The Portuguese Empire was one of the biggest and longest-lived empires in world history, it existed for nearly 6 centuries, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to the handover of Portuguese Macau to China in 1999.
Similarly to another kingdom of the Iberian Peninsula, the decline of the Moores allowed Portugal to make territorial gains during her first few centuries, Portugal started off as a country, paying tribute to Leon, but gained full independence in 1139. After the liberation of the Algarves in 1249, Portugal tumed to the Barbary and Gold Coasts in Western Africa trying to benefit from trade. The lead to the first modem European colonial empire, and began to spread farther afield to Brazil, Eastern Africa, Ceylon, and finally Japan. A slow decline of Portuguese power to the benefit of the Dutch caused Portugal to start to lose colonies in the East. Despite this, the Netherlands were unable to hold onto any Portuguese colonies in the Americas, and finally, Portugal focused most investment there. Political turbulence in the late 1500s resulted in Portugal entering a personal union under Spain, ending the Kingdom’s independence.
At its peak, the Portuguese Empire spanned 36.4 million square kilometers (14.1 square miles).
Today Portugal covers an area of 92,2 thousand square kilometers (35,6 thousand square miles), but Portuguese remains one of the most popular languages in the world (the 6th most spoken language in the world – 260 million people).