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You know, that other Iberian country.

Portugal (Portuguese: Portugal), officially known as the Portuguese Republic (Portuguese: República Portuguesa) is a small Southern European country located at the western edge of Europe, specifically, the Iberian Peninsula, and, including Azores, is the westernmost country in Europe. It is home to 10 million people that, like its neighbor, Spain, are descended from mixtures of Celtic, Roman, Visigothic, and Arab peoples. The people speak Portuguese, which is related to but distinct from Spanish. The language has a total of 215 million native speakers, mostly thanks to Brazil.

It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south, while Spain borders it to its north and east. Being much larger, Spain historically had been the dominant player in Iberia (indeed, Portugal's identity as an independent country only started on 1128, when the kingdom was split from the Kingdom of León, which would become one of Spain's predecessor kingdoms) and had threatened Portugal with annexationsnote  or forced it into uneven unions for centuries, though relations between the countries are nowadays cordial, barring the minor spat of the territory of Olivenza, de jure owned by Portugal but administered by Spain yet has its sovereignty dispute being unresolved since 1801 anyway, so it doesn't really matter much. Portugal and Spain also hold the distinction of having one of the oldest borders in the world; theirs have not changed at all since the 1297 Treaty of Alcañices.

Portugal was the pioneer of the Age of Exploration and had once colonized areas as far as Timor-Leste, but no doubt its greatest achievement was Brazil, its largest and most treasured former colony. In fact, Brazil was so important that the Portuguese monarchy actually once moved to Brazil when it became clear that the situation in the mainland wasn't going well,note  and when Brazil got its independence, Portugal's light in the international world kind of... dimmed.note  Still, other colonies were vigorously maintained to the modern period, as such that Portugal was the last of the Great Powers to cede most of its colonies in spite of the mass decolonization wrought upon by others shortly after World War II, mostly because of Salazar's conservative regime; its last overseas colony, Macau, was ceded to China in the late 1999, near the turn of the millennium.

By European standards, Portugal might be lacking in certain aspects; indeed, modernization didn't really take off until later thanks to the conservative Estado Novo regime, most notably in the educational department which saw most of its prospective students choosing to work rather than study further, plus the drafting of young men to repel rebellions in the colonies, causing many to emigrate from the country and initiating a massive brain drain. Education and general modernization were finally initiated in the 1960s, especially since the Carnation Revolution. Still, Portugal has one of the lowest literacy rates of all European countries, at 95.7%.

Their independence from the kingdom of Leon started in 24 of June 1128, when D. Afonso Henriques (the D. is for Dom or Don) revolted against his mother and her lover, a Galician count, and won the Battle of S. Mamede. 11 years and a month later, he declared Portugal an independent kingdom, although it was only recognized as such by the Leonese in 1143 and by the Pope in 1179 note .

From then on he proceeded to conquer territories against the Moors, being such a badass that he conquered almost all of everything that is recognized today as Portugal (with the exception of Algarve and the islands of Azores and Madeira). The process of Reconquista ended for Portugal in 1249 when Faro and Silves (and the rest of Algarve) was retaken/conquered from the Moors by Afonso III.

In probably the best example of a real life Binding Ancient Treaty, Portugal and the UK have been allied since the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373 (or the Windsor Treaty of 1386, depends on who you ask), the oldest alliance that's still in force. This treaty would become rather important throughout many crises in Portugal's history.

It was generally peaceful for a few years (apart from the occasional intrigue regarding political issues in the Peninsula), until 1383, when, after D. Ferdinand I died, it originated a Succession Crisis in which his wife, Leonor Teles, his son-in-law, D. John I of Castile, and his half-brother D. João, Master of Aviz took part, and which concluded with D. João winning the rights to become a king, after organizing the defense of Lisbon against the Castilian king and receiving the help of a jurist, João das Regras, and the "Saint Constable", Nuno Álvares Pereira. The latter had won two battles against the Castilians during this Interregnum. Such "new" independence was secured by the army of said Nuno Álvares and D. John I, along with some help from English bowmen, in the Battle of Aljubarrota (think a mixture of too much young blood on the Castilian side, a bunch of traps carefully deployed and a great defense and you have an amazing Curb-Stomp Battle).

After this war, some of the sons of D. João I (in particular, one Henry the Navigator) began looking towards expanding their territories and commerce (since a lot of men became unemployed after the war), and so they started what is known as the Age of Discovery. After conquering Ceuta in 1415, they discovered Madeira and the Azores a few years later and they started exploring the African coast.

