Portugal is located in the western part of the Iberian Peninsula, its area is 92.3 thousand square kilometers (including islands). According to data for 2003, the population of Portugal was 10.10 million people, it is distributed with a density of 115 people per square kilometer.
The Portuguese language is the official language, Catholicism is the main religion in the Portuguese Republic. June 10 is recognized as a public holiday - Portugal Day. This country is a parliamentary republic, the president is elected for a five-year term by universal suffrage.
The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the party that received the most votes in the elections, he also heads the government of the Portuguese Republic and forms the composition of his cabinet. As for the Portuguese parliament, it is elected for a term of four years from party lists. The Parliament of the Portuguese Republic is also called the Assembly of the Republic and has two hundred and thirty members.
After the administrative reform in 1976, the territory of the Portuguese Republic (its continental part) was divided into eighteen districts (before that, the province was a major administrative division). Currently, the eighteen existing districts are subdivided into three hundred and eight municipal districts, which in turn are composed of parishes. As for the island part of Portugal (which is Madeira and the Azores), they received the status of autonomous regions of the Portuguese Republic.
Portugal has a temperate Mediterranean climate, which is shaped by some influence from the Atlantic Ocean. The average temperature in Lisbon is 23 degrees Celsius in August and 10 degrees Celsius in January. Mount Estrela, with a height of 1993 meters, is the highest point of the Portuguese Republic.
Portugal is a mono-national state. Portuguese make up 99% of its entire population. However, since ancient times, a large number of different peoples settled on the Iberian Peninsula (in the western part of which the Portuguese Republic is located), and the Iberians became its most ancient inhabitants. They were swarthy and short. For many centuries, the appearance of the Portuguese was formed. It was influenced by the Arabs, Romans, Greeks, Phoenicians, Celts, as well as some Germanic tribes.
The Portuguese Republic is a country with rich natural attractions. Among the varied landscapes of the northern part of Portugal (mountainous part), old castles, monasteries and small villages are lost. The highest mountain range of this country is also located in its northern part - it is the Serra da Estrela granite massif, which is sixty kilometers long and thirty kilometers wide. Small villages are comfortably located on its rocky slopes, there are many river valleys that cut the mountain slopes. The cliffs that can be seen at the very top of the Serra da Estrela have a bizarre shape. By the way, this mountain range is the only place of its kind in the country that is suitable for skiing. Another attraction of the Portuguese Republic is the Pozo do Inferno waterfall. This small waterfall is located near the aforementioned mountain range. The Pozo do Inferno waterfall, although small, translated from Portuguese, its name means "hellish abyss". Just to the west of the Serra da Estrela massif is the Bukasu Forest Park. Its area is significant - it is four hundred and eighty hectares. For many centuries this forest area was under the protection of monks, and in the seventeenth century a Carmelite monastery was formed here. In ancient times, many people found refuge in these forests. Park "Bukasu" is somewhat unique - at present, there are three hundred exotic species of vegetation, as well as four hundred native species. The fact is that for a long period of time the monks strove (and not unsuccessfully) to acclimatize exotic plants in these forests. The San Mamede Ridge, which is located in the central part of the Portuguese Republic, is a protected area. Here (by the way, this is the border with Spain) bears are found. Beautiful landscapes can be observed in the southeastern part of Portugal. This is the Arrábida ridge, which is an important conservation area for the Portuguese Republic. The ridge, which drops abruptly to the sea waters, is densely overgrown with forest and bizarre vegetation. No less amazing and magnificent masterpiece created by nature is the Cape of Cabo da Roca. From its height, one can marvel at the beauty of the coastal landscape.
Man has greatly changed the flora of Portugal. However, natural vegetation still reflects all the climatic features inherent in this country. Pine grows where the influence of the ocean is strongest, with significant forests on the central and northern coast of Portugal. Stone and cork oaks prefer to grow where summers are hot and long. It should be noted that one fifth of the territory of the Portuguese Republic is forest. Half of them are coniferous, with pine dominating in them. Cork oak plantations cover approximately 607 thousand hectares - thanks to this the Portuguese Republic is the most important supplier of cork bark products (supplying one-half of the world).
