Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country on the Iberian Peninsula in Southwestern Europe. It is also the westernmost country of mainland Europe. With the history of its golden era during the 15th and 16th century, and devastation in Lisbon in 1755 by an earthquake, Portugal has so much to discover. Let’s learn more about its history, culture, people, inventions and economy with some interesting facts.
48 Interesting facts about Portugal
1. Portugal was founded in 1128, making it one of the oldest nations in Europe. Portugal is named after its 2nd largest city, Porto.
2. Portugal is a developed country. It ranks as the 17th safest country in the world.
3. The Green lane toll pay system and pre-paid mobile phone card are also Portuguese inventions, to name a couple.
4. Portuguese, the national language of Portugal is also spoken in Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe – a total of nine countries.
5. It (Portuguese) is also the 6th most spoken language (240 million speakers) in the world, followed by Bengali and Russian.
6. Portuguese people were a key factor to the Age of Exploration. They helped discover several lands unknown to the Europeans in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
7. The largest community of Portuguese outside Portugal is in Paris.
Related: Interesting facts about France
8. The Dolphin Interaction Programme (the only one of its kind in Europe) gets you up close and personal with the dolphins. Here, you get a chance to interact directly with dolphins.
9. There are 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal (ranking it 8th in Europe and 17th in the world)… and each year more than 13 million tourists visit the country.
10. The largest artificial underwater park–The Ocean Revival Underwater Park—in the world is in Portugal.
11. The VASCO DA GAMA BRIDGE in Lisbon is the longest bridge in Europe with a total length of 17,185 meters.
12. One of the most advanced ATM system in the world belongs to Portugal. More than 60 operations are possible through the system including: donation for charities, phone credit top-ups and buying concert tickets.
13. The University of Coimbra, established in Lisbon in 1290, is one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world, the oldest university of Portugal, and one of its largest higher education and research institutions.
14. The montado landscape of Portugal produces approximately half of all cork harvested annually worldwide. Cork is impermeable, buoyant, elastic, and has fire retardant properties. It is most commonly used as a wine stopper.
15. The world record for the largest Santa Claus parade is held by Porto, Portugal with 14,963 attendees.
16. Portugal is also known as the “country of tiles.” The Portuguese have been decorating their walls and floors with tiles for a long time. To learn more about the history and artistic evolution of the Portuguese tiles, from early times to modern-day, you could also visit the National Tile Museum in Lisbon.
17. Portugal is the world leader in the production of renewable energy. It manages to meet almost 70% of its energy needs through hydro, wind and solar power. The country is also able to convert the movement of ocean waves into electricity and energy. (They really have a safe future considering the shortage of energy the world is facing)
18. The country’s national drink is Port (wine), which is also its most famous export.
19. Women in Portugal live longer than men in the country as the life expectancy of women is almost six years more than that of men.
20. Portugal has the EU’s lowest fertility rate with 82,367 babies born in the country in 2014. France tops the list of the most babies born in the EU with the tally reaching 819,300 in 2014.
21. The Island of Madeira, often called “the floating garden of the Atlantic,” is in Portugal.
22. Chili, pepper, potatoes and tomatoes were introduced by the Portuguese to India. Piri-piri sauce was also invented by the Portuguese.
23. The world record for the largest omelet belongs to Portugal. It weighed a whopping 6.466 tons. You can find more details about the Omelet on this Guinness World Records site.
Facts about Portuguese history and culture
24. Portuguese appreciate art, music, drama and dance.
25. The majority of the towns in the country have at least one cinema.
26. Fado is Portugal’s national music (it is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor).
27. The Portuguese are fatalists. They have deep faith in their destinies, which they believe cannot be escaped.
28. Café culture is also an important cultural feature of the Portuguese.
29. Portugal is best known for its distinctive Late-Gothic Manueline architecture.
30. “Ar de Rock” by Rui Veloso, which was released in 1980, was the first popular Portuguese rock song.
31. After the Carnation Revolution in 1974, Portugal regained its freedom of speech.
32. More than 275,000 residents died in 1755 in an earthquake considered to be one of the biggest earthquakes that occurred in Lisbon. The earthquake was followed by a tsunami and devastating fires across the capital city.
