Portuguese settlement in Chittagong

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Porto Grande de Bengala (Great Port of Bengal, and simplified as Porto Grande) refers to the Portuguese merchant and naval settlement in Chittagong, Bengal during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was a major trading center on the Bay of Bengal for nearly 200 years.

After the arrival of Vasco da Gama in India in 1498, and the Portuguese conquest of Malacca in 1511, their merchants began regularly traversing the sea routes to Bengal. In 1528, the Portuguese established factories and customs houses in the port city of Chittagong. The settlement eventually grew into a large and thriving Portuguese and Eurasian community of over 5000 people. It spread across large areas on both sides of the Karnaphuli River, as well as on the nearby island of Sandwip. The Dianga area outside Chittagong hosted a large naval and military fort.

Porto Grande initially operated under the patronage of the Bengal Sultanate. However, the Portuguese merchant community later allied with the Kings of Arakan and Magh pirates in order to dominate trade in the region. They also had a volatile relationship with the Arakanese, and several hundred merchants and their families were massacred by the King of Arakan in 1607 at Dianga. The Mughal Navy retook Chittagong from the Arakanese in 1668, and the Portuguese were subsequently expelled from the region.

Many descendants of the Portuguese continue to reside today in Chittagong, particularly in the neighborhood of Patherghatta in the old city (which was part of the historical settlement). They are locally known as the Firingi and one of the oldest Christian communities in Bengal.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ "HPIP". HPIP. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  2. ^ Prof. Sirajul Islam. "Portuguese, The". Banglapedia. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  3. ^ "The Portuguese on the Bay of Bengal". Colonialvoyage.com. Retrieved 2013-05-19.