HISTORY & TRADITIONS
During the early first millennium BC, various waves of Celts from central Europe occupied Portugal and got married with the local inhabitants. In 219 BC, the Roman attacked the Iberian Peninsula. For almost 200 years, the peninsula was nearly annexed to the Roman Empire. By the start of the 5th century, Germanic tribes occupied the peninsula with the Visigoths as successful conquerors. In 711, the Islamic Moors of North Africa attacked Iberian Peninsula and demolished the remains of the Visigoth kingdom.
Between the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal was an important European power of having equal status with Spain, France, and England. Its government, economy, and culture had great influences all throughout its neighboring countries. It ruled an immense empire with millions of inhabitants in the Africa, Americas, Asia, and the Middle East. In 1580, the Spanish and Portuguese empires came under a single reign after the young king Sebastian was killed in a battle without an heir. Between 1580 and 1640, Portugal was under the Spanish monarchy during which its colonies were attacked by Spain’s enemies – Dutch and English. Eventually, its independence was declared through the initiatives of great native noblemen including the Duke of Braganza, a descendant of King Manual I and was proclaimed as John IV.
The 1755 earthquake in Lisbon, occupation of the Napoleon Empire, and the loss of its biggest colony, Brazil, in 1822 led to a weakening Portugal. Between the 19th century and late 1950s, almost 2 million Portuguese left for Brazil and the US. Military takeovers in 1910 and 1926 did not solve most of the country’s crisis. When a new government was instituted in 1974, various democratic reforms were established. Most unforgettable of this is when Portugal granted sovereignty to all its African colonies in 1975. (source: studylands.com)
Today, the Portuguese are gracious and friendly, welcoming all visitors regardless of where they come from. And, in fact, visitors do come here from all over the world, as the country is located on the western coast of Europe and, as such, is a point of entrance into the Schengen zone. A large part of the population speaks foreign languages, specifically English.
For many, moving to Portugal represents a long-held dream for a quality of life that’s rich in outdoor activities, fine foods and traditional values