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República Portuguesa
Flag of Portugal Portugal: Coat of Arms
(In Detail)
National motto: None
Official languagePortuguese3
PresidentJorge Sampaio
Prime MinisterPedro Santana Lopes
 - Total
 - % water
World ranking: 109th
92,391 km²
0.5 %
 - Total (2004)
 - Density
World ranking: 75th



From Kingdom of Leon

1128, as a Principality
1139, as a kingdom
1143, by the Kingdom of Leon
1179, by the Pope

CurrencyEuro (€) (1)
Time zoneWET (2) (UTC; UTC+1 in summer)
National anthemA Portuguesa
Calling Code351
(1) Prior to 1999: Portuguese escudo
(2) Azores: UTC-1; UTC in summer

Portugal is a democratic republic located on the southwestern corner of the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. Portugal is bordered by Spain to the north and east and by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south. In addition, Portugal contains several island territories in the Atlantic, including the Azores (Açores) and Madeira (including the Savage Islands).

A citizen of Portugal is usually identified in English by the noun and adjective Portuguese, but someone born in Portugal can also be referred to as Luso or Lusitano (English "Lusitanian").1

Portugal during the past 3,000 years has witnessed a constant flow of different civilizations. Phoenician, Greek, Celtic, Carthaginian, Roman, Barbarian and Arabic cultures have all made an imprint in Portugal. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal eclipsed most other nations in terms of economic, political, and cultural influence and it had an extensive overseas empire throughout the world.

Portugal's name derives from the Roman name Portus Cale, a mixed Greek and Roman name meaning "Beautiful Port".



Main article: History of Portugal

Early ancient Greek explorers named the region Ophiussa (Greek for Land of Serpents) because the natives worshiped serpents. The Phoenicians had been exploring the area since 1104 BC and they had an important influence on the native culture. In the early first millennium BC, several waves of Celts invaded Portugal from Central Europe and intermarried with local peoples, the Iberians, forming the Celt-Iberians. Two of the new tribes formed by this intermarriage were the Lusitanians, who lived between the Douro and Tagus rivers, and the Calaicians who, lived north of the Douro river with several other tribes. A Phoenician colony was established in southern Portugal, the Conii. The Celtics, a later wave of Celts, settled in Alentejo.

In 238 BC, The Carthaginians occupied the Iberian coasts. In 219 BC, the first Roman troops invaded the Iberian Peninsula. Within 200 years, Roman armies dominated most of the peninsula, driving the Carthaginians out of their colonies in the Punic Wars.

The Roman conquest of Portugal started from the south, where the Romans found friendly natives, the Conii. Over decades, the Romans increased their areas of control. But in 194 BC a rebellion began in the north. The Lusitanians and other native tribes, under the leadership of Viriathus,born in Loriga, successfully held off the Romans, took back land, and ransacked Conistorgis, the Conii capital, because of their alliance with Rome. Viriathus drove Roman forces out of all of Portugal. Rome sent numerous legions and its best generals to reinforce the Roman positions. Still the Lusitanians took back land. Then the Romans changed their strategy. They bribed ambassadors sent by Viriathus, and persuaded the traitors to kill their own commander.The three men named Audax, Ditalco and Minuro waited until Viriato was asleep and then murdered him. Viriathus was assassinated, and the resistance was soon over.

At first, Rome installed a colonial regime. But during this period, Lusitania grew in prosperity and many Portuguese cities and towns were founded. In 27 BC, Lusitania gained the status of Roman Province. Later, a northern province of Lusitania was formed, known as Galecia, with capital in Bracara Augusta (today'Braga" title ="Braga">Braga).

Ruins of the Roman city of Conimbriga--laid waste by the Suevi. Some inhabitants fled to the north to establish a new city called Coimbra.
Ruins of the Roman city of Conimbriga--laid waste by the Suevi. Some inhabitants fled to the north to establish a new city called Coimbra.

