Portugal Then & Now

Portugal Then & Now

Welcome to Portugal

The oldest European nation state with the same defined borders since 1139 and the first country to establish a global empire. Portugal, along with the United Kingdom, also holds title to the oldest diplomatic alliance in history. The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance originally formed in 1294, formalized in 1374, and is still in force today. A bond between two countries that has surpassed many turbulent moments in history, and one no one seems interested in changing.

Population, Language & Religion 

Although a small country with a population of just 10 million, Portugal’s history of navigation, which started in the Algarve, has spread its language globally. Today, Portuguese is spoken by 230 million individuals, in 9 counties and is the fifth most spoken language in the world. It has an ethnically diverse population and although catholicism is widely practiced, Portugal has no official religion, and individual religious freedoms are respected along with being protected.

Peacefulness & Humanitarianism

The Global Peace Index has consistently shown Portugal moving up the ranks as one of the most peaceful countries in the world. In 2017, Lisbon born, Antonio Guterres was elected to serve as the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations from his previous post as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Portugal is also considered one of the safest places in the world for women, and 2016 led the charge ahead of many counties by passing a law banning the verbal harassment of women.

Portuguese Economy

Portugal’s economy has seen its challenges, but is surpassing these and signaling a buoyant upturn with momentum expected to continue stabilizing business confidence and prospects for investment. Portugal’s real estate market has seen the effects of this with an 8% increase in the second quarter of 2017, the highest ever recorded growth outpacing the rest of European property market.
Portugal also accounts for 50% of the world’s cork production, supplying brands such as Moet Chandon, Rolls Royce, Airbus, NASA, and the European Space Agency’s 2018 mission to mars will have Portuguese cork in its spacecraft. Other globally recognised brands such as Leica, Fly London have long standing business operations in Portugal due to the level of technical proficiency and craftsmanship available in the country. Portuguese shoes long known for their quality continue in fame as the sexiest footwear in the industry being donned regularly by royalty and celebrities alike.  

Technology & Innovation

Portuguese innovation was not lost in the age of discovery with the astrolabe and navigational science and engineering. It has continued throughout the country's development, as a result it has contributed and inspired advancements elsewhere. Portugal’s Mulitbanco, a sophisticated Automatic Teller Machine network launched in 1985, allows for payments of taxes, utilities bills, mobile top ups, concert and cinema tickets through to standard bank transactions, it also enables secure online payments without requiring outside payment systems or credit card networks such as Visa, Mastercard or American Express. The first rechargeable prepaid mobile phone card was launched in Portugal in 1995 by Portugal Telecom. Via Verde, a green toll lane, uses a prepaid card system to expedite highway tolls for travel throughout the country. In 2016, Portugal ran successfully for a total of 107 consecutive hours on solar energy with zero emissions, advancing its efforts as a leader in renewable energy. Portugal’s support of advancing innovation was most recently seen with WebSummit relocating its global conferences to Lisbon in 2016, attracting in excess of 60k participants from around the world for the 3 day event in 2017.

People & Culture 

Portugal is a deeply rich and complex country culturally, partially from its extensive history and foreign influences through to its global adventuring. The Portuguese people are an innately curious, inquisitive and feeling group who place family, and often food, above all else. It is not surprising then that one of the world’s oldest universities, University of Coimbra, established in 1290 was established in Portugal - it was also the inspiration of JK. Rowlings, Hogwarts. Portugal is also home to the world's first known bookshop, Bertrand, established in lisbon in 1730, and the Lello bookstore in Porto continues to top the list as one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores. Well read Portugal also has many poets and authors such as Camoes, Pessoa, Sena and Sargamado to name a few. Fado music developed in 1800’s in cafes and bars in Lisbon, made famous by Amalia Rodrigues, is a profoundly melancholic and an expressive genre which is made even more distinct by an accompanying 12 string Portuguese guitar. Fado remains strong today with new artists and influences such as Mozambican born Mariza, as do many collective mixes of Portuguese and African sounds creating new genres in themselves such as Kizomba and Kuduro.

Food & Wine

With culture of course comes food. In Portugal, it is often said the Portuguese place food before god or religion. Anyone with the privilege of visiting a traditional Portuguese home for a meal will soon discover the truth in the saying. Portugal's naval exploration and the discovery of routes to India, the Treaty of Tordesillas that divided the new world between Portugal and Spain which lead Portugal to become a global empire, had a strong effect on Portuguese and European food as exotic spices and products were traded between ports. Fishing and preservation of food for long voyages developed and also contributed to Portugal's main tradition of ‘Bacalhau’ - salted cod, along with many varieties of quality canned products. Today, Portugal has an impressive selection of seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood available all year round. Great food needs great wine, and Portugal has the privilege of having one of the world's largest stocks of native grape varieties -  more than 250 - Making wine production and export a key industry. Approximately 40% of Portuguese wine is exported to foreign markets, with the remaining consumed nationally as table wine - so although a drinking culture Portugal is not a drunk culture.
Portugal could however, be accused of suffering from what seems like an insatiable sweet tooth with century old conventional type pastries, cakes and sweets served at every cafe across the county. The most famous of these being the Pastel de Belem, served only in Lisbon at the original location they were first made, or the Pastel de Nata, an adapted version served through the country with a wonderfully strong bica - Portuguese espresso style coffee. Food in Portugal is a thoroughly immersive experience and many fresh food markets, festivals, fairs and feasts are regularly organised throughout the country.

Football & Sport

With names like Eusébio, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mourinho and the like near household names - Portugal has developed a reputation for its love of sport. Football is the most well known outside the country, although there are many others practiced nationally. From cycling to motor sport, rally, rowing, tennis, rugby to golf and most recently Portugal has received considerable attention for is watersports - parasailing, kitesurfing, cliff diving and big wave surfing.

Life Quality Development

Although Portugal remains the oldest state in the Iberian Peninsula it continues to demonstrate it has not stayed in the past. It’s a country accustomed to charting both smooth and rough waters and resolute it reaching whatever shores it chooses, while still being respectful of its history, and conscious of the future. It may be differnt thinking to more aggressively developed countries, but its one that keeps Portugal at peace and at the top of international indexes for quality of living. It is also proving to be a lead indictor for many to relocate, retire and invest in holiday and rental homes in Portugal.