Portuguese History & Culture

Portugal, an independent kingdom since 1143, is one of the oldest nations in Europe. Situated on the southwestern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, its geographic location along the Atlantic coast has long determined its vocation to the sea.

In 1415, the Portuguese set sail on an epic voyage that would make them the first to discover the ocean routes to India, Brazil, China and Japan, and at the same time found settlements on the East and West coasts of Africa.

Traces of this worldwide historic presence may be seen as trademarks of the Portuguese genius. The Portuguese language became one of the most widely spoken in the world, and the Portuguese people have been privileged to be exposed to so many different civilizations. The vast monumental, artistic and archeological heritage of Portugal give witness to the influences of ancient peoples (Celts, Sueves, Visigoths, Romans and Arabs) and its 850 year history of contact with distant cultures around the world.

The natural advantages of a sunny country with such diverse geographic features have turned Portugal into a top destination for tourists it is also an ideal place for water sports and playing golf. Portugal offers modern tourism facilities from the quaint and personalized such as "turismo de habitação" (privately owned homes ranging from wonderful farm-houses to manor-houses) and "hotéis de charme or pousadas" to lavish full service resorts.

As a member of the European Union since 1986, Portugal now enjoys general prosperity. In spite of steady economic growth Portugal has managed to maintain its greatest treasure: a renowned reputation of hospitality that makes the country a haven of congeniality and safety. Today the Portuguese citizen and visitors alike enjoy a lifestyle emphasizes traditional values, hard work, and honest pleasures.