The Destabilizing Impacts of the Portuguese Colonial War

  • Patrick Ferreira


The Portuguese Colonial War was a prolonged conflict that lasted from 1961 to 1974. It was fought between the Portuguese government attempting to retain control over  its overseas imperial colonies and the nascent independence movements in Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea. The conflict ended in 1974 with the Carnation Revolution, which brought an end to the far-right Estado Novo dictatorship in Portugal. This article reflects on the many disruptive impacts of the Portuguese Colonial War that destabilized the country and led to the Carnation Revolution. It places these impacts into three categories: international factors, domestic factors, and military factors. The international factors included the diplomatic pressure from the American and Soviet alliances against Portugal's imperialist war and the 1973 oil crisis that caused mass inflation in Portugal. The domestic factors included a metropole that was experiencing mass emigration as waves of young men fled the country to escape conscription, while the social safety net in the metropole was simultaneously overwhelmed with injured veterans returning from the front. Additionally, Portugal was industrialising its economy over the course of the war at an extreme clip, which disrupted the social cohesion built on its agricultural economy. The military also played a crucial role as relations between the civilian government and military leaders became increasingly tense over the course of the war, especially following the death of António de Oliveira Salazar. This article argues that these three sets of factors combined to destabilize the country thereby priming Portugal for the Carnation Revolution.

How to Cite
Ferreira, Patrick. 2024. “The Destabilizing Impacts of the Portuguese Colonial War”. the Ascendant Historian 3 (June), 43-53.