60 Interesting Facts About Portugal

Last updated on October 29th, 2022

49. 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).

50. 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).

51. The first documented balloon flight in Europe was by the Brazilian-Portuguese priest Bartolomeu de Gusmão. On August 8, 1709, in Lisbon, Portugal.

52. Gil Vicent–considered the first Portuguese playwright–is also called the father of Portuguese theater.

53. Maria João Pires is a notable pianist from the country.

54. It was originally known as Costa Nova do Padro which means the new shore of the Meadow. Costa Nova dates back to the 19th Century. The current name of the town was founded in 1808 during the opening of the Aveiro Lagoon barra that separates it from the old shore in São Jacinto beach. The oceanfront village has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and lagoon on the other. Weatherboard cottages with vertical stripes are a constant reminder that Costa Nova was once a fishing village. The fishing market in this area is a must-visit for those who love seafood. Crabs, shrimps, goose barnacles, and whelks are sourced directly from the lagoon and prepared immediately on Cais dos Pescadores.

Viana do Castelo - Portugal
Interesting facts about Portugal. Viana do Castelo – Portuga. Image credit – Vitor Oliveira

55. The Crown Jewel of The Minho- Viana do Castelo

Viana do Castelo is regarded by international magazines as the jewel of Costa Verde. It is also in the list of the most beautiful cities in Northern Portugal and the coastline. Its strategic location next to the Limar river gave it the name Viana da Foz do Lima. The town has since grown into a trading post of Northern Europe.

56. Braga, the City of Ancient Origins

Dubbed the European Youth Capital since 2012, Braga is a unique city that offers local treats in hidden gardens. The oldest city in the country was initially known as Bracara Augusta when it was also a Roman settlement. Its sophisticated buildings and streets packed with baroque churches and squares reveal the city’s long history of more than 2,000 years. A buzzing historical center keeps visitors hooked throughout the year with attractive events like the Holy Week and St. John festivals.

57. The Elite’s Vacation Spot- Cascais

The name Cascais was derived from word cascal (shell) and appeared around the 7th and 8th centuries. A former fishing village was pronounced a royal summer resort by King D Luis I. Today, it is a famous holiday destination for both Portuguese and foreigners. The beauty is in the Atlantic Ocean that lies on the city’s feet. The landscape is dotted with sand dunes a Cresmina.

58. Matosinhos- The Source of City’s Seafood

Located a few kilometers off the center of Porto is Matosinhos where people come to dine and kick back. It has been for a long time the source of fish and other seafood. This is evident from the many seafood restaurants around. There is also one of the best beaches in Portugal with surf-friendly ocean waves throughout the year.

59. The Medieval Walled City

Evora is an ancient city that is completely engulfed with medieval walls. This sets the museum city from others. The walls were constructed in the 14th Century and are among the best maintained in the country.

60. Aveiro, A Maritime City with Water at Soul

Aveiro sits on a lagoon with canals crisscrossing the cityscape. People navigate the city through artistic gondola-style boats referred to as moliceiros. The older section of Aveiro on the quayside features beautiful Nouveau houses designed in pastel colors. One of the greatest attractions is a monastery known as Mosteiro de Jesus whose royal background is apparent in the religious art found in the museum.

About the flag of Portugal

Flag of Portugal
Flag of Portugal. Image credit Wikipedia.org

1. Design and Symbolism

Portugal is a republic on the Iberian Peninsula at the western edge of continental Europe, facing the Atlantic Ocean. The flag of Portugal is a visually striking green and red banner. It has a coat of arms centered on the vertical dividing line. Green represents its aspirations for the future, while red is the blood of its patriots.

The coat of arms features legendary symbols from the time of the religious Crusades. In the foreground is the Portuguese shield – a centuries-old evolving national symbol. The current version has a white field containing five smaller blue shields arranged like a cross, with dots depicting coins called bezants. They also represent the wounds inflicted on Jesus Christ.

