(Portuguese Republic, República Portuguesa)
- Location: Europe
- Capital: Lisbon
- Language: Portuguese
- Population: 10,647,763 million
- Total Area: 92,090 km sq
- Currency: Euro
Once upon a time, Portugal ruled the waves, their empire stretching into four continents. The Spanish invaded in the 15th century and since then they have not even come close to their past glories. A Civil War in 1910 finally abolished their monarchy, but initially it hindered rather than helped the country, spending 44 years under the dictatorship of Antonio de Oliveria Salazar. By 1986, they had recovered enough to join the EU, but suffered great economical problems throughout the nineties. The early 2000s saw the economy surge especially after UEFA handed them the 2004 soccer European Championships, but in the last few years old problems have resurfaced and along with Greece they are currently seeking help to pay off their debts.
After Portugal’s African colonies gained independence in 1974, many of the Africans immigrated to Portuguese cities and visitors to the country can feel their influence today. However, as far back as the sixties, the Portuguese natives largely accepted the Mozambique born footbaler Eusebio as their greatest footballer when no other European country accepted black players in their teams. This point towards Portugal being a liberal country and despite their 95% Catholic population, this is increasingly true. While many think of Holland as having the most liberal drug laws in Europe, it is in fact Portugal. They are the only country where the police will not arrest you for personal possession of almost any drug.
Lagos is an interesting town that serves as a hedonistic tourist attraction and a historic center. As a tourist attraction, it is full of sandy beaches with clear blue water and a range of nightclubs, bars and hotels littered across the sea front. People forget, however, that the town center is home to 30, 000 residents who in the distant past had huge connections with the slave trade. Its old slave market is the oldest in Europe. The port of Lagos was also the launch for many great geographical discoveries.
In the summer, Portugal’s capital is host to a number of festivals, including St. Antonio’s Day, BAIXAnima Street Festival, Sintra festival and Festa de São João. The most famous of these are the three saint festivals held throughout the month of June. Festa de São João festival has one very interesting feature. Men and children alike walk around the streets with toy hammers, hitting each other on the head.
Both Benfica (or Sporting Lisbon as they are also known) and Porto are two of the most successful clubs in European football. With the likes of Eusebio in their side, Benfica were a dominant force in European football throughout the sixties, winning two European cups and reaching four other finals. They won their third and last European Cup in 1990. Porto has had the more recent success. In two seasons under their most successful coach, Jose Morinho, they won first the UEFA Cup and then their second European Cup. Last season they again won the UEFA cup, beating fellow Portuguese side Braga. Their national side has achieved some success; though not the success many would have hoped for a side called the European Brazil. They have reached the semi-finals of the world cup twice, most recently in 2006 and in the 2004 European championships, which Portugal hosted; they reached the final, losing to surprise winners Greece. Considering their side contained the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nuno Gomes and the legendary Luis Figo it was a major disappointment.
Story By World By Shotglass
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Simon Arms (Berlin, Germany) for story editing