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6 Facts You Didn’t Know About Portugal

6 Facts You Didn’t  Know About Portugal.


Are you planning on visiting this westernmost country in Europe soon? Or maybe you have Portuguese roots and want to learn more about your ancestors. In any case, below are twelve facts that are bound to impress anyone about Portugal.

Portugal is a fascinating country with a proud history that can be felt all throughout the country – from its capital, down to each tiny, picture-perfect village.

1. Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries

Over 236 million people worldwide are native Portuguese speakers. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome, and Equatorial Guinea. Portuguese is also spoken in Goa (India), Macao, and East Timor.

2. Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe

King Afonso, I declared independence in 1139, and Portugal has the same defined borders since 1249, almost 800 years ago. The name Portugal first appears in 868, during the Reconquista over the Muslims. A county was formed around the city of Porto (Portus Cale in Latin), from which the name (and the country) “Portugal” is derived.

3. Viriathus is the first National Hero of Portugal

According to historians, the Celtic King of Lusitania was the worst nightmare of the Roman Empire Soldiers and one of the top enemies Rome ever faced, making them lose the equivalent of 9 legions during the wars against the Lusitanos.

4. Portugal and England are very old friends.

This is definitely one of the most amazing facts about Portugal. The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance was signed in 1373 and is in force until this day.

Did you know that?

Both countries entered wars to defend the other, including the United Kingdom entering Iberian Peninsular War and Portugal entering World War I. It Seems like the Portuguese and British have had each other’s back for a long time!

5.Portugal once had a dead Queen

When Pedro I was crowned King of Portugal in 1357, he proclaimed his lover, Ines de Castro, Queen despite the fact that she had died 2 years before, in 1355. Legend says he ate her killers’ hearts when he caught them. And that she was exhumed to be coronated. That’s true romance there, Game of Thrones style.

6. The Portuguese were the first European people to reach Japan

In 1492 Portuguese reached the island of Tanegashima first establishing contact with Japan. So, the Japanese culture was exposed to several new European technologies and cultural practices in the military area (the arquebus, European-style cuirasses, European ships), religion (Christianity), decorative art,  and culinary (the Portuguese introduced the tempura and above all the valuable refined sugar). Even in the language, the Japanese word for thank you “Arigato” comes from is the Portuguese word “Obrigado”.

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