The shields are associated with the “Miracle of Ourique.” In 1139, the Moors vastly outnumbered the troops of Count Afonso Henriques. The count saw an apparition of Jesus on a cross, promising victory for him and his descendants. He killed five Moorish kings and won the Battle of Ourique despite the odds. Eventually, he became the first king of Portugal, Afonso I.

Meanwhile, the red edge of the shield has seven castles. They represent the Moorish fortresses captured by Afonso III. It could also be a nod to his family ties. The king’s mother and second wife are both from Castile in Spain. Their arms show a golden castle on a red field.

The shield rests on a golden armillary sphere. It is an ancient astronomical and navigational instrument for sailors during the Age of Exploration in the 1500s. This technology helped Portuguese ships sail and expand the empire to far-flung territories.

2. Adoption

The Portuguese flag first flew on December 1, 1910, after the fall of the monarchy. Formalities came later. Portugal adopted the flag by official decree on June 30, 1911.

3. Technical Details

The flag dimensions have a ratio of 2:3. The green band occupies two-fifths of the length, while the coat of arms spans one-third of this. The RGB colors in HEX values are FF0000, 006600, FFFF00, and 003399.

4. History

The blue cross represented the Portuguese monarchy. Over time, the cross acquired red borders with golden castles and a royal crown. National flags had plain white backgrounds that showed off the coat of arms. Blue and white vertical bands appeared in later banners.

When the monarchy fell, the new government sought to replace its symbols. The flag acquired the colors of the Republican Revolution of 1910: green and red. A commission made up of a painter, a journalist, a writer, and two military leaders chose the final design. They were Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, Joao Chagas, Abel Botelho, Ladislau Pereira, and Afonso Palla.

5. Flag Facts

Judas Iscariot

The five shields and the 25 dots within them represent the 30 coins of Judas – his compensation for the betrayal of Jesus Christ.

Status Symbol

In the 1500s, it was fashionable to commission portraits with the subject holding an armillary sphere. Public figures used them as symbols of wisdom and knowledge. Its presence on the Portuguese flag is quite a statement.

Portugal – country at a glance

Independence1143 (Kingdom of Portugal recognized); 5 October 1910 (republic proclaimed)
Capital CityLisbon
(38°46′N 9°9′W)
Largest CityLisbon
(38°46′N 9°9′W)
Total area92,090 sq km
Population10,242,081 (2022 est.)
Official LanguagePortuguese
CurrencyEuro (EUR)
ReligionRoman Catholicism
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Literacy rate96.1%
Life expectancy81.5 years (2022)
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.
Government typesemi-presidential republic
PresidentMarcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Prime MinisterAntónio Costa
Natural resourcesfish, forests (cork), iron ore, copper, zinc, tin, tungsten, silver, gold, uranium, marble, clay, gypsum, salt, arable land, hydropower
National symbolarmillary sphere (a spherical astrolabe modeling objects in the sky and representing the Republic)
National colorsred, green
National holidayPortugal Day (Dia de Portugal), 10 June (1580); note - also called Camoes Day, the day that revered national poet Luis de Camoes (1524-80) died
National anthem"A Portugesa" (The Song of the Portuguese)
Climatemaritime temperate; cool and rainy in north, warmer and drier in south
Terrainthe west-flowing Tagus River divides the country: the north is mountainous toward the interior, while the south is characterized by rolling plains
Mean elevation372 m
Lowest pointAtlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest pointPonta do Pico (Pico or Pico Alto) on Ilha do Pico in the Azores 2,351 m
Agricultural land39.7%
Birth rate8 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)
Death rate10.9 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)
Sex ratio0.9 male(s)/female (2022 est.)
Industriestextiles, 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$85.28 billion (2020 est.)
cars and vehicle parts, refined petroleum, leather footwear, paper products, tires (2019)
Imports$89.31 billion (2020 est.)
cars and vehicle parts, crude petroleum, aircraft, packaged medicines, refined petroleum, natural gas (2019)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$32,200 (2020 est.)
Time ZoneWET (UTC)
Internet country code.pt
Calling Code+351
Drives on theRight
Table last updatedAugust 6, 2022