Sunday, 17 January 2016

Portugal: The Oldest Country in Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, 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 holds sovereignty over the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments. The land within the borders of current Portugal has been continuously settled and fought over since prehistoric times. The Celts and the Romans were followed by the Visigothic and the Suebi Germanic peoples, who were themselves later invaded by the Moors. These Muslim peoples were eventually expelled during the Christian Reconquista of the peninsula. By 1139, Portugal had established itself as a kingdom independent from León. 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.


Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence of Brazil, its wealthiest colony, in 1822. 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revolution deposed the monarchy, the democratic but unstable Portuguese First Republic was established, later being superseded by the "Estado Novo" right-wing authoritarian regime.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, 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. The capital and largest city is Lisbon. The currency is Euro (€)(EUR).


Some interesting facts are:
1. In 2008, Portugal became the first country to make it compulsory for people to have fingerprints on identity cards.


2. At 17 kms long, the Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is the longest bridge in Europe.


3. The world record for the largest dining table was set when around 15 000 people were served lunch on the bridge as part of the inauguration celebrations.


4. Almost all of the brandy used in Portugal is imported from South Africa. South Africa is also one of the countries that imitate the original “Porto” or Port, the sweet red wine originally from Portugal.


5. Nine out of ten Portuguese people are Roman Catholic, making it one of the most socially conservative nations in the world.


6. Portugal has had the same defined borders since 1139, making it the oldest nation-state in Europe. Afonso Henriques was proclaimed the first King of Portugal in 1139 and the country remained a kingdom for almost 800 years thereafter, until 1910.


7. The oldest bookstore in the world is in Portugal's capital: Bertrand bookstore (pictured above, located at the corner), was established in 1732, is located in the capital of Portugal – Lisbon.


8. Portugal is home to the first commercial wave farm, which creates and sells electricity. The farm was constructed in 2006.

For more facts visit:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/portugal
http://europa.eu/about-eu/countries/member-countries/portugal/index_en.htm

Some beautiful places are:







For tourism details visit:
https://www.visitportugal.com/en

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