The Portuguese Republic is commonly known as Portugal. It is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula in Southwestern Europe, and its home includes the Atlantic archipelagos of Madeira and Azores. Its Iberian portion is west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east of Spain. Spain is the only country that shares its border with Portugal.
Lisbon is the capital and the largest city in the country, while the official language is Portuguese. Being the oldest in the Iberian Peninsula and Europe, Portugal was invaded a lot of times in the prehistoric era and fought it out every time. It is ruled by Romans, visited by Phoenicians-Carthaginians, and inhibited by pre-Celtic and Celtic people.
A country with vibrant culture and rich history, Portugal is one of the oldest in Europe and is the first maritime power and see the world’s first explorers, with Vasco de Gama and Bartholomew Diaz being most popular. While Vasco de Gama discovered the route to India, Diaz is known to find out the Cape of Good Hope, the southern tip of Africa. Alvares and some other sailors discovered lands of the Far East, Brazil, and parts of Africa.
Interesting facts about Portugal
Longest European Empire – Kingdom of portugal, with over 600 years, is known to be the longest of European empires. It was spread across 53 different countries. While all countries acquired freedom by 1975, Macau was transferred to China after 442 years of possession.
Global Slave Trader – Good or bad but Portugal is reported to be the first country to trade slaves transatlantic. Once, it was powerful country trading slaves from western Africa to America. However, they demolished the slave trade system long back around 50 years and earlier than France, Spain, Britain, and the United States.
Historic City Lisbon – Lisbon is known to be older than Rome, and it dates back to 1147 of its existence. Lisbon has been inhabited for over 3000 years as there are Archaeological findings support the opinion that Lisbon was earlier Phoenicians who had settlements. As a country, Portugal is Europe’s most westerly point. As we know more about Portugal, it becomes interesting that this country owns some unique and amazing facts. Portugal is a world leader on many fronts, and as we have seen, it is the oldest place in European history.
Oldest country in europe – Portugal is the oldest nation among all the European countries. Till it became a republic in 1910, it remained a kingdom for 800 years, and Afonso I in 1143 was the first king of this kingdom. The government is dated back to 1139. An interesting thing is the borders of Portugal have never changed since their treaty with Spain way back in 1297, which handed over the Algarve to Portugal.
Less Widespread Reigning Monarch in the world – In an exciting event, Portugal was reported to have the shortest reigning king for mere 20 minutes. The monarch was Crown Prince Luis Filipe, whose father Carlos I was assassinated on 1st February 1908, and in the same attack, Luis Filipe was injured and died of fatal injuries. The reign was then transferred to the last king of the Portugal Empire, Manuel II.
Portuguese as their Official Language – As we have seen, Portugal ruled over 53 countries once, and this same ambition led to the establishment of Portuguese culture in many countries. Some countries became independent, but even though there are nine countries where Portuguese is an official language. The countries are Macau, Cabo Verde, Brazil, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome, and Goa in India. It is the 6th language that is spoken the most in the world.
The name refers to the second-largest city of Porto – Portugal, as of now, has mainland Portugal, the Azores, and the Madeira Archipelago. The name Republica Portuguesa refers to the second-largest city of Porto. The Madeira Archipelago is around 500 kilometers to Morocco’s western coast, and the Azores is nine islands of about 1300 kilometers west in the Atlantic ocean from the mainland.
Around 81 percent population – Christianity, when it was part of the Roman Empire, first came to Portugal. Most traditional festivals and fairs have religious origins, but legal codes and Catholic morals have a deep foundation. Church and state were not mingled since the first republic. A census of 2011 showed that 81 percent population of Portugal is Roman Catholic.
Anglo-Portuguese Alliance – Portugal is the country known to make the oldest alliance with any other country. The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance was the most senior in 1373. Even though Portugal and Spain were politically united for 60 years, the alliance stood the oldest one worldwide till today.
The longest & Widest Bridge in Europe – Vasco de Gama Bridge on river Tagus in Lisbon was, once upon a time, the longest bridge (from 1998 to 2018) in the world. Till today it is the second-longest in the world. This 12 kilometers bridge with six lanes and staying by cable lets you bypass the entire city of Lisbon. Later 17 kilometers Crimean Bridge became the longest in the world.
The Portuguese are fatalists – “One’s fate is impossible to escape” is a Portuguese idea called ‘fado.’ Fado is also a traditional Portuguese singing, and UNESCO has given it the status of World Intangible Cultural Heritage. You can hear Portuguese referring to ‘fado’ from time to time in their conversations. Fado is songs of hopefulness, resignation, love, and loss, usually with guitars, violins, and mandolins. You can mostly hear them in restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Portuguese traditional tasty treats – Don’t be surprised to find fat from heaven (tocinho do ceu), an angel’s double chin (papos de anjo), and a nun’s belly (barrages de Ferreira) to eat if you are in Portugal. These delicious pastries are nothing but a historical invention of nuns and monks. The whites of egg were used to preserve wine while the bulk of available yolks were converted into these dishes of pastries and cakes.
