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History of Portugal

Believed to have been inhabited by the Lusitanos in its early history, Portugal has been the home of some of the most adventurous and famous explorers in time, who unlocked the mysteries of the sea and showed the way to the mystic east. This seafaring nation that produced Vasco da Gama who sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and found a new route to India, was a maritime force to reckon with from the 13th to the 15th century. The land has been successively ruled by the Romans, Celts, Moors and the Goths and this legacy is still apparent in Portugal’s diverse population.

It was in the 12th Century that Portugal first became recognised as an independent entity under the rule of King Afonso Henriques. Later the Portuguese embarked on a policy of colonialism which enveloped parts of Africa, Latin America, India and the Far East. A name that stands out at this time is Prince Henry the Navigator who acquired the Azores and Madeira. Spain invaded a weak Portuguese regime in the 16th century and the Spanish rule lasted over 60 years. By the time Portugal regained its independence, they had lost a major share of their empire.

Portugal supported the Allied Powers during World War I despite strong pro-German sentiments in the armed forces. For most of the past century, Portugal was run by an absolutist right-wing regime under Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. The country however did manage to stay neutral during World War II. Finally, in 1974, a coup broke the dictatorial sway of the regime and initiated the country into democracy and modernization. In 1999, Portugal's last overseas territory, Macau was handed over to the Chinese.

Presently, Portugal is an active a member of the European Union and therefore promises to achieve a drastic reduction of poverty among member countries by 2015.


Twined in our own labyrinths many a times we forget what we are chasing. Then comes a point when we ...
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