- Population 10.7 million
- Area 92,345 sq km (35,655 sq miles)
- Major language Portuguese
- Major religion Christianity
- Life expectancy 77 years (men), 83 years (women)
- Currency euro
President: Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
A veteran of the centre-right Social Democratic Party, Mr Rebelo de Sousa went on to have a high-profile career in journalism and broadcasting before being elected to the largely-ceremonial post of president in March 2016. He stood as an independent, campaigning to heal the divisions caused by Portugal’s 2011-2014 debt crisis and austerity measures, and beat the left-wing candidate Antonio Sampaio da Novoa in the first round.
Prime minister: Antonio Costa
Socialist Party leader Antonio Costa formed a centre-left government in November 2015 after a month of political drama, amid expectations of an end to four years of fiscal austerity.
He joined forces with two far-left parties to oust the centre-right coalition of incumbent Pedro Passos Coelho that topped the poll in inconclusive October parliamentary elections.
Born in 1961, Mr Costa is a veteran Socialist Party politician, serving as a government minister twice before being elected mayor of the capital Lisbon in 2007, resigning to become the Socialists’ candidate for premier in 2015.
SOME KEY DATES IN PORTUGAL’S HISTORY
1908 – King Carlos and eldest son assassinated in Lisbon. Second son Manuel becomes king.
25th of April Bridge over the Tagus River, Lisbon.
1910 – King Manuel II abdicates amid revolution; Portugal proclaimed a republic.
1911 – New constitution separates church from state. Manuel Jose de Arriaga elected first president of republic.
1916-18 – Portugal fights First World War on Allied side.
1926 – Military coup. General Antonio de Fragoso Carmona becomes president.
1928 – Carmona appoints Antonio de Oliveira Salazar minister of finance.
1932 – Salazar becomes prime minister, a post he will retain for 36 years, establishing authoritarian „Estado Novo” (New State) political system.
1936 – Salazar backs General Franco’s nationalists in Spanish Civil War.
Revellers celebrate the feast of St Anthony, Lisbon’s patron saint
1939-45 – Portugal maintains official neutrality during Second World War, but allows UK to use air bases in Azores.
1949 – Portugal becomes founding member of Nato.
1955 – Portugal joins United Nations.
1968 – Antonio Salazar dismissed from premiership after stroke; dies in 1970.
1974 – A near-bloodless military coup sparks a mass movement of civil unrest, paving the way for democracy. The 25 April coup becomes known as the Carnation Revolution.
1974-75 – Independence for Portuguese colonies of Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Cape Verde Islands, Sao Tome and Principe, and Angola.
1982 – Military Council of the Revolution abolished, civilian government formally restored.
1986 – Portugal becomes member of EEC (later EU). Mario Soares elected president.
The Flag of Portugal (Portuguese: Bandeira de Portugal) is the national flag of the Portuguese Republic. It is a rectangular bicolour with a field unevenly divided into green on the hoist, and red on the fly. The lesser version of the national coat of arms is centered over the colour boundary at equal distance from the upper and lower edges.
The territory of Portugal includes an area in the Iberian Peninsula (referred to as the continent by most Portuguese) and two archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean: the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores. It lies between latitudes 32° and 43° N, and longitudes 32° and 6° W.
Portugal is defined as a Mediterranean climate and is one of the warmest European countries: the annual average temperature in mainland Portugal varies from 8–12 °C (46.4–53.6 °F) in the mountainous interior north to 16–18 °C (60.8–64.4 °F) in the south and on the Guadiana river basin.
Despite the fact that humans have occupied the territory of Portugal for thousands of years, something still remains of the original vegetation. Boar, Iberian red deer, roe deer, and the Iberian wild goat, are reported to have expanded greatly during recent decades. Boars were found recently roaming at night inside large urban areas, like in Setubal. Protected areas of Portugal include one national park (Portuguese: Parque Nacional), 12 natural parks (Portuguese: Parque Natural), nine natural reserves (Portuguese: Reserva Natural), five natural monuments (Portuguese: Monumento Natural), and seven protected landscapes (Portuguese: Paisagem Protegida).
