The Tropical Research Institute (IICT) promotes tropical knowledge by pursuing interdisciplinary research of relevance to countries in tropical regions. It has a special mandate towards the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), whose members are Brazil, East Timor, five African nations and Portugal. Established in 1883 as the Commission of Cartography, IICT is the oldest autonomous government agency that conducts research for development in human and natural sciences. In 1983 IICT became a state laboratory, now under the supervision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Through the output of over 100 researchers, it seeks to increase the scientific and technical capacity of developing countries and also to ensure the preservation of its documental collections.
The strategic objectives underlying the work program are 1) helping promote the Millennium Development Goals with special emphasis on CPLP countries; and, 2) facilitating access of CPLP countries to its vast historic and scientific heritage, as recommended by the CPLP Ministers of Science and Technology in 2003. Two services open to the public, the Overseas Historical Archive and the Tropical Botanic Garden are included among the six research centers.