In the 5th century, Germanic tribes, known as Barbarians, invaded the peninsula. One of these, the Suevi, stopped fighting and founded a kingdom whose domains were, approximately, coincident with today'Visigoth" title ="Visigoth">Visigoths conquered this kingdom, unifying the Peninsula.

An Islamic invasion took place in 711, destroying the Visigoth Kingdom. Many of the ousted nobles took refuge in the unconquered north Asturian highlands. From there they aimed to reconquer their lands from the Moors. They were eventually successful.

In 868, Count Vímara Peres reconquers and governs the region between the Minho and Douro Rivers (including the city that became its first capital, Portucale - today'Porto" title ="Porto">Porto). Thus, the county became known as Portucale (i.e. Portugal). Occasionally, Portugal gained factual independence during weak Leonese reigns. In fact, the struggle for independence has started as early as the 9th century.

After the Moors were, for the most part, driven out of power, most of the Northern Iberian peninsula was briefly united under Christian rule. However, it quickly split apart after the death of Ferdinand the Great of Leon and Castile, whose domains were divided by his children. Therefore, in 1065 the Kingdom of Galicia and Portugal became independent, shortly after a war among brothers, made all the domains of Ferdinand back in one.

At the end of the 11th century a knight from Burgundy named Henry became count of Portugal. Henry was a strong supporter of independence. Under his leadership, the County of Portucale and the County of Coimbra merged. Henry declared independence 2 for Portugal while a civil war raged between Leon and Castile.

Castle of Guimarães, prime symbol of Nationality. The Battle of São Mamede took place nearby in 1128.
Castle of Guimarães, prime symbol of Nationality. The Battle of São Mamede took place nearby in 1128.

Henry died without reaching his aims. His son, Afonso Henriques, took control of the county. The city of Braga, the Catholic centre of the Iberian peninsula, faced new competition from other regions. The lords of the cities of Coimbra and Porto (then Portucale) with the Braga's clergy demanded the independence of the renewed county.

Portugal traces its national origin to 24 June 1128 with the Battle of São Mamede. Afonso proclaimed himself first as Prince of Portugal and in 1139 as the first King of Portugal. On October 5 1143, with the assistance of a representative of the Holy See at the conference of Zamora, Portugal was formally recognized as independent 2. Afonso, aided by the Templars, continue to conquer southern lands to the moors. In 1250, the Portuguese Reconquista came to an end, as the Algarve was finally reconquered from the Moors. Since then, the border with Spain has remained almost unchanged.

July 25 1415, marked the beginning of the Portuguese Empire, when the Portuguese Armada along with King John I and his sons Prince Duarte (future king), Prince Pedro, Prince Henry the Navigator and Prince Afonso, also with the mythical Portuguese hero Nuno Álvares Pereira departed to Ceuta in North Africa, a rich Islamic trade centre. On August 21, the city was conquered, and the Portuguese Empire was founded. Further steps were taken which expanded the Empire even more. Henry the Navigator's interest in exploration together with some technological developments in navigation made Portugal's expansion possible and led to great advances in geographic knowledge.

In 1418 two of the captains of Prince Henry the Navigator, João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, were driven by a storm to an island which they called Porto Santo, or Holy Port, in gratitude for their rescue from the shipwreck. In 1419, Zarco disembarked on Madeira Island. Between 1427 and 1431 most of the Azorean islands were discovered.

In 1434, Gil Eanes rounded the Cape Bojador, South of Morocco. The trip marked the beginning of the Portuguese exploration of Africa. Before this voyage very little information was known in Europe about what lay beyond it. At the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th centuries, those who tried to venture there became lost, giving birth to legends of sea monsters.

Bartolomeu Dias turning the Tormentas Cape, renamed Cabo da Boa Esperança (Cape of Good-Hope), representing Portugal's hope of becoming a powerful and rich empire by reaching India.
Bartolomeu Dias turning the Tormentas Cape, renamed Cabo da Boa Esperança (Cape of Good-Hope), representing Portugal's hope of becoming a powerful and rich empire by reaching India.