They achieved greater rights and privileges after the fall of Constantinople in order to reestablish the commercial trades with the East from a papal bull. It was at this time that they made the iconic caravel, which would become a staple of many voyages during this period.

The big breakthrough happened when Bartolomeu Dias rounded the southernmost tip of Africa, who named it the Cabo das Tormentas ("Cape of Storms"), proving that the Indian Ocean was accessible from the Atlantic. The king, D. John II, renamed it as Cabo da Boa Esperança ("Cape of Good Hope").

However, Columbus' discovery of the Americas (which he thought was "the Indies" (East and South Asia) caused a diplomatic incident due to a conflict between their areas of inluence established by the treaty of Alcáçovas, thereby leading to a redesign of said speheres (which became vertical, that is, from pole to pole, rather than horizontal), with the treaty of Tordesillas, in 1494.

About 4 years later, one the most memorable journeys in world navigation history reached its destination. Vasco da Gama, leading 4 ships, left Lisbon in 1497 and, a year later, after reaching the eastern coast of Africa (landing in Mombassa, a hostile port, and Malindi, a friendlier port which was a rival to Mombassa), they arrived to India. Such news made such an impact that, years later, a writer named Luís de Camões wrote the Portuguese epic Os Lusíadas, in which the main plot was centered around said journey. Even today said journey is taught regarding world history in many countries worldwide (though it pales a bit when compared to Magellan's circumnavigation, the Spanish expedition oriented by said Portuguese man).

From here on, it started to form an Empire. Portugal became one of the naval empires (or, in fact, the first naval-based world power), leading to colonies in Africa (Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe), Asia (Timor-Leste, Macau, Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Maldives and some cities/towns of India like Mumbai, Goa, Damão and Diu) and America (Brazil - not that everyone remembers it wasn't a Spanish colony). However, in some of these lands there was never a proper settling.

All was not rosy, then. The reason for this very widespread control without settling was because Portugal was something of a Glass Cannon of great powers in the Age of Exploration. It possessed expansive colonies and shipping power but a painfully small population and an equivalently small and somewhat less than fully equipped or militarily trained (by Western standards) army. Colonization to consolidate these holdings would be out of the question for centuries, and conflicts with other nations hindered chances of expansion comparable to Spain and England. On top of this, the debts of the Portuguese empire made most money that came from the colonies to be redirected into British pockets. Finally, the Portuguese were involved in an increasingly ugly Forever War on two fronts against a parade of Muslim powers in Morocco and the Indian Ocean over trying to conquer the former and obtain a monopoly on the Spice Trade and dominance of the Indian Ocean in the latter. Both of these forced the Portuguese to fight increasingly numerous enemies on increasingly far-flung fronts with a dwindling stock of manpower and emptier coffers, while the latter in particular alienated the Netherlands, France, and their old English allies.

The final straw that broke the camel's back happened when a young King Sebastian immersed himself in a Moroccan dynastic dispute as an excuse to play crusader and seize more Moroccan territory. Unfortunately for Portugal, he ran right into a vastly larger and better prepared Moroccan army who promptly killed himnote  and killed or captured the rest of his army. This broke Portugal's tenuous demographic balance, and after the reign of a Cardinal put on the throne to try and stave off the inevitable and pay off the crippling ransoms the Moroccans demanded, the Spanish King Philip II decided to enforce his claims to the Portuguese throne. The Portuguese and their Western Allies nominated an alternative candidate, but the Spanish came in and curbstomped the multi-national army. The result was a loss of independence to Spain for 60 years, during which time things got even worse.

Like Spain, Portugal was employed as a tentacle of the House of Habsburg, but the Habsburgs already had two empires and, despite Philip's initial attempts, they couldn't really handle the addition of a third. The result was that they alternated between neglecting Portugal and using it as Cannon Fodder and their previous empire as bargaining chips in perpetual wars against the House of Habsburg's enemies. Unfortunately, the Habsburg's main enemies at the time were Portugal's traditional allies, which meant war with the Dutch, the English, and the French. This weakness and the resulting conflicts regarding many colonies led to a loss of plenty of territories and/or regions, as well as economic and trading ground.

All of this, combined with the ever-growingly expensive taxes that the Portuguese merchants suffered and the loss of representation by the nobility at the Cortes (assembly of representatives of socio-economical classes), led to Portugal regaining independence in 1640, in the finest timing possible note . The ensuing Restoration War lasted 28 years, after which relations were again normalized with England and France. Regarding the latter, an alliance was established (which wouldn't last long), while in the case of the former, a marriage was established between Charles II and Catarina de Bragança. She's also the person usually credited with introducing (or, at least, popularizing) the custom of drinking tea in Britain, which is something almost every Portuguese person likes to point out since it's a point of pride, especially, of course, when they encounter an English person.

