Evolution of the Portuguese Empire

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This article is a comprehensive list of all the actual possessions of the Portuguese Empire.[1][2]

Territories of the Portuguese empire[edit]

In Africa[edit]

Portuguese presence in Africa started in 1415 with the conquest of Ceuta and is generally viewed 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.[3]

  • 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 Portuguese 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). Ceded to Spain in 1668.
  • Elmina: possession (1482–1637). Captured by the Dutch West Indies Company.
  • Fernando Pó 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, capital of Portuguese India (1638–1698; 1728–1729). Under Omani sovereignty in 1729.
  • Morocco enclaves
    • Aguz/Souira Guedima (1506–1525)
    • Alcácer 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)
  • Moçambique/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.
  • Ouadane (1487)
  • Quíloa (1505–1512)
  • São João Baptista de Ajudá: colonial fort (1680-c.1700); fort subordinate to the Portuguese colony of Brazil (1721–1730); fort administered by colonial governor (1730-1858) subordinate to Portuguese São Tomé and Príncipe (1865–1869). Fort re-established under separate administration (1872-1961). Annexed by Dahomey in 1961.
  • São Tomé and Príncipe/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 (1471–1753). United with São Tomé in 1753.
  • 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[edit]

From Reinel-Lopo Homem Atlantic chart of 1519.

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

In Central and South America[edit]

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 their 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 united with the Kingdom of Portugal (1815–1822), independence in 1822.
  • Cisplatina (Uruguay): occupation (1808–1822). Captaincy in 1817 (of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the 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 Colónia do Sacramento: colony in present Uruguay (1680; 1683–1705; 1715–1777). Ceded to the Spanish Empire in 1777.

In Asia and Oceania[edit]

India was 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
  • Qatar: possession (1517–1538). Lost to the Ottomans
  • Timor: claimed and partially possessed from 1520 to 1640.
    • West Timor: part of Timor lost to the Dutch in 1640.
    • Portuguese 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. James Cotton, East Timor, Australia and regional order: intervention and its aftermath in Southeast Asia. (Routledge, 2004).</ref>

Present-day countries with territories once part of the Portuguese Empire[edit]

The Portuguese empire spread over time throughout a vast number of Territories that are now part of more than 70 different Sovereign States, many of which did not exist as they are, at the time.

Region States Countries with Territories part of the Portuguese Empire
Africa 38 States
Countries with at least one territory (anachronistic) part of the Portuguese Empire
Dark Blue: Countries with at least one Territory (anachronistic) part of the Portuguese Empire.
Light Blue: Countries with at least one Claimed territory (anachronistic) part of the Portuguese Empire
North America 3 States
Central and South America 7 States
Europe 2 States
Asia and Oceania 23 States

In Europe[edit]

Now part of Name of territory
Portugal Portugal Portugal
Spain Spain Cáceres, Trujillo, somes parts of Galiza (lost by 1168); Hermisende (lost in 1640); Olivenza, Táliga and Villareal (lost in 1801).

In Africa[edit]

