This article seeks to understand why Portugal, with its strong migration tradition and its close ties with Brazil, did not manage to assert itself in the transport of emigrants to Brazil in the face of foreign competition from the mid-nineteenth century. We identify the primary internal and external factors that led to the loss of visibility of Portuguese shipping companies on the Portugal–Brazil route, even as migration reached a peak during the Belle Époque. An assessment is made of the extent to which the retreat of the major shipping nations from the maritime routes as a result of the First World War provided Portugal with an opportunity to assert itself as an international maritime power. We also analyse the politically motivated attempt to strengthen maritime contacts with Brazil through the Transportes Marítimos do Estado, and the weaknesses of that policy, which owed much to the unstable international maritime context and foreign competition.
- Shipping companies
- Migration history
- Nineteenth and twentieth centuries