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Portugal Table of Contents


The Role of the Armed Forces in Africa

The Portuguese presence in Africa dates from the sixteenth century when fuel and water stations were established for ships enroute to the spice market of Goa. Portugal neglected these outposts for a time after the pepper trade declined. British and German colonial ambitions after 1885, however, led the Portuguese to undertake a series of military campaigns to control the interior of Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea. The effort to subdue the African colonies was a slow process that was not completed until 1915. The costly campaigns were pursued by the Lisbon authorities to maintain prestige and to keep the oversized military establishment gainfully occupied.

Salazar strongly rejected pressures from the European powers to decolonize following World War II. He was grimly determined to maintain Portugal's overseas empire. Salazar's successor in 1968, Marcello Caetano, continued the struggle against the African independence movements in spite of its drain on resources and manpower.

Data as of January 1993