33. The average age of first-time mothers in Portugal is 29.2 years.
34. Portugal had the biggest wave ever surfed. In 2011, Hawaiian Garret McNamara set a world record by surfing a wave that was 90 feet high.
35. On May 31, 2010, same-sex marriage was legalized in Portugal. Thus, it became the sixth country in Europe to do so.
36. The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance is the oldest alliance in the world that is still in force… Yeah, that’s true!
37. Os Lusíadas (by Luís de Camões) is the national epic of Portugal.
38. Christmas can be sunny and even warm in Portugal, as it receives more than 300 days of sunshine annually!
39. In 1761, Portugal became the first colonial power to abolish slavery, doing so almost 50 years before Britain, France, Spain or the United States.
40. Bertrand bookshop, located in Lisbon, Portugal, is the oldest operating bookshop. It has been in operation since 1732. The Portuguese also discovered Brazil.
Facts about famous Portuguese people
41. Christiano Ronaldo (world famous footballer) was born in Santo António, Portugal in 1985. No doubt, football is the most popular sport in the country.
42. Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, was the first European to reach India by sea.
43. The oldest director in the world–Manoel de Oliveira–who continued to make films until his death on April 2, 2015, was also Portuguese. He was 106 years old at the time of his death.
44. In 1998, José Saramago, was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. There are a total of four Nobel Prize winners from the country. The other three are: Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo (Peace 1996), José Ramos-Horta (peace 1996) and António Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz (Physiology or Medicine, 1949).
45. Some Pioneering Portuguese explorers include: Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama and Álvares Cabral. The work of these explorers helped the country become a political, economic and military power (during the 15th and 16th centuries).
46. The first documented balloon flight in Europe was by the Brazilian-Portuguese priest Bartolomeu de Gusmão. On August 8, 1709, in Lisbon, Portugal.
47. Gil Vicent–considered the first Portuguese playwright–is also called the father of Portuguese theater.
48. Maria João Pires is a notable pianist from the country.
Explore more about this fascinating country with Lonely Planet.
Quick facts about Portugal
|Total area||92,090 sq km|
|Population||10,825,309 (July 2015 est.)
|Life expectancy||79.16 years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
|Climate||maritime temperate; cool and rainy in north, warmer and drier in south|
|Terrain||the west-flowing Tagus River divides the country: the north is mountainous toward the interior, while the south is characterized by rolling plains
|Natural resources||fish, forests (cork), iron ore, copper, zinc, tin, tungsten, silver, gold, uranium, marble, clay, gypsum, salt, arable land, hydropower
|Birth rate||9.27 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
|Death rate||11.02 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
|Sex ratio||0.95 male(s)/female (2015 est.)|
|Independence||1143 (Kingdom of Portugal recognized); 5 October 1910 (republic proclaimed)
|National symbol||armillary sphere (a spherical astrolabe modeling objects in the sky and representing the Republic); national colors: red, green
|National anthem||"A Portugesa" (The Song of the Portuguese)|
|Industries||textiles, clothing, footwear, wood and cork, paper and pulp, chemicals, lubricants, automobiles and auto parts, base metals, minerals, porcelain and ceramics, glassware, technology, telecommunications; dairy products, wine, other foodstuffs; ship construction and refurbishment; tourism, plastics, financial services, optics
|Exports||$57.2 billion (2015 est.)
agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine, oil products, chemical products, plastics and rubber, hides, leather, wood and cork, wood pulp and paper, textile materials, clothing, footwear, machinery and tools, base metals
|Imports||$66.44 billion (2015 est.)
agricultural products, chemical products, vehicles and other transport material, optical and precision instruments, computer accessories and parts, semiconductors and related devices, oil products, base metals, food products, textile materials
|GDP - per capita (PPP)||$27,800 (2015 est.)
|Time Zone||WET (UTC)|
|Internet country code||.pt|
|Internet users||7.43 million
percent of population: 68.6% (July 2015 est.)
|Drives on the||Right|