Home to beautiful beaches and a rich history in world exploration, Portugal is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. If you are planning to learn Portuguese abroad or just want to discover more about the country for an upcoming visit, these Portugal facts we have researched and compiled are perfect to start your journey with.
While many link Spain with world exploration, the Portuguese were in fact the first nation to conquer the sea and exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was the first person to lead a circumnavigation of the globe in 1522.
Portuguese explorers were also the first to discover lands such as Brazil, Western Africa and parts of Asia!
Rome is considered the birth place of modern civilization, however it has been discovered that Lisbon actually predates Rome. Officially a city since 1147, archaeologists have found evidence that the area Lisbon sits dates back to 1200BC.
This means that Lisbon, as an inhabited area, has been populated for over 3000 years!
Portugal holds the title of being home to the most westerly point in of mainland, continental Europe. Cabo de Roca, a cape in the town of Sintra (near Lisbon), is the most westerly point mainland Europe! Meanwhile, Capelinhos, a volcano in the Azores, is the westernmost place on the Eurasian Plate.
Since the days of the Roman Empire, Portugal has been a heavily Christian country. A lot of festivals and celebrations across the country have deep religious influence. In a 2011 survey, 81% of the population class themselves as Roman Catholic.
The flight of Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis d’Arlandes in France in 1783 was the first manned hot air balloon flight in history. However, the first recorded European hot air balloon ascent actually took place in Portugal in 1709.
The balloon, designed by Bartolomeu de Gusmão only flew a few metres off the ground, but caused a massive sensation among watching dignitaries.
Opening in 1732 in Chiado, the Bertrand Book Shop is officially the oldest book store in the world still active!
Now the part of the largest book shop networks in Portugal, this historic repository for information has hosted many famous authors over the centuries.
Since 2001, all drugs in Portugal have been decriminalised. At the end of the last century, Portugal had one of the highest rates of HIV from injecting drugs in Europe. This caused the Portuguese government to start looking at the problem from a national health viewpoint. Since the decriminalisation of all drugs, Portugal has seen a drop in the amount of drug overdoses and new HIV cases. While trafficking drugs remains illegal, possession for personal consumption is 100% legal.
With Portugal’s maritime discoveries, the Portuguese language spread across the globe. It is now the official language of 9 countries around the world. The largest of which is Brazil, which is home to over 200 million people! The dialect differs slightly to that of the homeland, but is still officially classed as Portuguese.
This means that more Portuguese speakers live in Brazil than the 10 million in Portugal itself!
Portugal and England have been allies for centuries. They are in fact part of the oldest alliance in the world! Signed in 1373 by King James III of England and King Ferdinand and Queen Eleanor of Portugal, this alliance is still in effect today!
For those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law in Portugal, it is interesting to note that Portugal has a maximum prison term of 25 years. The country was also the first country to abolish capital punishment. The last execution took place in 1846 with execution being outlawed in 1867.
With its beautiful weather, beautiful beaches and maritime history, Portugal is an amazing country to explore. We hope you found these Portugal facts interesting and helped you discover more about this European country. What better way to discover Portugal and the Portuguese language than studying in a Portuguese speaking country! At Cactus, we offer a range of language holidays and courses to suit everyone. With a variety of languages and destinations to choose from, you can be sure to find your perfect course with us.
Are you looking to find out more about language holidays abroad? Cactus Language Holidays Brochure gives you all the information you need for your next unforgettable experience! Learning a language have never been easier and is a great way to start uncover a different culture.
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