For many of us, Portugal is synonymous with sunshine, and a people as warm and welcoming as its climate. One of the southern European destinations, it is situated on the Iberian peninsula, with the Atlantic on both its western and southern coasts, and a land border shared with Spain to the north. Out in the Atlantic Ocean lie the islands of Madeira and the Azores which have a degree of autonomy from Portugal. Madeira, in particular, is a very popular destination.
Portugal was founded in 1139, when Alfonso I was proclaimed king. The new kingdom expanded towards the south and the Algarve, from where the Moors were driven out during the 13th century. In the 15th century, Portuguese seamen began to explore the African coast. This was the beginning of the country´s golden age – an expansive period where voyages of discovery across the world´s great oceans opened up new trading routes and India and Brazil were discovered.
Portuguese colonies were established in Asia, South America and Africa. Trading in slaves, gold and spices made Portugal one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and Lisbon one of the great trading capitals of Europe. Later, during the period of decolonisation and industrialisation, the most southernmost country in Europe became primarily dependent on agriculture, and its influence in Europe waned under a dictatorship, but achieved a greater level of stability in 1974 with the introduction of democracy, and its acceptance into the EU (European Union) in 1986 which resulted in an economic upswing.
Today, Portugal is a developed country with an advanced economy and a high standard of living. It is one of the most globalized and peaceful nations on earth.
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