Portuguese Guinea


Portuguese Guinea
Guiné Portuguesa
Portuguese Guinea
Colony; Overseas territory ; State

1474–1974
Flag Coat of arms
Portuguese Guinea
Capital Bissau (Cacheu (1558-1697))
Language(s) Portuguese
Political structure Colony; Overseas territory ; State
Head of state
 - Regent
   1446-48
Pedro, Duke of Coimbra
 - President
   1958-61
Américo Thomaz
Governor
 - 1879-1881 (first) Agostinho Coelho
 - 1974-1974 (last) Carlos Fabião
Captain-major
 - 1640-1641 (first) Luis de Magalhães
 - 1877-1879 (last) António José Cabral Vieira
Historical era Imperialism
 - Established 1474
 - Fall of Portuguese Empire 10 September 1974
Currency Portuguese Guinean escudo

Portuguese Guinea (also Guinea or the Overseas Province of Guinea) was the name for what is today Guinea-Bissau from 1446 to September 10, 1974.

Contents

History

The flag of the Guinea Company, a Portuguese company that traded in several commodities and slaves around the Guinea coast from the 15th century.

Though the Kingdom of Portugal had claimed the area four years earlier, Portuguese explorer Nuno Tristão sailed around the coast of West Africa, reaching the Guinea area in about 1450, searching for the source of gold and other valuable commodities that had slowly been trickling up into Europe via land routes for the preceding half century. Sometime later, slaves were also added to the list. Portuguese Guinea had been part of the Sahel Empire, and the local Landurna and Naula tribes traded in salt and grew rice. Like in many other regions across Africa, powerful indigenous kingdoms along the Bight of Benin relied heavily on a long established slave trade. The Ashanti exploited their military predominance to bring slaves to coastal forts established first by Portugal after 1480, and then soon afterwards by the Dutch, Danish, and English. The slaving network quickly expanded deep into the Sahel, where the Mossi diverted an ancient slaving trade away from the Mediterranean towards the Gold Coast.[1] With the help of local tribes in about 1600, the Portuguese, and numerous other European powers, including France, Britain and Sweden, set up a thriving slave trade along the West African coast. However, the local black African rulers in Guinea, who prospered greatly from the slave trade, had no interest in allowing the white Europeans any further inland than the fortified coastal settlements where the trading took place. The Portuguese presence in Guinea was therefore largely limited to the port of Bissau and Cacheu. For a brief period in the 1790s the British attempt to establish a rival foothold on an offshore island, at Bolama. But by the 19th century the Portuguese were sufficiently secure in Bissau to regard the neighbouring coastline as their own special territory, also in part of present southern Senegal.

According to the estimates of Hugh Thomas, a total of 11,128,000 African slaves were delivered live to the New World, including 500,000 to British North America; therefore, only 4.5% of the total African slaves delivered to the New World were delivered to British North America. Also from Hugh Thomas, the major sources of the 13 million slaves departing from Africa were Congo/Angola (3 million), Gold Coast (1.5 million), Slave Coast (2 million), Kingdom of Benin to Calabar (2 million), and Mozambique/Madagascar on the east coast of Africa (1 million).[2] A large part of all slaves imported from Africa were bound for the Brazilian colonies. Cacheu, in Guinea-Bissau, was one of the largest slave markets in Africa for a time. After the abolition of slavery in the 1830s, the slave trade went into serious decline, though a small illegal slaving operation continued. Bissau, founded in 1765, became the Portuguese Guinea colony's capital. Though the coast had been under firm Portuguese control for the past four centuries, it was not until the Scramble for Africa that any interest was taken in the inland part of the colony. The remains of the Kaabu kingdom were under Fula control until the Portuguese suppression of the kingdom around the turn of the 20th century. However, a large tract of land that was formerly Portuguese was lost to French West Africa, including the prosperous Casamance River area, which had been a large commercial centre for the colony. Britain tried to take control of Bolama, which lead to an international dispute that came close to war between Britain and Portugal until U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant intervened and prevented a conflict by ruling that Bolama belonged to Portugal.

As with the other Portuguese territories in mainland Africa (Portuguese Angola and Portuguese Mozambique), Portugal exercised control over the coastal areas of Portuguese Guinea when first laying claim to the whole region as a colony. For the next three decades there are costly and continuous campaigns to suppress the local African rulers. By 1915 this process was complete, enabling Portuguese colonial rule to progress in a relatively unruffled state - until the emergence of nationalist movements all over Africa in the 1950s.

Portuguese Guinea was administered as part of the Cape Verde Islands colony until 1879, when it was separated from the islands to become its own colony. At the turn of the 20th century, Portugal began a campaign against the animist tribes of the interior, with the help of the coastal Islamic population. This began a long struggle for control of both the interior and remote archipelagos: it would not be until 1936 that areas like the Bijagos Islands would be under complete government control. In 1951, when the Portuguese government overhauled the entire colonial system, all Portugal's colonies, including Portuguese Guinea, were renamed Overseas Provinces (Províncias Ultramarinas).