In 1448, on a small island known as Arguim off the coast of Mauritania a castle was built, working as a feitoria (a trading post) for commerce with inland Africa thus circumventing the Arabic caravans that crossed the Sahara. Some time later, the caravels explored the Gulf of Guinea leading to the discovery of several uninhabited islands and reaching the Congo River.

A remarkable achievement was the rounding of Cape of Good Hope by Bartholomew Diaz in 1487. By then the wealthy India was nearby, hence the name of the cape. In 1489, the King of Bemobi gave his realms to the Portuguese King and converted to Christianity. Between 1491 and 1494, Pêro de Barcelos and João Fernandes Lavrador explored North America. At the same time, Pêro da Covilhã reached Ethiopia. Vasco da Gama sailed to India, and arrived at Calicut on May 20 1498, returning in triumph to Portugal the next year. In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral landed on the Brazilian coast. Ten years later, Alfonso d'Albuquerque conquered Goa, in India.

The two million Portuguese people now ruled a vast empire with millions of inhabitants stretching from Brazil to Africa, from Ormuz in the Persian Gulf to Goa to Malacca By 1514, the Portuguese had reached China and Japan.

In 1578, a very young King Sebastian died in battle, leaving no heir, which lead to a dynastic crisis. Because Philip II of Spain was the son of a Portuguese princess, Spain invaded Portugal and the Spanish ruler became Philip I of Portugal in 1580. Some men claimed to be King Sebastian in 1584, 1585, 1595 and 1598. Sebastianism, a myth that the young king would return on a foggy day has prevailed until modern times.

Portugal maintained an independent law, currency and government, and the two first Spanish kings were popular. The third Spanish king, Philip III tried to make Portugal a Spanish province. Because of this, in December 1 1640, a native king, John IV, was acclaimed, and a Restoration War against Spain was fought. New empires had emerged and started to assault all the Portuguese Empire; Portugal regained some, but much was lost, especially in Asia.

Lisbon was destroyed in 1755 earthquake. From 1801, the country was occupied during the Napoleonic Wars, and lost Olivença (part of the national territory) to Spain (ally of France). Shortly after, Brazil proclaimed its independence.

A 1910 revolution deposed the Portuguese monarchy starting the First Republic. It was marked by chaos, and came to an end in 1926 when a nationalist military coup d'etat gave birth to the Second Republic, a period of almost fifty years of repressive rule. Although a stable period financially and economically, it saw the beginning of the end of the Portuguese Empire. India annexed Portuguese India, including Goa, in 1961. Independence movements also became active in Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea, and an increasingly costly series of colonial wars failed to defeat the guerrillas. Discontent about the war was one of the factors leading to the 1974 Revolution.

The Carnation Revolution of 1974, an effectively bloodless left-wing military coup, installed the Third Republic. Broad democratic reforms were implemented. In 1975, Portugal granted independence to its Overseas Provinces (Províncias Ultramarinas in Portuguese) in Africa. In 1976, Indonesia invaded and annexed the Portuguese province of Portuguese Timor (East Timor) in Asia before independence could be granted. The Asian dependency of Macau, was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999. Portugal applied international pressure to secure East Timor'Indonesia" title ="Indonesia">Indonesia, as East Timor was still legally a Portuguese dependency, and recognized as such by the United Nations. After a referendum in 1999, East Timor voted for independence and Portugal recognized its independence in 2002.

With the 1975-76 independence of its colonies (except Macau, because it hadn'Portuguese_Empire" title ="Portuguese Empire">Portuguese Empire had already effectively ended. With it, 15 years of war effort also came to an end. Also many Portuguese returned from the colonies, coming to comprise a sizeable sector of the population and starting an economic recovery, thus opening new paths for the country'1986" title ="1986">1986, Portugal entered the EEC, today'European_Union" title ="European Union">European Union.


