quilon, 1518 construction of the Forte de São Tomé , 1661 lost to the Netherlands
Cranganore ( Kodungallur ) 1523 1661 1502 the Syrian Christians of the city ask the Portuguese for their protection, 1523 construction of a Portuguese fort, 1565 enlargement of the fort, 1661 lost to the Netherlands (another source gives the period of Portuguese rule as 1536-1662)
dadra 1779 1954 1779 Portuguese (other source: 1785), 1954 local nationalists take control, 1961 formally annexed by India
Damão ( Daman ) 1559 1961 1523 Diogo de Melo was the first Portuguese to land in Damão, 1534 destruction of the fortifications by the Portuguese, 1559 conquest of the city of Damão, 1588 part of the Portuguese Indies colony, 1614 conquest of the territory of Damão Pequeno on the right bank of the river, December 18, 1961 Occupied by India , recognized annexation by Portugal in 1974
you 1535 1961 1513 establishment of a trading post fails, 1531 attempt at conquest fails, 1535 conquest; The Sultan of Gujarat allows the construction of a Portuguese fortress and the stationing of a garrison within an alliance against the Mughal Empire , 1538 and 1546/47 sieges to expel the Portuguese fail, late 17th century Dutch attacks are repelled, December 18, 1961 by India occupied, 1974 annexation recognized by Portugal
goa 1510 1961 1510 conquest and establishment of a Portuguese settlement in Velha Goa ( Old Goa ) , 1512 suppression of a revolt, 1603 and 1639 Dutch attacks are repelled, end of the 17th century the Marathas conquer the northern parts of Goa, 1737-1739 the Marathas overrun almost all of Goa , only the arrival of the fleet prevented the loss, 1759 Pangim ( Panaji ) becomes the new capital of the colony, territorial gains: Bicholim (1781), Satari (1782), 1787 rebellion against the Portuguese, last territorial gains: Pernem (1788), Ponda , Quepem , Sanguem and Canacona (all 1791), 1799–1813 English occupation of Goa, 1843 Panaji becomes the capital of Goa, 1955 unarmed attempt to set the Indian flag on the fort of Tiracol, 18 December 1961 occupied by India , 1974 annexation by Portugal recognized
Hughli ( Hooghly, Hugli ) and Bandel 1579 1632 1536 Portuguese granted permission to trade; 1579 city founded by the Portuguese
Calicut ( Calicut, Kozhikode ) 1510 1663/1664 1498 Vasco da Gama lands on a beach nearby for the first time in India, 1507 sack of Calicut, 1510 conquest of Calicut, 1512 construction of Fortaleza de Diu , 1525 fortified post is abandoned, 1528 and 1538 defeats of Zamorin against Portugal and again Construction of a fortress, 1540 monopoly of the spice trade for Portugal, 1571 destruction of the fortress, 1588 Portuguese settle back in the city, 1600 rebellion is put down, 1663/1664 lost to the Netherlands
Laquedivas ( Lakshadweep ) 1498 1545 Conquered by the Portuguese in 1498 and a fort built on Amini , lost again in 1545 by local rebellion
Masulipatão ( Masulipatnam, Machilipatnam ) 1598 1610 1598–1610 Portuguese occupied
Maldives 1558 1573 1558 Portuguese garrison and trading post on Viador (Viyazoru), expelled from the islands by local Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al-Azam
Mangalore ( Mangalore ) 1568 1763 1505 first Portuguese fortress, 1565 conquest of Mangalore, 1568 construction of new fortress, 1659–1660 suzerainty by Raja Shivappa Nayaka of Keladi (1645–1660), 1695 Arabs burn Mangalore, 1714 return of the Portuguese, 1763 Portuguese become by Mysore -King Hyder Ali expelled
Nagapattinam ( Negapatam ) 1507 1657 Lost to the Netherlands in 1657
Nagar-Aveli ( Nagar Haveli ) 1779 1954 1779 Portuguese (other source: 1783), 1954 local nationalists take control, 1961 formally annexed by India
Paliacate ( Pulicat ) 1518 1610 Lost to the Netherlands in 1610, the Portuguese destroy the Dutch trading post in 1612, but the site is no longer occupied (other sources: 1609 construction of a Dutch fort; Portuguese rule: 1518–1619)
Salsete Island ( Salsette, Sashti ) 1534 1737 December 23, 1534 in the Treaty of Baçaím to Portugal, 1737 the Marathas conquer the island
Sao Tome de Meliapore ( Mylapore ) 1523 1749 1516 construction of the Franciscan Mission Nossa Senhora da Luz , Portuguese settlement 1523–1662 and 1687–1749,
Surat ( Surat ) 1540 1612 1540 Conquest and destruction of the city by Portugal, construction of a fort, 1608 arrival of the first English ships, 1612 destruction of Portuguese supremacy by England after the naval battle of Suvali ( Swally )
Thoothukudi ( Tuticorin ) 1548 1658 Refounded by the Portuguese in 1548, lost to the Netherlands in 1658