Now part of Name of territory
Angola Angola Portuguese West Africa
Benin Benin Ouidah, Grande Popo
Cameroon Cameroon Douala (Rio dos Camarões)
Cape Verde Cape Verde Cape Verde
Comoros Comoros Grande Comore
Republic of the Congo Republic of the Congo Kingdom of Kongo
Democratic Republic of the Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo Territories in the vicinity of the mouth of the Congo River as part of Portuguese Congo, Kingdom of Kongo, Boma, Banana
Egypt Egypt El Tor, Alcocer[4][5]
Eritrea Eritrea Massawa (Maçuá)[6]
Ethiopia Ethiopia Amba Senayt
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea Bioko, Annobón (Fernando Pó and Annobón)
The Gambia The Gambia James Island, Albreda, San Domingo,[7][8] Cantor[9]
Mali Mali Bambouk (pt)
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso Farabana[10][11]
Ghana Ghana Accra, Elmina, Portuguese Gold Coast
Gabon Gabon Kingdom of Kongo, Outposts at the mouth of the Ogooué River,[12] Île Coniquet
Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau Portuguese Guinea
Guinea Guinea Area in the vicinity of Portuguese Guinea (claimed)
Ivory Coast Ivory Coast Sassandra
Kenya Kenya Malindi, Mombassa
Liberia Liberia Cabo das Palmas[13]
Madagascar Madagascar Madagascar (southern part), Tôlanaro
Malawi Malawi Southern Malawi, lost by 1890
Mauritania Mauritania Arguin, Ouadane
Mauritius Mauritius Mauritius, Rodrigues
Morocco Morocco Tanger, Souira Guedima, Alcacer Ceguer, Arzila, Azamor, Mazagan, Mogador, Safim, Agadir
Mozambique Mozambique Portuguese East Africa
Namibia Namibia Cape Cross (claimed). Later Caprivi Strip claimed as part of the Pink Map[14]
Nigeria Nigeria Benin City, Warri, Forçados
France France Réunion
Senegal Senegal Ziguinchor, Rufisque, Gorée, Portudal
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone Freetown, Aberdeen, Bunce Island, Banana Islands, Tumbu Island
Somalia Somalia Mogadishu, Barawa, Zeila (Somaliland), Berbera (Somaliland)
São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe
Sudan Sudan Suakin[4]
Tanzania Tanzania Kilwa Kisiwani, Zanzibar
Togo Togo Porto Seguro, Pequeno Popo
Western Sahara Western Sahara Rio de Ouro[15]
Zambia Zambia Luangwa, Portuguese Prazos in the beyond Zumbo upstream Kafue and Luangwa rivers
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Mutapa, Manicaland, Massi Kessi, Nyanga, Portuguese ruins in Zimbabwe, Mashonaland, Matabeleland
Botswana Botswana Tati Concession area[16]
Seychelles Seychelles Amirante Islands (claimed)
United Kingdom United Kingdom Saint Helena, Ascension Island
South Africa South Africa Mossel Bay (claimed), KwaZulu-Natal (claimed), Santa Lucia (claimed), Rio Infante (claimed)
Spain Spain Ceuta, Canary Islands

North Atlantic and North America[edit]

Now part of Name of territory
Canada Canada Terra Nova (Newfoundland), Labrador, Nova Scotia (St. Peter's, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Conception Bay)
France France Saint Pierre and Miquelon
The Bahamas Bahamas Ilha do Espírito Santo[17]
Denmark Denmark Greenland

In Central and South America[edit]

Now part of Name of territory
Argentina Argentina Area east of Paraná river, today Misiones, Entre Ríos and Corrientes provinces.
Barbados Barbados Barbados
Ecuador Ecuador Franciscana (pt)
Chile Chile Upper Peru (pt)
Bolivia Bolivia Upper Peru (pt)
Peru Peru Upper Peru (pt), Pebas[18]
Brazil Brazil Brazil
Colombia Colombia Vaupés valley (colonial Brazil by 1750). Also, area south of Rio Negro up to Japurá River (claimed, border undefined), Area south of Guayabero River and Guaviare River up to Putumayo River
Guyana Guyana Branco River valley (Roraima), Fort Kyk-Over-Al
French Guiana France French Guiana
Suriname Suriname Apetina, Paramaribo during the Guiana Campaign (pt).
Paraguay Paraguay Missiones, Itapúa, Alto Paraná and Ñeembucú departments. Lost to Spain by the Treaty of El Pardo
Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay

In Asia and Oceania[edit]