Main article: Politics of Portugal

The four main organs of Portuguese politics are the President of the Republic, the Parliament, the Council of Ministers (Government), and the Judiciary.

The President of the Republic, elected to a 5-year term by universal suffrage is also commander in chief of the armed forces. Presidential powers include appointing the Prime Minister, as adviced by the Parliament which elects the Prime Minister, and the Council of Ministers, named by the Prime Minister. Some other major powers include dismissing the Government, dissolving the Parliament, and declaring war or peace. These have several constitutional restrictions, namely the need to previously consult the presidential advisory body. This is the Council of State, composed of six senior civilian officers, all former presidents elected since 1976, and ten citizens, five chosen by the President and other five by the Parliament. The most commonly used power is that of approving or vetoing any legislation.

The Parliament, or Assembly of the Republic (Assembleia da República in Portuguese) is a unicameral body composed of 230 deputies. It is elected by universal suffrage according to a system of proportional representation to multi-member constituencies. Deputies serve terms of office of 4 years, unless the president dissolves the assembly and calls for new elections. The Assembly of the Republic is the main legislative body. The President of Parliament substitutes the President of the Republic in the event of his absence.

The Government is headed by the Prime Minister, who names the Council of Ministers. A newly elected government is required to define the broad outline of its policy in a program and present it to the Parliament for a mandatory period of debate. Failure of the assembly to reject the program by a majority of deputies confirms the government in office.

The Courts have several categories, including judicial, administrative and fiscal. The national Supreme Court is the court of last appeal. A nine-member Constitutional Tribunal reviews the constitutionality of legislation.

The national and regional governments are dominated by two political parties, the PSD (Partido Social Democrata) - Social Democrats and the PS (Partido Socialista) РSocialists. Within the Portuguese political culture, the PSD is described as center-right and the PS is described as center-left. Other parties with seat in the parliament are the PP (Partido Popular) РPopular Party, PCP (Partido Comunista Portugu̻s) РCommunists, Os Verdes РThe Greens and the BE (Bloco de Esquerda) РLeft Block. Both BE, Os Verdes and PCP are left wing and the PP right wing. As of 2004, a coalition between the PSD (main party) and PP is governing Portugal in the 16th constitutional government, led by Pedro Santana Lopes, substituting Duṛo Barroso. Barroso resigned to become President of the European Commission.

In a survey on nationalism and European issues made by a newspaper in Portugal in 1994, reveled that only 9% of the Portuguese people would consider themselves as very little or not at all nationalist, while 43% consider themselves as a lot or extremely nationalist. But when the question is federalism in Europe, Portuguese people do not see a contradiction between an European identity and nationalism, 51% of the interviewed would even agree with Portugal'United_States_of_Europe" title ="United States of Europe">United States of Europe, while 27% would be against (22% do not have an opinion). Portuguese public opinion and media tend to be Europhile, in the EuroBarometer's 2004 Spring survey, 60% of the Portuguese trusted the EU.

Portugal has a territorial dispute with Spain. By the Vienna Treaty of 1815, Spain agreed to return Olivença (Olivenza in Spanish) to Portugal, but this agreement was never met. Portugal has periodically reasserted its claim to the territory. This issue has been discussed at the Portuguese Parliament as recently as 2004. In accordance with international law, Olivença is still considered to be Portuguese territory, despite being under Spanish administration since 1801.

Districts and regions

Map of Portugal, showing the relative locations of its archipelagos
Map of Portugal, showing the relative locations of its archipelagos

Main article: Political divisions of Portugal

Mainland Portugal is currently divided into 18 districts (Portuguese: distritos): Aveiro, Beja, Braga, Bragança, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Évora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisbon, Portalegre, Porto, Santarém, Setúbal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real and Viseu.

There are two Autonomous Regions: the Azores and Madeira islands. Each district and region is further subdivided into municipalities.

