Are you ready to learn some surprising facts about Portugal? Portugal, despite its diminutive size, has produced a slew of firsts and greats. It’s no surprise, then, that this Iberian country has a long list of notable historical achievements as well as some modern-day shocks.
Portugal is the oldest country in Europe
The award for the oldest nation in Europe goes to Portugal. King Afonso Henriques was crowned king of Portugal in 1139. Lisbon is four centuries older than Rome, according to legend. Around 1200 BC, the Phoenicians landed in Lisbon due to its good trading location.
Shortest – and longest – reigning monarchs
Portugal holds the record for the shortest and longest reigning monarchs. Henrique of Portugal reigned as King of Portugal for more than 73 years. Luis Filipe, on the other hand, was only king for 20 minutes.
Portugal Was the First Colonial Power to Abolish Slavery
Despite its involvement in the Atlantic Slave trade, Portugal abolished slavery in 1761, more than a half-century before the United Kingdom, France, Spain, or the United States.
Port Wine is Portugal’s most famous export and its national drink
Produced exclusively in Portugal’s UNESCO-listed Douro Valley, Port Wine is a sweet, red fortified wine. The area is the third-oldest protected wine region in the world and its produce became very popular with the English in the 18th century.
Portugal is the world’s largest cork producer
One of the most interesting facts about Portugal is that it is home to the world’s largest cork forest and produces over 70% of its cork exports. So, head to a street market and shop for cork coasters and beautiful cork handbags.
Half of the “New World” Once Belonged to Portugal
The Treaty of Tordesillas was signed in 1494. This pact effectively granted Portugal control over the “New World’s” eastern half, which included Brazil as well as areas of Africa and Asia. In fact, the Portuguese Empire was the world’s first global empire. It was also one of the longest-lived colonial powers, lasting over six centuries from the seizure of Ceuta in 1415 until the handover of Macau (now China).
Portuguese Is the Official Language of Nine Countries
Portuguese is spoken by around 236 million people globally. Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome, and Equatorial Guinea all speak Portuguese as their official language. Goa (India), Macao, and East Timor all speak Portuguese.
The Oldest Bookstore in the World Is in Portugal
The Bertrand bookstore, or Livraria Bertrand, opened in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, in 1732. This makes it the world’s oldest still-operating bookstore. The next oldest is the Moravian Bookshop, which opened in Pennsylvania in 1745.
Portugal has the Second-Longest Bridge in Europe
The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is 7.6 miles (12.3 kilometers) long. It was the longest in Europe for about 20 years until the Crimean Bridge was opened in Russia in 2018.