The son of Francisco de Almeida , the first viceroy of Portuguese India, Lourenço was the first Portuguese to reach Ceylon in 1505, which up until then had primarily sold cinnamon to Arab traders. In 1517 the Portuguese built their first fort in Colombo , which was abandoned in 1524. In 1545 Jaffna became tributary, in 1591 the Portuguese even installed a new king in Jaffna. In 1592 they attained suzerainty over the kingdoms of Kotte and Sitawaka . Although briefly occupied, the Kingdom of Kandy lasted until the 17th century as the last kingdom on the island. In 1597 Kotte finally fell to the Portuguese crown, followed by Jaffna in 1621 and parts of Kandy were conquered by 1629, until the Portuguese suffered a defeat against Kandy a year later. In 1639 the Dutch gradually began to conquer the island from the Portuguese. Colombo fell in 1656 and finally Jaffna in 1658.

possession acquisition loss story
Ceylon ( Ceilão , now Sri Lanka ) 1517 1658 1505 Lourenço de Almeida reached Ceylon, 1517 conquered Colombo and built a fortress, 1545 tributary to Jaffna , 1592 suzerainty over Kotte and Sitawaka , lost to the Netherlands between 1656 (Colombo) and 1658 (Jaffna).

back india

The remains of the Portuguese Fort A Famosa in Malacca

In 1509, the Portuguese Diogo Lopes de Sequeira visited the trading city of Malacca . The following year an attempt to conquer Malacca failed, but in 1511 Afonso de Albuquerque succeeded in conquering one of the most important trading cities in East Asia with great losses. In the same year Fort A Famosa was built. Portugal began forging alliances with the surrounding rulers of Peninsular Malaya . The former Sultan of Malacca tried several times to recapture his city from Johor , and Atjeh also attacked several times. In 1583 Johor made peace with Portugal. Albuquerque built a new administration in Malacca and its own mint. A church was built in 1521, which was consecrated as a cathedral in 1558. Many Portuguese began to settle in Malacca. Descendants of the Portuguese, who speak a Portuguese Creole language, still live in this city today. From 1602 the Dutch began to attack the city again and again. It was not until 1641 that a fleet from Johore and the Netherlands succeeded in conquering Malacca.

A footnote in history was the Portuguese adventurer Filipe de Brito e Nicote , who was based in Syriam (now Thanlyin / Myanmar ) in the late 16th century. He made himself warlord of the area and fought against the Burmese until he was captured and killed in 1613. Syriam was not part of the Portuguese possession for long.

back india
possession acquisition loss story
Malacca ( Malacca ) 1511 1641 First visited by the Portuguese in 1509, attempted conquest in 1510 failed, conquered by Portugal in August 1511, lost to the Netherlands in 1641

East Asia

Nanban trading ships in Japan

In 1513 (1515?), several Portuguese expeditions visited Canton , Nanjing and Beijing for the first time . The first post in China was established in Tamão in 1519. In 1543 the Portuguese Antônio da Mota , Antônio Peixoto and Francisco Zeimoto reached the Japanese island of Tanegashima . After several attempts elsewhere in China, the Portuguese settled in Macau in the mid-16th century, which became the center of trade in East Asia. With the Japanese and Chinese forbidden to leave their lands, the Portuguese served as traders between the two Asian empires in the 16th and 17th centuries. During the Nanban trade era , silk was brought from China to the Portuguese trading post of Nagasaki. Firearms also found their way to Japan through the Portuguese. In 1634 an artificial island was built as a trading post in the port of Nagasaki, but after the Shimabara Rebellion in 1638 the Portuguese were forced to leave Japan and the Dutch took their place. On December 20, 1999, Portugal returned its last overseas possession of Macau to the People's Republic of China . Portuguese remains an official language in Macau.