Portugal lies on the migration route of migratory birds. On one of the most important paths. As a result of this peculiarity, more than one species of birds can be seen in the Portuguese Republic. The Algarve province will be interesting for bird watchers, as it is here that an interesting bay can be found. The sandy spit, which protects this bay from sea waters, is a place where a large number of migratory birds flock here in search of a resting place. As for the fauna as a whole, in Portugal there are representatives of all species that are typical for the territory of Central Europe. In the country there are fox, bear, wolf, wild forest cat, lynx, wild boar and a variety of rodents. More than two hundred species of fish are found in the coastal waters of the Portuguese Republic. Among them there are also commercial fish (tuna, anchovies, sardines).
The Portuguese Republic is a country with a rich cultural heritage. In this country, indeed, there are a lot of attractions, and you can see them in different parts of Portugal. In the capital of the Portuguese Republic - in Lisbon - a visitor can get acquainted with the Monastery of Jerome, the Castle of St. George, as well as Rossio Square. The Jerome Monastery is considered one of three architectural monuments that are unique throughout the world. Rossio square is steeped in the history of burning heretics. Bullfighting was also held here. The watchtower of Belém is definitely worth a visit. She is the symbol of the Portuguese capital. It was from here that the caravels set off in search of new lands. An acquaintance with the National Museum of Ancient Art, which is also located in Lisbon, will be no less interesting. The National Museum contains historical artifacts dating from the twelfth to the nineteenth centuries. In Lisbon, you can visit the archaeological, ethnographic museums, the Museum of Modern Art and the Calost Gulbenkian Museum. The latter houses a collection of art from the earliest times to the twentieth century.
The Castle of Saint George is the symbol of the Portuguese Republic. One of the symbols. The history of the magnificent castle dates back more than a thousand years. More than one historical event associated with the ancient castle of St. George happened during its centuries-old history - he was a witness to them and even a participant. The majestic castle has an advantageous position, which for a long time determined its role both as the most important Portuguese fortress and as a port. During the invasion of the territory of Portugal in 1085, it was this castle that took the brunt of the blow, the Spaniards more than once tried to take possession of the castle of St. George, but to no avail. Nowadays, wedding ceremonies are often held within the walls of the mysterious castle. The centuries-old walls of the Castle of St. George keep the history of kings and knightly battles.
The Vasco da Gama Bridge is the pride of the Portuguese capital. This grandiose structure makes you amazed at its scale. Currently, this bridge has the longest length in all of Europe - it exceeds seventeen kilometers. The Vasco da Gama Bridge was built over eighteen months and was opened to traffic on March 29, 1998 - this event was timed to coincide with the five hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the sea route to India by Vasco da Gama. A distinctive feature of the grandiose bridge is its curvature, which is due to the strong unevenness of the underwater bottom. The number of lanes for traffic on the bridge is six, but two more lanes are expected to be added in the near future. The bridge is paid, to get to Lisbon on it you need to pay a little more than two euros for a car.
The 25 April Bridge is another masterpiece of the Portuguese capital. Interestingly, the bridge received such a name only in 1974 (although it was opened on March 6, 1966), when democracy was restored in Portugal (it happened on April 25), until that moment it bore the name "Salazar Bridge". Salazar - King of Portugal since 1926, a staunch fascist. At the time of the opening of this suspension bridge across the Tagus River, it was the longest in Europe - its length was two and a half kilometers.
The Tower of Bethlehem is the symbol of Lisbon. This is a historical monument, because the tower was built in the sixteenth century, and now it is one of the best examples of the Manueline style. The Tower of Bethlehem is protected by UNESCO. Every day the tower attracts a large number of buses - every foreign tourist wants to look at this historical monument, which is located in the waters of the Tagus River and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Having seen it once, a tourist will never forget this masterpiece and will not confuse it with anything else. The tower was built in honor of Saint Vincent, who has long been considered the patron saint of the Portuguese capital. The Bethlehem Tower is decorated with stone carvings, delicate Venetian balconies and lanterns. Here you can also see a sculpture of a rhinoceros and a statue of the Madonna of the Seafarers. But the interior decoration of the grandiose tower is rather gloomy, and this is not surprising, because in the past there was a prison within its walls.
Mafra Palace - National Palace of the Portuguese Republic. Mafra Palace is located in the suburbs of the Portuguese capital in Mafra and is a neoclassical and baroque monastery. The palace is huge in size and therefore almost overshadows the city. Mafra Palace is a historical monument, built in the eighteenth century. In 1711, the reigning King João V took an oath to build a convent if his wife gave birth to descendants. The construction of the palace, indeed, began after the birth of the first daughter. The expansive National Palace complex (which also includes a library of approximately forty thousand rare books) is a prime example of the luxurious Baroque buildings in the Portuguese Republic.
