Tag Archives: Portugal

Portugal is a country on the Iberian Peninsula, in Southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, being bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. The Portugal–Spain border is 1,214 km (754 mi) long and considered the longest uninterrupted border within the European Union. The republic also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

Location of Portugal with islands circled
Location of Portugal (dark green)

Portugal has a very rich history: the territory of modern Portugal has been continuously settled, invaded and fought over since prehistoric times. The Pre-Celts, Celts, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and the Romans were followed by the invasions of the Visigothic and the Suebi Germanic peoples. In 711 the Iberian Peninsula was invaded by the Moors and for the following centuries Portugal would be part of Muslim Al Andalus. Portugal was born as a result of the Christian Reconquista. In 1139, Afonso Henriques was proclaimed King of Portugal, thus firmly establishing Portuguese independence, under the Portuguese House of Burgundy.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, under the House of Aviz, which took power following the 1383–85 interregnum, Portugal expanded Western influence and established the first global empire, becoming one of the world’s major economic, political and military powers. During this time, Portuguese explorers pioneered maritime exploration in the Age of Discovery, notably under royal patronage of Prince Henry the Navigator and King João II, with such notable discoveries as Vasco da Gama’s sea route to India (1497–98), Pedro Álvares Cabral’s discovery of Brazil (1500), and Bartolomeu Dias’s reaching of the Cape of Good Hope. Portugal monopolized the spice trade during this time, under royal command of the Casa da Índia, and the Portuguese Empire expanded with military campaigns led in Asia, notably under Afonso de Albuquerque, who was known as the “Caesar of the East”.

The destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, the country’s occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, the independence of Brazil (1822), and the Liberal Wars (1828–34), all left Portugal crippled from war and diminished in its world power. After the 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy, the democratic but unstable Portuguese First Republic was established, later being superseded by the “Estado Novo” right-wing authoritarian regime. Democracy was restored after the Portuguese Colonial War and the Carnation Revolution in 1974. Shortly after, independence was granted to all its colonies and East Timor, with the exception of Macau, which was handed over to China in 1999. This marked the end of the longest-lived European colonial empire, leaving a profound cultural and architectural influence across the globe and a legacy of over 250 million Portuguese speakers today.

I’m enamored by the scenery, the rhythms of village life and Portugal’s outstanding (and underrated) food and wine. I love exploring the hidden beaches along the Costa Vicentina, taking picturesque walks in the Serra da Estrela (where I still bump into shepherds during a day’s outing), and roaming in less-visited corners of the Alentejo – such a magical place for discovering the traditional soul of Portugal. But it’s the Portuguese themselves who make this country so special. Despite the sometimes dour exterior (it’s just a façade!), they’re among the kindest and most warm-hearted people on earth.
–Regis St Louis, Writer. “Why I love Portugal”

Lisbon

Lisbon (Portuguese: Lisboa), the capital city of Portugal

Lisbon (Portuguese: Lisboa) is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with a population of 552,700 (as of 2016). It is continental Europe’s westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost areas of its metro area is the westernmost point of Continental Europe.

Lisbon is recognized as a global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education and tourism. It is one of the major economic centres on the continent, with a growing financial sector and one of the largest container ports on Europe’s Atlantic coast. Lisbon Portela Airport serves over 20 million passengers annually, as of 2015, and the motorway network and the high-speed rail system of Alfa Pendular link the main cities of Portugal. The city is the 7th-most-visited city in Southern Europe, after Istanbul, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Athens and Milan, with 1,740,000 tourists in 2009. It is also the political center of the country, as its seat of Government and residence of the Head of State.

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. Ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century, it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques reconquered the city and since then it has been a major political, economic and cultural centre of Portugal. Unlike most capital cities, Lisbon’s status as the capital of Portugal has never been granted or confirmed officially – by statute or in written form. Its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention, making its position as de facto capital a part of the Constitution of Portugal.

Lisbon enjoys a Mediterranean climate. It has the warmest winters of any metropolis in Europe, with average temperatures 15 °C (59 °F) during the day and 8 °C (46 °F) at night from December to February. The typical summer season lasts about six months, from May to October, although also in April temperatures sometimes reach around 25 °C (77.0 °F).

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Top 20 Countries having most number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

There are total of 1031 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world (as of June 2016 – 802 Cultural, 197 Natural and 32 Mixed). Here are the top 20 countries having most number of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
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10 Lesser Known Natural Wonders (I)

The age of the Earth is approximately 4.54 billion years. For all these years, our planet has been a work in progress: water, wind, air pressure, minerals, heat, and even extraterrestrial forces like meteors and comets mold and shape our environment, and created all manner of strange formations. Some of them are really beautiful: we call them “Natural wonders”. Some natural wonders are really famous, for example the Grand Canyon or Victoria Falls. Some of them are lesser known, yet still stunning. Here are the 10 lesser known natural wonders of the World.
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