48 Interesting Facts About Portugal

Last updated on March 20th, 2020

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It has a total area of 92,090 square km. Lisbon is its capital and largest city. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal. Euro (€) (EUR) is its official currency. Spain is its only land bordering country.

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 (killing an estimated 60,000 people in Lisbon alone), Portugal has so much to discover. With these interesting facts about Portugal, let’s learn more about its history, culture, people, inventions, economy and more.

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. According to the Global Peace Index 2018, it ranks as the 4th 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.

Flag of Portugal

Flag of Portugal
The National flag of Portugal. Source – CIA

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 Rio de Janeiro.

8. The Dolphin Interaction Program (the only one of its kind in Europe) gets you up close and personal with the dolphins. Here, you get a chance to in the world

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.

Night view of famous Hieronymites Monastery. One of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture.

Cultural (14)

  • Alto Douro Wine Region (2001)
  • Central Zone of the Town of Angra do Heroismo in the Azores (1983)
  • Convent of Christ in Tomar (1983)
  • Cultural Landscape of Sintra (1995)
  • Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (2012)
  • Historic Centre of Évora (1986)
  • Historic Centre of Guimarães (2001)
  • Historic Centre of Oporto, Luiz I Bridge and Monastery of Serra do Pilar (1996)
  • Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture (2004)
  • Monastery of Alcobaça (1989)
  • Monastery of Batalha (1983)
  • Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon (1983)
  • Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde (1998,2010)
  • University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia (2013)

Natural (1)

  • Laurisilva of Madeira (1999)

10. The largest artificial underwater park–The Ocean Revival Underwater Parkin 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.

An aerial view of the Vasco da Gama Bridge. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

12. One of the most advanced ATM system in the world belongs to Portugal. More than 60 operations are possible through the system including a 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.

Raw cork.

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.

Portugal on the map

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. Os Lusíadas (by Luís de Camões) is the national epic of Portugal.

Peri Peri Sauce in a bowl, originally from portugal, it’s a hot sauce made using piri piri or African bird’s eye chillies.

22. Chili, pepper, potatoes and tomatoes were introduced by the Portuguese to IndiaPiri-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.

Teatro Eden facade, one of Lisbon’s major cinema theater buildings and its imposing facade still dominates the main city square Praca dos Restauradores. Photo: JeanLucIchard / Shutterstock.com

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.

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