Country profile

About Portugal

Portugal claims to be the oldest established nation state in Europe, and it certainly boasts a rich history. In the 15th and 16th century, Portugal established the first global empire, stretching from staging posts in Africa to unknown territories in Asia and South America, with legendary figures such as Vasco da Gama busy exploring and exploiting new trade routes. Even today, Portuguese is still the official language is countries as diverse as Brazil, Angola and East Timor.

This rich history has left a powerful legacy of medieval castles and magnificent ancient cities, including World Heritage Sites at Evora, Batalha and Alcobaça, and the historic university town of Coimbra. Even in the modern cities of Lisbon and Porto, classic cathedrals and traditional architecture still stand testament to Portugal’s proud past.

These days, explorers coming to Portugal are more likely to be looking for sensational sun, beaches, wines and seafood. And they are not disappointed. From the lush Douro Valley, home of mile after mile of verdant vineyards, to the relaxed rural Alentejo region with its mañana way of life, to the non-stop fun of the Algarve, with its 150 km of beaches and year round sun, Portugal has something for everyone.

Portugal’s three major cities, Oporto in the North, the capital Lisbon in the centre and Faro on the southern Algarve each have their individual charm and offer good living at very reasonable prices. Sitting in the sunshine at a café on one of Lisbon’s quaint cobbled side streets, enjoying a bottle of wine, surrounded by ancient architecture that echoes with history and heritage, it’s hard not to want to stay forever.

Of course, life isn’t always so laid back. In true Iberian tradition, Portugal loves to party, and it is well worth timing your visit to coincide with one of the many festivals, such as carnival in early spring or Holy Week leading up to Easter. Not only will you see this splendid country at its colourful best, but you will also avoid the tourist crowds and very hot temperatures often found in the summer season.

Britons have been flocking to Portugal in their millions for many years now and as the country also offers medical tourism to the very highest standards; this is becoming a reason for many more of us to combine cosmetic surgery, a hip replacement or even some cosmetic dentistry with a relaxed and refreshing holiday break.

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Quick facts

Population: 10.5 Million
Currency: Euro
Capital: Lisbon
Languages: Portuguese
Religions: Catholic 81%

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