Nation in SW Europe, occupying most of the western side of the Iberian Peninsula. It also includes the Madeira Island s and the Azores. One of the earliest colonial powers in the modern world, Portugal is now a small nation. The region was first settled after 1000 b.c. by a Celtic people, the Lusitanians. In the second and first centuries b.c. they offered strong resistance to the Romans but were overcome. Portugal and part of western Spain became the province of Lusitania until the early fifth century a.d., when the Visigoths overran the whole peninsula. The Visigothic Kingdom, in turn, was defeated in 711 by the Moors, who then took over all of Portugal. For centuries thereafter the people of the Iberian Peninsula fought to expel the Moors, and out of this long struggle Portugal emerged as a nation. Having defeated the Moors in 1139, Alfonso Henriques proclaimed himself King Alfonso I. Freedom was at last achieved by the victory of Alfonso II in 1212 at Las Navas de Tolosa and by Alfonso III in 1249 when he reconquered Algarve, the last Moorish stronghold.
In 1385 John I defeated Castile to confirm Portugal’s independence and to inaugurate its most powerful and resplendent era. Beginning with an observatory at Sagres in 1419, Prince Henry the Navigator, as patron of exploration, sent out expeditions along the west coast of Africa. Gold, slaves, and geographical knowledge were brought back and an attempt made to find Christian kingdoms and outflank the Muslim control of Eastern trade routes.
Later, under Manuel I, Vasco da Gama was the first European to reach India by sea around Africa on his voyage from 1497 to 1499. Brazil was claimed by Portugal in 1500 after its discovery by ships en route to India. During the reign of John III (1521–27) the Portuguese Empire reached its peak, a power and prosperity sung in Luis Vaz de Camoes’s epic poem, The Lusiads. The empire included Brazil, the coast of Angola, the coast of Mozambique, Goa in India, and settlements in Indonesia and on the coast of China. The nation’s resources were not strong enough to support its empire, and the domestic economy was neglected for the “get-rich-quick” attractions of new land s. In 1580 Spain conquered Portugal, trade was cut off, the Dutch attacked the overseas territories, and Portugal never again ranked as a great power.
Revolt against Spain was successful in 1640, and an alliance with England , which had begun in the 14th century, was revived to the advantage of trade. Portugal was involved in the War of the Spanish Succession of 1707 to 1714 without any gain. There then ensued a period of absolutist rule, marked by the unpopular efforts of the marques de Pombal to effect economic and other reforms. Napoleon I invaded Portugal in 1807, and the royal family fled to Brazil. During the Peninsular campaign of 1808 to 1814 the French were driven out of Portugal by 1811. Brazil declared its independence in 1822, but for a time in 1826 the emperor of Brazil was also king of Portugal. After a revolt in 1906 Charles I (reigned 1889–1908) established a dictatorship, which brought on another revolt that ended with his assassination. His son and successor, Manuel III, was dethroned in October 1910, and a republic was proclaimed.
The first president was Teofilo Braga. In World War I Portugal entered on the side of the Allies in 1916. Before and after the war economic conditions were poor, and both leftist and rightist groups attempted revolts. A military coup in 1926 was followed by the accession to power in 1932 of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, who headed an authoritarian state until 1968. In 1962 India annexed the Portuguese territories of Goa, Daman, and Diu. A repressive government continued at home, and dissatisfaction was heightened by the government’s attempt to hold by force its remaining African colonies. Finally, on April 25, 1974, a military coup, the “Happy Revolution,” brought into power a reformist government with a policy of decolonization.
In 1975, Angola, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, and Cape Verde were granted independence. East Timor was invaded and annexed by Indonesia and did not achieve independence until 2002. From 1977 through 1980 several moderate, Socialistdominated governments tried unsuccessfully to stabilize the country politically and economically. From 1980 through 1982, a center-right coalition had similar problems with economic and political reform, but did start revising the constitution and made some market reforms. From 1983 through 1985, under a coalition government led by Socialist leader Mario Soares, Portugal began a period of economic expansion. The Social Democratic Party won the majority in parliament in the 1986 elections and Soares was elected to the presidency. In the same year, Portugal was admitted to the European Community. In 1996 Soares retired as president, and was succeeded by Jorge Fernand o Branco de Sampaio, another Socialist. In 1999 Portugal became part of the European Union’s single currency plan. In November 2004, Jose Manuel Barroso, the premier of Portugal, was confirmed as European Commission president.
Lisbon is Portugal’s capital and largest city; Oporto is the major port.
Portugal is one of the most popular countries, as it includes a high climate and affordable tourist attractions. Some of the best and most popular places to visitare as follows:
Coimbra is packed full of culture and buildings. One of the best things to do in Coimbra is to visit the ruins of buildings and other sites.Coimbra is also a popular place for education, as it contains one of theoldest universities and one of the world's largestlibraries, the Joanina Library.
This city is often referred to as the 'Venice of Portugal', because it'sfilled with canals, a variety of boats and colorful buildings towering the landscape. The unique cuisinealso make Aveiro a popular tourist attraction.
Madeira is known for it's green landscapes and crystal blue waters, and is ideal for anyone who enjoys a relaxing, scenic vacation. Madeira is packed with tourist resorts, restaurants andchurches.
As the capital city of Portugal, the city is full of different things for tourists to do. Lisbon is filled with shops, restaurants, unique ways to travel,cathedrals and much more. The city holds many exciting activities and many opportunities for new experiences.