Population: 10,581,949 (est.)
Language(s): Portuguese, Mirandese
- The Portuguese currency is the euro (€) and the country’s economy is in the eurozone.
- The majority (around 81%) of the Portuguese population are Roman Catholic, while 3.3% follow other Christian denominations. Some 6.8% of the population declare themselves to be non-religious.
- The country of Portugal was founded in 1152.
- The month of June holds festivities dedicated to three saints known as Santos Populares.
- Each region of Portugal has its own traditional dishes made from meat and seafood.
- The oldest bookstore in the world (1732) is Bertrand in Lisbon (Chiado district).
- Portugal and England signed the oldest, and still active, diplomatic alliance in the world, (Windsor Treaty, 1386).
- 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.
- The name Portugal first appears in 868, during the Reconquista over the Muslims. A county was formed around the city of Porto, from which “Portugal” is derived.
Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic is a country located in Southwestern Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula. It is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. The Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira are Portuguese territory as well. The country is named after its second largest city, Porto, whose Latin name was Portus Cale.
The land within the borders of the current Portuguese Republic has been continuously settled since prehistoric times. After a period of Roman rule followed by Visigothic and Suebian domination, in the 8th century most of the Iberian Peninsula was conquered by Moorish invaders professing Islam, who were later expelled by the Knights Templar. During the Christian Reconquista, Portugal established itself as an independent kingdom from León in 1139, claiming to be the oldest European nation-state. In the 15th and 16th centuries, as the result of pioneering the Age of Discovery, Portugal expanded western influence and established the first global empire, becoming one of the world’s major economic, political and military powers. In addition, the Portuguese Empire was the longest-lived of the modern European colonial empires, spanning almost 600 years, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to the handover of Macau in 1999 and grant of sovereignty to East Timor in 2002. The empire spread throughout a vast number of territories that are now part of 53 different sovereign states. However, the country’s international status was greatly reduced during the 19th century, especially following the Independence of Brazil, its largest colony. After the 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy, the democratic but unstable Portuguese First Republic was established, itself being superseded by the “Estado Novo” authoritarian regime. Democracy was restored after the Portuguese Colonial War and the Carnation Revolution in 1974.
As of 2011, the population of Portugal was 10,562,178, of which 547,733 live in Lisbon, the country’s capital and largest city, located in the South, and 237,591 in Porto, also known as Oporto, the second-largest city, located in the North. The country is a democratic republic with a president (currently Aníbal Cavaco Silva) and prime minister (currently Pedro Passos Coelho). Since the 1990s, Portugal’s economic development model has been slowly changing from one based on public consumption to one focused on exports, private investment, and development of the high-tech sector. The Portuguese currency is the euro (€) and the country’s economy is in the eurozone.
Portugal is a developed country with a very high Human Development Index, the world’s 19th-highest quality-of-life as of 2005, and a strong healthcare system. It is one of the world’s most globalized and peaceful nations: a member of the European Union and the United Nations, and a founding member of the Latin Union, the Organization of Ibero-American States, OECD, NATO, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the eurozone and the Schengen Agreement.