Packed with several UNESCO World Heritage sites, Portugal is a scene of history and culture. It has a very rich past, and some of its relics still stand in different parts of the country. This includes beautifully designed churches, medieval castles and 20,000 year old stone carvings. Everywhere you turn, you will be able to discover more about the extensive history and unique culture of the Portuguese. It also has beautiful coastlines, stunning scenery and waters so full of life that you could even go dolphin watching. It is a place of cultural discovery and a place for unique adventures.
Important and Interesting Facts about Portugal
- Portugal is the most western country on the European continent. Despite its small total
number of area and population, it still remains well-known all over the world.
- Portugal is the westernmost country of the European mainland.
- The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is 10.5 miles (17 kilometers) long, making it the longest in Europe.
- Portugal has a coastline that spans 497 miles (800 kilometers) and it’s known to have 364 days of surf!
- According to the CIA Factbook, Portugal is the 111th largest country in the world, just behind Hungary, and just in front of Jordan.
- The city of PENICHE is one of the closest point in continental Europe TO THE UNITED STATES.
- At 92,090 square kilometers, Portugal is slightly larger than the U.S. state of Maine, and a couple thousand square kilometers smaller than the state of Indiana.
- Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, Portugal occupies the greater portion of the western littoral of the Iberian Peninsula.
- The Portuguese Diamond is the largest in the world and also one of the most valuable of diamonds.
- The largest temporary stage in the world, at an incredible 7,276 square meters, was set upat Lisbon’s Benfica Stadium to host 2007’s Seven Wonders of the World declaration.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts about Portugal
- Over half of the world’s cork is produced in Portugal.
- Over 236 million people world-wide are native Portuguese speakers.
- 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.
- The Portuguese eat more fish and shellfish per head of population than any other country.
- The Lisbon Zoo has an interesting dolphin and sea lion show. In the middle of the show, the SEA LIONS come into the crowd and kiss people on the cheek.
- The climate of Portugal is acknowledged to be the hottest in Europe (nearly 3000 sunny hours per year). Therefore, the oppressive weather usually becomes reasonable excuse not to show up for work.
- One of the most interesting aspects of the country is its diverse geography, comprising of mountains, arid plains, sub-tropical volcanic islands, lush-green meadows and picturesque beaches.
- The typical Lisbon tram is in fact American, although their origins can be traced to industrial horse-drawn trams in the UK, the first passenger streetcars were built and introduced in the U.S. in the 19th Century. They were pulled by horses and some of the first routes were in Harlem, New York and New Orleans.
- One of the city’s best attractions is one you’ll (probably) never see-The “galerias romanas” or underground Roman galleries, They are particularly difficult to see, however, because they open for public viewing just once a year, normally in September. This is because they are almost impossible to access, much of the area being flooded, and it takes anything up to a month of work by specialised personnel to prepare this monument for public access. Naturally, during the few hours they are open, enormous queues form and waiting time can be up to 3.5 hours. And access is practically via a hole in the ground, located in the middle of the street and while cars and trams are passing by all the while. Well, at least entrance is free! In previous centuries, one local tradition was the precursor to the current fads of naturismand nudism: for their weekly baths, people descended the steps of the Praça do Comércio to bathe nude in the river, causing scandal and indignation at the time.
- The Tagus is Iberia’s largest river and its estuary at Lisbon, up to 14Km wide, is said to be large enough to contain all the warships in the world.
- Portuguese people mostly live in small apartments, but own huge dogs.
Historical and Cultural Facts about Portugal
- The kingdom of Portugal lasted for nearly 800 years, from 1139 to 1910. Since 1910, the country has been a republic. The modern democratic republic was founded in 1976.
- In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed which essentially gave Portugal the eastern half of the “New Word” including Brazil, Africa and Asia.
- The Portuguese Empire was actually the first global empire in history! It was also one of the longest-lived colonial powers, lasting for almost six centuries from when Ceuta was captured in 1415, until Macau (now China) was handed-over in 1999.
- The University of Coimbra was established in 1290, making it one of the oldest universities on the European continent.
- Portugal abolished slavery all the way back in 1761 – that’s half a century before Britain, France, Spain, or the United States.
- The oldest bookstore in the world is in Portugal’s capital-Bertrand bookstore and was established in 1732, is located in the capital of Portugal – Lisbon.
- In 2008, Portugal became the first country to make it compulsory for people to have fingerprints on identity cards.
- 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.
- The distinctively Portuguese style of music is called FADO.
- The most popular sport in Portugal is football (soccer), the national team finished 3rd in the1966 World Cup, 2nd in Euro 2004, and 4th in 2006 World Cup.
- Cinnamon and curry powder is a Portuguese legacy, and so are onions, garlic, cloves, olives, and grapes. Fresh fish, shellfish, pork and other meat will be found on any plate in Portugal.
- Basic education is compulsory for nine years. This includes three cycles of four, two, and three years each. Secondary level education covers a three-year program; students choose between general secondary, professional, and specialized technical or vocational schools.
- The academic year runs from September to July.