Portuguese Possessions in India


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Portuguese Possessions in India is Number 79 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The subject of the book is the Portuguese-controlled enclave of Goa and two smaller territories, Damão and Diu, all located on the western coast of India and at that time “embedded in the Bombay Presidency of British India.” The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. Goa was conquered in 1510 by the Portuguese soldier Alfonso de Albuquerque (1453−1515). The Portuguese seized Damão and Diu later in the 16th century. They enlarged their territory at the end of the 18th century, which thus came to comprise what were called the Velhas and Novas Conquistas (Old and New Conquests). Initially used as a naval base for war against the Muslim princes in India and the region of the Arabian Sea, Goa and the two smaller territories remained under Portuguese rule for 450 years. The study cites official sources placing the population of Portuguese India at 548,472 in 1910, and notes that about half the people were Roman Catholic, “the result not of recent Christian missions, but of their evangelization in the sixteenth century.” The remainder of the population was overwhelmingly Hindu. Goa, Damão, and Diu were forcibly incorporated into India on December 19, 1961.

Last updated: March 24, 2015