According to the 2011 Census, 81.0% of the Portuguese population is Roman Catholic. The country has small Protestant, Latter-day Saint, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Eastern Orthodox Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baha’i, Buddhist, Jewish and Spiritist communities. Some 6.8% of the population declared themselves to be non-religious, and 8.3% did not give any answer about their religion
Portuguese is the official language of Portugal. Portuguese is a Romance language. According to the Ethnologue of Languages, Portuguese and Spanish have a lexical similarity of 89% – educated speakers of each language can communicate with one another.
Portuguese cuisine is diverse. The Portuguese consume a lot of dry cod (bacalhau in Portuguese), for which there are hundreds of recipes. Two other popular fish recipes are grilled sardines and caldeirada, a potato-based stew that can be made from several types of fish. Typical Portuguese meat recipes made out of beef, pork, lamb, or chicken include cozido à portuguesa, feijoada, frango de churrasco, leitão (roast suckling pig) and carne de porco à alentejana. A very popular northern dish is the arroz de sarrabulho (rice stewed in pigs blood) or the arroz de cabidela (rice and chickens meat stewed in chickens blood).
Typical fast food dishes include the Francesinha (Frenchie) from Porto, and bifanas (grilled pork) or prego (grilled beef) sandwiches, which are well known around the country.
Portugal is known by wine lovers and its wines have won several international prizes. Some of the best Portuguese wines are Vinho Verde, Vinho Alvarinho, Vinho do Douro, Vinho do Alentejo, Vinho do Dão, Vinho da Bairrada and the sweet Port Wine, Madeira Wine, and the Moscatel from Setúbal and Favaios. Port and Madeira are particularly appreciated in a wide range of places around the world.
Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato, a Portuguese clam dish
Folar de Chaves, a popular dish in the northeastern Portuguese regions of Chaves and Valpaços, is stuffed with pork, ham, salpicão and linguiça.
Portugal produces some of the world’s finest olive oils
Football is the most popular sport in Portugal. There are several football competitions ranging from local amateur to world-class professional level. The legendary Eusébio is still a major symbol of Portuguese football history. FIFA World Player of the Year winners Luís Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the FIFA Ballon d’Or, are two world-class Portuguese football players. Portuguese football managers are also noteworthy, with José Mourinho and Fernando Santos being among the most renowned.
The Portugal national football team – Seleção Nacional – have won one UEFA European Championship title: the UEFA Euro 2016, with a 1–0 victory in the final over France, the tournament hosts. In addition, Portugal finished second in the Euro 2004 (held in Portugal), third in the 1966 FIFA World Cup, and fourth in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. At youth level, Portugal have won two FIFA World Youth Championships (in 1989 and 1991) and several UEFA European Youth Championships.
Portuguese cinema has a long tradition, reaching back to the birth of the medium in the late 19th century. Portuguese film directors such as Arthur Duarte, António Lopes Ribeiro, António Reis, Pedro Costa, Manoel de Oliveira, João César Monteiro, Edgar Pêra, António-Pedro Vasconcelos, Fernando Lopes, João Botelho and Leonel Vieira, are among those that gained notability. Noted Portuguese film actors include Joaquim de Almeida, Nuno Lopes, Daniela Ruah, Maria de Medeiros, Diogo Infante, Soraia Chaves, Ribeirinho, Lúcia Moniz, and Diogo Morgado.
Portuguese literature, one of the earliest Western literatures, developed through text as well as song. Until 1350, the Portuguese-Galician troubadours spread their literary influence to most of the Iberian Peninsula. Gil Vicente (c. 1465–c. 1536) was one of the founders of Portuguese dramatic traditions.
Adventurer and poet Luís de Camões (c. 1524–1580) wrote the epic poem Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads), with Virgil’s Aeneid as his main influence. Modern Portuguese poetry is rooted in neoclassic and contemporary styles, as exemplified by Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935). Modern Portuguese literature is represented by authors such as Almeida Garrett, Camilo Castelo Branco, Eça de Queirós, Fernando Pessoa, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, António Lobo Antunes and Miguel Torga. Particularly popular and distinguished is José Saramago, recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon
The country at the far end of Europe has in many ways developed its own style. Portugal has especially rich cultural heritage, such as:
Historical cities. Very interesting are the two metropolises of Portugal – Lisbon and Porto. Each of these cities demonstrates innovations in urban planning as well as a wealth of local cultural traditions. Nonetheless there are other very interesting historical cities – Sintra – the city of palaces, Évora, Guimarães and others.
