Portuguese in Asia and Oceania

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Compared to Africa, the Americas and Europe, the presence of the Portuguese language in Asia and Oceania is quite small. The commercial empire of the Portuguese extended throughout Southeast Asia.

Geographic distribution

  • Sri Lanka: Formerly known as Ceylon (Ceilão in Portuguese), the island's first European visitors were Portuguese people, who gave the island its original name. The island is home to a Portuguese Burgher minority who speaks Sri Lankan Portuguese Creole. Sri Lanka participated in the Jogos da Lusofonia in 2006
  • Goa, India: The state of Goa was a part of the Portuguese Empire until the mid-twentieth century. India participated in the Jogos da Lusofonia in 2006. Goa is awaiting the permission of the Indian Government to join the CPLP as an observer.[1] In Goa, most of the relatively few speakers of Portuguese are older people. The Union Territory of Daman and Diu was also a Portuguese colony. As in Goa, the dwindling number of Portuguese speakers are also older people. Daman and Diu are also home to Indo-Portuguese Creoles. However, the Portuguese language and culture is undergoing a kind of renaissance in the former Portuguese Indian colonies. There is even talk of making Portuguese co-official alongside Konkani. It is estimated that there are 3% - 5% of fluent speakers of Portuguese in Goa, Daman and Diu.
  • Malaysia and Singapore: The state of Malacca and city-state of Singapore are homes to the Gente Kristang a community of Eurasians who claim Portuguese descent and speak Papia Kristang, a Portuguese-lexified Creole. The Portuguese settlement at Malacca is a source of tourism for the state and the Lusophone heritage is visible in cuisine, architecture and folklore of the Gente Kristang. Pending approval from the Malaysian Government, Malacca may join the CPLP as an associate observer.
  • Macau, The People's Republic of China: Portuguese is a co-official language alongside Chinese in the Special Administrative Region of Macau. It has become the centre for Portuguese learning in Asia and has become the focus through which China relates diplomatically to the member states of CPLP. Macau was the host city for the first Lusophone games in 2006. While the Macanese Language is by now critically endangered with less than a hundred speakers, the number of speakers of Portuguese has also decreased since the handover in 1999. But enrollments for private Portuguese classes have tripled, to 1,000, since 2002; that prompted public schools here to offer Portuguese, drawing more than 5,000 students.[2] It is now estimated that about 3% of the population speak Portuguese as their first language, while 7% professes fluency.[3]
  • East Timor: The Southeast Asian country added Portuguese as an official language as it gained independence from Indonesia in 2002. According to a 2004 census, 36 percent of respondents said they had "a capability in Portuguese".[4] The inter-ethnic lingua franca, Tetum has a large number of loanwords derived from Portuguese making the latter relatively easy to learn for speakers of the former.
  • Japan: As of 2005, there were approximately 302,000 Brazilians living in Japan.[5] This is the largest immigrant community after the Chinese and Korean communities. This 'return migration' to Japan has resulted in the largest Portuguese-speaking community in Asia.
  • Australia: The Portuguese-speaking community in Australia is estimated to be approximately 65,000 [6] people as a result from immigration from Portugal and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the Lusophone world to the Oceanian country.


Various regions in Asia have expressed interest in participating in the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (the CPLP). The state of Malacca, the SAR of Macau and the State of Goa have all applied for observer or associate member status and are awaiting the permission of their governments (Malaysia, China and India respectively). East Timor joined the CPLP shortly after its independence at the turn of the 21st century. Indonesia has also expressed interest in joining the CPLP.

Instituto Camões

Instituto Camões maintains language centres in Macau, Goa, Busan and Dili.

Local norms and phonology

In Asia, Standard European Portuguese (Português-padrão) forms the basis for the written and spoken norm, exclusively to East Timor and Macau.

See also

External links


  1. "CPLP: Galiza com estatuto de observador associado só com "sim" de Madrid - Notícias Lusa - Sapo Notícias". Noticias.sapo.pt. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. China Sees Advantages in Macao's Portuguese Past, New York Times, October 21, 2004
  3. Leach, Michael (2007), "talking Portuguese; China and East Timor", Arena Magazine, retrieved 2011-05-18<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. A New Country’s Tough Non-Elective: Portuguese 101, Seth Mydans, New York Times, July 31, 2007
  5. "Filhos de dekasseguis: educação de mão dupla". (Archive). Centenário da Imigração Japonesa: 100 anos de histórias. Museu Histórico da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil. "Segundo dados do Ministério da Justiça do Japão, em 2005, havia 302 mil brasileiros morando no país, além de 26 mil com dupla nacionalidade. Todo ano, cerca de 4 mil deles retornam para o Brasil."
  6. "SBS Audio and Language : Portuguese : Home". Radio.sbs.com.au. Retrieved 2010-07-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>