As of 2004, the Portuguese Districts are slated to be abolished and replaced by new Metropolitan Areas and Urban Communities, with different levels of autonomy (highest to lowest). Each municipality is to choose which region to be included in, and the level of autonomy granted will depend on the population of the new region:


Typical landscape in Alentejo, southern Portugal.
Typical landscape in Alentejo, southern Portugal.
Mount Pico in Pico Island as viewed from Faial Island.
Mount Pico in Pico Island as viewed from Faial Island.

Main article: Geography of Portugal

Continental Portugal is split in two by its main river, the Tagus (Tejo). To the north the landscape is mountainous in the interior areas with plateaus, cut by four breakings lines that allow the development of relevant agricultural areas. Portugal'Azores" title ="Azores">Azores.

The south down as far as the Algarve features mostly rolling plains with a climate somewhat warmer and drier than the cooler and rainier north. Other major rivers include the Douro, the Minho and the Guadiana, similar to the Tagus in that all originate in Spain. Another important river, the Mondego, originates in the Serra da Estrela (the highest mountains in mainland Portugal - 1,991 m). The islands of the Azores and Madeira are volcanic in origin, and in the Azores, one to nine volcanoes are possibly active.


In mainland Portugal, average temperatures are 13ºC in the North and 18ºC in the South. Madeira and Azores, due to their location in the Atlantic, are rainy and wet, and have a narrower range of temperatures.

Portugal is one of the warmest European countries. Spring and Summer months are usually sunny and the temperatures very high during July and August, with highs in the centre of the country, usually above 30°C only rarely reaching 35°C. Autumn and Winter are typically rainy and windy, yet sunny days are not rare either, the temperatures rarely fall below 5°C, usually staying at an average of 10°C. Snow is common in the mountainous areas of the north. Portugal's climate is classified as Atlantic-Mediterranean.


Main article: Economy of Portugal

Portugal has developed an increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Union in 1986, a development that began with the boom of the 1960s. Over the past decade, successive governments have privatised many state-controlled firms and liberalised key areas of the economy, including the financial and telecommunications sectors. Today, Portugal is a developed nation. It joined the Economic and Monetary Union in 1998 and began circulating its new currency, the euro, on January 1, 2002 along with 11 other EU members.

As of 2004, economic growth has been above the EU average for much of the past decade, but GDP per capita stands at just 75% of that of the leading EU economies. Portuguese GDP grew 1.5% in real terms in the second quarter of 2004 compared with the same period in 2003, by virtue of favourable domestic conditions. It benefited from investment and private consumer spending. Exports increased, but not in comparison with the strong growth of imports. In the same quarter the unemployment rate was 6.3%. In 2003, GDP per capita shrank 1%, due to the stringent austerity measures imposed by the government, low rates of investment and an internationally weak economic climate.

The country still has a 6.7 percent illiteracy rate, mostly among the elderly. Portugal needs to advance structural reforms to boost the country'Central_Europe" title ="Central Europe">Central Europe and Asia as a target for foreign direct investment.


Main article: Demographics of Portugal

As of 2004 Portugal has 10.5 million inhabitants.

Map of Portugal. Map includes the area of Olivença, disputed with and currently administered by Spain.
Map of Portugal. Map includes the area of Olivença, disputed with and currently administered by Spain.

Portugal is a fairly homogeneous country linguistically and religiously. Ethnically, Portuguese are a combination of several ethnicities, primarelly native Iberians, Romans, Celts, and Visigoths. Other elements are Moors, Suevi and Phoenician. Even so, Portuguese people are ethnically homogenous. The country is characterized by city, town or village cultural differentiation and there is virtually no regional affiliation, unlike other European countries. Portuguese is spoken throughout the country, with only the villages of Miranda de Douro'Mirandese_language" title ="Mirandese language">Mirandese. The closely related Asturian dialect in Spain is another Leonese dialect but not officially recognized by Spain.

