Despite the extent of the Portuguese Empire, it is quite tricky to find whole countries that were once Portuguese colonies. Many former Portuguese colonies have today, been subsumed into modern day countries, with some areas having had their borders and maps redrawn a number of times throughout the last three or four centuries. Whatever their current status, as former Portuguese colonies they still retain some distinctive Portuguese culture, especially in language, religion and food. Here are 7 interesting former Portuguese colonies.
Becoming a Portuguese colony in 1575, Angola celebrated 35 years of independence on 11th November 2010. Angola extends over 1.2million square kilometers of southwest Africa, with an estimated population of about 18 million and the official language being Portuguese. Religious Indications are that indigenous followers’ number about 47%, while Roman Catholics are assessed at 38% and Protestants 15%. Angola is the second largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, however, its people are amongst the poorest on the continent, with the corruption generated by the Dos Santos government considered significantly responsible. Portuguese culture and many of the traditional ceremonies have disappeared for the average populace, to be replaced by the need to survive and an almost fanatical following of football or soccer.
Angola is a former Portuguese colony located in southwest Africa, with an estimated population of 18 million people. It is the second-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa and is home to a diverse religious population, with indigenous followers making up 47%, Roman Catholics 38%, and Protestants 15%.
The country celebrated 35 years of independence on 11th November 2010, after becoming a Portuguese colony in 1575. While Portuguese culture and traditional ceremonies have largely disappeared for the average populace, football (or soccer) is a popular pastime, with a fanatical following.
Despite its oil wealth, Angola is one of the poorest countries in the continent, with the corruption generated by the Dos Santos government largely blamed for this. The current president, João Lourenço, has promised to tackle this corruption and improve the economy.
Despite its challenges, Angola is a beautiful country with a variety of landscapes, including mountains, deserts, and forests. It has a rich cultural heritage, with traditional music, dance, and art still popular today. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, rhinos, and lions.
The huge South American country of Brazil became a Portuguese colony in 1500. There was not an advanced civilization before Portuguese culture was established. Independence by Latin-American standards was relatively easy for Brazil when in 1808 the Portuguese Queen and Regent escaped to Rio because of the invasion by the French of Portugal. The reported population of Brazil is around 194 million and they communicate in the official language of Portuguese, with Spanish, English and French. Their customs are displayed in amazing carnivals, many having their roots in Portuguese culture and they have a passion for soccer. Some of the carnivals are related to various religious beliefs with the Roman Catholics forming about 73.6% of the population and Protestants 15.4%. Brazil experiences extreme disparity in education, wealth, opportunities and income.
Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America, and is the fifth largest country in the world. It is bordered by every South American country except Ecuador and Chile. Brazil has a tropical climate, with the southern region experiencing cooler temperatures.
Brazil is home to a variety of cultures and ethnicities, making it one of the most diverse countries in the world. Portuguese is the official language, but many other languages are spoken, including Spanish, English, and French.
Brazil has a rich and vibrant culture, and is known for its vibrant music, dance, and art. The country is also famous for its carnivals, which are based on Portuguese culture. The most famous of these is the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, which attracts millions of visitors each year.
Brazil is also known for its passion for soccer, and has produced some of the greatest soccer players in the world. Brazil has won the World Cup five times, the most of any country.
Brazil has a population of over 194 million people, and is one of the most unequal countries in terms of education, wealth, opportunities, and income. Despite this inequality, Brazil has made considerable progress in recent years in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction.
3 Cape Verde
The former Portuguese colony of the Republic of Cape Verde is an island country 570 kilometers off the West African coast. In 1456 when the Portuguese first landed in the Cape Verde islands, they described them as being uninhabited. The official language is Portuguese and the country now supports a population of about 500,600. Independence was attained for Cape Verde in 1975 but reports show that about 38% of the population resides in rural areas with 10.6% existing below the poverty level. Since 2007, it has been classified as a developing nation. Religious preferences of the population are primarily Christian with about 10% Protestant and half of those, members of the Church of Nazarene. There are various traditions and festivals, among the most common being Christmas, Saint John and the carnival.
Cape Verde is a small archipelago of ten islands located 570 kilometers off the West African coast. It is a former Portuguese colony that was declared independent in 1975. The official language is Portuguese and the population of the country stands at around 500,600.
