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quaertira valverde ilha de armona sagres evora elxadais montargil costa de caparica guincho foz do arelho valado s. pedro de moel gala sitava mira vagueira s. jacinto madalena Canidelo angeiras rio alto viana do castelo caminha
North Center Lisbon region Alentejo Algarve


orbitur logo Portugal is located on the west coast of Europe, between the Atlantic Ocean and Spain, on the Iberian Peninsula, a country which also includes the Azores (Açores) and the Madeira Islands. It is one of the oldest countries in the world, with nearly 900 years of history and stabilized borders since the 13th century. There are 1230 km of coastline, home to fascinating beaches, not to mention the unique beauty of natural parks, lakes and rivers. The North and the South of the country are also defined by the local orography, with planes being predominant in the south of the Tagus River and highlands and mountains characterizing the north part of this river. The country’s highest point is the centrally located Serra da Estrela mountain, almost 2000 m high, an absolute must for lovers of winter sports that provides the practice of skiing, snowboarding, among other sports.

But Portugal is also a country with a vast built heritage, from gardens to palaces, churches and other monuments, which reflect the history of a people who went on voyages of discovery and gave “new worlds to the world”. The climate is characterized by mild winters and pleasant summers, and rainfall occurs mainly from November to January. There are just over 10 million inhabitants and the population is mainly concentrated along the coastal areas, especially in metropolis such as Lisbon, the capital of the country, Oporto/North Region, and Coimbra, located in the centre region of the country. More than 200 million people speak Portuguese globally, allowing strengthening socio-cultural ties between Portugal and the rest of the world. Despite being a predominantly Roman Catholic country (the Sanctuary of our Lady of Fátima is a place of pilgrimage for millions of tourists annually), there are also many other professions of faith with their own places of worship. As of January 2002, the Euro became Portugal’s official currency. Portugal is a democratic country where the organs of sovereignty are enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic and which are the President of the Republic, the national Parliament, the Government and the Courts.

The originality of the Portuguese
The foundation of the country dates back to the 12th century. D. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, declared independence from Castilla and Léon after he rebelled against his mother D. Teresa. The country has gone through periods of several wars between 1128 and 1139. Only with the Treaty of Zamora in 1143, did the king of Castille recognize the independence of Portugal and D. Afonso I as the first king of Portugal. The 15th century marked human history because of a period known as the Age of Discovery and the Portuguese became the first Europeans to explorer the unknown world. They first discovered Azores and Madeira Islands and some cities in Marocco. Names like Bartolomeu Dias, who rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, Vasco da Gama, who arrived in India in 1498, and Pedro Álvares Cabral , who discovered Brazil in 1500, will forever be inscribed in peoples’ memories.

In early 20th century, Portugal became a Republic on October 5, 1910. The country was later shaken by political and financial instability due to the First World War in Europe. A military coup led to the end of the Republic which was replaced by the Estado Novo (repressive policies), a regime that prevailed between 1933 and 1974. More than 30 years later, on 25 April 1974, the military, under the command of the Armed Forces Movement overthrew the Old Regime and the coup became known as the Carnation Revolution. The establishment of democracy in the country opened the doors for socio-economic development, scientific presence, especially for technological and cultural innovation. Portugal joined the European Community (EC) in 1986, became later one of the founding countries of the Euro zone and maintains a close relationship with the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) and the Portuguese communities scattered throughout the world. Portugal inhabitants are known for their easy-going lifestyle and the country is marked by the presence of different cultures and peoples over the centuries. Monuments and buildings of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Manueline style architecture can be found across the country. The abundant number of tiles used in building façades and fountains tell the story of a country or simply depict scenes from the day-to-day life and so do the sculpture and the painting from named Portuguese artists who are remembered by history. Some writers stand out in literature such as Luís de Camões, Eça de Queirós, Florbela Espanca or José Saramago who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. Being Portuguese also means to be able to express life through music. The Fado song represents a unique way of Portuguese life and had its heyday with the fado singer Amália Rodrigues. Big names such as Mariza or Carlos do Carmo have continued this tradition. Portuguese is the 5th most spoken native language in the world, with a total of more than 200 million speakers and is used as an official language in several countries. It is said that the Portuguese word “Saudade” cannot be translated exactly into other languages. It describes a feeling of nostalgia, a longing for a person (or a thing) that is unreachable.

The art of hospitality
According to the World Tourism Organization, Portugal is in the Top 10 Countries receiving tourists in Europe. The tourism sector makes a major contribution to the country’s GDP. Furthermore, if compared with other tourist destinations, this magnificent country offers attractive advantages to tourists such as hospitality, climate, security, quality beaches, internationally recognized golf courses, diversified offer and good accessibility both by air and road. The historic centers of Oporto, Évora and Sintra were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The natural World Heritage sites are also protected areas, such as the Montesinho Natural Park, the Serra da Estrela Natural Park and the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve. Portugal is characterized by a very diverse tourist offer, like colors from a rich and varied palette that one would expect to find in a rainbow, particularly with regards to its Mediterranean cuisine. Every little region has its own typical specialties ranging from fresh fruit and vegetables salads dressed with pure olive oil to fresh fish, meat from wild animals or traditional convent sweets such as the Aveiro sweet-eggs or the Morgados (a fig and almond sweet), not to mention the excellent table wines and spirits which are internationally recognized. In Portugal there are unique aromas and flavors of wines which are produced in specific regions, internationally awarded, such as the Alentejo and the Douro, not forgetting the Oporto wine, perhaps the greatest ambassador of the brand “Portugal”. But there is much more to discover about Portugal through the direct contact with its warm people, their typical pronunciations and the bright colors of their traditional costumes. Someone with open arms and a big smile will always be there to welcome you to this country. |

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