Portugal is rich in resort areas. The Algarve province is an example. This resort area is considered to be one of the most popular European coastal areas among tourists. The Algarve attracts millions of tourists every year. The capital of this resort area is Faro. The city of Faro boasts of its location, as the harbor in which it was built is located in an amazingly beautiful lagoon. In 1965 Faro became a real center of tourism - this year an international airport was opened here. An interesting fact is that a significant number of the current resort towns, equipped according to all modern rules, were previously small fishing settlements. These settlements have become fashionable resorts largely due to the relaxing climate and long sandy beaches. Surprisingly, these places don't get too hot in the summer months and too cold in the winter. The Algarve has extensive green spaces, many of which are adapted for golfing.
The Algarve is a treasure trove of tourist destinations. The resort town of Vilamoura is located in the central part of the coast of this province. Located in a large harbor, this resort gives its visitors the opportunity to try themselves in all kinds of outdoor activities. Amazing landscapes around the resort town, favorable climate, all the amenities and a wide range of all kinds of entertainment predetermine the fact that every year Vilamoura is visited by tourists from many countries. Another of the Algarve's most popular tourist destinations in Portugal and Europe in general is the ancient port city of Lagos. This city is characterized by a developed infrastructure and stunning beaches. This region has a rich history, which has not always been favorable to its inhabitants. For example, in 1755 a powerful earthquake occurred here. It caused many historic buildings to collapse. Currently, the ruins preserved after the earthquake remain in the old part of Lagos, and an inquisitive tourist can take a look at them. To the east of this resort town there is its nicest beach. It's about Meia Praya. Another masterpiece of the Algarve coastline is the small town of Tavira. This city is located to the east of the city of Faro and is famous for its picturesque landscapes, because its streets are buried in greenery of orange, almond, fig trees. The current resort is proud of its centuries-old history, which dates back to the second century BC. A tourist who has come to these parts can get acquainted with the Moorish castle, which has ramparts. From the latter, the vacationer will admire the stunning views, which the town of Tavira is also justly proud of. Tavira also suffered from the 1755 earthquake, but has been completely rebuilt. Among the attractions of this town, you can especially highlight the churches (Church of Misericordia).
The Algarve province is the "garden of Portugal". This is the reputation that this territory of the Portuguese Republic has earned for itself. Numerous fig, pomegranate, carob, orange and lemon trees are the reason for this beautiful name. The Algarve's appeal is also enhanced by the almond trees, which are abundant here.
Madeira is an island located in the southwestern part of the Portuguese Republic. Simultaneously, Madeira is also the name of an autonomous archipelago. Madeira is famous for its mild climate and picturesque landscapes. Large whales often swim up to the coast of this island (its origin is volcanic).This happens because the steep cliffs of Madeira end almost vertically, and the Atlantic Ocean approaching the coast is characterized by considerable depth. Madeira was discovered by accident in 1419. Its discoverer was the Portuguese João Gonçalves Zarco. The purpose of his voyage was to explore the western shores of the African continent. However, the storm confused the plans of this Portuguese, but made it possible to open the hitherto unknown island of Madeira. By the way, translated Madeira means "tree". The name of the island was given due to its rich vegetation - untouched forest cover. But soon after the discovery, the island was set on fire. The purpose of such an event was to make this island fit for life on it. Legend has it that the duration of the fire was seven years, during which all the virgin forests of Madeira were completely burned down (except for the small northern section). Nowadays, contemplating the beauty of Madeira, it is already difficult to come to terms with the thought that once, even in ancient times, this island was set on fire. Madeira is now a window from Europe to the tropics. Eternal spring reigns here, and wild nature amazes with its pristine nature. Beautiful flowers, an atmosphere of silence and peace will remain in the memory of a person who has visited these parts for a long time.
Madeira Island is poor in vegetation. This is not true. A variety of flowers grow on the island. These are orchids, geraniums, cannes, wisterias, and many others. There are shrubby apple trees, bananas, mangoes and avocados that can be seen in different parts of the island. Madeira's charm is woven from a combination of herbal aromas and sea breath. Madeira is covered by a forest that is so diverse that one hundred and forty-five tree species can be seen exclusively on this island - they are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Funchal is the port city of Madeira. Today it attracts a significant proportion of tourists traveling to Madeira. This city is colonial, so there is something to see for the lover of history. One of the main architectural treasures of the island is the Cathedral located in the center of Funchal. Currently, this resort town has all kinds of restaurants and shops, having arrived in it, the tourist has the opportunity to visit the botanical garden, and, of course, enjoy the mild, relaxing climate.
