Estado Novo e Imperial de Portugal/New Imperial State of Portugal





Head of State

Antonio Oscar Carmona (1926-1951), Francisco Rolao Preto (1951-1975), Carlos Galvão de Melo (from 1975)

Ruling Party

Uniao Nacional

Head of Government

Antonio de Oliveira Salazar de Correa (1932-1968), Marcelo Caetano (1968-1974), Antonio Sebastiao Ribeiro de Spinola (from 1974)


The National Dictatorship, later the New State, was established by coup d’etat in 1926, out of which Antonio Salazar emerged as the outstanding figure. Salazar ruled the country from 1932 until incapacitated by stroke in 1968. Essentially conservative, the Portuguese regime pushed toward mainstream fascism after 1946, accepting the German-Spanish imposition of the Lusitanian Integralist National-Syndicalist leader Francisco Rolao Preto as President in 1951. Salazar retained the Premiership and responsibility for Portugal's Finances, while Lusitanian Integralists such Luis de Almeida Braga, and their sympathisers such as General Humberto Delgado stocked lower levels of the administration.

Portugal is described as a pluricontinental state, with all colonial possessions regarded as overseas provinces of the metropolis, similar to French and Italian North Africa. Portugal's overseas provinces include Angola, Mozambique, Timor, Guinea, Macau, Sao Tome, Principe and the Portuguese State of India.

Portugal has close relations with the New State regime in Brazil, and with the regime of Francisco Franco in neighbouring Spain. Salazar helped to put Franco's Nationalists into power in Spain and after his victory the two countries signed the Iberian Pact of 1939. A meeting between the two leaders in February 1942 committed Portugal to enter the war against the USSR and to join the Axis. It also formed the basis for the creation of the Iberian Bloc, announced in December 1942.

Portugal's main goal is to maintain its territorial integrity. Claims on Portuguese territory, either in the mainland or the colonies, have been made by Great Britain, France, Spain, South Africa, India, Australia and the Netherlands. Germany also at one time considered annexing the Azores, but the idea was subsequently abandoned.

The failure of colonial policy led to the overthrow of Marcelo Caetano (who had replaced Salazar after he was incapacitated) and ultimately his replacement by Antonio de Spinola, a veteran of the wars in Russia and in the colonies. Spinola was the nominee of disgruntled army officers, though he disappointed them by failing to resolve the long-standing colonial problems, prompting further coup attempts. It was only foreign intervention, notably by Spanish forces, that prevented the collapse of the Portuguese regime.

Subdivisions Edit

According to the doctrine of pluricontinentalismo, Portugal is a single nation, spread across several continents: on the mainland of Europe, in the Atlantic Ocean, in Africa and in Asia.

Metropolitan Portugal is historically divided into six Ancient Provinces. Between 1936 and 1959 the Estado Novo divided these further into eleven provinces.

  • Tras-os-Montes
  • Minho
  • Beira
  • Estremadura (includes Lisboa)
  • Alentejo
  • Algarve (formerly a distinct kingdom within Portugal)

The islands of the Atlantic Ocean are divided into four provinces.

  • Madeira
  • Acores
  • Cabo Verde
  • Sao Tome e Principe

There are three African provinces.

  • Guine
  • Angola (Africa Ocidental)
  • Mocambique (Africa Oriental)

Lastly, there are three provinces located on the mainland of Asia or in the Indian Ocean. All are claimed as parts of one or more neighbouring states.

  • Goa (India Ocidental)
  • Macau
  • Timor