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Evolution of the Portuguese Empire: Wikis


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An anachronistic map of the Portuguese Empire (1415-1999). Red: actual possessions; Pink: explorations, areas of influence and trade and claims of sovereignty; Blue: main sea explorations, routes and areas of influence.

This article is a comprehensive list of all the actual possessions of the Portuguese Empire.


Territories of the Portuguese empire


In Africa

Portuguese presence in Africa started in 1415 with the conquest of Ceuta and is generally view as ending in 1975, with the independence of its later colonies, although the present autonomous region of Madeira is located in the African Plate, some 650 km (360 mi) off the North African coast, Madeira belongs and has always belonged ethnically, culturally, economically and politically to Europe, some 955 km (583 mi) from the European mainland.

  • Angola/Portuguese West Africa: colony (1575–1589); crown colony (1589–1951); overseas province (1951–1971); state (1971–1975). Independence in 1975.
  • Arguin/Arguim: (1455–1633)
  • Accra: (1557–1578)
  • Cabinda: protectorate (1883–1887); Congo district (1887–1921); intendancy subordinate to Maquela (1921–1922); dependency of Zaire district (1922–1930); Intendacy of Zaire and Cabinda (1930–1932); intendancy under Angola (1932–1934); dependency under Angola (1934–1945); restored as District (1946–1975). Controlled by Frente Nacional para a Libertação de Angola (National Liberation Front of Angola) as part of independent Angola in 1975. Declared Cabinda a Republic in 1975, but not recognized by Portugal nor Angola.
  • Cabo Verde/Cape Verde: settlements (1462–1495); dominion of crown colonies (1495–1587); crown colony (1587–1951); overseas province (1951–1974); autonomous republic (1974–1975). Independence in 1975.
From Cantino planisphere of 1502.
  • Ceuta: possession (1415–1640). Became Spanish in 1640.
  • Elmina: possession (1482–1637)
  • Fernando Poo and Annobón: colonies (1474–1778). Ceded to Spain in 1778.
  • Portuguese Gold Coast: (1482–1642), ceded to Dutch Gold Coast in 1642
  • Guiné Portuguesa/Portuguese Guinea: colony (1879–1951); overseas province (1951–1974). Unilateral independence declared in 1973, recognized by Portugal in 1974.
    • Cacheu: captaincy (1640–1879). United with Bissau in 1879.
    • Bissau: settlement under Cacheu (1687–1696); captaincy (1696–1707); abandoned (1707–1753); separate colony under Cape Verde (1753–1879). United with Cacheu in 1879.
  • Madagascar: southern part (1496–1550)
  • Madeira: possession (1418–1420); colony (1420–1580); crown colony (1580–1834); autonomous district (1834–1976). Made an autonomous region in 1976.
  • Mascarene Islands: fortified post (1498–1540)
  • Malindi: occupation (1500–1630)
  • Mombassa: occupation (1593–1638); colony subordinate to Goa (1638–1698; 1728–1729). Under Omani sovereignty in 1729.
  • Morocco enclaves
    • Aguz/Souira Guedima (1506–1525)
    • Alcacer Ceguer/El Qsar es Seghir (1458–1550)
    • Arzila/Asilah (1471–1550; 1577–1589). Restored to Morocco in 1589.
    • Azamor/Azemmour (1513–1541). City restored to Morocco in 1541.
    • Mazagan/El Jadida (1485–1550); possession (1506–1769). Incorporation into Morocco in 1769.
    • Mogador/Essaouira (1506–1510)
    • Safim/Safi (1488–1541)
    • Santa Cruz do Cabo de Gué/Agadir (1505–1541)
  • Mozambique/Portuguese East Africa: possession (1498–1501); subordinate to Goa (1501–1569); captaincy-general (1569–1609); colony subordinate to Goa (1609–1752); colony (1752–1951); overseas province (1951–1971); state (1971–1974); local transitional administration (1974–1975). Independence in 1975.
  • Quíloa (1505–1512)
  • Saint Laurent Islands (Madagascar): fortified post (1498–1540)
  • São João Baptista de Ajudá: fort subordinate to Brazil (1721–1730); subordinate to São Tomé e Príncipe (1865–1869). Annexed by Dahomey in 1961.
  • São Tomé e Príncipe: crown colony (1753–1951); overseas province (1951–1971); local administration (1971–1975). Independence in 1975.
    • São Tomé: possession (1470–1485); colony (1485–1522); crown colony (1522–1641); administration under Dutch occupation (1641–1648). French occupation in 1648.
    • Príncipe: colony (1500–1573). United with São Tomé in 1573.
  • Tangier: possession (1471–1662). Ceded to England in 1662.
  • Zanzibar: possession (1503–1698). Became part of Oman in 1698.
  • Ziguinchor: possession (1645–1888). Ceded to France in 1888.