Japanese Tempura – If you have been to Japan, you must have heard or had the famous dish Tempura. Made from deep-fried vegetables, battered, and seafood, Tempura is a favorite dish in Japan. Still, very few might know that this dish was invented in Portugal by traders and missionaries who lived in Nagasaki, Japan. No wonder that Tempura acquired the Japanese market by the 16th century.
The first country to adopt – Portugal is the first European country to scrap its currency, Portuguese escudo, to adopt Euro in 2002. But that does not mean Portuguese escudo nowhere exists as one can still exchange Euro for Portuguese escudo in the central bank till 28th February 2022.
Widespread Portuguese speaking – You will be amazed to know that over 250 million people in the world speak the Portuguese language. Though the Portuguese Empire moved back from every country they ruled, their language remained in Brazil, Mozambique, and Angola. An individual speaking a Portuguese language is called Lusophone.
World’s most ancient bookshop – Livraria Bertrand is the oldest single bookshop in the world, and it was set up in 1732. It was demolished with a lot of casualties during the 8.5 scale earthquake in 1755. Later on, by 1773, a new shop was set up in Rua Garrett 1773, which still exists there. Livraria Bertrand has 50 branches now in Portugal.
World leader in renewable energy – Portugal, by 2014, developed the capacity to produce 70% electrical power from renewable resources. It is now on the verge of making all required energy with the help of renewable resources. The largest among the photovoltaic farms is situated in the town of Moura. They have the project innovation in wind farms and WaveRoller, which can generate energy from the movements of ocean waves.
One of the most calm countries in Europe – Portugal is tipped as one of the most peaceful countries in Europe because of its meager crime rate and high standard of living. The analysis done on Global Peace Index in 2021 showed that Portugal is placed 4th of the 163 countries. Additionally, the average life age of them is also good.
Lisbon was struck by worst-ever disasters – In 1755, Portugal experienced the worst disaster across the world. Great Lisbon was hit by an earthquake as powerful as the 8.5 Richter scale. It demolished practically every construction, and the city in no time was just mountains of dust. Over time, however, they found the way out and developed more robust construction protecting their properties.
Port Wine – Port Wine is very popular across the world. Vinho does Porto is a wine made from grape spirit or brandy before the completion of fermentation. This makes the wine sweet and with alcohol of around 20 percent. The wine is bottled only after aging of two to six years in steel containers or traditional oak barrels. Douro Valley is the place where port wine grapes are cultivated. Douro Valley is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
World’s most enormous omelet – Six hours, 55 people prepared a 6466-kilogram omelet which is the largest in the world in Santarem. This took place on 11th August 2012 by a bunch of these hungry people with the help of 145000 eggs, 100 kgs of butter, and 400 kgs of oil.
Most extensive cork oak forests – One can witness over half of the world’s cork in Portugal alone. The most extensive oak forests of oak in the whole world are present in Portugal. These are protected even by Portuguese law. Every cork oak is stripped off from the trunk every nine years, and the good part is that the tree is not damaged as it comes under law.
Longest dictatorship in Europe – Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was in control between 1926 to 1974, which was the most prolonged regime by any authority. There were three phases during this period. Military dictatorship between 1926 to 1928. National dictatorship between 1928 to 1933 and new state from 1933 to 1974. Conversion to Catholicism was the primary purpose of all these phases.
Member of an EU and founding member of NATO – In 1986, Portugal joined the European Economic Community (EEC), which was the predecessor body of the European Union. Based on the understanding of government adoption of austerity measures, it was granted Euro 78 billion as International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Women live more than men – With the more significant health gender gap than other developed countries, the Portuguese enjoy a long life age average. Women are also termed to live more by six years than men, with 76.2 average age life for men and 82.9 average age life for women.
Earliest hot air balloon – Father Bartolomeu de Gusmao (1685-1724) invented the earliest model hot air balloon ascended in Portugal on 8th August 1709 and took off from Casa da India in Terreiro do Poco.
Sport Lisboa e Benfica – In November 2006, Benfica had 160389 paid members, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Though it was not mentioned as a world record, the same club in June 2019 had more than 233000 members.
Cristiano Rinaldo is a Portuguese – World’s current most famous football sensation Cristiano Rinaldo is a Portuguese national. Born in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, in 1985, Rinaldo has a magnificent career as a footballer. He has stayed in long stints with famous clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Juventus.
Portugal is undoubtedly the oldest country in Europe, and it has a historic culture with rich civilization. It is worth visiting once a lifetime and has very scenic landscapes. We have discussed a few of many interesting facts, and there are a lot of others like the home of birds, a lot of Arab-origin words in Portuguese, occupation by Napoleon, etc. Portugal is a nation that had come out from many invasions, internal issues when it was a kingdom, and natural calamities. However, the spirit of their nationals has always been up, and they also know how to live and enjoy life.
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