Why did the South-American Portuguese colonies unite into one country, Brazil, whereas the South-American Spanish colonies split into many different countries, i.e. Argentina, Peru, Chile, etc?

  • 1
    The other question seems to be about why Spanish America fragmented into several different countries, and this one seems to be about why Portuguese America remained united. It doesn't look like a duplicate. Jul 28, 2016 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


Historically, there weren't multiple Portuguese colonies in South America. There was just one. The Portuguese governed Brazil as a single unit since 1549, when the failed Captaincies were merged. This became the Viceroyalty of Brazil (1775), the Kingdom of Brazil (1815, still ruled by the Portuguese Crown), the independent Empire of Brazil (1822, when Pedro I rebelled against his father, the King of Portugal), and finally the current republic (1889).

In contrast, the Spanish colonies were governed as multiple independent areas.

  • 7
    This is correct, but, despite not being explicitly asked, it would be even better if you also explained why did Spain chose to govern them as multiple entities, while Portugal decided to create only one.
    – o0'.
    Jul 14, 2015 at 8:31
  • 3
    I'd imagine distance - Brazil's coast is a small area compared to Argentina, Chile, Equador, Venezuela and so on. The inability to travel from West to East easily (Cape Horn is no joke) would require at least two groups at a minimum.
    – Oldcat
    Jul 16, 2015 at 17:11

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