Almost ten percent of Portugal'United_Kingdom" title ="United Kingdom">United Kingdom, Germany and France - the climate, culture, and relatively low cost of living are the main attractions). Today, many Eastern Europeans (especially Ukrainians, Moldavans, Romanians and Russians), as well as Brazilians, are making Portugal their home in search of a better life. Portugal, long a country of emigration, has now become a country of immigration.

The great majority of the Portuguese population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. Religious observance remains very strong in northern areas, with the population of Lisbon and southern areas generally less devout. Religious minorities include a little over 300,000 Protestants and members of independent sects, 50,000 Muslims (many of them from Goa, a former Portuguese colony on the west coast of India), 10,000 Hindus (also largely from Goa), and 1000 Jews. A considerably larger number of people have some Jewish heritage, and although themselves Catholic, still observe some Jewish customs.


Main articles: Culture of Portugal - List of Portuguese people - Music of Portugal

Portugal is known for its traditional architecture, its wines, its food, and its literature.


Portugal is sometimes known as "a country of poets". As a matter of fact, Portuguese poetry has a larger influence in the country'Portuguese-Galician" title ="Portuguese-Galician">Portuguese-Galician was widely popular in most Christian Iberian Peninsula. There are excellent works of both lyrical and epic poetry. The best-known Portuguese poets internationally are Luís de Camões and Fernando Pessoa. Modern Portuguese poetry, since the 19th century, has its roots in a handful of relevant poets, from neo-classicism to contemporary.

Prose developed later than verse and first appeared in the 14th century. The line of the chroniclers, which is one of the boasts of Portuguese literature, began with Fernão Lopes. Gil Vicente and the priest António Vieira are some pre-modern Portuguese writers. It is the modern Portuguese literature that is more internationally known, mostly the works of Almeida Garrett, Alexandre Herculano, Eça de Queirós, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, António Lobo Antunes and the 1998 Nobel Prize for literature winner, José Saramago.

Mariza, the new Fado Diva. She performed a duet with Sting for the Athens 2004 Olympic games, where the Fado was partially sung in English. Mariza's Live performance at BBC
Mariza, the new Fado Diva. She performed a duet with Sting for the Athens 2004 Olympic games, where the Fado was partially sung in English. Mariza's Live performance at BBC



Fado (destiny in Portuguese) is a form of melancholic music. The music is linked to the Portuguese word saudade (a word with no accurate equivalent in English; it conveys a complex mixture of sadness, pain, longing and love, along with other feelings), and its origins are probably from a mixture of African slave rhythms with traditional music of Portuguese sailors, with Arabic influence. There are two varieties of Fado: Lisbon and Coimbra. The Lisbon style is the popular, while the Coimbra'Am%E1lia_Rodrigues" title ="Amália Rodrigues">Amália Rodrigues introduced the most well-known variety of fado. After her disappearance, a new wave of performers added stylistic changes and brought more international popularity to the traditional Portuguese music. Mariza and Mísia, brought with them a new look to the traditional song, while Dulce Pontes mixed it with popular Portuguese music and Madredeus, made a complete revolution, with new instruments -- all that they kept from the original Fado is its looks and the concept of "saudade". All varieties of Fado are sorrowful; although some can also be joyful songs.

Other music

Portuguese pop-rock has grown particularly after the 1974 revolution. The most notable bands and musicians are Xutos e Pontapés, GNR, Rui Veloso, Clã, Pedro Abrunhosa, Silence Four and Blind Zero. Other genres include a local version of hip hop, by descendants of immigrants from former Portuguese colonies in Africa. Hip hop tuga (or Portuguese hip hop) is very popular among the younger population in Portugal. Cool Hipnoise, Da Weasel and Mind da Gap are some of the most popular and are becoming internationally known.

As for dancing, Portugal has the traditional folklore (Ranchos Folclóricos), with many varieties from each region. Portugal shares with Angola a shared rhythm known as "Kuduro", a sort of 'Samba" title ="Samba">samba' with fast movements and extreme sensuality and strong African rhythm.