After Napoléon Bonaparte's troops (led in three invasions by Junot, Soult and Massena, respectively) invaded in 1808, D. João VI and the Royal Family fled to Brazil, which then became headquarters of the Empire. They only returned after a revolt in the mainland in 1820, and two years later the prince-regent left behind his son, Pedro, who declared the Brazilian independence.note  This marked the first step for Portugal's decline into a Vestigial Empire, even if the other main colonies remained under their reign until the late 20th century.

The French troops were driven out with the help of Wellington's troops. Many English (whether they fought here or not) would establish themselves here (though there were already quite a few here, courtesy of the marriage between D. John I and Philippa of Lancaster in the 14th century), leading to an increase in export of one of the most famous Portuguese products, the Port wine (the popularity and export of Port wine to England started after the Methuen Treaty, signed in 1703). The continued English involvement in the Port wine trade can be seen in the names of many port shippers: Cockburn, Croft, Dow, Gould, Graham, Osborne, Offley, Sandeman, Taylor and Warre being amongst the best known.

After Brazil's independence, said independence caused a civil war between liberalists and absolutists, which were won by the former, restoring Maria II's place in the throne. Some confrontations between opposing constitutional groups (namely, the Setembristas ("Septembrists") and the Cartistas ("Chartists") ensued in the following years, which also caused popular revolts such as the Maria da Fonte revolution, which opposed the Chartist government.

A period of regeneration followed, which marked the period of rotativism, where the Regenerator Party and the Historic Party pretty much, well...rotated in the government. Still, this rotativism was In Name Only, as there was still political conflicts which led to worse economical and financial difficulties (which had pretty much started after Brazil's independence).

In the late 19th century, the monarchy started to see its power undermined. Despite some slow progress being made, there was still too much control by the nobility. Also, the almost unsustainable agricultural and industrial problems (which still exist today, albeit to a lesser degree) caused the people to become discontent. The problem that caused the first point of no return was, however, the British Ultimatum.

In 1885, Portugal had prepared a document, as well as expeditions, to claim sovereignity over a land corridor between Angola and Mozambique (which comprised most of modern Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe). However, there was an issue: unless there was effective occupation, the British would roll in and colonize it regardless, especially considering their plans to elaborate a route that would go "from the Cape to Cairo". 5 years later, the British Ultimatum was sent (being the only time that the Treaty of Windsor was breached), and the Portuguese had to abandon their claims. There was not enough manpower to claim such a vast areanote , and historical discoveries and scientific interests mattered not in that time and place. The consequence of this was a rise in Republicanist attitudesnote .

In 1908, king Carlos I (who had accepted the Ultimatum) was shot alongside his heir, which caused anger throughout the states and kingdoms of Europe, due to his popularity. The new king, Manuel II, couldn't really stop the increasing Republican movements, and so, on October the 5th of 1910, the monarchy was abolished and the Portuguese Republic was established (and, with it, the flag that can be seen at the bottom of this page, the national hymn, and the bust of the Republic). A Constitution was approved in the following year, inaugurating a parliamentary regime with reduced presidential powers and two chambers of parliament.

Being a young republic at a time when most European nations were monarchiesnote , fractures ensued almost immediately, notably among the essentially monarchist rural population, in the trade unions, and in the Church (who was against the hostile approach to the issue of church and state separation). There were also some political confrontations among the parties, which were sometimes violent. At the same time, there was a need to rebalance the budget, something which was finally achieved in 1914.

And then World War I happened.

Portugal joined their allies Britain and France (the latter due to cultural and republican reasons) in order to put an end to the twin threats of a Spanish invasion of Portugal and of foreign occupation of the colonies and, at the internal level, to create a national consensus around the regime. Portugal fought in the African front against German general Lettow-Vorbeck (said confrontantions between Portugal and Germany were happening before Portugal declared war on Germany), though they suffered defeats constantly, due to the aforementioned lack of manpower and industrial power. On the Western front, Portuguese troops were basically sent to die in the trenches, even after hearing about the battles of Verdun and Somme. It's also noteworthy that these troops were underfed, underequipped and with lack of substantial training. All of this was done in order to get a place at the negotiating table after the War, at the cost of great discontent, which led to two short-term military dictatorships led by generals Pimenta de Castro and Sidónio Pais (the latter was assassinated). Approximately 7,000 Portuguese troops died during the course of World War I, including Africans serving in its armed forces. Civilian deaths exceeded the prewar level by 220,000, 82,000 caused by food shortages and 138,000 by The Spanish Flu.