The fight for independence began in 1956, when Amílcar Cabral founded the Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (Portuguese: African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde), the PAIGC.

Portuguese-held (green), disputed (yellow) and rebel-held areas (red) in Portuguese-Guinea 1970

In 1961, when a purely political campaign for independence had made little progress, the PAIGC adopted guerrilla tactics. Although heavily outnumbered by Portuguese troops (approximately 30,000 Portuguese to some 10,000 guerrillas), the PAIGC had the great advantage of safe havens over the border in Senegal and Guinea, both recently independent of French rule. Several communist countries supported the guerrillas with weapons and military trainning.

PAIGC soldiers during the war of liberation.

In 1972 Cabral sets up a government in exile in Conakry, the capital of neighbouring Guinea. It was there, in 1973, that he was assassinated outside his house - just a year before a left-wing military coup in Portugal dramatically altered the political situation.

Portuguese Landing Craft in Portuguese Guinea, 1973.

By 1973 the PAIGC controlled most of the interior of the country, while the coastal and estuary towns, including the main populational and economic centres remained under Portuguese control. The town of Madina do Boe in the southeasternmost area of the territory, close to the border with neighbouring Guinea, was the location where PAIGC guerrillas declared the independence of Guinea-Bissau on September 24, 1973.

The conflict in Portuguese Guinea involving the PAIGC guerrillas and the Portuguese Army was the most intense and damaging of all Portuguese Colonial War. Thus, during the 1960s and early 1970s, Portuguese development plans promoting strong economic growth and effective socioeconomic policies, like those applied by the Portuguese in the other two theaters of war (Portuguese Angola and Portuguese Mozambique), were not possible.

The war in the colonies was increasingly unpopular in Portugal itself as the people got weary of war and balked at its ever-rising expense. The war began to turn against the Portuguese, and following the coup d'état in Portugal in 1974, the new left-wing revolutionary government of Portugal began to negotiate with the PAIGC. As his brother Amílcar had been assassinated in 1973, Luís Cabral became the first president of independent Guinea-Bissau after independence was granted on September 10, 1974.

Economy

Early colonialism

From the viewpoint of European history the Guinea Coast is associated mainly with slavery. Indeed one of the alternative names for the region is the Slave Coast. When the Portuguese first sailed down the Atlantic coast of Africa in the 1430s, they were interested in gold. Ever since Mansa Musa, king of the Mali Empire, made his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1325, with 500 slaves and 100 camels (each carrying gold) the region had become synonymous with such wealth. The trade from sub-Saharan Africa was controlled by the Islamic Empire which stretched along Africa's northern coast. Muslim trade routes across the Sahara, which had existed for centuries, involved salt, kola, textiles, fish, grain, and slaves.[3] As the Portuguese extended their influence around the coast, Mauritania, Senegambia (by 1445) and Guinea, they created trading posts. Rather than becoming direct competitors to the Muslim merchants, the expanding market opportunities in Europe and the Mediterranean resulted in increased trade across the Sahara.[4] In addition, the Portuguese merchants gained access to the interior via the Senegal and Gambia rivers which bisected long-standing trans-Saharan routes. The Portuguese brought in copper ware, cloth, tools, wine and horses. Trade goods soon also included arms and ammunition. In exchange, the Portuguese received gold (transported from mines of the Akan deposits), pepper (a trade which lasted until Vasco da Gama reached India in 1498) and ivory.

There was a very small market for African slaves as domestic workers in Europe, and as workers on the sugar plantations of the Mediterranean. However, the Portuguese found they could make considerable amounts of gold transporting slaves from one trading post to another, along the Atlantic coast of Africa. Muslim merchants had a high demand for slaves, which were used as porters on the trans-Saharan routes, and for sale in the Islamic Empire. The Portuguese found Muslim merchants entrenched along the African coast as far as the Bight of Benin.[5] Before the arrival of the Europeans, the African slave trade, centuries old in Africa, is not yet the major feature of the coastal economy of Guinea. The expansion of trade occurs after the Portuguese reach this region in 1446, bringing great wealth to several local slave trading tribes. The Portuguese used slave labour to colonize and develop the previously uninhabited Cape Verde islands where they founded settlements and grew cotton and indigo. They then traded these goods, in the estuary of the Geba river, for black slaves captured by other black peoples in local African wars and raids. The slaves are sold in Europe and, from the 16th century, in the Americas. The Company of Guinea was a Portuguese governative institution whose task was to deal with the spices and to fix the prices of the goods. It was called Casa da Guiné, Casa da Guiné e Mina from 1482 to 1483 and Casa da Índia e da Guiné in 1499. The local African rulers in Guinea, who prosper greatly from the slave trade, have no interest in allowing the Europeans any further inland than the fortified coastal settlements where the trading takes place. The Portuguese presence in Guinea is therefore largely limited to the port of Bissau.

