Population Censuses in the Portuguese Empire, 1750- 1800

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Since the mid 18th Century a significant amount of colonial censuses for the Portuguese overseas empire is available. Yet so far, scholars have not studied this information in a systematic way, neither from the normative perspective nor for demographic analysis. This paper tries to highlight the importance of the Portuguese colonial census as an important tool in the construction of Modern Portugal within the frame of Political Arithmetic. The production of vital statistics for the Portuguese colonies corresponds to a long process of persistence both from the central and local administration in order to establish a statistical culture. We will briefly outline the normative framework of these population statistics and pay attention to the information gathered in these censuses. A special importance will be given to the royal orders of 1776 and 1796-97 that standardized the process of data classification among the overseas settlements. A set of appendixes with the sources description and classification of the major Portuguese overseas domains will also be given.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-25
Number of pages20
JournalRomanian Journal of Population Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • census-taking in the 18th and 19th Centuries
  • statistics framework
  • Portuguese Empire colonial population
  • colonies population


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