East Asia
possession acquisition loss story

Lampakkau ( Lampacao ) 1553 ? 1553 After giving up Sanchuang resettlement to Lampakkau,
Liampó , China ( Ningbo, Ningpo ) 1533 1545 1542 construction of a Portuguese settlement, 1545 settlement destroyed by the Chinese, move to Sanchuang (other source: settlement from 1540 to 1549)
Macau ( Macao, Aomen ) 1553 1999 1516 Portuguese land in Macau, 1553 founding of Macau as a trading and missionary center, 1557 Portuguese administration and suzerainty of China, 1680 first Portuguese governor, but still under Chinese sovereignty, 1849 Portugal declares Macau's independence from China, 1851 occupation of Taipa , 1864 occupation of Coloane , 1887 China recognizes Portugal's permanent right to occupy Macau, 1890 Ilha Verde linked to Macau by causeway, 1938 Dom João, Lapa and Montanha islands occupied by Portugal, 1941 Dom João, Lapa and Montanha occupied by Japan, 1943– 1945 All Macau Japanese Protectorate, 1945 Dom João, Lapa and Montanha returned to China, 1976 Macau officially Chinese territory under Portuguese administration, 1999 returned to the People 's Republic of China
Nagasaki ( Dejima ) 1571 1638 1542 Portuguese reach Japan for the first time, 1571 Portuguese trading post, 1634 construction of the artificial island of Dejima, 1637 Shimabara uprising, 1638 expulsion of the Portuguese
sanchuang 1549 1553 After the abandonment of Liampó, the settlement was reestablished in Sanchuang, in 1553 the settlement was abandoned and resettled to Lampakkau
Tinceo 1547 1549 1547–1549 Portuguese
Tamao (Tuen Mun 屯門) 1519 1521 Occupied by Portuguese in 1519 (other source: 1519), reconquered by China in 1521


Dutch image from Ternate 1720 showing the former Portuguese fort
Portuguese possessions in the Moluccas in the 16th and 17th centuries

With the Spice Islands ( Moluccas ) the Portuguese achieved one of their main goals in 1511, access to spices such as nutmeg, mace and cloves. The most important ally of the Portuguese in the Moluccas was the Sultanate of Ternate , which in addition to the island of Ternate, half of the island of Moti , the north of Halmaheras (Portuguese Moro , the kingdom in the north-west of Jailolo was annexed by Ternate with the help of Portugal), the island of Ambon , ruled east Ceram and north-east Sulawesi . The Sultan allowed the construction of a Portuguese fort on Ternate in 1522 and enabled the Portuguese to trade in his kingdom, which is why some sources incorrectly list the entire kingdom as Portuguese possessions. The situation is similar with Tidore , Ternate's great competitor, who had allied himself with Spain. In addition to his own island, Tidore ruled the larger part of Halmahera, the other part of Moti, the island of Makian and parts of western New Guinea . These territories are often listed as Spanish, although there was only one alliance between Tidore and Spain in 1527–1534 and 1544–1545. Although Spain renounced activities in the Moluccas in favor of Portugal in 1529 in the Treaty of Zaragoza , Spain kept trying to gain control of the region until 1545, when the army of Villalobo was defeated by the Portuguese. But Portugal was only able to benefit from the victory for a short time. The fort at Ternate had to be abandoned in 1575 when the sultan rebelled against his former allies. During the personal union of Spain and Portugal, Spain sent several military expeditions from 1583 to regain control of the region, but the last attack on Ternate in 1602 was also unsuccessful. In return, the Dutch were able to conquer the Spanish fort on Tidore in 1605. It was not until 1606 that the Spaniards and Portuguese were able to recapture Tidore and finally regain control of the Moluccas. The Sultan of Ternate was brought to Manila with his family . But the Dutch, allied with the Sultan of Ternate, continued to oppose the Spaniards, while the latter continued to rely on the Sultan of Tidore. The Spaniards were able to stay on Ternate until 1663, other smaller Spanish bases existed a little longer on smaller islands of the Moluccas, such as on Siau (1671-1677). At this point, Portugal no longer had any influence on the Moluccas. After their expulsion from Ternate, Ambon became their new center in the region, but until 1580 it was constantly threatened by Muslim attacks. In 1609 the Dutch conquered Ambon.

possession acquisition loss story
Ambon 1521 1609 1511/1513 Portuguese reach Ambon, 1521 trading post, 1569 fort on north coast, 1572 fort on south coast, 1576 fortress of Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora da Annunciada , lost to the Netherlands in 1605
Batyan ( Bacan ) 1513 1851/59/61 1513 trading post,
Banda Islands ( Bante ) 1512 1621 Discovered 1511, trading post 1512 (other source states no permanent Portuguese post existed), ceded to the Netherlands in 1621
ternates 1513 1575 1513 Trading post, June 1522 Construction of the fortress of São João Baptista de Ternate, July 15, 1575 Ternate was abandoned after the local population rebelled