Colonial era

For a brief period in the 1790s the British attempted to establish a rival foothold on an offshore island, at Bolama, but Britain's interest in the region declined with the end of the British slave trade in 1807. By the end of the first decade of the 19th century the Portuguese were therefore sufficiently secure in Bissau to regard the neighbouring coastline as their own. It was therefore natural for Portugal to lay claim to this region, soon to be known as Portuguese Guinea, when the European scramble for Africa begins in the 1880s. After the abolition of slavery in the Portuguese overseas territories in the 1830s, the slave trade went into serious decline.

Portugal's main rivals were the French, their energetic colonial neighbours along the coast both to in Senegal to the north and in the region which now became French Guinea to the south. The Portuguese presence in Guinea was not disputed by the French, but the precise line of the borders was indeterminate. Final borders were established by means of agreements reached between the two colonial powers in two series of negotiations, in 1886 and 1902-5.

Until the end of the 19th century, rubber was the main export.

As an overseas province

In 1951, when the Portuguese government overhauled the entire colonial system, all Portugal's colonies, including Portuguese Guinea, were renamed Overseas Provinces (Províncias Ultramarinas). New infrastructures were built for education, health, agriculture, transportation, commerce, services, and administration. Cashew, peanut, rice, timber, livestock and fish were the main economic productions. The port of Bissau was one of the main employers and a very important source of taxes for the province's authorities.

Last days

PAIGC guerrillas in 1974

The conflict which started in 1964 in Portuguese Guinea pitted the PAIGC guerrillas against the Portuguese Army and was the most intense and damaging theater of the Portuguese Colonial War. Thus, during the 1960s and early 1970s, Portuguese development plans promoting strong economic growth and effective socioeconomic policies, like those applied by the Portuguese in the other two theaters of war (Portuguese Angola and Portuguese Mozambique), were not possible. In 1972 Amílcar Cabral sets up a government in exile in Conakry, the capital of neighbouring Guinea. It was there, in 1973, that he was assassinated outside his house - just a year before a left-wing military coup in Portugal dramatically altered the political situation. By 1973 the PAIGC controlled most of the interior of the country, while the coastal and estuary towns, including the main populational and economic centres remained under Portuguese control. The village of Madina do Boé in the southeasternmost area of the territory, close to the border with neighbouring Guinea, was the location where PAIGC guerrillas declared the independence of Guinea-Bissau on September 24, 1973. The war in the colonies was increasingly unpopular in Portugal itself as the people got weary of war and balked at its ever-rising expense. Following the coup d'état in Portugal in 1974, the new left-wing revolutionary government of Portugal began to negotiate with the PAIGC and decided to offer independence to all the overseas territories.

References

  1. ^ Edward Brynn, Slavery in the Sahel, University of North Carolina
  2. ^ THE ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE AND SLAVERY IN AMERICA, NEIL A. FRANKEL
  3. ^ A.L. Epstein, Urban Communities in Africa - Closed Systems and Open Minds, 1964
  4. ^ B.W. Hodder, Some Comments on the Origins of Traditional Markets in Africa South of the Sahara - Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 1965 - JSTOR
  5. ^ H. Miner, The City in Modern Africa - 1967

See also

Coordinates: 2°11′N 102°23′E / 2.183°N 102.383°E / 2.183; 102.383


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Portuguese Guinea — former name for GUINEA BISSAU …   English World dictionary

  • Portuguese Guinea — noun a republic on the northwestern coast of Africa; recognized as independent by Portugal in 1974 • Syn: ↑Guinea Bissau, ↑Republic of Guinea Bissau, ↑Guine Bissau • Instance Hypernyms: ↑African country, ↑African nation • …   Useful english dictionary

  • Portuguese Guinea — geographical name see Guinea Bissau …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Portuguese Guinea — former name of Guinea Bissau. * * * …   Universalium

  • Portuguese Guinea — noun A former colony of Portugal and country in Africa, now called Guinea Bissau …   Wiktionary

  • Portuguese Guinea — former name of Guinea Bissau on Africa’s west coast …   Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games

  • Portuguese Guinea — Por′tuguese Guin′ea n. geg former name of Guinea Bissau …   From formal English to slang

  • Portuguese Guinea — /pɔtʃəˌgiz ˈgɪni/ (say pawchuh.geez ginee) noun → Guinea Bissau …   Australian English dictionary

  • List of colonial heads of Portuguese Guinea — What follows is a list of colonial heads of Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea Bissau). (Dates in italics indicate de facto continuation of office) Tenure Incumbent Notes Portuguese Suzerainty 1879 to 1881 Agostinho Coelho, Governor 1881 to 1884 Pedro …   Wikipedia

  • Portuguese Colonial War — Portuguese troops embarking to go to the Colonial War Date 1961–1974 …   Wikipedia


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