EU Member States Ireland Greece Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Poland Czech Republic Hungary Austria Croatia Cyprus Malta Portugal Romania Bulgaria France Luxembourg Belgium Germany Italy Netherlands Denmark Sweden Slovakia Slovenia Spain UK
Map of the EU: 28 Member Countries
EU Member since 1986
Other Memberships NATO, Schengen Area, Eurozone, Bologna Process, OECD
Currency € (EURO)
Capital Lisbon
Area 92,090 sq km
Population 10,799,270 (July 2013 est.)
Language Portuguese, Mirandese
Religion Roman Catholic 84.5%, other Christian 2.2%, other 0.3%, unknown 9%, none 3.9% (2001 census)
GDP $ 22,315 (2011)
GNI $ 21,210 (2011)
SGI 6.59 out of 10 (2011)
CPI 63 out of 100 (2012)
Architecture Manueline style, Azulejo ceramic; Álvaro Siza, Tomás Taveira
Literature João Baptista da Silva Leitão de Almeida Garrett, Camilo Castelo Branco, Luís de Camões, Fernando Pessoa, Eça de Queiroz
Music Fado, Folclórico dance, hip hop Tuga; Artur Pizarro, Am alia Rodrigues, Mísia, Mariza, Madredeu, Rodrigo Leão, Da Veasel, Blind Zero
Painting Nuno Goncalves, José de Almada Negreiros, Nadir Afonso, Amadeo de Souza Cardoso
Cuisine Feijoada (a stew), Bacalhau (dry cod), Pastel de nata. Delicacies: Pastel de Belem , Coelho a cacador, Linguica, Presunto
Drinks Vinho Verde, Vinho de Douro, Port wines, Moscatel
Consumption 14.55 equivalent liters of pure ethyl alcohol per capita per year (WHO, 2005)
Sports Luis Figo, Christiano Ronaldo
Bogdan Scurtu On Portugal
1 May 2013

Europe’s West Coast is Portugal’s official country brand. If the message wasn’t clear, let me translate: it’s Europe’s California! You’ve got it all, only better: in a 81% catholic country, there are big waves, surfers, sun, renewable energy (43% of the entire electricity), a drug policy more liberal than in the Netherlands, Europe’s oldest wineries, and great churrascarias. The hippest neighborhood in Lisbon is Bairro Alto, that attracts on its narrow streets, bohemian and eclectic crowds, from punks to gays, goths, hipsters, students and executives. If you visit, just make sure that if someone sneezes, you tell them Santinho! (to a man) or Santinha! (to a woman), which means “little saint.”

Ribeira-District-in-PortoPorto, Ribeira District source: © JoJan, Wikimedia Commons

EU Connection

Portugal’s integration in the EU in 1986 strengthened democratic institutions after decades of military dictatorship and boosted the economy due to increased access to foreign markets and the influx of capital from the “Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund.”

One of the southern countries in Europe with economic difficulties, Portugal received a €78 billion Euro bailout in 2011 with a maturity of 7.5 years and an interest rate of 5.5-6%. The loan was conditioned by budget deficit targets and austerity measures, including cuts in healthcare, public administration, education, added levies on pensions over €1,500 a month, zero new spending on the military, the privatization of state companies and other such measures; see Terms of EU/IMF bailout for Portugal.

Portugal is the home country of Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission from 2004 to 2014, the most powerful office in the EU. The Lisbon Treaty, the constitution-like document of the EU, was signed in Portugal’s capital in 2007.

Lineage, History and Idiosyncrasies

Portuguese view themselves as “homogeneous” Mediterranean Muslim African stock, according to the tourism site. They proudly claim to be the descendants of the Indo-European Lusitanians. Only small fragments from the Lusitanian language and culture remain today. Elements of and similarities with the Celtic culture and language exist and the Celtic ancestry is confirmed by modern DNA tracing.

Fleeing the Paleolithic Ice Age, the first settlers migrated from the British Isles and Northwestern Europe. Indo-European colonization from Western Asia and the Middle East was followed by Roman rule. The Germanic tribes invaded in the fifth century, and the Moors conquered the entire Iberian Peninsula in the eighth century introducing Islam. Christian Reconquista brought independence for the County of Portugal in 1139. The Moors and the Jews were expelled by 1492.

Portugal was one of Europe most powerful colonial powers, with a global expansion reaching from Brazil to Angola, Mozambique and other parts of Africa, Goa and other territories in India, Macau, and East Timor.

The carnation revolution of 1974 was a bloodless left wing coup that ended overseas colonization. In the contemporary political spectrum, the country bounces between socialism and neoliberalism, with two main parties competing for power – the Socialists and the Social Democrats, plus some additional parties with a smaller share of the votes.

Torre_Belem_LisboaBelem Tower, Lisbon source: © D. Feliciano, Wikimedia Commons

Culture, Arts, and Sports

Manueline traditional architecture style is a Portuguese late Gothic, opulent, with many maritime elements. The Folclórico is one of the most popular regional dances, and the yearly Goa Trance Festival in central Portugal, draws huge crowds. Fado is a classical Portuguese folk music genre and our music playlist features fado singers such as Amália, Mísia or Mariza as well as other musicians such as MadredeuRodrigo Leão, hip-hop artist Da Veasel and rock stars such as Blind Zero. Similar to other places in Europe, soccer is the king sport, and superstars born here include Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Food and Wine

If you love Brazilian churrascarias, wait until you try the Portuguese ones! Locals claim that the original Portuguese food concept with unlimited amounts of barbecued meat and side dishes, will win over even vegetarians. Other popular Portuguese dishes include the feijoada (a stew made of beans), and different dishes resulting from the various cooking styles of thebacalhau (dry cod). Portuguese cuisine is also known for delicious pastries such as the Pastel de nata, an egg tart pastry popular today especially in Asia, due to the Portuguese colonial influence.

In terms of drinking, the Duoro wine region is one of the oldest wine regions in the world. Even the Romans in the antiquity associated the god of wine, Bacchus, with Portugal. Today’s claims to fame in the wineworld include Vinho Verde, Vinho de Douro, the Port wines and the Moscatel.

Copyright © GSJ & Author(s)