Sunda Islands

Portuguese sphere of influence in the Lesser Sunda Islands in the 16th and 17th centuries

With the loss of Malacca in 1641, Makassar grew in importance as a trading center for silk, sandalwood and diamonds. The trading post was founded in 1521 and operated under the protection of the Sultan of Makassar. In the 1620s, 500 Portuguese traders permanently lived in Makassar, in 1660 there were 2,000. In 1660 a strong Dutch fleet attacked Makassar. Fort Panakkukang was stormed and the sultan was forced to sign a treaty demanding the expulsion of the Portuguese. The sultan delayed this until 1665 for economic reasons, but then the last Portuguese left the city.

Governor's Palace in Dili/East Timor

Besides spices, the Portuguese also traded sandalwood from Timor . António de Abreu discovered the island at the beginning of the 16th century . The first Dominicans came to Timor as missionaries as early as 1515 . In the territory of the then kingdoms of Oecussi and Ambeno , the Portuguese settled down for the first time on Timor. In 1556 the Dominicans founded the town of Lifau ( Lifao ) to secure the sandalwood trade and in 1566 built a fortress on the island of Solor , northwest of Timor. Sandalwood was then exported annually from Timor via Solor. Portuguese administration, military garrisons and trading posts were initially absent on Timor. They were built up gradually in response to the threat from the Dutch, who were increasing their influence in the region. In 1568 Dutch traders reached Timor for the first time. In 1586 large parts of Timor became a Portuguese colony ( Portuguese Timor ). On Timor and the other Lesser Sunda Islands , too, Portugal gradually had to cede a large part of its possessions to the Netherlands. In 1656 the Dutch captured the Portuguese post of Kupang in West Timor . However, the power of the Dutch was initially limited to the area around Kupang. However, when in 1749 an attack by the Portuguese and Topasses on Kupang ended in disaster, despite their superiority, the rule of both in West Timor collapsed. Most of West Timor's regional rulers made treaties with the Dutch in 1756. In 1846, the Netherlands began talks with Portugal about taking over Portuguese territories, but Portugal initially rejected any offer. In 1851, Portuguese governor José Joaquim Lopes de Lima reached an agreement with the Dutch on colonial borders in Timor, albeit without authorization from Lisbon. In it, most of West Timor was ceded to the Dutch. In addition, the eastern part of Flores, Solor, Pantar and Alor were sold to the Dutch at the same time. Needless to say, the governor fell out of favor and was removed when Lisbon found out about the treaty. But the agreements could not be undone, even though the treaty on the borders was renegotiated in 1854 and only ratified in 1859 as the Treaty of Lisbon . The various small kingdoms of Timor were divided under Dutch and Portuguese authority.

Dutch (orange) and Portuguese Timor (green) 1911

The disputes were not settled until 1916, when the final border was drawn between Dutch West Timor and Portuguese East Timor. Previously, both colonial powers still had enclaves without access to the sea in the territory of the other. In addition to the territory of Timor, Portugal was only left with the associated islands of Atauro and Jaco . After the Carnation Revolution, East Timor was also to be granted independence. But there were power struggles between the East Timorese parties, which Indonesia used to occupy areas near the border. The FRETILIN party, which had been put under pressure as a result, proclaimed independence on November 28, 1975 , but only nine days later Indonesia openly began to occupy the country , which lasted until 1999. In 1999 the United Nations took over the administration and finally led East Timor to independence in 2002. Since the declaration of independence in 1975 and the Indonesian occupation were never recognized internationally, East Timor was officially considered a "dependent territory under Portuguese administration" until 1999 . In East Timor, Portuguese is still the official language, on Flores a Portuguese Creole language is spoken by a minority.

