Wikijunior Europe: Portugal

Map showing the location of Portugal in Europe

Portugal is a country in south western Europe. It shares borders with Spain only. The capital city is Lisbon. The other big city in Portugal is Porto. Portugal has been a member of the European Union since 1986 and uses the Euro as its currency.

Portugal's History


The history of Portugal is much intertwined with Spain's except for a few but important differences. The Romans first ruled Iberia (the peninsula that is now the main territory of Portugal and Spain), one could attribute first nationalistic movement of that part of Iberia to a group of tribes that lived on what is today Portugal and Galicia (a region of Spain) that actively opposed Roman occupation over that territory, their leader was called Viriathus, he was later assassinated and Rome was then able to take over, until collapse of the Roman Empire. Iberia, especially what is now Portugal due to the large coastline, was then prey to a succession of invasion by barbaric tribes. The Visigoths took control of Iberia but it was then invaded by the moors (a group of North Africans, mostly Muslims) in 711. They completely conquered Portugal but they did not conquer Northern Spain (mostly Christian). Soon these tiny kingdoms would start to push into Moorish Spain this reconquest would be called “la Reconquista”. Portugal was created by his first King, Afonso Henrique Henriques in recent reclaimed territory, by revolting against his mother Queen Teresa, finally leading to Portugal's independence in 1139, but the Reconquista didn't end till 1492. Due to the close family tree of the monarchs, Portugal was several times under the same ruler as Spain (most leading to active opposition and armed conflict). Between 1595 and 1663 it was one of the greatest empires. In 1663, Portugal was again independent. Later its colonies would gain independence. First Brazil in 1825 then Angola, Guinea and Mozambique in 1974 followed by East Timor in 1975 and finally Macao was returned to China in 1999.

The flag of Portugal

moors — North Africans, mainly followers of the Muslim faith, who conquered and controlled Portugal and most of Spain many centuries ago

Portugal's Geography

Algarve, Portugal

Portugal has a Mediterranean climate with warm winters and hot summers.

Mount Pico at 2,351 metres is the country's highest mountain. It is located on Pico, one of the islands of The Azores. There are a number of mountains in the north of the country and the Portuguese like to go skiing in the region during the winter months.

Animals which exist in Portugal but are rare in the rest of Europe include the Iberian lynx and the Iberian wolf.

Portugal's People


The majority of people living in Portugal are ethnic Portuguese but nowadays there are small minorities of people from Brazil, Ukraine, Romania, Russia as well as many people from former Portuguese colonies in Asia and Africa (Cape Verde, Angola).

The language of Portugal is Portuguese.

Although Portugal has one of the lowest incomes in the European Union (lower than many newer EU countries), it has a very high standard of living. The majority of people in Portugal are Christian, mostly Roman Catholic.

Portugal's Sights


Portugal is a very popular tourist destination partly because of its hot summer climate. Over 12 million tourists visit the country every year with most coming from Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany. The Algarve region and the capital, Lisbon, are the country's most popular destinations for foreign visitors. Lisbon is Europe's second most popular city for tourists (after Barcelona in Spain).

Portugal has thirteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These sites are considered places that are especially important in the world for cultural, scientific, historical or geographical reasons. Some of the sites include the historical centres of Évora and Porto and the Monastery of the Hieronymites in Lisbon.

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