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Portugal
Date: 2015-10-9 12:12:42

Introduction to Portugal

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country on the Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, being bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. The country also holds sovereignty over the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

 

The land within the borders of current Portugal has been continuously settled and fought over since prehistoric times. The Celts and the Romans were followed by the Visigothic and the Suebi Germanic peoples, who were themselves later invaded by the Moors. These Muslim peoples were eventually expelled during the Christian Reconquista of the peninsula. By 1139, Portugal had established itself as a kingdom independent from León. In the 15th and 16th centuries, as the result of pioneering the Age of Discovery, Portugal expanded western influence and established the first global empire, becoming one of the world's major economic, political and military powers.

 

Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence of Brazil, its wealthiest colony, in 1822. After the 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy, the democratic but unstable Portuguese First Republic was established, later being superseded by the "Estado Novo" right-wing authoritarian regime. Democracy was restored after the Portuguese Colonial War and the Carnation Revolution in 1974. Shortly after, independence was granted to all its colonies, with the exception of Macau, which was handed over to China in 1999. This marked the end of the longest-lived European colonial empire, leaving a profound cultural and architectural influence across the globe and a legacy of over 250 million Portuguese speakers today.

 

Portugal maintains a unitary semi-presidential republican form of government and is a developed country with an advanced economy, and very high living standards, having the 18th highest Social Progress in the world, putting it ahead of other western European countries like France, Spain and Italy. It is a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Eurozone, OECD, NATO and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. Portugal is also known for having fully decriminalized the usage of all drugs in 2001, the first country in the world to do so.