Interesting Facts...Western Europe Summer 2011

11 Interesting Facts About Portugal

Flag of PortugalVisiting Portugal was a highlight of the first month of my trip. The people, the food, and the surroundings were all absolutely incredible. Portugal has found a place in my heart, and I have every intention of returning time and time again. Here is my next “Interesting Facts…” post featuring a dose of knowledge on what might be my new favorite country, Portugal!

1. According to the CIA Factbook, Portugal is the 111th largest country in the world, just behind Hungary, and just in front of Jordan. At 92,090 square kilometers, Portugal is slightly larger than the U.S. state of Maine, and a couple thousand square kilometers smaller than the state of Indiana. (source)

2. If you were asked to name countries that have Portuguese as their national language, how many could you name? Before this trip I would have only known Portugal and Brazil, but there are actually NINE countries that have Portuguese as their official language. They are Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome e Principe, and Equatorial Guinea.

3. Casino Estoril, just outside of Lisbon, was once the highest earning casino in all of Europe, even ahead of Monte Carlo in Monaco. One of the main reasons it was so profitable was that it was the only casino in the area. It wasn’t too long though, before another casino was built just down the coast in the Lisbon city limits that is much more convenient for people staying in Lisbon. Casino Estoril, however, still remains one of the largest gambling establishments in Europe. Another interesting fact is that I won EVERY single time I went to Casino Lisboa and I probably should have just stayed there for my whole trip! (source-cs host)

4. Most Port wine that is exported from Portugal is exported from Vila Nova de Gaia, which is actually the city ACROSS the river from Porto, Portugal. In fact, until 1986 it was illegal to export the wine from anywhere else besides Gaia. So, Gaia, not Porto, is the current “home” of Port wine production and exportation. It is likely, however, that the English exporters associated the wine with Porto, or Oporto, the city across the river from Gaia, as many of the production facilities started there be for moving across the river for tax purposes. (source-cs host)

5. Portugal is home to the first commercial wave farm, which creates and sells electricity. The farm was constructed in 2006. (source)

6. Portugal is home to the longest bridge in Europe, the Vasco de Gama bridge. It stretches over 17 kilometers (more than 10.5 miles) and spans the Tagus river just outside of the city of Lisbon. (source)

7. Although bullfighting is still legal in the country of Portugal, actually killing the bull during the show is illegal. To me this seems like a somewhat useless law, as the bulls still go through the rest of the fight (spearing, tackling, lancing), and then are later “discarded” of by a butcher away from the eyes of the crowd. (source-cs host)

8. The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, originally between Portugal and England, and now between Portugal and the United Kingdom, is said to be the oldest alliance in the world. The alliance has resulted in both countries entering wars at each other’s side, including the UK entering the Iberian Penensular War and Protugal entering World War One. (source)

9. Over one third of Portugal’s population of over 10 million people live in the metropolitan areas of Lisboa (Lisbon) and Oporto (Porto). (source)

10. From 1910 to 1926 Portugal had 44 governments, 20 military takeovers, and 12 different presidents. (source)

11. In Roman times present day Portugal was known as Luisitania (source)

  1. jade

    It’s funny because of all European cities, I feel like I learned the least about Portugal in school. Great facts- obviously, most of them I didn’t know about.

  2. InsideJourneys

    Very interesting facts. Make me realize how little I know of Portugal.
    Thanks for sharing,

  3. Georgia

    WOW, i never knew that. all i ever know about Portugal was Luis Figo 😛 certainly adding this country in my must see 🙂

  4. Cathy Sweeney

    Interesting facts, Matt. I was really struck by #10 — just a bit unstable back then, I’d say. Glad you’ve enjoyed Portugal so much. It’s on my list.

  5. Michael Figueiredo

    Thanks for sharing these interesting facts! I’ve been re-discovering my heritage and a lot of this was new to me. 🙂

  6. Erik

    I’ve said it quite a few times to many different people, Portugal is the most underrated country in Europe. It’s a journey to get there, but more people should.

  7. robin

    I agree about the bull thing – do it, don’t do it (I’d prefer the latter) but that rule doesn’t seem to resolve anything!

  8. inka

    Very interesting facts and it’s about time Portugal is highlighted. Far too long the country has (touristically ) been in the shadow of neighboring Spain. I personally prefer the north, on the border with Galicia not least because of the excellent sea food.

  9. ayngelina

    I had no idea there was a country called Soa Tome, wow I need a geography lesson.

  10. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    Wow, in 16 years there were 20 military takeovers?? That’s intense! I can’t imagine what life was like in Portugal during that time…

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