The economy of the country is mainly dependent on fishing and agriculture, and the country has been classified as a developing nation since 2007. The religious preferences of the population are mainly Christian with about 10% Protestant and half of those being members of the Church of Nazarene.
The culture of Cape Verde is a blend of African and Portuguese influences, with traditional festivals like Christmas, Saint John and the carnival being celebrated each year. The country also has a vibrant music scene, with genres like morna and funana being popular among the locals.
The country is also known for its stunning beaches, with the most popular being Praia, Santa Maria, Boa Vista and Sal. The country also offers some of the best surfing spots in the world, with waves ranging from beginner to advanced.
4 Equatorial Guinea
The Republic Equatorial Guinea occupies an area of 28,000 square kilometers in mid-Africa. Although one of the smallest countries in Africa it is one of the richest, though restricted per capita, with a population of about 650,702, of which 93% are Christians. Becoming a Portuguese colony in 1474, Equatorial Guinea was ceded by treaty to Spain in 1778 in exchange for the South American territory of Sacramento. Most Portuguese culture and customs have been neglected with Equatorial Guinea consistently having one of the worst records of human rights. The official language is Spanish with French and Portuguese, but most of the ethnic groups communicate in the tongue referred to as “Bantu”. Some ancient customs, such as the rituals of the Abira remain.
Equatorial Guinea is a small country located in Central Africa, on the Gulf of Guinea. It has a population of 650,702 people, and 93% of them are Christians.
The country was a Portuguese colony from 1474 until 1778, when it was ceded to Spain in exchange for the South American territory of Sacramento. During this period, Portuguese culture and customs were largely neglected, leading to a poor human rights record in the country.
The official language of Equatorial Guinea is Spanish, but French and Portuguese are also spoken. Most of the ethnic groups in the country communicate in a language known as Bantu.
Despite its small size, Equatorial Guinea is one of the richest countries in Africa, though its wealth is not evenly distributed among its population.
Equatorial Guinea has retained some of its ancient customs, such as the rituals of the Abira. The country is a popular tourist destination, with its lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, and diverse wildlife. It is also home to a number of national parks, including Monte Alen National Park and Monte Mitra National Park.
Situated in southeast Africa, the Republic of Mozambique had nearly five hundred years as a Portuguese colony, and gained independence in 1975. After a long civil war, a peace agreement was negotiated in 1992. The country has an area of 812,379 square kilometers, shares borders with seven countries including South Africa and a population of about 22.9 million. Mozambique is one of the major Lusophone countries (countries where Portuguese language is spoken). A census conducted in 2007 revealed that 56.1% of the population is Christian, with 17.9% being Muslims. The influences of Portuguese culture are evident in the music and dancing of Mozambique and are mainly related to religious and social practices.
Although Macau officially became a Portuguese colony in 1887, it was transferred back to China in 1999. It is one of the two special administrative regions of the Peoples Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong. The policy of “one country, two systems” means that the Central People’s Government of china is responsible for the defense of Macau and its associated foreign affairs. The combining of Chinese and Portuguese culture with various religious traditions has produced a unique collection of festivals and customs with the Chinese New Year regarded as the most important. Among the population of +578,000 the Catholic and protestant religions play active roles, thanks to strong influence of Portuguese culture.
The rich historic state of Goa and a former Portuguese colony is located on the west coast of India and has a unique combination of Indian and Portuguese culture. Goa has an area of 3,700 square kilometers and a population of about 1.4 million people, making it relatively small by Indian standards. It is significantly different from other parts of the country. This is influenced by Portuguese culture and its isolation from the rest of India for over 450 years, up to 1961 when it was annexed. The religious beliefs of people of Goa are a combination primarily of about 65% Hindus and 24% Christians. The major influence of Portuguese culture is in the food of Goa – the world famous Vindaloo Curry, is a fusion of Portuguese style cooking with Indian spices.
It’s quite surprising that a country as small as Portugal could once have ruled such large areas, especially when you consider that Brazil, the 6th largest country in the world is one of the former Portuguese colonies. It was thanks to their intrepid sea explorers like Magellan and Vasco da Gama, that much of South America and Africa became known to the world. Which aspects of Portuguese culture do you find most fascinating?
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