Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic
(Portuguese: República Portuguesa). It is
located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian
Peninsula, and is the westernmost country of
mainland Europe. Portugal is bordered by
Spain to the north and east and by the Atlantic
Ocean to the west and south. The Atlantic
archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, are
also part of Portugal.
Portugal has witnessed a constant flow of different
civilizations during the past 3,100 years,
including Greek, Roman, Germanic and
others, who all made an imprint on the
country's culture, history, language. During the
15th and 16th centuries, its vast
transcontinental empire made Portugal one of
the world's major economic, political, and
cultural powers. Nowadays, Portugal is a
developed country, a member of the European
Union since 1986 and a Eurozone founding
member that launched the single currency in
Portugal as an independent nation started on June
24, 1128, when the Count of Portugal,
Afonso Henriques proclaimed himself as
king. In October 5, 1143, Alfonso VII, King
of León and Castile, recognized the
independence of the County of Portugal, with
Afonso I as its King. Afonso and his
successors, pushed southwards to wrest more
land from the Moors, as Portugal started with
about half its present area. In 1249 the
Portuguese Reconquista ended when it
reached the southern coast of the Algarve.
In 1373 Portugal made an alliance with England,
which is the longest-standing alliance in the
world. In the following decades, Portugal
spearheaded the exploration of the world and
started the Age of Discovery. Prince Henry
the Navigator, son of King John I, took on
the role of main sponsor and patron of this
endeavour. First portuguese flag.
In 1383, the King of Castile claimed the
right to the throne of Portugal, as he
was married to the daughter of the King
of Portugal who had died with no male
heir. The ensuing popular revolt led to
the 1383-1385 Crisis. A faction of petty
noblemen and common folk, led by
John of Aviz (later John I) defeated the
Castilians on the Battle of Aljubarrota,
the most celebrated battle in Portuguese
history and still a symbol of the
struggle for independence from
In 1415, the Portuguese Empire began when
a Portuguese fleet conquered Ceuta, a
rich Islamic trade centre in North
Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Lisbon
Africa. There followed the first
discoveries in the Atlantic: Madeira and
the Azores, which led to the first
Throughout the 15th century, the
Portuguese Explorers sailed down the
coast of Africa, establishing trading
posts along the way, while they were
looking for the route to India, land of
the spices, which were very precious in
Europe. In 1498, Vasco da Gama
finally arrived in India by sea.
In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral landed on
Brazil and claimed it for the Portuguese
Crown. Thus, the Portuguese Empire
had the dominion of the commerce in
the Indian Ocean and in the South
Vasco da Gama
The independence of Portugal was interrupted from 1580 to 1640. As King Sebastian died in
a battle in Morocco leaving no heir, Philip II of Spain claimed the throne and got it,
becoming Philip I of Portugal. Although Portugal did not lose its formal indepence as a
kingdom, the fact is that it was governed by the same king that governed Spain, forming
a Union of Kingdoms; but not for long: In 1640, John IV spearheaded a rebellious
uprising backed by disgruntled Portuguese nobles, and was acclaimed King, starting the
long-lasting dynasty of Braganza. By this time, however, the Portuguese Empire was
already under severe attack from the ambitions of other countries, specifically Britain
and the Netherlands, and Portugal began a slow but inexorable decline until the 20th
century. This decline was hastened by the independence in 1822 of the country's largest
colonial possession, Brazil which contributed to a period of political chaos and civil
In 1910, a republican revolution deposed the Portuguese monarchy. But the chaos continued
and considerable economic problems aggravated by a disastrous military intervention in
the First World War led to a military coup d'état in 1926. This led to the establishment
of the right-wing dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar. In the early 1960s,
independence movements in the colonies of Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese
Guinea resulted in the Portuguese Colonial War, weakening the regime. In 1974, a
bloodless left-wing military coup led the way for the democratic regime of today.
Membership in the European Union was achieved in 1986 and since then Portugal has
been engaged in a process of convergence with its EU counterparts.
Government and Politics
Portugal is a democratic republic ruled by the Constitution of 1976.
The four main organs of Portuguese politics are the President of the
Republic, the Assembly of the Republic, the Government, and the
The President of the Republic, which is elected to a five year term by
universal suffrage, has a supervising, non-executive role. The
Assembly of the Republic is composed of 230 deputies elected by
universal suffrage for four year terms.
