10 Things You Did Not Know About Portugal

We love Portugal and obviously think its an amazing place to visit, it has a lot to offer families and the Algarve region is a well loved destination for summer holidays.

Due to the many beach resorts on the Algarve some people think of Portugal as being like its next door neighbour Spain, however this is completely wrong, Portugal has a rich history and its own unique culture waiting to be explored.

Don’t believe us? Well here are ten things you may not have known about Portugal.

1. A Popular Language

Portuguese is spoken by approximately 240 million people around the world, and is the official language of 9 countries! It ranks in as the 8th most spoken language in the world. The top 3 being: Chinese, English and then Spanish.

2. Portuguese Heritage

A lot of people around the world are of Portuguese descent. Estimates show that 12% of inhabitants of Luxembourg are of Portuguese descent. More interestingly, Paris has the second biggest Portuguese city inhabitants outside of Lisbon.

3. A Wine Country

Last time you popped open a bottle of wine; chances are that the cork was made in Portugal, as they are accredited with over 50% of the world’s cork being produced there.

It’s not just corks that are produced though with Port wine being produced in Porto and the Portuguese island of Madeira famed for its Madeira wine.

4. World Domination

The Portuguese Empire was actually the first global empire in the history of the world. It was in 1494, that the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed – which essentially gave Portugal the eastern half of the “New Word”, this included Brazil, Africa, and Asia.

5. Getting On A Bit!

Portugal is the oldest country in Europe! Portugal has had the same country borders since 1139, which makes it the oldest nation-state in the continent.

6. A Bridge To Far?

The longest bridge in Europe can be found in Portugal, the Vasco De Gama bridge stretches for 10.5 miles and can be found in Lisbon.

Vasco da Gama Bridge

Vasco da Gama Bridge

7. Natural Disaster

In 1755 Portugal suffered one of the worst earthquakes in European history, killing 275,000 residents of Lisbon. The earthquake recorded a 9.0 on the Richter scale and was followed by a tsunami – leaving a lot of the city in rubble; in fact reports say that almost 85% of the city’s buildings were destroyed!

8. Abolishing Slavery

Portugal was the first colonial power to abolish slavery. A long time before the US and Britain.

9. An Old City

Lisbon is one of the oldest European capitals, only after Athens. It is reportedly over 4 centuries older than Rome.

10. Around The World

Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, was the first man to sail around the world on his expedition in 1519. You can learn more about the rich maritime history of Portugal and its famous explorers at the Navy Museum in Lisbon.

So there you have it, 10 facts about Portugal which your probably didn’t know.

Next time you think of Portugal make sure to think of its rich history or it’s incredible explorers. A city break to Lisbon should be on everyone’s European bucket list, and if culture and history is just not your thing then you can always hit up one the many resorts on the Algarve, where a good time is guaranteed with something for everyone.

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