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Evolution of the Portuguese Empire

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Title: Evolution of the Portuguese Empire  
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Subject: Colonial empire, Portugal, Macau, Portuguese Empire, Qalhat
Collection: 1415 Establishments, 1999 Disestablishments, Colonialism, Former Empires, Lists of Former Colonies, Portuguese Empire
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Evolution of the Portuguese Empire

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


  • Territories of the Portuguese empire 1
    • In Africa 1.1
    • North Atlantic and North America 1.2
    • In Central and South America 1.3
    • In Asia and Oceania 1.4
  • Present day countries with territories once part of the Portuguese Empire 2
    • In Africa 2.1
    • North Atlantic and North America 2.2
    • In Central and South America 2.3
    • In Asia and Oceania 2.4
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Territories of the Portuguese empire

In Africa

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.

  • 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: fort subordinate to the Portuguese colony of Brazil (1721–1730); subordinate to Portuguese São Tomé and Príncipe (1865–1869). 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

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.

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 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

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

Present day countries with territories once part of the Portuguese Empire

The Portuguese empire spread over time throughout a vast number of Territories that are now part of 53 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 26 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 4 States
Asia and Oceania 22 States

In Africa

Now part of Name of territory
Angola Portuguese West Africa, Portuguese Congo (Cabinda)
Benin Ouidah
Cape Verde Cape Verde
Comoros Grande Comore
Republic of the Congo Kingdom of Kongo
Democratic Republic of the Congo Kingdom of Kongo, Area around the mouth of the Congo River was part of the Portuguese West Africa and Portuguese Congo until the early 19th century
Eritrea Massawa (Matzua)[1]
Ethiopia Amba Senayt, Christian Missions in Gondar and Gorgora
Equatorial Guinea Bioko, Annobón (Fernando Pó and Annobón)
The Gambia James Island, Albreda, San Domingo [2][3]
Ghana Accra, Elmina, Portuguese Gold Coast
Gabon Kingdom of Kongo, Outposts at the mouth of the Ogooué River [4]
Guinea-Bissau Portuguese Guinea
Kenya Malindi, Mombassa
Madagascar Madagascar (southern part), Tôlanaro
Malawi Claimed as part of Pink Map
Mauritania Arguin
Mauritius Mauritius, Rodrigues
Morocco Tanger, Souira Guedima, Alcacer Ceguer, Arzila, Azamor, Mazagan, Mogador, Safim, Agadir
Mozambique Portuguese East Africa
Nigeria Benin City
France Réunion
Senegal Ziguinchor
Sierra Leone Bunce Island
Somalia Mogadischu, Barawa, Berbera (Somaliland)
São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe
Tanzania Kilwa Kisiwani, Zanzibar
Zambia Claimed as part of Pink Map
Zimbabwe Mutapa. Later (19th century) all claimed as part of Pink Map
United Kingdom Saint Helena, Ascension Island
Spain Ceuta, Canary Islands

North Atlantic and North America

Now part of Name of territory
Canada Terra Nova (Newfoundland), Labrador, Nova Scotia
France Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Denmark Greenland

In Central and South America

Now part of Name of territory
Argentina Jesuit Missions in the area bordering colonial Brazil
Barbados Barbados
Bolivia Jesuit Missions in the area bordering colonial Brazil
Brazil Brazil
France French Guiana
Paraguay Jesuit Missions in the area bordering colonial Brazil
Uruguay Uruguay

In Asia and Oceania

Now part of Name of territory
Bahrain Bahrain
Bangladesh Chittagong
Burma Thanlyin
East Timor East Timor
Hong Kong Tuen Mun District
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 Flores, Solor, Makassar, Ambon, Ternate, Tidore, West Timor
Iran Bandar-Abbas, Hormuz, Qeshm, Bandar-e Kong
Japan Dejima, Nagasaki
Macau Macau
Malaysia Malacca
Maldives Maldives
Oman Muscat, Muttrah, Sohar, Qurayyat, Qalhat, Barka, As Sib, Khasab, Madha
Pakistan Gwadar, Thatta
People's Republic of China Hengqin New Area, Ningbo, Sanchuang
Qatar Qatar
Saudi Arabia Qatif, Tarut
Singapore Temasek
Sri Lanka Portuguese Ceylon
United Arab Emirates(then known as Trucial states) Dibba Al-Hisn, Khor Fakkan, Julfar (Ras al-Khaimah), Bidiyah, Kalba
Vietnam Hoi An
Yemen Aden, Socotra

See also


  1. ^ "Massawa". Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  2. ^ "James Island and Related Sites - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". 2009-09-11. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Gabon - History". Retrieved 2012-01-03. 
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