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Travel Info: Visit Portugal

Visiting Portugal

»  The Portuguese Republic is a democratic republic located on the west and southwest parts of the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe, and is the westernmost country in continental Europe. Portugal is bordered by Spain to the north and east and by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south. In addition, Portugal includes two archipelagos in the Atlantic, Azores and Madeira Islands.

Portugal has witnessed a constant flow of different civilizations during the past 3100 years. Iberian, Tartessian, Celtic, Phoenician and Carthaginian, Greek, Roman, Germanic (Suevi and Visigoth) and Moorish cultures have all made an imprint on the country. The naming of Portugal itself reveals most of the country's early history, stemming from the Roman name Portus Cale, a possibly mixed Greek and Latin name meaning Beautiful Port, or even mixed Celtic and Latin or mixed Phoenician and Latin. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal was a major economic, political, and cultural power, its empire stretching from Brazil to the Indies.

Capital: Lisbon
Offical Language:
92,391  SQ KM
Calling Code:

» There are five regions in mainland Portugal, and 28 sub regions. These modern division was made in accordance with the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS), being used today by the Instituto Nacional de Estatistica and the Euro stat, having official status in the European Union. The regions are:

* Alentejo
* Algarve
* Centro
* Lisboa e Vale do Tejo
* Norte

» The Portuguese coast is extensive, it has 943 km for continental Portugal, 667 km for the Azores, 250 km for Madeira and the Savage Islands . The coast has fine beaches, the Algarve ones are world famous. In Porto Santo Island, a dune formation appeals to many tourists. Portugal is one of the warmest European countries. 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. Spring and Summer months are usually sunny and the temperatures are very high during July and August, with highs in the centre of the country generally between 30°C and 35°C, sometimes even reaching highs of 45°C in the southern interior. 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, especially in Serra da Estrela. Portugal's climate is classified as Atlantic Mediterranean.

Portugal is a fairly homogeneous country linguistically and religiously. Ethnically, the Portuguese people are a combination of several ethnicities: pre Roman Iberian and Celtic tribes with Romans and Germanic tribes. Moors became a reduced influence, as essentialy they were expelled during the Reconquista. Jews comprised 10% of the population in the 16th Century until they were forced to move abroad or convert to catholicism. Portugal's biggest metropolitan cities are Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Aveiro, and Coimbra.

» The great majority of the Portuguese population is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Religious minorities include a little over 300,000 Protestants. There are also about 50,000 Muslims and 10,000 Hindus (most of whom came from Goa, a former Portuguese colony on the west coast of India). There are also about 1,000 Jews. Atheism and agnosticism are increasing in number. Esoterism is also practised by small minorities as well the oriental philosophies as a modern trend.

» Portugal is an ancient nation and for more than 1000 years it has maintained its specific culture through a self governing venture while being influenced by the various civilizations that crossed the Mediterranean world. Thus, it has always absorbed habits and traditions from such early civilizations and from the regions that it discovered and conquered throughout the world during the Portuguese empire, establishing a specific legacy. Portuguese music is represented by a wide variety of forms. The most renowned Portuguese music is Fado, a form of melancholic music. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese guitar.

Currently, mainstream music in Portugal is in a rural and urban duality where the Portuguese pop rock and hip hop tuga (a mixture of hip hop, African music and Reggae, primarily performed by African Portuguese) are popular with the younger and urban population, while pimba (a simple and cheery variety of folk music) and folklore are more popular in the rural areas.


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