Just the usual cross-over from the MotF contest
. As always, very interested in hearing your thoughts and answering any questions.
We'll Paint the Snow Pink!
How Inferiority Complexes Lead to Hypothermia
I imagine your first question will be something of the like: why would a small, decrepit empire with extremely poor finances think it would be a good idea to waste their efforts and clout into trying to put forward a ridiculous claim to half a continent that is composed of ice and is impossible to settle or explore decently?
Well, it all began in the 1885s, with a diplomatic incident between the Portuguese and British Empire dubbed 'The Pink Map'. During the period of intensive European colonisation known as 'the Scramble for Africa', the various powers would stake claims of African territory, often in opposition to one another. The ruling principle was that of 'effecitve occupation', meaning that it would be effective control over the land, rather than any formal claims, that would determine the boundaries of colonial posessions. This benefitted powerful newcomers, such as the German Empire, to the detriment of less powerful powers who had older claims, often unused, in the continent, in particular Portugal, who had been present on the African shores for 400 years, but having only a handful of colonial posessions and settlements to show for it, in particular in the Atlantic archipelagos, in Guinea, in Angola and in Mozambique. Large territories for such a small country, certainly, but small in comparison to what the Portuguese Empire had been in its heyday. After the loss of Brazil and most of its Asian posessions, the Portuguese looked to the African domains for expansion. And now it was finding itself outmatched by the other European powers, more prepared to take them by force.
Eventually, a grand project was found to be focused on - a transcontinental territory, from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, from Angola to Mozambique, through the basin of the great Zambezi River, a territory whose great wealth was suspected. To this great ambition, the Portuguese gave the name of 'the Pink Map', for the colour it was painted the exemplar that was presented to the British ambassador for his appreciation. The British ambassador did not appreciate it at all, as the British Empire itself had plans for the region, heralded by Cecil Rhodes, a mining magnate in South Africa whose greatest life ambition was the construction of a Cape to Cairo Railway across the domains of the British Empire in Africa. Having Portuguese colonies in his way would not do.
And so it was that, after entertaining the Portuguese (their oldest allies, after all) for a while, the British were blunt about the matter, and presented an Ultimatum: either the Portuguese retreat their troops from the contested territories, or there would be war. Knowing quite well how a war with the British Empire would go, the King's government accepted the ultimatum, much to the disappointment of the republican radicals who, for some godforsaken reason, wanted to fight it out. The situation was so dire that, within a year, the first republican coup was attempted, failing but still demonstrating to the monarch just how precarious his situation was.
How does any of this relate to a small European country staking a claim to half of a frozen wasteland? Well, it's the exact issue of it being small: Portugal, in the age of romanticism, was still adjusting itself to the idea of being a small country on the periphery of Europe, rather than a large empire stretching across the Oceans, bounded only by the Papal lines of Tordesillas. And, from that resentment at smallness, after having inherited from Adam half of the world, is where the claim at the Southern continent comes in: in hopes of quelling some of the revolutionary feeling, for some reason, a (one imagines) well-intended soul in the government suggested staking their claims to the lands of Antarctica that the Treaty of Tordesillas assigned to the country, since there would be no Cecil Rhodes in the Austral Seas trying to build railways and getting mad at anyone who got in his way.
Of course that, Antarctica, and in particular the part of Antarctica the Portuguese government decided to claim, was pretty much useless; even visiting it was too perilous to be worth the risk, much less explore it. Although there were some fisheries' resources worth exploring (and even then meagre), the vast majority of the land claim was simply ridiculous, with no way or need to be enforced in the first place, being roughly equivalent to claim an island consummed by the lava of an active volcano.
However, the British did not complain about this move, not finding it particularly meaningful to catch their attention. Nor would anyone else, with the claim to Antarctica bearing very little meaning in Portuguese politics, who followed their course. After two decades of festering republicanism, the Revolution came and the Monarchy was exiled; and after a very unstable decade of democratic republicanism, a coup brought the military to power in the National Dictatorship; the military regime would then slowly transition to the hands of the civilian Finances Minister, António de Oliveira de Salazar, who shaped the dictatorship into the Estado Novo, ruling the country with an iron fist.
Among the ideological principles of Estado Novo was that of national glorification, which ruled its policy towards the colonies: they were Portuguese and would remain Portuguese until the end and he'd send an armed batallion to remind them of his love; Portugal (if one included its empire) was BIG, as big as Europe in fact, if one counted the colonies as integral parts of it. And, when it came to that, Antarctica was a good prize to show just how massive the Empire was - the land they claimed was big, as big as Brazil, in fact, that precious lost Crown Jewel. Some money was put into further exploring the land to strenghen the claim, charting the main geographical features which were then named to allude to various heroes of Portuguese History in its greatest heights - prominently Viriato, the ancient Lusitanian leader for whom the icy territory was named.
Salazar, of course, did not allow this entire industry to go without some profit - he was an economist above all things, and a miser above all qualities. After some research into the area, he finally found a way to, if slightly, profit off the territory - it seemed that there was a species of fish that, while apparently entirely unrelated, seemed and tasted like codfish (it's actually a toothfish), dubbed the Antarctic cod and promoted as the new source of the fish so prevalent in Portuguese cuisine, to the point that, to bolster its sales, Salazar would prohibit trade in codfish with the north Atlantic powers, hoping to foster the growth of the national industry (a strategy often employed by the regime). Hence the name of the shore dubbed 'Terra Nova do Bacalhau do Sul', or "South New Land of Codfish".
Of course, in terms of 'territory', Antarctica was quite weak as one goes. There were no settlements (and the occasional scientific expedition), and barely an office to manage the territory. It was, for all purposes, a territory to 'handle in the future', especially considering how the Colonial War intensified in Africa, as the regime continue to fiercely attempt at holding the colonies to no avail.
Salazar died in 1970, and the Estado Novo regime fell in 1974. The new Portuguese democracy, having immediately freed its colonies, wasn't quite sure of what to do with Antarctica: it didn't exactly have a native people to whom the claims could be forfeited, but neither was the territory of particular interest. Ultimately, the government held to its claims, if only for a matter of principle, having no intention of actually using them and not opposing scientific expeditions of other states in the region, in fact encouraging them. Of this strange claim, born out the oddest inferiority complex in History, only one major legacy remains: to this day, the practice among the Portuguese is to call 'cod' to the Antarctic toothfish, who is a delicacy in its cuisine, being eaten often, in particular on Christmas Eve.
So, I think it is quite obvious where this idea came from, but yeah, when I was doing reasearch for my previous map set in Antarctica, I actually came across information that stated Argentina and Chile used the Tordesillas Treaty as a justification for their claims, which immediately had my mind thinking about Portugal and Spain dividing Antarctica following the Tordesillas lines. Come this contest, add some context and voilá!
The map is in Portuguese but, honestly, I think everything (or almost) is readable in English. I simply found the frame beautiful and wanted to give it a historical look, hence the Portuguese claims being in Portuguese. And besides, the names in English sound a bit off.
It was a fun map to make, I hadn't worked with a polar perspective before, it was fun to try out.