Other musicians include the globally recognized classic pianist Maria João Pires and the Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes.

A typical aspect of Portugal is its architecture, influenced by several early civilizations but unique to the nation.
A typical aspect of Portugal is its architecture, influenced by several early civilizations but unique to the nation.


European football is the most popular and practiced sport in Portugal. As of August 2004, the country is ranked 8th in 205 countries by FIFA. Luís Figo is one of the world'Eus%E9bio" title ="Eusébio">Eusébio, Rui Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo are also noteworthy. Portugal also very well represented in other sports, such has Rink hockey, being the country with most world titles.

The country has an ancient martial art known as "Jogo do Pau" (Eng., Stick Game), used for self-protection and for duels between young men in dispute over a young women. Having its origin in the middle ages, Jogo do Pau uses wooden sticks as a combat weapon. Other sports are the "Jogos Populares", a wide variety of traditional sports used for fun.


Eating in Portugal is often a visitor'Cod" title ="Cod">cod dishes (bacalhau in Portuguese). For that there are 365 ways of making cod dishes. The Romans associated Portugal with Bacchus, their God of Winery and Feast. Today the country is known by wine lovers, and its wines had won several international prizes. Many famous Portuguese wines are known as some of the world'Vinho_Verde" title ="Vinho Verde">Vinho Verde, Vinho do Douro, Vinho do Alentejo, Vinho do Dão, Vinho da Bairrada and the sweet: Port Wine, Madeira wine and the Moscatels of Setúbal and Favaios (Douro). Port Wine is largely exported, now followed by Vinho Verde. Exports of Vinho Verde are largelly increasing, in response to the growing international demand.


Festivals play a major role in Portugal's summers. Every city and town has its own or several festivals. The June Festivities are extremelly popular, these festivities are dedicated to three saints known as Santos Populares (En., Popular saints) and take place all over Portugal. Why the populace associated the saints with these pagan festivities is not known. The practice is possibly related to Roman or local deities before Christianity spread in the region. The three saints are Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter. A common denominator in these festivities are the wine and água-pé (a watered kind of wine), traditional bread along with sardines, marriages, traditional street dances, fire, fireworks and joy.

Saint Anthony is celebrated on the nights of the 12th and 13th, especially in Lisbon (where that saint was born and lived most of his life), with Marchas Populares (a sort of street carnival) and festivities. In the meantime, several marriages known as Casamentos de Santo António (En., Marriages of Saint Anthony) are celebrated at the same time. But the most popular saint is Saint John. He is celebrated in many cities and towns throughout the country on the nights of the 23rd and 24th, especially in Porto and Braga, where the sardines, Caldo Verde (traditional soup) and plastic hammers to hammer on other peoples'June_28" title ="June 28">28th and 29th, especially in Póvoa de Varzim and Barcelos, festivities are similar to the others, but mostly dedicated to the sea and extensive use of fire (fogueiras). In Póvoa de Varzim, there is the Rusgas in the night, another sort of street carnival. Each festivity is a municipal holiday in the cities and towns where it occurs. Carnival is also widely celebrated in Portugal.

Public Holidays

Date English Name Local Name Remarks
January 1New Year's DayAno Novo 
-CarnivalCarnaval(District holiday), Tuesday 40 days before Easter
-Good FridaySexta-Feira SantaFriday before Easter
-EasterPáscoaSunday, date varies
April 25Freedom DayDia da Liberdade event of 1974
May 1Labour DayDia do trabalhador 
June 10Portugal DayDia de PortugalCamões death, event of 1580
-Ascension DayCorpo de Deus Thursday, 40 days after Easter
August 15AssumptionAssunção 
October 5Implantation of the RepublicImplantação da Repúblicaevent of 1910
November 1All Saints DayTodos os santos 
December 1Restauration of IndependenceRestauração da Independência event of 1640
December 8Imaculate ConceptionImaculada ConceiçãoProtecting Saint of Portugal
December 25Christmas DayNatal 

Note: each municipality has its own holiday which is often religious (e.g. Saint Anthony Day - June 13 for Lisbon, Saint John Day - June 24 for Oporto, Castelo de Paiva, Braga, and other towns, or Saint Peter Day - June 29 for Setúbal, Póvoa de Varzim, Barcelos).