Now part of Name of territory
Bahrain Bahrain Bahrain
Bangladesh Bangladesh Chittagong
Myanmar Burma Sirião, Martaban, Tenasserim, Pegu
Cambodia Cambodia Ba Phnom
East Timor East Timor East Timor
Hong Kong Hong Kong Tuen Mun District
India India Portuguese India (Vasai, Bombaím/Mumbai, Calicut/Kozhikode, Cambay/Khambhat, Cannanore/Kolathunadu, Chaul, Cochin/Kochi, Cranganore/Kodungallur, Damão/Daman, Diu, Dadra, Goa, Hughli/Hugli, Nagar Haveli, Masulipatnam/Machilipatnam, Mangalore, Negapatam/Nagapattinam, Paliacate/Pulicat, Coulão/Kollam, Salsette Island, São Tomé de Meliapore/Mylapore, Surat, Tuticorin/Thoothukudi), Laccadive Islands/Lakshadweep
Indonesia Indonesia Flores, Solor, Makassar, Ambon, Ternate, Tidore, West Timor
Iran Iran Bandar-Abbas, Hormuz, Qeshm, Larak
Iraq Iraq Basra
Japan Japan Nagasaki (Dejima), Yokoseura
Kuwait Kuwait Kuwait, Failaka Island
Macau Macau Macau
Malaysia Malaysia Malacca
Maldives Maldives Maldives
Oman Oman Muscat, Muttrah, Sohar, Qurayyat, Qalhat, Barka, As Sib, Khasab, Madha, Bukha
Pakistan Pakistan Guadel, Thatta
China People's Republic of China Hengqin New Area, São João, Liampó
Qatar Qatar Qatar
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Qatif, Tarut
Singapore Singapore Temasek
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Portuguese Ceylon
Thailand Thailand Junkceylon, Portuguese Village in Ayutthaya, Patani
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates Dibba Al-Hisn, Khor Fakkan, Julfar (Ras al-Khaimah), Bidiyah, Kalba
Vietnam Vietnam Hoi An
Yemen Yemen Socotra, Xael, Ilha do Camarão

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Norrie MacQueen, The Decolonization of Portuguese Africa: Metropolitan Revolution and the Dissolution of Empire (1997).
  2. ^ John Springhall, Decolonization since 1945: the collapse of European overseas empires (2001).
  3. ^ Filipe Ribeiro De Meneses and Robert McNamara, eds. The White Redoubt, the Great Powers and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1960-1980 (Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2017.)
  4. ^ a b "The Portuguese expedition to Abyssinia in 1541-1543 as narrated by Castanhoso". Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  5. ^ "Tor (At Tûr) - EGIPTO". Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  6. ^ "Massawa". Retrieved 2013-04-06.
  7. ^ "James Island and Related Sites - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". Whc.unesco.org. 2009-09-11. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  8. ^ http://whc.unesco.org/archive/advisory_body_evaluation/761rev.pdf
  9. ^ "Chronica do descobrimento e conquisita de Guiné". Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  10. ^ "Farabana". Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  11. ^ "Portuguese in West Africa and Slavery". Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  12. ^ "Gabon - History". Retrieved 2012-01-03.
  13. ^ "Cabo das Palmas (Cape Palmas) - LIBÉRIA".
  14. ^ "Mappa (esboço) do territorio portuguez em Africa, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal".
  15. ^ "Chronology of the PORTUGUESE POSSESSIONS in AFRICA (1415-1800)". Retrieved 2018-02-24.
  16. ^ "old-portuguese-ruins-southern-rhodesia-zimbabwe". Retrieved 2017-12-31.
  17. ^ "Uma Viagem pelo Mundo em Português". Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  18. ^ "Ouro Vermelho:A Conquista dos Índios Brasileiros Vol. 27". Retrieved 2017-12-28.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cotton, James. East Timor, Australia and regional order: intervention and its aftermath in Southeast Asia (Routledge, 2004).
  • De Meneses, Filipe Ribeiro, and Robert McNamara, eds. The White Redoubt, the Great Powers and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1960-1980 (Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2017).
  • James, W. Martin. Historical dictionary of Angola (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018).
  • Lloyd-Jones, Stewart, and António Costa Pinto, eds. The last Empire: thirty years of Portuguese decolonization (Intellect Books, 2003).
  • MacQueen, Norrie. The Decolonization of Portuguese Africa: Metropolitan Revolution and the Dissolution of Empire (1997).
  • MacQueen, Norrie. "Belated Decolonization and UN Politics against the Backdrop of the Cold War: Portugal, Britain, and Guinea-Bissau's Proclamation of Independence, 1973–1974." Journal of Cold War Studies 8.4 (2006): 29-56.
  • Springhall, John. Decolonization since 1945: the collapse of European overseas empires (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001).