10 Interesting Facts About Portugal
Quick facts about Portugal:
- Population: Portugal has a population of over 10 million people.
- Official Languages: Portuguese is the official language of Portugal.
- Capital: Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal.
- Government: Portugal operates as a democratic republic with a multi-party political system.
- Currency: The official currency of Portugal is the Euro (EUR).
1 Fact: The capital of Portugal is the oldest city in western Europe
Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, stands as the oldest city in western Europe, boasting a remarkable history of over 3,000 years. Its ancient charm, combined with modern vibrancy, makes Lisbon a captivating destination for those seeking a glimpse into the past while enjoying the dynamic present.
Also, the Portuguese nation itself is one of the oldest in Europe, and the country’s borders on the mainland have hardly changed.
2 Fact: It was Portugal that began the opening of the New World
Portugal stands as a trailblazer in the opening of the New World, initiating the Age of Discovery in the 15th century. Portuguese explorers, including Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan, navigated uncharted waters, establishing sea routes to Africa, Asia, and the Americas. This maritime prowess positioned Portugal as a key player in the early stages of global exploration and trade.
3 Fact: Portugal lost its last colonies in 1999
Portugal relinquished its final colonies in 1999, marking the end of its era of overseas imperial holdings. The handover of Macau to China in that year concluded Portugal’s colonial history, which had spanned several centuries and encompassed territories in Africa, Asia, and South America. This event signaled a significant historical transition for Portugal and marked the close of its colonial era.
4 Fact: Portugal is home to the westernmost point in Europe
Portugal boasts Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in continental Europe. Standing proudly on the Atlantic coast, this rugged cape offers breathtaking views and holds the distinction of being the literal “edge of Europe.” Visitors to Cabo da Roca can experience the thrill of standing at this unique geographical landmark, surrounded by the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.
5 Fact: Lisbon has the longest bridge in Europe
Lisbon proudly hosts the Vasco da Gama Bridge, the longest bridge in Europe. Spanning the Tagus River, this architectural marvel stretches for over 17 kilometers (approximately 11 miles). Providing a vital link across the river, the Vasco da Gama Bridge offers not only practical transportation but also stunning panoramic views of Lisbon and its surroundings.
Note: If you are planning a trip, find out if you need an International Driver’s License in Portugal to drive.
6 Fact: Portugal is the only European country whose capital was not in Europe for some time
In the early 19th century, from 1808 to 1821, the Portuguese royal family, led by Dom João VI, resided in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, making it the de facto capital of the Portuguese Empire for approximately 13 years. This historical relocation occurred during the Napoleonic Wars when Lisbon faced the threat of invasion by Napoleon’s forces.
7 Fact: The alliance between Portugal and England is the longest in history
The enduring alliance between Portugal and England holds a remarkable historical record, standing as the oldest active political and military alliance globally. Established with the signing of the Treaty of Windsor in 1386, this enduring partnership has withstood the test of time for over six centuries. The alliance, characterized by mutual cooperation and diplomatic ties, showcases the strength of these longstanding relations between the two nations.
8 Fact: Portugal has 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites
Portugal takes pride in its 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, each representing a unique facet of the nation’s cultural and historical significance. From the historic center of Oporto to the Tower of Belém, these sites encompass diverse landscapes, architecture, and traditions, attracting visitors from around the globe. Portugal’s UNESCO-listed treasures contribute to its global reputation as a destination with a rich and multifaceted heritage.
9 Fact: In Portugal, all drugs are legal
Portugal made a groundbreaking move in 2001 by decriminalizing the possession and use of drugs for personal consumption. This innovative approach focuses on treating drug abuse as a health issue rather than a criminal one. While drug use is not technically legal, individuals caught with small quantities for personal use face administrative, rather than criminal, penalties. This approach has garnered international attention for its emphasis on public health and harm reduction.
10 Fact: Portugal has one of the oldest universities in the World
Portugal proudly hosts one of the oldest universities globally, the University of Coimbra. Established in 1290, this prestigious institution has a rich history of academic excellence and cultural significance. The University of Coimbra continues to be a prominent center for learning, contributing to Portugal’s intellectual heritage and attracting students from around the world.