Iberian Federalism, Pan-Iberism or simply Iberism (Spanish, Portuguese and Galician: Iberismo, Catalan: Iberisme) is an ideology developed mainly during the beginning of the 20th century, supporting the federation into a single state of both countries in the Iberian Peninsula: Portugal and Spain. These ideas were promoted mainly by republican and socialist movements in both nations.

Background and precursors

Portugal and Spain share a common history. Spanish and Portuguese are both Romance languages and have influenced each other and both countries have similar ethnicity and culture.

The Portuguese language began its independent evolution from the medieval Galician-Portuguese when the County of Portugal separated from the Kingdom of Galicia by becoming the Kingdom of Portugal. On the other hand, the Galician language has become increasingly influenced by the Castilian language since Galicia's incorporation into the Crown of Castile as a dependent Kingdom of León.

The identities of both modern Spain and Portugal developed during the experience of the Reconquista. In 1512, Ferdinand II of Aragon conquered the Kingdom of Navarre bringing the territories of what would become known as modern Spain under a common ruler. However Portugal remained an independent kingdom, competing with Spain (Castile) in colonial expansion. To avoid conflict, the Treaty of Tordesillas divided the world into Portuguese and Castilian hemispheres of influence.

As a result of the disappearance of Sebastian I of Portugal at the battle of Alcácer-Quibir, Philip II of Spain exerted his dynastic rights and used Castilian troops to overcome the rival pretender. The national poet of Portugal Luís de Camões opposed Philip, but had himself written some sonnets in Spanish (bilingualism was then common in both courts).

In 1581, Philip became Philip I of Portugal, joining both crowns into the most extended empire in history up to that time. The Spanish Habsburgs (Philip III of Spain and II of Portugal, Philip IV of Spain and III of Portugal) ruled what has later been called the Iberian Union, a personal union of different kingdoms. In 1640, the duke of Bragança gathered those restless in Portugal with the support of Cardinal Richelieu of France. His rebellion succeeded and he became the John IV of Portugal. The North African city of Ceuta decided to leave the crown of Portugal and remain under the Spanish king.

In 1801, the Portuguese city of Olivença was occupied by Spain and passed to Spanish sovereignty as Olivenza. Portugal has since claimed the city back and there is no common definition of the border in the area.


It was José Marchena who, in the 18th century, gave this doctrine a progressive, federal and republican tone in l'Avis aux espagnols. In the Liberal Triennium (1820–1823), the secret liberal organizations tried to spread Iberism in Portugal, to create seven confederated republics, five in Spain and Lusitania Ulterior and Lusitania Citerior in Portugal. In the later Revolutionary Sexennium, the movement reached its apogee; General Prim was compelled by Keratry to join the countries as a new Oliver Cromwell. After his murder, the First Spanish Republic (1873–1874) seemed the right moment for the union given its federalism.

In the 20th century, Iberism melted into the ideologies of some leftist currents such as the anarchist Federación Anarquista Ibérica and the Federación Ibérica de Juventudes Libertarias.

The nationalistic dictatorships of Portugal and Francoist Spain shared many political similarities and some degree of mutual support but both countries were said to live "back to back".

Currently no party represented in either country's parliament has the goal of Iberism but both countries joined the European Economic Community in 1986 and their borders have been opened since then. The Spanish party Izquierda Republicana, currently without representation in the parliament, defend 'Iberian Federalism' as political structure for the state.[1]

Large companies have opened shop in the neighboring country, and the Portuguese state closed the birth center of Elvas, sending patients to the Extremadura health system.[2][3] Some groups defend Iberism, including some Spanish and Portuguese officers.[4] One 2006 survey [5] showed only 28% of the Portuguese think that Portugal and Spain should be one country. 42% of these would put the capital in Madrid and a 41% in Lisbon. 96.5% thought that the economy of Portugal would fare better in a union with Spain, and more than a half would accept Juan Carlos I of Spain (who was exiled near Lisbon) as head of state (note that the survey was taken at a moment of crisis in the Portuguese economy). A similar survey in Spain, after the Portuguese one, showed that 45.7% of Spanish think that Portugal and Spain should merge; this support is especially higher among younger citizens (18 to 24 years old) and communities near the border with Portugal. But in Spain only 3.3% would prefer Lisbon as the capital, while 80% would prefer Madrid. 43.4% think the country should be known as España/Espanha (Spain) against 39.4% preferring Iberia.

A new poll conducted in 2011 showed that 39.8% of Spaniards and 46.1% of Portuguese supported the creation of a federation between the two countries.[6]

Flag of Iberia

The Iberian flag was created by the Catalan diplomat and writer Sinibald Mas i Sans, in 1854. It is quartered with the colours of the monarchist Portuguese (blue and white) and Spanish flags (red and yellow), dating from 1830 and 1785 respectively. The Iberian flag is older than the republican Spanish and Portuguese flags (1868 and 1911 respectively).

It is not a coincidence that the Iberian flag has the same colours (in a different order) as the flag of the Maritime Province of Barcelona. Barcelona was the birthplace of Mas i Sans.

According to some Iberists, the Federation or Confederation should be formed by the peninsular parts of Portugal and Spain (without the Aran Valley, which should belong to Gascony), the Balearic Islands, Gibraltar, Andorra, and the Basque and Catalan regions of France. Five languages should be official: Spanish, Galician, Portuguese, Catalan and Basque.

Mas i Sans wanted the federal or confederate capital city of Iberia to be established at Santarém, Ribatejo, Portugal, but the capital city of the Diocesis Hispaniarum, created by the Roman Emperor Diocletianus in 287 was Emerita Augusta (modern Mérida), in Spanish Extremadura.

Iberist personalities

See also



  • Rocamora, Jose Antonio. El nacionalismo ibérico: 1732-1936. Publicaciones Universidad de Valladolid.
  • Cabero Diéguez, Valentín. Iberismo y cooperación: pasado y futuro de la península ibérica. Publicaciones universidad de Salamanca.
  • The corresponding article in the Spanish World Heritage Encyclopedia, Retrieved on 30 September 2006.

External links

  • Center of Iberian Studies.
  • Forum of iberian union: iberistas en contacto. (Spanish)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.