Palaces. For long centuries Portugal was rich colonial state and it shows in the ornate, rich architecture. Here are many fine palaces which demonstrate outstanding architecture, such as Pena National Palace – one of the most spectacular palaces in the world, Mafra National Palace or the mysterious Quinta da Regaleira.
Pedreira do Galinha dinosaur tracks
- Pedra da Mua dinosaur tracks – Setúbal. Rich collection of dinosaur footprints from the Upper Jurassic period. It is possible that part of the tracks were left by a herd of dinosaurs.
- Pedreira do Galinha dinosaur tracks – Santarém. Site of well preserved dinosaur trackways from the Middle Jurassic. These are some of the best available tracks with the impressions of feet and hands in great detail. In total here are some 20 tracks over the distance of 140 – 150 m.
- Vale de Meios dinosaur tracks – Santarém. Site of exceptionally well preserved dinosaur trackways from the Middle Jurassic with dozens of trackways.
Other natural landmarks
Nazaré waves / Krists Luhaers
- Benagil’s Sea Cave – Faro. Unusual natural rock formation – a cave with natural arches and large hole in the roof. Half of the cave is under the sea – thus across the enormous cave is running a beautiful beach.
- Gruta do Almonda – Santarém. Longest known cave in Portugal. Total length of known passages exceeds 14 km.
- Nazaré waves – Leiria. Site, where giant waves are forming due to the fact that here starts Nazaré Canyon – giant undersea canyon which is up to 5 km deep. Waves here reach up to 30 m height.
Man made landmarks
Almendres Cromlech / Jos Dielis
- Almendres Cromlech – Évora. Largest megalithic site in Iberian peninsula, consisting of impressive circular stone settings and separate menhirs. Stones ornamented, developed in 5000 – 4000 BC.
- Great Dolmen of Zambujeiro – Évora. One of the biggest megalithic structures in Iberian peninsula, built in between 4000 – 3000 BC. Structure includes up to 8 m tall pillars and 7 m long coverage slab, now broken.
- Menir da Meada – Portalegre. 7.15 m tall menhir, the largest menhir in Iberian peninsula.
Historical cities and towns
- Évora – Évora. Well preserved medieval city, with part of fortification walls around it. Here are numerous medieval structures including a fountain in Renaiisance style (1570), Jesuit college (1559) and numerous other structures.
- Guimarães – Braga. Historical city – a place where the contemporary nation of Portugal was born in the 12th century. Numerous medieval buildings have been preserved.
- Lisbon Baixa (Baixa Pombalina) – Lisbon. One of the first earthquake resistant, planned cities with a rectangular grid of streets. This beautiful city area was built after the 1755 earthquake and includes many innovations in urban planning.
- Marvão – Portalegre. Historical town with fortifications on the top of prominent granite hill. Beautiful views open from the town.
- Monsaraz – Évora. Fortified medieval town, built in the top of hill. Settlement here has existed since the Neolithic. Current planning was shaped mostly in the 13th century. Most of the buildings in this town have historical values.
- Porto historical centre (Oporto) – Porto. Beautiful historical city at the right bank of Douro River. City evolved since the Roman times and most likely gave the name to country of Portugal. The unique cityscape is defined by steep slopes at Douro, densely built historical structures, nearby ocean and impressive bridges.
- Sintra – Lisbon. Historical town in beautiful hills. In Sintra are located numerous beautiful buildings – numerous palaces and estates. Most impressive ones are the Pena National Palace, Castle of the Moors and the Sintra National Palace.
Belém Tower / Basilievich
- Belém Tower – Lisbon. Fortified tower at the medieval port of Lisbon, part of a defense system at the gateways of the Tagus River. Built around 1515 – 1519 in the Late Gothic (Manueline) style.
