Portuguese is taught in Macau

Countries where Portuguese is spoken


The main distribution areas of the Portuguese language are the actual Portugal and the former Portuguese colonies in South America, Africa and a few countries in Asia. In addition, there are numerous native speakers in the USA, Canada, France and other countries through migration.



Portuguese colonial empire as a starting point

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal was considered a leading seafaring nation and sent numerous explorers and conquerors to distant continents by sea. The Portuguese empire began in 1415 with what is now the Spanish exclave of Ceuta on the North African coast. Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India in 1498 and from there was able to explore areas of Asia that were remote from a European point of view. For two centuries there was basically fighting on all fronts at the same time and even fighting with the imperial army of China. Many residents of Macau and East Timor still speak Portuguese today.

Dozens of colonies emerged in Africa in the 16th century. However, since Portugal itself had too few inhabitants, it was not possible to send large armies into the interior of the country. So one concentrated on the peripheral areas and a Portuguese belt, often only 100 km wide, was created around almost the entire west, south and east coast of Africa. By the end of the same century, however, it was almost completely lost again. However, the influences of Portugal have remained in many places. The Portuguese culture and language can now be found mainly in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau.

South America: the fight against Spain

Christopher Columbus was Italian himself, but found what he called India on behalf of the Spanish crown. Portugal did the math and located the new world south of the Canary Islands. Due to a contract signed with Spain 14 years earlier, the entire Caribbean and South America should have been transferred to Portugal. Ultimately, the Pope decided: Portugal was allowed to keep a small strip in the east of what is now Brazil. The rest of the continent went to the Spaniards. Over time, Brazil expanded into large areas, but was allowed to remain Portuguese despite some friction. So it came about that, with the exception of Brazil, all South American countries received a much greater Spanish influence. Only in neighboring Paraguay does a significant part of the population speak Portuguese today, but this is no longer due to colonial times, but rather to modern migration.

Due to the great influence of the language, Portuguese is also taught as a second language in almost all neighboring countries.