Other Festivities (non public holidays)

Date English Name Local Name Remarks
January 6EpiphanyDia de Reis
-Easter MondayPascoelaMonday after Easter; picnic day - in some areas of the country
November 11Saint Martin Day (Short summer) Dia/Verão de São Martinho

peak of three days usually hot, where the population celebrates the Saint with Agua-pé and roasted chestnuts (castanhas)

See also


  • [1] The use of the words Lusitânia or Nação Lusa to mean Portugal, and of Lusitano to mean a Portuguese citizen, is due to ancient tribes who lived in most of today’s territory of Portugal. When the Romans conquered the land, they called it the Province of Lusitania.
  • [2] The concept of a declaration of independence did not exist at the time. Portugal was recognized as a kingdom with its own king by Leon in 1143 and by the Pope in 1179.
  • [3] Portuguese has been the official language of Portugal since 1296, replacing Classical Latin, the official language since independence. Portuguese does not descend from Classical Latin but rather from Vulgar Latin. In Portugal, the local Vulgar Latin was known as Vulgar Language before it was renamed Portuguese. Mirandese, a related Romance language, is officially recognized in the municipality of Miranda do Douro, and spoken in the villages of the municipality.


  • Ribeiro, Ângelo & Saraiva, José Hermano História de Portugal I - A Formação do Território QuidNovi, 2004 (ISBN 9895541066).
  • Ribeiro, Ângelo & Saraiva, José Hermano História de Portugal II - A Afirmação do País QuidNovi, 2004 (ISBN 9895541074).
  • de Macedo, Newton & Saraiva, José Hermano História de Portugal III - A Epopeia dos Descobrimentos QuidNovi, 2004 (ISBN 9895541082).
  • de Macedo, Newton & Saraiva, José Hermano História de Portugal IV - Glória e Declínio do Império QuidNovi, 2004 (ISBN 9895541090).
  • Ribeiro, Ãngelo & Saraiva, José Hermano História de Portugal V - A Restauração da Indepêndencia QuidNovi, 2004 (ISBN 9895541104).
  • Loução, Paulo Alexandre: Portugal, Terra de Mistérios Ésquilo, 2000 (third edition; ISBN 9728605048).
  • Muñoz, Mauricio Pasto: Viriato, A Luta pela Liberdade Ésquilo, 2003 (third edition; ISBN 9728605234).
  • Neves, Pedro A. & Almeida, Valdemar C.: Ao Encontro da História 7 Porto Editora (ISBN 9720314079).
  • Grande Enciclopédia Universal Durclub, 2004.

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Dependencies: Faroe Islands | Gibraltar | Guernsey | Jan Mayen | Jersey | Isle of Man | Svalbard

af:Portugal bg:Португалия ca:Portugal cs:Portugalsko cy:Portiwgal da:Portugal de:Portugal et:Portugal es:Portugal eo:Portugalio fr:Portugal gl:Portugal id:Portugal ia:Portugal io:Portugal is:Portúgal it:Portogallo he:פורטוגל la:Portugallia lb:Portugal lt:Portugalija hu:Portugália ms:Portugal nl:Portugal ja:ポルトガル no:Portugal nds:Portugal pl:Portugalia pt:Portugal ro:Portugalia ru:Португалия simple:Portugal sk:Portugalsko sl:Portugalska fi:Portugali sv:Portugal tokipona:ma Potuke tr:Portekiz uk:Португалія zh-cn:葡萄牙

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