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Portuguese Africa

Portuguese Africa

At the height of European colonialism in the 19th century, Portugal had lost its territory in South America and all but a few bases in Asia. During this phase, Portuguese colonialism focused on expanding its outposts in Africa into nation-sized territories to compete with other European powers there. Portuguese territories eventually included the modern nations of Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique.

Portugal pressed into the hinterland of Angola and Mozambique, and explorers Serpa Pinto, Hermenegildo Capelo and Roberto Ivens were among the first Europeans to cross Africa west to east. The project to connect the two colonies, the Pink Map, was the Portuguese main objective in the second half of the 19th century. However, the idea was unacceptable to the British, who had their own aspirations of contiguous British territory running from Cairo to Cape Town. The British Ultimatum of 1890 was respected by King Carlos I of Portugal and the Pink Map came to an end. The King's reaction to the ultimatum was exploited by republicans. In 1908 King Carlos and Prince Luís Filipe were murdered in Lisbon. Luís Filipe's brother, Manuel, become King Manuel II of Portugal. Two years later Portugal became a republic.

In World War I German troops threatened Mozambique, and Portugal entered the war to protect its colonies.

António de Oliveira Salazar, who had seized power in 1933, considered Portuguese colonies as overseas provinces of Portugal. In the wake of World War II, the decolonization movements began to gain momentum. In the Portuguese Empire the first major clash occurred in São Tomé in the Batepá massacre of 1953. The Cold War also created instabilities among Portuguese overseas populations, as the United States and Soviet Union tried to increase their spheres of influence. In 1954 India invaded Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and in 1961 Portuguese India come to an end when Goa, Daman and Diu were also invaded. Also in 1961 the tiny Portuguese fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá in Ouidah, a remnant of the West African slave trade, was taken by the new government of Dahomey (now Benin).

But, despite these losses and unlike the other European colonial powers, Salazar attempted to resist the tide of decolonization and maintain the integrity of the empire. As a result, Portugal was the last nation to retain its major colonies.


1898, Departure of Fleet

1898, Arrival in Calicut

1898, Embarkation in Rastello

1898, Muse of History

1898, Da Gama, Camoes and Sao Gabriel

1898, Archangel Gabriel

1898, Sao Gabriel

1898, Vasco da Gama

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