- Castle of the Moors – Lisbon, Sintra. Enormous medieval castle on the top of hill, overlooking Sintra. It was built in the 8th – 9th centuries by Muslims. Captured by Christians in 1147. Very impressive are the long outer walls of castle.
- Castle of Silves – Faro. One of the best preserved Moorish castles in Portugal. Castle has been here since the Roman times (the early 3rd century AD). Present castle was built mostly in the 12th – 13th centuries.
- Elvas star forts – Portalegre. One of the best preserved start forts in the world, the largest dry ditch fort in the world. Whole garrison town of Elvas is surrounded by sophisticated star fort, there are several more star forts on the hilltops around the town. Fortifications were built in the 17th – 19th century. Elvas itself is a beautiful, nearly intact historical town.
- Guimarães Castle – Braga. Impressive castle, built in the 10th century as a protection against the attacks of Moors and Normans.
- Monte Mozinho castle – Porto. Remnants of large, Roman built castle which was constructed in the 1st century AD. Castle was protected behind a system of three walls.
- São João Baptista Fort – Leiria, Berlengas Islands. Impressive fort which takes full area of small islet – former site of monastery. Fort was built sometimes around 1651 – 1678.
Pena National Palace
- Mafra National Palace and Basilica – Lisbon. Enormous palace – monastery, built in Baroque style in 1717 – 1730. During its construction this was by far the most ambitious project in the country, involving up to 45 thousand workers. Palace and monastery have more than 1,200 rooms, facade is 220 m long. Highlight of the palace complex is the gorgeous library in Rococo style.
- Monserrate Palace – Lisbon, Sintra. Summer palace of Portuguese court, rebuilt in Moghul style in 1858. Palace has Eclectic, sumptuous design.
- Palácio da Bolsa – Porto. Public building, built for representation purposes by Commercial Association. Exterior of palace has austere Neo-Classical style but the interior is exuberant. Built in 1842 – 1910.
- Pena National Palace – Lisbon, Sintra. Hilltop castle, for most part built in the 19th century, One of most beautiful and scenic castles in the world, built in Romanticism style. Beautiful park around the castle with numerous exotic plants, including numerous tree ferns from Australia and New Zealand.
- Queluz National Palace – Lisbon. One of the last great Rococo palaces in Europe, built in 1747 – 1792. Palace has exquisite, sophisticated interior, some rooms have exuberant ornamentation.
- Quinta da Regaleira and its gardens – Lisbon, Sintra. Ornate palace in Romantic style. Notable is the garden with numerous unusual structures – grottoces, wells, fountains and other structures. Garden architecture contains numerous references to mysterious symbols. There is extensive system of tunnels as well as two Initiation Wells which were used for mysterious rituals.
- Sintra National Palace – Lisbon, Sintra. Best preserved royal palace in Portugal, used from the early 15th century to the late 19th century. Notable feature of the castle are the tall chimneys of kitchen.
Bom Jesus do Monte / François Philipp
- Bom Jesus do Monte – Braga. Impressive shrine, built in Baroque style in 1722 – 1725 and later. Most impressive is the 116 m high stairway to the summit. On the top is built church in Neo-Classical style (1784 – 1834).
- Cathedral of Braga – Braga. Large, significant cathedral. Construction of the present building started in 1071 and in the later times cathedral has been rebuilt and extended. Now it unites Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline and Baroque styles.
- Cathedral of Évora – Évora. Massive Gothic cathedral, for most part built in 1280 – 1340.
- Chapel of São Pedro de Balsemão – Viseu. One of the oldest Christian churches in Western Europe, built in the 7th century (or later, in the 9th – 10th century) by Visigoths.
- Church of Santa Engrácia – Lisbon. Beautiful church in Baroque style, built in 1682 – 1712 and finished in 1966. In the 20th century the church was turned into a National Pantheon and many important personalities have been buried here.
- Church of São Francisco in Évora and Chapel of Bones – Évora. Gothic church, built in 1475 – 1550s. Chapel of Bones is adorned with numerous human skulls and bones from some 5000 people. At the entrance is written in Latin: „We bones that here are, for yours await”.