The Government is headed by the Prime Minister, who chooses his
Council of Ministers, made of Ministers and their assistants, the
Secretaries of State. The national and regional governments are
dominated by two political parties, the Socialist Party and the Social
Foreign Relations and Military
Portugal is a member of NATO since
1949, of the European Union since
1986. There is a friendship alliance
and dual citizenship treaty with
Brazil. Portugal also has very good
relations with the USA, UK, China,
as well as the other European
Union countries, and centuries-old
diplomatic ties with Morocco.
The Portuguese Armed Forces are
divided into three branches: Army,
Navy, and Air Force. In the 20th
century, Portugal engaged in two
major military interventions: the
First Great War and the Colonial
war (1961-1974). Portugal has
participated in several
peacekeeping missions abroad,
namely East Timor, Bosnia,
Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Geography and Climate
Continental Portugal is split in two by its main river, the Tagus (Tejo). Northern
landscape is mountainous in the interior areas. The South area between the
Tejo and the Algarve (the Alentejo) features mostly rolling plains with a
climate somewhat warmer and drier than the cooler and rainier north. The
Algarve, separated from the Alentejo by mountains, enjoys a Mediterranean
climate comparable with Morocco or Southern Spain.
The islands of the Azores and Madeira are located in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Some of these islands have had recent volcanic activity, as recently as 1957.
Portugal's highest point is Mount Pico in Pico Island, an ancient volcano, at
Portugal's climate can be classified as Mediterranean. One of the warmest
European countries, yearly temperature averages in Mainland Portugal are 15
°C in the north and 18 °C in the south. Madeira and Azores have a narrower
temperature range. Spring and summer months are sunny, autumns and winters
are rainy and windy.
Portugal joined the European Union in 1986 and started a process of
modernization in a very stable environment. It achieved a healthy level
of growth in terms of modernization. Portugal was one of the founding
countries of the euro in 1999.
Major industries include oil refineries, automotive, cement production,
pulp and paper industry, textile, footwear, furniture, and cork (the
world’s leading producer). Agriculture no longer represents most of
the economy but the Portuguese wines, namely Port Wine and Madeira
Wine are still exported worldwide.
Tourism is also an important activity, specially in the Algarve (south) and
Madeira Islands regions.
The education system of Portugal is divided into Pre-schooling (children
until the age of six), Basic Education (nine years in three stages and
compulsory), Secondary Education (three years) and Higher Education
(University and Polytechnic).
Portuguese Universities exist since 1290. They are divided into faculties.
The Bologna process is being adopted to become effective before
The Portuguese legal system is part of the continental family of legal
systems based on civil law. Up to the end of the 19th century French
law was the main influence, but since then the major influence has
been German law.
Portuguese law applied in the former colonies and territories and
continues to be the major influence. This includes for example the
legal system of Macau.
Religion in Portugal is profoundly
Roman Catholic. According to
common saying, "to be
Portuguese is to be Catholic,"
and approximately 97 percent
of the population consider
themselves Roman Catholic -
the highest percentage in
Portugal has developed a specific culture while being influenced by the various
civilizations that crossed the Mediterranean and those that were discovered
during the Age of Discovery.
Portuguese literature is one of the earliest Western literatures, developed through
texts and songs. 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 both Portuguese and Spanish dramatic
traditions. Adventurer and poet Luís de Camões (c.1524 - 1580) wrote the epic
poem The Lusiads, with Virgil's Aeneid as main model. Modern Portuguese
poetry is essentially rooted in neo-classic and contemporary styles, as
execplified by Fernando Pessoa (1888 – 1935). Modern literature became
internationally known through the works of, among others, Almeida Garrett,
Camilo Castelo Branco, Eça de Queirós, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen,
António Lobo Antunes, and 1998 Nobel prize winner, José Saramago.
Music & Architecture
Portuguese music encompasses a wide variety of genres. The most renowned is Fado, a
melancholic urban music, usually associated to the Portuguese guitar and to saudade,
the feeling of missing someone. Some of its most internationally notable performers are
Amália Rodrigues, Mariza, Mísia, and Madredeus. Apart from these acts, one of the
most notable Portuguese acts outside, specially in Germany, is the gothic-metal band
Moonspell, even though the genre is not very common in Portugal as it is on other
European countries. Despite fado and folk, Portuguese youngsters seem to enjoy rock,
pop and other modern types of music. The Portuguese organize every year several
festivals like Zambujeira do Mar, Paredes de Coura, Rock in Rio Lisboa, MTV Europe
Music Awards in 2005 among many others.
