50 Fascinating Facts about Portugal

Portugal is the oldest state on the Iberian Peninsula and one of the oldest European nation-states, having been continuously settled, invaded and fought over since prehistoric times. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Portugal established the first global maritime empire, becoming one of the world's major economic, political and military powers. Today, Portugal is a socially progressive developed country with an advanced economy and high living standards. In addition to the mainland, Portugal's territory includes the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores in the Atlantic ocean. The country's population is just over 10 million and, while Roman Catholicism is the major religion, Portugal is a secular state with liberal laws on social issues such as capital punishment and LGBT rights. Unusually for Europe, Portugal borders just one other country – Spain. The Portugal-Spain border is one of the oldest in the world and, at 754 miles, is considered to be the longest uninterrupted border in the European Union.

Portugal Facts

One of the oldest countries in Europe, its name having appeared as early as 9th Century and its land borders having been established and not changed since the 1200s.
A top spot for surfing due to the Atlantic breakers, most surfing world records have been set here.
Portugal was one of the most powerful maritime nations during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Many parts of the world were colonised by the Portuguese, both East and West which is why you can find Portuguese influences in such diverse places as Malacca in Malaysia, Mozambique in Africa, Goa in India and of course Brazil in South America.
A style of music in Portugal called Fado (Fate in Portuguese) has been classified by UNESCO under Cultural Heritage.
Tempura style of cooking was invented by the Portuguese and they introduced it to the Japanese!
Consumption of fish in Portugal is the third highest in the world, coming after Japan and Iceland.
Ian Fleming, the author of James Bond books got his inspiration for the novel Casino Royale from the famous casino at Cascais, while he was stationed in Portugal with Royal Naval Intelligence.
The western-most point in Europe is in Portugal at Cabo da Roca, after that it is just Atlantic Ocean before you hit the Americas!
The city of Lisbon claims to have the only Public Tie Mirror, it can be found by door number 115 in Don Pedro IV Square and the translation of the instruction is ‘tidy your tie’s knot’.
The Alliance between England/UK and Portugal is the oldest in the world, having been signed in 1373 and means both countries have entered wars to defend each other It still stands today.
It is believed that Portugal was one of the first countries to import Guinness from the United Kingdom, dating back to 1811.
The longest dining table record was set in 1998 in Lisbon, when a lunch was served to 16,000 people on the Vasco De Gama bridge.
Portugal has two autonomous regions which are Madeira and the Azores, both of which are in the Atlantic Ocean and these areas form the Portuguese Republic.
Largest producer of Cork products in the world due to the cork tree being native to Portugal.
In Lisbon all raven birds are named Vicente after the saint and the raven is a symbol on the city’s coat of arms.
In Portugal you cannot give any name to your child, they have a list of illegal names that you must check to ensure you do not give them a name that is prohibited.
Even though 84% of the population is Catholic, there is no official religion for Portugal.
The Portuguese Water Dog has been around since the 1500s, where it was primarily a companion to fishermen with their webbed feet being a great asset.
Piri Piri sauce was invented by the Portuguese.
The oldest book store in the world opened in Lisbon in 1732, it had to move to its current premises in 1773 when the original store was destroyed in the major earthquake of 1755.
Napoleon did try to conquer Portugal three times but was never successful.
Tea drinking was introduced to England by the Portuguese! The wife of King Charles II -Catherine Braganza was Portuguese and due to her country’s exploration of Asia, tea drinking was already practised by them.
In Lisbon you may have noticed many streets are made up of black and white cobbles, they are basalt and limestone rock and are said to represent St Vincent (Black) and the Crusaders (White)
Portugal was the first country to make it a legal requirement to have your fingerprint on your identity card.
Due to the number of Portuguese living in Paris, it technically makes it Portugal’s second largest city.
Portuguese people believe strongly in their destinies and they must deal with whatever fate deals out to them.
One of the world’s strongest earthquakes of 9.0 magnitude struck Lisbon, Portugal in 1755, killing 275,000 residents and 85% of buildings were destroyed. This led to the first broad discussions on natural disasters and particularly earthquakes and therefore the birth of seismology.
On 11 August 2013 the world’s largest omelette was created in Santarém, Portugal. It took 6 hours to prepare by 55 people and used 110,000 eggs.
Portugal was the first country with an Empire to abolish Slavery
The Portuguese Diamond is the world’s most valuable diamond and is believed to have been part of the Crown Jewels of Portugal, having been discovered in Brazil when Portugal still ruled the country, but there is no established proof of this.
The Via Verde (Green Lane) automatic toll system for roads, was invented in Portugal.
It is believed that there are around 1,000 recipes for the national dish of Portugal – Cod.
The Portuguese language is listed eighth in the world for most spoken.
It is illegal to wee in the sea in Portugal, although I’m not too sure how this is policed.
The oldest director in the world to date was Manoel de Oliveira, he was born in Portugal and was still directing films up to his death at the age of 106.
It is known as the country of tiles.
Lisbon’s Vasco de Gama bridge is the largest in Europe at 17.2 km.
People from Porto are called ‘Tripe Eaters’ (tripeiros), as in the 15th century they gave all their meat to the military just keeping the animal stomachs for their own consumption.
In 2001 drugs were decriminalized in Portugal and since then the number of addicts in the country has halved.
The earliest recorded hot air balloon ascent took place at Casa da India, Terreiro do Paço, Portugal in 1709.
There have been four Nobel prize winners from Portugal - Antonio Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz for Medicine, Jose Ramos-Horta for Peace, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo also for Peace and José Saramago for . literature.
Portugal had the world’s first commercial wave energy project
In 2010 a World Record was set for the largest Santa Claus parade which took place in Porto.
The first Pirate Code was drawn up by Portuguese pirate Bartholomew Portugues and was later used by English Pirates.
The largest artificial reef in the world is at Ocean Revival Park, just off the coast of the Algarve.
Portugal’s Catholic Monasteries are responsible for the world wide popularity of egg based pastries and the most famous of these is the pastéis de Belém/pastéis de nata, which can be found in any Portuguese café, anywhere in the world.
A dead queen was crowned in 1357, she was the lover of Pedro 1 and fable has it that he had her body exhumed so she could be crowned.
Cobblers in Portugal are believed to get the most business due to the many cobbled streets in the country and all the damage it does to shoes, especially heels on women’s shoes.
Portugal was the first country to develop a pre-paid phone card.

With its Mediterranean climate, stunning coastline, fascinating history and rich culture, Portugal is a hugely popular tourist destination, drawing visitors from all over Europe and the world. It is most famous for its Algarve region, where Marinha Beach in Lagoa is ranked as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe (and one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world). Given its long history, Portugal's architecture has been influenced by many different civilizations, and much remains to be seen throughout the country. Capital city Lisbon is one of the the oldest cities in the world (predating London, Paris and even Rome), and is home to a variety of architectural styles including Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, Modern and Postmodern.


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