After the war, the relative failure of Portugal in ensuring a decent share of compensations and payments from Germany, an economy almost in tatters and a constant level of strikes, malnutrition and permanent political instabilitynote , culminated into a military coup d'état led by General Gomes da Costa on May 28th, 1926. During the next 6 years, a man rose to the occasion, with a few setbacks here and there, became the Minister of Finance and proceeded to rebalance the economy and internal spending: António de Oliveira Salazar.note . In 1932 Salazar effectively became a dictator, much like his neighbour Francisco Franco in Spain, though less bloody. Just like his Spanish counterpart Salazar kept his country neutral during World War II, trading extensively with both sides.note  After the war Portugal kept under his conservative and oppressive rule until 1968, when Salazar had a brain hemorrhage and was succeeded by Marcello Caetano. Two years later Salazar died, mentally in such bad shape that he wasn't aware of the power change.

In 1974 Portugal finally managed to become a democratic nation again. The Carnation Revolution was a bloodless coup, encouraged by the song Grandola Vila Morena by protest singer José Zeca Afonso playing on all radios in the country as a signal that the revolution had started. Caetano was forced to flee and died in 1980 in Brazil. In 1975 right wing general António de Spínola tried to turn back the clock by committing a military coup, but failed and had to flee as well. That same year colonies Angola and Mozambique became independent.

Since then the Portuguese Republic (República Portuguesa) is a democratic state, a member of The European Union since 1986 and has been a founding member of NATO since 1949. EU membership brought a great deal of investment into the country, particularly modernizing and mechanizing the country's agricultural production and indirectly causing a housing boom. The abundance of housing and relatively recent advancement to fully developed status has made Portugal something of a tourist's paradise—a place that is at once clean and safe to visit (thanks to the development level), with great food, beautiful terrain, and decent weather (because it's Portugal), all at amazingly good prices (because the recency of the development meant costs started low and the abundance of housing keeps them that way).

Relevant Pages

Autonomous regions



Famous Portuguese

  • Many famous discoverers / conquerors, like Henry the Navigator, Afonso de Albuquerque, Pedro Álvares Cabral, Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan (Portuguese: Fernão de Magalhães).
  • Writers like Gil Vicente, Luís de Camões, Almeida Garrett, Camilo Castelo Branco, Eça de Queirós, Fernando Pessoa and the Nobel Prize winner José Saramago.
  • Film director Manoel de Oliveira, who was, during a certain period of time, the oldest active film director in the world (born in December 1908).
  • Film director Pedro Costa, known for his movies In Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth.
  • Pedro Julião (often confused with Pedro Hispano), who became Pope John XXInote . His reign lasted less than a year.
    • While not being Portuguese, Pope Damasus I was born in Lusitania, which is an ancestor land to Portugal.
  • António Egas Moniz, who received the Nobel Medicine Prize in 1949 for developing the now-condemned surgical procedure of "lobotomy" (more properly called leucotomy). He also developed cerebral angiography (used in some places to confirm brain death, and also to detect brain anomalies) and invented thorotrast, a radiocontrast agent, for use in the procedure.
  • Actress Daniela Ruah, known in the US for her role as Kensi Blye in NCIS: Los Angeles.
  • Actress Maria de Medeiros, aka Fabienne from Pulp Fiction.
  • Actor Joaquim De Almeida.
  • Actress Lúcia Moniz in Love Actually.
  • Actress Rita Blanco has a small role in Michael Haneke's Amour.
  • Football players like Eusébio, Luís Figo, Rui Costa, and, more recently, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, Raúl Meireles, João Moutinho and João Felix. Not to mention football manager José Mourinho, aka "The Special One".
  • Painters Almada Negreiros and Paula Rego.
  • Fado (the Portuguese musical genre) singers Amália Rodrigues, Alfredo Marceneiro, Carlos do Carmo, Mariza, Camané and Ana Moura, among others. In terms of guitarrists, Carlos Paredes is the one who had a significant overseas career.
  • Ana da Silva, who formed with Gina Birch the Post-Punk band The Raincoats.
  • Dead Combo, a music duo who appeared on No Reservations. Other famous alternative groups include Mão Morta, Blasted Mechanism and Buraka Som Sistema (the latter were pioneers in bringing kuduro music to an international audience).
  • Daniela Melchior, known to international audiences as Ratcatcher 2 in The Suicide Squad.
  • Filipe Melo, creator of the As Incríveis Aventuras de Dog Mendonça e Pizzaboy! comic book.
  • José Manuel Barroso, 11th President of the European Commission (also a former Prime Minister).
  • Salvador Sobral, singer and Portugal's very first Eurovision Song Contest winner in 2017.
  • António Guterres, former prime minister of Portugal and ninth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Portugal in fiction