- Church of São Francisco in Porto / Asmodaeus, public domain.Church of São Francisco in Porto – Porto. This Franciscan church has one of most decorated interiors in Europe. Gothic church was built in 1383 – around 1425. In the first half of the 18th century the interior was lavishly covered with gold embellishments in Baroque style.
- Clérigos Church and Torre dos Clérigos – Porto. Ornate Baroque church with separate bell tower which is 75.6 m high. The tower is one of symbols of city.
- Porto Cathedral – Porto. One of most important Romanesque buildings in this region of Europe. Cathedral was built in 1110.
- Sanctuary of Fátima – Santarém. Site where in 1916 took place apparitions of Virgin Mary. Apparitions repeatedly were seen by three local children. Now here is located an important pilgrimage site with enormous church – Basilica of Nossa Senhora de Rosário and other structures.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remédios – Viseu. Impressive shrine with zig-zagging stairway, influenced by Bom Jesus do Monte. Built in 1750.
- Silves Cathedral – Faro. Significant Gothic structure. It is possible that initially here was Moorish mosque. Cathedral was built in the middle of the 13th century – 1470s.
- Alcobaça Monastery
- Alcobaça Monastery – Leiria. Cistercian monastery established in 1153, enormous and beautiful complex of buildings, earliest example of Gothic architecture in Portugal.
- Batalha Monastery – Leiria. Beautiful structure of Dominican convent, built in Late Gothic style in 1386 – ˜1517. One of the greatest Gothic structures.
- Convent of Christ in Tomar – Santarém. Medieval fortification – religious building, constructed by Knights Templar sometimes around 1160 AD, their headquarters in Portugal. One of the best examples of Manueline style in architecture. Convent consists of a massive castle, round church and eight cloisters, all surrounded by fortification wall. Especially impressive and interesting is the round church – Convent church with its opulent interior. Knights Templar had profound importance on the Age of Discovery which to a large extent was started by Portugal.
- Jerónimos Monastery – Lisbon. One of most beautiful buildings in Portugal, Hieronymite monastery from 1450, built in 1552 in Manueline style, richly decorated.
- Monastery of Jesus of Setúbal – Setúbal. One of the earliest examples of the Manueline style (a kind of Renaissance architecture). Founded in 1490.
- Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra – Coimbra. Gorgeous botanical garden, area 13 ha. This garden was set in 1772-1774 and contains numerous exotic plants which sometimes have reached significant size.
- Serra do Buçaco – Aveiro. Woodlands and park around a Carmelite monastery, which was founded in 1628. In the park grow hundreds of species of exotic trees which often have reached giant size.
- Dom Luís I Bridge in Porto / Sylvain Raybaud,
- 25 de Abril Bridge – Lisbon. Enormous suspension bridge, built in 1962 – 1966. Bridge is 2,278 m long and has two floors. Design of this bridge is based on the design of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, US.
- Dom Luís I Bridge – Porto. Impressive metal arch bridge with 172 m long central span which was the longest in the world at the time of construction, in 1881 – 1887. Bridge has upper and lower decks. Total length is 385.25 m.
- Roman Bridge in Chaves – Vila Real. Rather well preserved Roman bridge, built at the end of the 1st century AD – early 2nd century AD. Bridge is 140 m long and has 12 arches.
- Vasco da Gama Bridge – Lisbon. Longest bridge in Europe, 17.2 km long and up to 45 m high. Built in 1995 – 1998.
- Águas Livres Aqueduct – Lisbon. 18 km long aqueduct, built in 1731 – 1748. Tallest arches are up to 65 m tall.
- Amoreira Aqueduct (Elvas Aqueduct) – Portalegre. Very impressive aqueduct, 6 – 7 km long and up to 40 m high. Aqueduct was built in the early 15th century – 1622.
- Other man made landmarks
- Biblioteca Joanina – Coimbra. Ornate university library, built in Baroque style in the 18th century. Interior of library ir adorned with gilded and painted wood.
- Buçaco Palace (hotel) – Aveiro. Opulent building of a hotel in the woodlands of Buçaco. Hotel was built in 1888 – 1907 in Neo-Manueline style.