North Atlantic and North America

From Reinel-Lopo Homem Atlantic chart of 1519.

The Azores were discovered soon in the Discovery Ages. Labrador and Corte-Real brothers later explored and claimed Greenland and eastern modern Canada from 1499 to 1502.

  • Azores: colonies (1427–1766); captaincy-general (1766–1831); autonomous districts of Angra do Heroismo, Horta and Ponta Delgada (1831–1976). Made an autonomous region in 1976.
  • Greenland: (1499/1500–?) possession claimed by João Fernandes Labrador in 1499 or 1500. Seen as claimed in the Cantino planisphere of 1502, Reinel-Lopo Homem chart of 1519 and Reinel map of 1535.
  • Land of the Corte-Real: (1501–?) claimed after the voyages of the Corte-Real brothers.
    • Terra Nova (Newfoundland): (1501–?) claimed by Miguel and Gaspar Corte-Real, latter by João Álvares Fagundes. Also known as Terra Nova dos Bacalhaus.
    • Labrador (1499/1500–?): claimed by the Corte-Real brothers and maybe by João Fernandes Labrador.
    • Nova Scotia (1519?–?): explored and claimed by João Álvares Fagundes.

In Central and South America

From Vaz Dourado atlas of c. 1576

Brazil was explored and claimed in 1500, and become independent in 1822. Unlike the Spanish, the Portuguese did not divide its possession in South America in several vice-royalties.

  • Barbados: Possession known as Os Barbados, discovered by Pedro Campos in 1536 being an exile post for Brazilian Jews. The only Caribbean possession the Portuguese held for eighty-four years until Portugal abandoned the island to continue exploring nearby Brazil.
  • Brazil: possession known as Ilha de Santa Cruz, later Terra de Vera Cruz (1500–1530); colony (1530-1714); vice-kingdom (1714–1815); kingdom under United Kingdom of Portugal (1815–1822), independence in 1822.
  • Cisplatina (Uruguay): occupation (1808–1822). Captaincy in 1817 (of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves). Adhered as a province of the new Empire of Brazil in 1822. Became independent 1827, changing its name to Uruguay.
  • French Guiana: occupation (1809–1817). Restored to France in 1817.
  • Nova Colônia do Sacramento: colony in present Uruguay (1680; 1683–1705; 1715–1777). Ceded to Spain in 1777.

In Asia and Oceania

Reached by the Portuguese in 1498 by Vasco da Gama. Macau was the last possession in Asia and was handed over to the People's Republic of China in 1999.

From an anonymous atlas c.1550
  • Muscat: possession (1515–1650)
  • Índia Portuguesa/Portuguese India: overseas province (1946–1962). Taken over by India in 1962 and recognised by Portugal in 1974.
  • Socotra: possession (1506–1511). Became part of Mahri Sultanate of Qishn and Suqutra
  • Timor: claimed and partially possessed from 1520 to 1640.
    • West Timor: part of Timor lost to the Dutch in 1640.
    • East Timor: colony subordinate to Portuguese India (1642–1844); subordinate to Macau (1844–1896); separate colony (1896–1951); overseas territory (1951–1975); republic and unilateral independence proclaimed, annexed by Indonesia (1975–1999, UN recognition as Portuguese territory). UN administration from 1999 until independence in 2002.

See also


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