Portuguese traditional architecture is distinct due to the variety of influences that it features.
Modern Portugal has given the world renowned architects Eduardo Souto de Moura and
Álvaro Siza Vieira. Prominent international figures in visual arts include painters Vieira
da Silva and Paula Rego.
Since the 1990s, Portugal has increased the number of public cultural facitilies, in addition
to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation established in 1956. These include the Belém
Cultural Center in Lisbon, Serralves Foundation and the House of Music, both in
Festivals and Holidays
Festivals play a major role in Portugal's summers. Almost every city, town
and village has its own festivals. The summer festivities are very
popular. Among these festivities are the June festivities dedicated to
three saints known as Santos Populares (popular saints) that take place
all over Portugal. Why the population associated the saints with these
pagan festivities is not known. The practice is possibly related to
Roman or local deities before Christianity spread into the region. The
three saints are Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter. A common
denominator in these festivities generally includes the wine and água-
pé (a watered kind of wine), traditional bread along with grilled
sardines, pimba music, traditional street dances, fireworks, religious
processions and celebration.
Portuguese cuisine is particularly diverse; various recipes of rice, potatoes, bread,
meat, sea-food, and fish are the staple foods in the country. The Portuguese
have a reputation for loving cod dishes (bacalhau in Portuguese), for which it
is said that there are 365 ways (one for each day of the year) of cooking it:
Pastéis de Bacalhau, Bacalhau à Brás and Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá are some
of the most popular ones. Other fish recipes are popular like the grilled
sardines and Caldeirada. The art of pastry, having its origins in old and rich
conventual pastry recipes, is very popular across the entire country. Desserts
and cakes, such as Lisbon's Pastéis de Nata (best eaten with a strong coffee),
Aveiro's Ovos-Moles, and many other, are very appreciated. Portugal has its
own adaptation of fast-food; one of the most popular is Porto's Francesinha.
Other recipes include the Feijoada, made with pieces of meat, sausages and
beans served with white and dry rice, the Cozido à Portuguesa, made with
various kinds of meat, rice, potatoes and other vegetables, all boiled, and the
Portuguese wines have been exported since
Roman times. The Romans associated
Portugal with Bacchus, their god of
Winery and Feast. Today the country is
known by wine lovers, and its wines
have won several international prizes.
Many famous Portuguese wines are
known as some of the world's best:
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
Moscatels of Setúbal and Favaios
(Douro). Porto Wine is widely
exported, followed by Vinho Verde.
Exports of Vinho Verde are increasing
rapidly, in response to the growing
Sports and games
Football is the most known, loved and
practiced sport in Portugal. Luís Figo
was one of the world's top players, but
the legendary Eusébio is still a major
symbol of Portuguese football.
The Portuguese national team, or Selecção
Nacional, has won two FIFA World
Youth Championships and several other
UEFA youth championships. After a
third place in the 1966 FIFA World
Cup, they finished in fourth place at the
2006 FIFA World Cup, losing to
Germany in the third-place match. In
addition, they finished second in Euro
2004, their best ever result in this
FC Porto, SL Benfica and Sporting Clube de Portugal are the main clubs, often
known as "os três grandes" ("the big three"). While Benfica has played in the
UEFA Champions League final (then the UEFA Champions Cup) seven times
and has two titles, FC Porto has two titles from two finals (1987 and 2004) in
that competition alongside two Intercontinental Cups, a UEFA Super Cup
(1987), and is the only Portuguese team to have won a UEFA Cup (2003).
Although Benfica was the most popular and successful Portuguese club in
Europe in the past, FC Porto's success in the European competitions has put
them in the Top 10 World Clubs. By dominating the national competition
since the late 1980s, FC Porto is the only Portuguese team to ever achieve five
Portuguese Football Championship titles in a row (1995-1999). Sporting Clube
de Portugal has won a European Cup Winners' Cup.
Portugal is probably best known for its rink hockey team, with 15 world titles. The
most important Portuguese hockey clubs in the European championships are
SL Benfica, FC Porto, UD Oliveirense and Óquei de Barcelos.
1. Which is the correct ensign of Portugal?
2. Which is the correct national anthem of
2. Which is the correct national anthem of
2. Which is the correct national anthem of
3. Where is Portugal located?
4. Who was the first to arrive in Indie by sea?
• Ferdynand Magellan
• Christopher Columbus
• Vasco da Gama correct
5. Name the number of Portugese Political
• 4 correct