Portugal is the oldest nation state in the Iberian Peninsula and one
of the oldest in Europe (independent since 1143). Portugal has left
a profound cultural, architectural and linguistic influence across
the globe, with a legacy of around 250 million speakers of
Portuguese. It is a developed country with an advanced economy and
high living standards.
Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located
in the Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern Europe. It is the
westernmost country of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west
and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain.
Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores
and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional
governments. The official and national language is Portuguese.
Portugal has developed a specific culture while being
influenced by various civilizations that have crossed the
Mediterranean and the European continent; several influences were
also introduced when the country played an active role during the
Age of Discovery. Portugal is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage
Sites, ranking it 9th in Europe and 18th in the world.
Traditional architecture is very distinctive. After a
Romanesque period that lasted until the 13th century, Portugal
developed a sumptuous, Gothic Portuguese style of architectural
ornamentation in the 16th century, called the “Manuelino” style.
It’s characterized by the profusion of maritime elements, and was
then followed by the “Pombalino” style of the 18th century. Some
examples: the Belém Tower and Alcobaça monastery.
Portuguese literature, one of the earliest western literatures,
developed through texts as well as songs. Until 1350, the
Portuguese-Galician troubadours spread their literary influence to
most of the Iberian Peninsula. Luís de Camões, adventurer and poet,
(c. 1524–1580) wrote the important epic poem “Os Lusíadas”. Modern
Portuguese literature is represented by authors such as Almeida
Garrett, Camilo Castelo Branco, Eça de Queirós, Fernando Pessoa,
Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, António Lobo Antunes and Miguel
Torga. José Saramago (1922 – 2010) is particularly popular and
distinguished since he won the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Music and Dance
Portuguese music encompasses a wide variety of genres. The
traditional one is the Portuguese folk music, which has deep roots
in local customs. Its typical instruments are bagpipes, bass drums,
tambourines, accordions, the small guitar (cavaquinho) and the
Portuguese guitar. The Portuguese folk music has as its most
renowned genre the “Fado”, a melancholic urban music originated in
Lisbon in the 19th century. It’s associated with bohemian
environments, with the Portuguese guitar and with “saudade”.
Portuguese cuisine is very diverse and it’s associated with
the Mediterranean diet. Each region has its own typical food made
with the most different ingredients, such as cattle meat, sausages,
fresh fish, seafood and cheese (for example Serra da Estrela,
Azeitão and São Jorge). Portuguese wines are also renowned. Wines
from Douro, Dão and Alentejo are very famous, as well as sweet Porto
and Madeira wines. In the confectionery area, there is an enormous
variety of traditional and convent like recipes. Pastéis de Nata or
Pastéis de Belém (cream tarts) are very famous throughout the world.