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Portuguese Empire

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The Portuguese Empire and overseas interests.

The Portuguese Empire (Portuguese: Império Português) was one of the first global empires in history. 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 almost five centuries. This is longer than the Spanish, British, and French Empires.


The rise of Soviet influence in the working class, and the cost of the Portuguese Colonial War (19611974), led to its failure in 1974. The National Salvation Junta (Junta de Salvação Nacional) - was to end the wars and push Portuguese from its African colonies. These events made thousands of Portuguese refuges from Portugal's African territories.

Civil wars soon broke out. The communist governments fighting against insurgent groups. After years of fighting, Portgual 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 about half of South America.


  • Russell-Wood, A.J.R. (1998). The Portuguese Empire 1415–1825. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801859557