The Portuguese Empire exerted influence on four different continents and lasted nearly six centuries. The first truly global empire anchored expansion on colonialism and slavery, using Portuguese language and cultural traditions to establish a shared heritage that has outlasted the empire and independence in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Macau (China), Mozambique, Portugal, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Goa, in India, also has shared cultural and linguistic influences dating back to the early 16th century.
Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language around the world, with approximately 266 million speakers. It is an official language in nine countries, a working language of numerous international organizations, and a dynamic and evolving language, as evidenced by the recent adoption of a unified vocabulary in 2008. The multicultural identities created in the Portuguese-speaking countries are still an important part of the rich and diverse histories of these regions.
The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) and the European Studies Center (ESC) at the University of Pittsburgh are jointly working on developing a Program in Luso-Sphere Studies. For students who wish to pursue a career or research with an international dimension, or in the Luso-Sphere specifically, studying this history and the cross regional relationships that now exist in the Portuguese speaking world would provide multiple opportunities. Such a program would be among the first of its kind in the US and could become a central location for the study of Portuguese language and the Luso-Sphere cultures.