Portuguese Empire

global empire centered in Portugal

The Portuguese Empire (Portuguese: Império Português) was the first global empire in history.[1][2] It spread from South America to Africa, India and South East Asia. It began with the Portuguese exploration of the world during the 15th century and it lasted longer than all the other modern European empires. It lasted 486 years. This is longer than the Spanish, British, and French Empires.

The Portuguese Empire and overseas interests

The Portuguese Empire had trade with the following areas

The 1890 British Ultimatum was an ultimatum by the British government, delivered on 11 January 1890 to Portugal. The ultimatum forced the retreat of Portuguese military forces from areas in Africa which had been claimed by Portugal, but which the United Kingdom occupied.

The Portuguese Empire, like the British, French and German empires, was fatally damaged by the two world wars fought in the 20th century. These European powers were pressured by the Soviet Union and the United States and by independence movements inside the colonial territories. By the end of the 20th century these colonial empires were history.

The rise of Soviet influence in the working class, and the cost of the Portuguese Colonial War (1961–1974), led to the collapse of the Portuguese Second Republic (Estado Novo) in 1974. The National Salvation Junta (Junta de Salvação Nacional) - was to end the wars and take Portugal out of its African colonies. These events made thousands of Portuguese refugees from Portugal's African territories.

Civil wars soon broke out elsewhere. After years of fighting, Portugal gave Macau to China in 1999.



The seven former colonies of Portugal have Portuguese as their official language. They are members of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries with Portugal. Today Portuguese is one of the world's major languages. It is the language of Brazil, which is the largest country in South America.


  1. "The First Global Empire | History Today". www.historytoday.com. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  2. "First global empire". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 2020-10-05.