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Thursday, 13 April 2017



Portugal takes its name from the city of Porto, which the Romans had called Portus Cale. Portus means port. Cale refers to its original Celtic name of Callaici.

It took the Romans around 200 years to conquer Portugal, from 219BC to 19BC.

In 711 the Iberian Peninsula was invaded by the Moors, making Portugal part of Muslim Al Andalus.

Portugal was born as result of the Christian Reconquista, and in 1139, Afonso Henriques was proclaimed King of Portugal, thus firmly establishing Portuguese independence.

King Afonso

The border with Spain has been almost the same since the 13th century.

The alliance between England and Portugal was signed in 1373. It is the oldest alliance still in force.

Portugal was a world power during the 15th and 16th centuries. Their empire originated with Henry the Navigator (1394–1460), who started by paying Portuguese sailors to explore the west coast of Africa.

Henry the Navigator

In 1452, Pope Nicholas V gave King Alfonso V of Portugal the right to take any Saracens or pagans into slavery.

On January 8 1454, the papal bull Romanus Pontifex awarded Portugal exclusive trade and colonization rights to all of Africa south of Cape Bojador.

In the  late 15th century, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama reached the southwestern tip of Africa, and there they established the city of Cape Town, a Portuguese colony. This opened the way to the Indian Ocean.

The 1529 Treaty of Saragossa divided the eastern hemisphere between Spain and Portugal along a line 297.5 leagues or 17° east of the Moluccas.

Over the next two centuries, the Portuguese created a great trading empire on coasts of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and India. The Portuguese eventually weakened after the Dutch rose as the major power in the Indian Ocean trading world.

Portugal's sovereignty was interrupted due to the last two kings of the House of Aviz – King Sebastian and his great-uncle and successor, King Henry of Portugal  both dying without heirs, resulting in the Portuguese succession crisis of 1580.

Philip II of Spain took the opportunity to claim the throne and so became Philip I of Portugal. Although Portugal did not lose its formal independence, it was governed by the same monarch who governed the Spanish Empire, briefly forming a union of kingdoms.

The Iberian Union ceased on December 1, 1640 when the Portuguese rebelled against Spanish rule and acclaimed João IV as King of Portugal. This ended 60 years of personal union of the crowns of Portugal and Spain and the end of the rule of the Philippine Dynasty. It was the beginning of the House of Braganza, which reigned in Portugal until 1910.

The Acclamation of the King John IV, Veloso Salgado, 1908.

The destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, the country's occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, the independence of its largest colony Brazil (1822), and the Liberal Wars (1828–34), all left Portugal crippled from war and diminished in its world power.

The first attempt at a Portuguese republican revolution broke out in the northern city of Porto on January 31, 1891.

After the 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy, the democratic but unstable Portuguese First Republic was established.

After Manuel II, Portugal's last king, was deposed in 1910, he lived in exile in Twickenham, in South west London.

On June 30, 1911, less than a year after the downfall of the constitutional monarchy, the design for the new national Portuguese flag was adopted.

In 1926, a military group took control of the country from the Portuguese First Republic. This began a time of rule by fascist governments that lasted until 1974.

António de Oliveira Salazar served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1932 for 36 years. When Salazar suffered a brain hemorrhage in 1968, he was expected to die shortly after and was replaced. When he awoke, rather then tell him, aides continually gave him fake papers to sign and Salazar was made to believe he was still in power for the next two years of his life.

Democracy was restored in 1974 when Portugal's Eurovision song, "E Depois Do Adeus," was used to start a revolution. When played on the radio, it was the coded signal for the peaceful overthrow of President Caetano and his government.

In 2008, Portugal became the first country to make it compulsory for people to have fingerprints on identity cards.


Portugal’s capital Lisbon is the most westward city in mainland Europe.

Cabo de Roca in Portugal is a cape that forms the westernmost point in mainland Europe.

The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is almost 11 miles long. It is the longest bridge in Europe.

The population of Portugal is about 10.5 million but Portuguese is the mother tongue of some 220 million, around 200 million of whom are Brazilian.

Portuguese is also the official language of Sao Tome, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Macao and Cape Verde.

Half the world's cork comes from Portugal.

The Portuguese eat more fish and shellfish per head of population than any other country.

Daily Express

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