Sintra is the pearl of the Portuguese Republic. In any case, this is how this ancient Moorish city of Portugal is called. The symbol of this amazing city is the Paso Real National Palace, which is located in its very heart. This palace is famous for its conical chimneys and, of course, painted halls. Another attraction of Sintra is the truly fabulous palace of Palacio De Pena, which is located at the very top of one of the highest hills of Sintra. A beautiful park adds beauty to this masterpiece.
Portugal is a country of world famous cities. In Fatima, a tourist can visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady, which is known throughout the world. This sanctuary is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics from all over the world. In Cimbra, it would be nice to have a look at the Roman aqueduct. Particularly impressive is the Romanesque cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century. Cimbra is a city of many churches and monasteries. Here you can also visit the Museum of Art, which is proud of its collection of sculptures dating back to the sixteenth century. The church of Santa Maria, which is located in Setubal, is famous for its decorations. This church was built in the sixteenth century. In Mafra, the gaze of a visiting person will surely linger on the monastery built in the eighteenth century. Built in honor of the heir to King João V, this complex has gained worldwide fame. It is also famous for its huge library, which has absorbed more than thirty thousand volumes. The most beautiful city of the Portuguese Republic, the city of Evora, has an unsurpassed appearance. It is also one of the oldest in the country. The city of Evora has perfectly preserved the Temple of Diana - one of the Roman temples that have not been destroyed by history. More than thirty churches, palaces and monasteries create a unique image of this city.
Celebration of the New Year has a special place in the traditions of the Portuguese Republic. An equally important celebration is the wedding ceremony. These festivals received special status due to the fact that this country adheres to Mediterranean traditions and customs. An interesting fact is that in Portugal it is customary to eat twelve grapes on New Year's Eve under the chimes. Each grape is one desire, so twelve cherished desires are obtained for twelve months a year. Besides. In Portugal, the vine is a symbol of abundance.
The Portuguese Republic is a country of interesting wedding traditions. The marriageable age of the groom in this country is nineteen years, and the bride is sixteen years old. Having agreed among themselves to marry, the young couple became "conspicuous" - after that the boy and girl could save money together either to complete their education or to live independently. This tradition is also not complete without gifts - they can be an embroidered scarf, rosary, ring. A week before the wedding, a guy and a girl always go to neighbors and friends with a new basket in order to invite them to the wedding ceremony, there are breads in a basket that go to all those invited. It is worth noting that the refusal to participate in the wedding ceremony can only be for health reasons, but even in this case, the invitee is obliged to give a gift to the newlyweds.
Portugal is a country of a considerable number of traditions and customs. One of the favorite spectacles of the inhabitants of the Portuguese Republic is bullfighting. In the Portuguese version, it is a beautiful sporting event. The rules differ significantly from the "bloodthirsty" Spanish bullfighting, because in Portuguese competitions in strength and dexterity between a bull and a man, no one is ever deprived of life, and bulls come out of trials alive. Many cities in the Portuguese Republic watch the bullfight on holidays with bated breath. Winemaking traditions of this country are also interesting. These traditions date back to the ancient Phoenicians. In the northern part of Portugal, port wine is excellent in its taste characteristics, the name of which is given in honor of the second largest city in Portugal. Port "Porto" (or "Oporto") is famous not only in the northern part of the country, but also abroad. The famous city is home to more than twenty-five wine companies, which often organize excursions. After visiting the workshops of the enterprise, visitors will be able to taste different wines and even buy the ones they like at the manufacturer's price.
The Portuguese have a calm personality. They do not know the hustle and bustle, unhurried (which is fundamentally different from the Spaniards). The Portuguese are a non-aggressive and quiet people. They understand many languages well and are very welcoming with their guests. In communication, the Portuguese are calm, their speech cannot be called loud. And the Portuguese are also very fond of the holidays, which are often held in the Portuguese Republic. The main holidays and weekends include New Years, Carnival Tuesday, Good Friday, Freedom Day, Portugal Day, All Saints Day, Independence Day, Christmas, etc.