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Seaports As Centres Of Economic Growth: The Portuguese Case, 1500–1800

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Chapter Summary

Although the general outlines of trade were important in European expansion, the political patterns have thus to be stressed to fully understand the impact of overseas traffic on the redefinition of the ports' ranking. This thesis, an hypothesis that was never really proven, has conditioned explanations of Portuguese overseas expansion over the long-term and emphasized psychological approaches to the dynamics of Portuguese history, insisting on the spirit of a people of sailors, on their adventurous nature and on the call for freedom that framed the profile of those who had the sea as their horizon. Second, there is a multiplicity of variables to be considered in order to evaluate the dynamics of a seaport. An understanding of seaport development, because of the role of harbours in facilitating the movement of goods and supplying logistical support, is necessary to any evaluation of long term developments in shipping efficiency.

Keywords: harbours; Portuguese; seaport development; shipping; trade

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