  • Portugal in Hetalia: Axis Powers is (or at least seems to be) a laidback guy with a ponytail and a beauty mark who is also one of the few who can embarass Spain, since he knows many foolish stories about Spain, much to the chagrin of Romano.
  • The maid of the author in Love Actually is Portuguese, and he also visits Portugal later in the movie.
  • A good chunk of Sharpe takes place in Portugal.
  • Dinosaur Revolution's second episode happens where now is the Lourinhã Formation.
  • Depois do Adeus is a Period Piece about the period after the Carnation Revolution.
  • The beginning of On Her Majesty's Secret Service is set in Portugal. The marriage also happens there.
  • In The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond goes to Macau (it was part of Portugal then). Mr. Lazar (who is threatened by Bond) is Portuguese.
  • As Incríveis Aventuras de Dog Mendonça e Pizzaboy! happens in the night streets of Lisbon.
  • Most Brazilian fiction dealing with the colonial period. Most popularly, the D. João VI reign, that led to the country's independence.
  • In one episode of How I Met Your Mother, Marshall mentions to Barney that the Goliath National Bank (GNB) is making illegal experiments in the Lisbon water network and that the GNB can go to war with Portugal if their contracts are not well executed.
  • In Speaker for the Dead, the inhabitants of the colony have named their new planet Lusitania. It is explained in the book that it was named for the historical people and territory in Portugal, which the inhabitants are descended from (via Brazil).
  • The Portuguese are present in Civilization from the 3rd game to the 6th. Their leaders in each installment are respectively Henry the Navigator, João II, Maria I and João III.
  • Vampiros do Rio Douro: The titular vampires are native from Portugal in the region surrounding the Douro/Duero River stretching across the northern Iberian penisula.
  • Carlota Joaquina, Princesa do Brasil is an Brazilian satirical movie that tells how the Portuguese Royal Family at the start of the 19th Century fled to Brazil from Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • José Saramago's Baltasar and Blimunda tackles Portugal before the Lisbon Earthquake, showing the construction of the Marfa Cathedral, and feature historical figures like composer Domenico Scarlatti as well as Bartolomeu de Gusmão, a Priest who wrote down blueprints for a flying machine. Since this is Magical Realism, this blueprint has a prototype that flies for real.

The Portuguese flag
The flag's red and green colours have been occasionally used in Portugal's previous flags, though not as national colors until 1910, and officially have no symbolic meaning, though the authoritarian Estado Novo regime propagandized the colours to symbolize hope and sacrifice, respectively. The golden armillary sphere celebrates the spirit of adventure and Portugal's proud history of maritime journeys to the Americas, Africa, Oceania and the Far East during the 15th and 16th centuries; upon which is superimposed a white shield containing five smaller blue shields with five white circles, bordered by a red ring containing seven gold castles, symbolizing the reconquest of Portugal from the Moors (African Muslims).

Portuguese national anthem

Heróis do mar, nobre povo,
Nação valente, imortal,
Levantai hoje de novo
O esplendor de Portugal!
Entre as brumas da memória,
Ó Pátria, sente-se a voz
Dos teus egrégios avós,
Que há-de guiar-te à vitória!

Às armas, às armas!
Sobre a terra, sobre o mar,
Às armas, às armas!
Pela Pátria lutar!
Contra os canhões, marchar, marchar!

Heroes of the sea, noble people,
Valiant and immortal nation,
Raise once again today
The splendor of Portugal!
Among the haze of memory,
Oh Fatherland, one feels the voice
Of your distinguished forefathers,
That shall lead you on to victory!

To arms, to arms!
Over land, over sea,
To arms, to arms!
For the Fatherland, fight!
Against the cannons, march on, march on!

  • Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
    • President: Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
    • Prime Minister: António Costa
    • President of the Assembly: Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues

  • Capital and largest city: Lisbon
  • Population: 10,295,909
  • Area: 92,212 km² (35,603 sq mi) (109th)
  • Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: PT
  • Country calling code: 351
  • Highest point: Montanha do Pico (2351 m/7,713 ft) (112nd)
  • Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean (3,646 m/11,962 ft) (-)