Indonesian soldiers pose with a captured Portuguese flag in Batugade , East Timorese, November 1975
Sunda Islands
possession acquisition loss story
Adenara ( Adonara ) 1851/59/61 Assigned to the Netherlands by the governor in 1851, assignment confirmed in 1859, handed over to the Netherlands in 1861
Alor ( Ombai ) 16th century 1851/59/61 Assigned to the Netherlands by the governor in 1851, assignment confirmed in 1859, handed over to the Netherlands in 1861

Flores 1570 1851/59/61 1544 first sighting of the island by Portuguese, 1570 first Portuguese settlements, 1595 Portuguese fort in Ende , 1667 lost parts of Flores to the Netherlands, 1851 last enclaves in the eastern part of the island ceded to the Netherlands by the governor, 1859 cession confirmed, 1861 handover to the Netherlands takes place
lombles 16th century 1851/59/61 Assigned to the Netherlands by the governor in 1851, assignment confirmed in 1859, handed over to the Netherlands in 1861
Macassar ( Makassar , today: Ujung Pandang ) 1512 1665 1512 Portuguese trading base, 1660 Dutch storm Makassar and force the Sultan to expel the Portuguese, 1665 the Portuguese leave Makassar
Pantar 16th century 1851/59/61 1814 Portuguese supremacy recognized, 1851 ceded by the governor to the Netherlands, 1859 cession confirmed, 1861 handed over to the Netherlands
Portuguese Timor 1586 1975 (1999) Discovered in 1512, 1556 foundation of the town of Lifau , 1586 formation of the colony, 1640 beginning of the Dutch occupation of the western part of the island, 1653 Kupang is destroyed by the Netherlands and conquered in 1656, 1701 Lifau becomes the capital of the colony, 1756 most of West Timor is lost to the Netherlands , 1769 Dili becomes the new capital, 1916 final border with West Timor , 1975 independent and shortly afterwards occupied by Indonesia , 1999 UN administration until 2002, officially "dependent territory under Portuguese administration" until final independence in 1999
Solor 1556 1851/59/61 1556 Foundation of a Portuguese settlement, 1566 construction of a fortress, 1589 Fort Laboiana is partially burned down during a local rebellion, 1602 Bugis attack repelled, 1613 lost to the Netherlands, 1630 regained by Portugal through defection of the Dutch commander, 1836 Dutch attack repelled, given up shortly afterwards and occupied again by the Netherlands in 1646, 1656 a Dutch military expedition is crushed by the Topasses, Topasse rule over Solor, 1787 alliance between Portugal and Topasses on Solor, from 1836 part of the Portuguese colonies, 1851 by the governor to the Netherlands ceded, cession confirmed in 1859, handed over to the Netherlands in 1861


The Azores island of Terceira in a picture from the 16th century.

The archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira form Portugal's last possessions away from the continental motherland. The islands were probably already known to the Phoenicians . 1419 is considered the date of the rediscovery of Madeira by the Portuguese João Gonçalves Zarco , from 1420 the island of flowers was settled. The Azores were discovered by Portugal in 1427 (other sources: 1429 or 1432) and settled from 1439 onwards. Initially colonies, the islands later became overseas provinces and, in 1976, autonomous regions of the Republic of Portugal. In contrast to Portugal's other overseas possessions, the islands were populated almost exclusively by Europeans and also had no native population. In addition to the Portuguese, Flemings and Italians also settled here .

The Canary Islands were never Portuguese. However, since their discovery in 1312 by the Genoese Lancelotto Malocello , they have been a subject of dispute between Portugal, Aragon and Castile. Henry the Navigator demanded from Castile to grant Portugal the right to occupy the Canary Islands, but in 1425 the attempt at occupation failed. Heinrich's goal was to build El Hierro into a base for further exploration of the African coast. The attempt to buy sovereign rights from Maciot de Béthencourt , the Norman ruler of the Canaries who was under the protection of Castile, also failed for unknown reasons. When Castile insisted on his suzerainty, Henry turned to the Pope in 1433 and the latter, apparently unaware of Castilian claims, complied with the Portuguese request. As a result, Henry received extensive rights of disposal over the Canary Islands from his brother Duarte I. From 1451 to 1454 there were armed conflicts between the two countries over the Canary Islands. Portugal finally renounced its claims in 1479 in the Treaty of Alcáçovas . For this, Spain renounced all areas south of Cape Bojador and thus the exploration of the east route to India.


The third Portuguese armada sent to India, under João da Nova , discovered several islands in the South Atlantic. Ascension was discovered on March 25, 1501 and named Ilha de Nossa Senora da Conceição . Two years later, the island was "discovered" again by Afonso de Albuquerque on May 20, 1503. He gave her the name Assunção because he sighted her on the Ascension Day . However, the island was not taken over. The island of St. Helena was also discovered in 1501. The Portuguese later imported fruit and built some houses, including a chapel. The location of the island was initially kept secret. The island's first long-term resident was Fernão Lopez , who had been exiled by the Goan governor but did not want to return to Portugal. Lopez died on St. Helena in 1530. Around 1600 the Portuguese gave up St. Helena, which was immediately occupied by the Dutch.

