Archive for Portugal

Não Era um Pais Pequeno

Posted in anthropology, maps & mapping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

Apparently size used to matter.

I’m crossposting this awesome map from the strangers (also see blogroll to yr right) which I somehow missed before boarding a plane to Portugal.

If you couldn’t piece it out, the map is titled “Portugal is not a small country”. Inferiority complex much?

Portugal, on the southwestern periphery of the European continent, is a medium-sized EU member state. Its population clocks in at 11th place out of 27 (10.59 million, in between Belgium’s 10.66 million [10] and the Czech Republic with 10.40 million [12]). Size-wise, it’s a bit further down the list: 13th (at 92.391 km2, between Hungary [12] at 93.030 km2 and Austria [14] at 83.871 km2).

Yet Portugal is loath to think of itself as a small country. Or at least it was, before its overseas empire collapsed. Built up over centuries of exploration, trade and colonisation, the Portuguese Empire once spanned four continents. The jewel in its crown was Brazil, but Portugal lost control over its South American colony in 1822.

By mid-20th century, Portugal still held on to Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome & Principe, Angola, Mozambique, Macao, East Timor and its Indian possessions (Goa, Daman and Diu – three smallish footholds somewhat grandiosely labeled “Estado da India”).

As the legend to this map indicates, all these territories together added up to an area larger than (Continental) Spain, France, the UK (mislabeled “Inglaterra”), Italy and Germany put together, explaining why, as the title claims, Portugal não é um país pequeno. If that sounds a bit defensive and self-justifying, that’s no coincidence.

yrs truly (right) cavorting with a native on a beach in Lisbon province

yr truly (right) cavorting with a native on a beach in Lisbon province

In the early 1970s, Portugal languished under a dictatorship determined to hold on to the vestiges of its former colonial glory. The increasingly costly and impopular wars against freedom fighters in Portuguese Africa eventually led to the overthrow of the regime, in a virtually bloodless military coup in April 1974, the so-called Revolução dos Cravos. This Carnation Revolution would lead to a swift liquidation of Portugal’s overseas assets and ultimately to democracy within Portugal.

Portugal’s African possessions were all granted independence. Indonesia took advantage of the turmoil “back home” to take over East Timor (India had forcibly annexed Goa etcetera in 1961). Only Macao remained in Portuguese hands, until 1999, when mirrorring Hong Kong’s reversion in 1997, it was reintegrated into China. The Azores and Madeira, ethnically and geographically closest to the mother country, are still part of Portugal.

This map was sent in by Nuno D. Alves, who studied it in history class, when studying the pre-revolutionary dictatorship. “It is a propaganda map, suggesting that our country was important. Portugal’s orientation towards its colonies, away from Europe, “was used to justify the isolationism of the regime, and its neutrality in World War II (…) [The map] shows the Portuguese colonies that remained by that time superimposed on a map of Europe, going on to compare surface size with the main European countries. All in all very silly.”

you know what else is silly? (“what superboy?”). contemporary art. sometimes.

enjoying the primitive art of Europe

enjoying the primitive art of Europe

So how was my time in Lisboa? Foi ÓTIMO! Lisboa é uma cidade “feeeesh” (as they would say). It was unfortunate that my time there was so brief, but I know I will return, what with all my lusophone shenanigans.

And now I’m in South Africa. More on that later, eh?

Love from the Ethnographic Present,
Luz-do-Sol Superboy


Portugal, Man, Portugal

Posted in art & music, maps & mapping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

Lisboa 001

Streetcars, Museums, and Big Red Suspension Bridges? But, Honey, we’re not in Sarancisco anymore!


In a massive effort to help San Francisco get over itself, Lisboa has surreptitiously nudged the Bay city out of its complete monopoly of quaint, charismatic iconography. Lisboa 009 Following up on its perception as that country where people speak “almost Spanish,” Lisbon is spearheading the Portuguese project to solidify a stable second place, as an “almost San Francisco”.

By the time you read this, I will already have packed my bags to fly to Lisbon, Portugal,

no seriously, this is NOT the golden gate bridge. Its the Ponte 25 de Abril

no seriously, this is NOT the golden gate bridge. Its the Ponte 25 de Abril

where I will be for a few days before heading on a secret anthropological mission (its more fun when we put it that way) to the Cape of Africa. If you missed my earlier post mapping the portuguese speaking world– from Iberia itself to Brazil, litoral Africa and here and there throughout Asia, you should click on this orange part, cuz its actually a really nice map.

Gearing up for a journey to the old colonial metropole is plenty justification to hit you up with, ya know more maps.

so. Lets get some perspective of the lay of the land

and now we can zoom in to the centro

in case you missed my post about my love for metrô systems (and maps thereof), you can go check that out, and consider this an update with more contemporary relevance. In fact, you may as well check out all those orange links. It may be a few days before I can get back to the bloggies.


Great. So, that thing I was saying about packing for six weeks on the road? I’ma go do that now. Enjoy Portugal, the Man (a band from Alaska, of all foggy far off places). Thusly, portugal the band:

Boa Viagem!

The World is Yrs,
Sunshine Superboy

Luso-Tongued World

Posted in anthropology, maps & mapping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

€ Spanish and what other language are the top two fastest-growing European languages (According to UNESCO)?

€ Also according to UNESCO, what language has the highest growth potential as an international language?

€ Finally, what is the sixth most spoken language in the world? (Ranking third, behind English and Spanish, among European languages used around the world)

Well, meus amigos, if you answered Portuguese to each and every one of the questions above you’re either a dorky linguist, a close friend or colleague of mine, or a smug Brazilian (which probably means you live in either São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro… not to hate…)

Seriously? Sixth most spoken language in the world?? Yuppers, Portuguese is the native language of approximately 240,000,000 people, and you know whats coming next; Where do all these lusophones live? Humbly submitted, a map of the regions of the world where Portuguese is an official language (mind you, a map of the actual Portuguese speaking world would have to include places like Eastern Massachusetts and Coastal California and London and shit…)


Portuguese is the language of Portugal, including the autonomous regions of the Azores (Açores in Portuguese spelling) and Madeira. Additionally, it is the official language of Brazil, Mozambique (Moçambique), Angola, Guinea-Bissau (Guiné-Bissau), São Tomé e Príncipe, the Cape Verde Islands (Cabo Verde), and East Timor. It is also still spoken in Macau and Goa.

There are SO many reasons to learn Portuguese! A buddy of mine who used to do work in Bolívia recently switched his focus to Brazil. Though his mother is from Guatemala and he is a master of both Spanish and English (well… Canadian English), the sheer awesomeness of Brazil and the Portuguese speaking world compelled him to jump ship e començar de aprender esse lingua bacana. Por quê não?

I mean, in the many centuries since the unfolding of Portuguese colonialism that spanned the Atlantic, circumnavigated Africa, and nipped at the feet of Asia, it is possible to travel the world and every continent (I’m sure there are Brazilian scientists at the Antarctic research base) on that one language alone. That or connect with people in your local area who are from all of those far-flung worldly corners. Plus, you won’t feel compelled to explain away your North America English as “Canadian”. What could be more humiliating than that??

O Mundo é Seu,
Sunshine Supergarçom