When you think of large countries, Portugal is far from top of the list. In fact, it lands at number 109 in terms of size. But if an ambitious plan works, the country will be able to call itself the 16th largest country in the world, and it won’t require a single war or invasion.
In a Youtube video, RealLifeLore explains Portugal’s fight for more land, which goes as far back as 600 years ago. The country was one of the first to become a colonial nation, and it also was one of the last to leave colonialism behind. Its first colony was founded in 1415 when the Portuguese overthrew the Moors to start its first colony, Cuerta, and then expanded to control the spice trade around the Indian Ocean as well as control territory in modern day Brazil, China, and parts of Africa.
Portugal’s control over parts of the world waxed and waned from 1755 to 1975, including a stint after World War II when Portugal called itself a “plural-continental nation” with “provinces” in several other countries. Post 1975, its territories were limited to islands, similar to other countries. Needless to say, it would take seismic shifts to regain what was once one of the biggest empires in history. Maritime laws may help Portugal out, however.
Using the country’s islands, Portugal will follow the United Nations rules on maritime laws to control resources in the ocean. The country already has control of the 20th largest ocean water territory thanks to ownership of 200 miles beyond the shores of Portugal proper, the island of Madeira, and its islands in the Azores. The law doesn’t allow countries to control who goes in or out of the water territory, but, any resources they find in the area — fish, gas, minerals, etc. — are all property of the Portuguese government. The country plans a bid to claim Portuguese waters even farther, creating a continuous water flow territory between its mainland and islands, granting the country exclusive rights to the gas and oil drilling they might find in the seafloor. And from that standpoint, Portugal would once again control a massive territory.