The island of Gough was probably discovered by Gonçalo Álvares in 1505 and entered on the maps under the name Ilha de Gonçalo Álvares .

The island of Tristan da Cunha was discovered in 1506 by the Portuguese Tristão da Cunha and the eighth Portuguese India Fleet. But since he could not land, she was not taken by Portugal.

possession acquisition loss story
Azores 1427 Discovered by the Portuguese in 1427 (other sources 1429 or 1432), settled in 1439, colony until 1766, administration by a captain general (1766–1831), overseas province (1831–1976), autonomous region since 1976
Madeira 1419 owned by Portugal since 1420, colony (1580–1834), district (1834–1976), autonomous region since 1976
St. Helena 1501 1600 Discovered in 1501, abandoned in 1600 and occupied by the Netherlands

See also


  • Peter Feldbauer: State of India. The Portuguese in Asia 1498–1620 . Mandelbaum, Vienna 2003, ISBN 3-85476-091-4 . (Revised new edition: The Portuguese in Asia: 1498–1620 . Magnus, Essen 2005, ISBN 3-88400-435-2 )
  • Michael Kraus, Hans Ottomeyer (eds.): Novos mundos. new worlds. Portugal and the Age of Discoveries. Sandstein Verlag, Dresden 2007, ISBN 978-3-940319-11-1 .
  • António Henrique de Oliveira Marques : History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 385). Translated from the Portuguese by Michael von Killisch-Horn. Kröner, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-520-38501-5 (original title: Breve história de Portugal. ).
  • Malyn Newitt, A History of Portuguese Overseas Expansion, 1400-1668. Routledge, London 2005, ISBN 0-415-23980-X . (English)
  • Malyn Newitt (ed.): The Portuguese in West Africa, 1415-1670: A Documentary History. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge et al. 2010, ISBN 978-0-521-76894-8 . (English)
  • Teresa Pinheiro: Appropriation and Solidification . The Construction of Brazil and Its Inhabitants in Portuguese Eyewitness Accounts 1500–1595. Steiner, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-515-08326-X . (= Contributions to European overseas history . Volume 89, also dissertation at the University of Paderborn 2002)
  • Anthony JR Russell-Wood: The Portuguese Empire, 1415-1808: A World on the Move. Johns Hopkins University Press , Baltimore 1998, ISBN 0-8018-5955-7 . (English)
  • Fernand Salentiny : The Spice Route. The Discovery of the Sea Route to Asia; Portugal's Rise as Europe's First Maritime and Commercial Power . DuMont, Cologne 1991, ISBN 3-7701-2743-9 .

web links

Commons : Portuguese Colonial Empire  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Fernand Salentiny: The Spice Route: The Discovery of the Sea Route to Asia. Portugal's rise to become Europe's first maritime and trading power. Cologne 1991, ISBN 3-7701-2743-9 .
  2. a b c d e A.H. de Oliveira Marques: History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire . Kroner , 2001, ISBN 3-520-38501-5 .
  3. The Lusiads . In: World Digital Library . 1800-1882. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  4. Edmonds: China and Europe Since 1978: A European Perspective . Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-521-52403-2 .
  5. Jonathan Porter: Macau, the Imaginary City: Culture and Society, 1557 to the Present . Westview Press, 1996, ISBN 0-8133-3749-6 .
  6. Business Guide to the Greater Pearl River Delta . China Briefing Media publishing, 2004, ISBN 988-98673-1-1 .
  7. ^ a b Lindsay Ride, May Ride, John K. Fairbank: The Voices of Macao Stones: Abridged with Additional Material by Jason Wordie . Hong Kong University Press, ISBN 962-209-487-2 .
  8. Map proves Portuguese discovered Australia: new book . Reuters, March 21, 2007
  9. a b c d e Monika Schlicher: Portugal in East Timor. A Critical Inquiry into Portuguese Colonial History in East Timor 1850 to 1912 . Abera, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-931567-08-7 , ( Abera Network Asia-Pacific 4), (Also: Heidelberg, Univ., Diss., 1994).
  10. Brockhaus' Conversations-Lexikon , 13th edition. Supplement volume, p. 17 (Africa) and 602 (Portugal). Leipzig 1887.
  11. Exploration of North America by the Corte-Reals. Libraries and Archives of Canada
  12. João Álvares Fagundes . Libraries and Archives of Canada
  13. Goa churches ( Memento of January 29, 2013 at Internet Archive ) retrieved January 4, 2013.