- Casa do Penedo – Braga. House built between two giant stones in 1972 – 1974.
- Domus Municipalis in Bragança – Bragança. Unusual structure in Romanesque style, built sometimes around 1250. According to some accounts it was built as a municipality hall with cistern below it.
- Lello Bookstore – Porto. One of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, rebuilt in its present shape in 1906. The sophisticated interior of bookshop is one of the most iconic examples of Art Noveau style.
- Roman Temple of Évora – Évora. Remnants of Roman temple which was devoted to Diana, goddess of Moon. One of the most significant monuments of Roman and Lusitanian cultures. Built in the 1st century AD.
FAMOUS PORTUGUESE PEOPLE
Vasco da Gama – explorer
Ferdinand Magellan – navigator, explorer
Cristiano Ronaldo – football player
Luis Figo – football player
Luis de Matos – magician
Jose Mourinho – football manager
Carmen Miranda – actor, singer, dancer
- Portuguese language is spoken by about 230 million people around the world (incl. 210 native speakers), and is the official language of 9 countries.
- Almost 12% of the inhabitants of Luxembourg and 3% of the people in France are of Portuguese descent. Paris has the largest Portuguese community outside Portugal and is the second largest Portuguese city after Lisbon based on the number of Portuguese residents.
- José Manuel Durão Barroso, the former Prime Minister of Portugal, has been President of the European Commission since 2004.
- The world-famous Port wine (also known as „Porto”), a sweet Portuguese fortified wine from the Douro Valley, has been imitated in several countries – notably Australia, South Africa, India and the United States.
- Over half of the world’s cork is produced in Portugal.
- The Festa do Colete Encanado, held in Vila Franca de Xira, features a running of the bulls, like its more famous counterpart, the San Fermín in Pamplona.
- The Lisbon-based S.L. Benfica is the world’s most supported football club according to the Guinness Book of World Record.
- In December 2010, the world’s largest Santa Claus parade took place in Porto. 14,963 people donned Santa outfits, beating the record of the previous years for the same parade.
- The name Portugal first appears in 868, during the Reconquista over the Muslims. A county was formed around the city of Porto (Portus Cale in Latin), from which „Portugal” is derived.
- The kingdom of Portugal lasted for nearly 800 years, from 1139 to 1910. Since 1910, the country has been a republic. The modern democratic republic was founded in 1976.
- The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, signed in 1373, is the oldest alliance in the world which is still in force.
- Portugal was one of the earliest colonising nation of Europe, starting with Ceuta (1410), Madeira (1419), the Azores (1439), then establishing trading posts along the coast of Africa later in the 15th century. In 1498, Vasco da Gama reached India, and in 1500 Pedro Álvares Cabral, en route to India, discovered Brazil and claimed it for Portugal. The Portuguese Empire would rule, among others, over Brazil, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, Goa, Daman, Diu, Kochi, Malacca, and Macau. Most of the African colonies were granted independence in 1975. Macau, the last Portuguese colony, was handed over to China in 1999.
- The first Pirate code was invented in the 17th century by the Portuguese buccaneer Bartolomeu Português.
- In 1709, the Jesuit priest Bartolomeu de Gusmão invented one of the world’s first airships, for which he sought royal favour from King John V. Portugal could have changed history with this invention, had it not been for the Inquisition, which forbade Gusmão to continue his aeronautic investigations and went as far as to persecute him because of them.
- On 1 November 1755 (All Saints’ Day), Lisbon was struck by an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale – one of the most powerful in European history. The city was razed to the ground by the earthquake, the subsequent tsunami and ensuing fires. Up to 90,000 of the 275,000 inhabitants were killed and 85% of the buildings were destroyed, including famous palaces and churches, the 70,000-volume royal library, as well as the royal archives, containing the detailed historical records of explorations by Vasco da Gama and other early navigators
- In 1761 Portugal became the first colonial power to abolish slavery, half a century before Spain, France, Britain or the USA
- The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is the longest bridge in Europe with 17,185 m (56,381 feet).
- In 2006, Portugal established the world’s first commercial wave farm (the Aguçadora Wave Park) to produce electricity.