9 Interesting Facts About Portugal

Portugal is quickly becoming a popular destination for travelers. With colorful cities like Lisbon and Porto, more than 400 miles of scenic coastline, and a rich history, it’s easy to see why travelers are drawn to the country.

Here are 9 interesting facts about Portugal and its long history:

  • The official name of Portugal is the Portuguese Republic.
  • Portugal is the oldest country in Europe. It has had the same defined borders since 1139. It’s no surprise that Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries with over 236 million people speaking it around the world.
View of the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) by night in Lisbon, Portugal. The tophill castle of Lisbon can also be seen on the background.
  • The cork tree is native to Portugal. Because of the various uses of its bark, the country the largest producer of cork products in the world.
  • Half of the “New World” once belonged to Portugal. In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed which gave Portugal the eastern half of the New World, including Brazil, Africa, and Asia. The Portuguese Empire was the first global empire in history, as well as one of the longest lasting, spanning almost six centuries.

Porto Portugal, Spain

  • The oldest bookstore in the world is in Portugal’s capital of Lisbon. Bertrand Bookshop was established in 1732. The original store was destroyed in an earthquake in 1755 and rebuilt in its current location in 1773.
  • Portugal has the longest bridge in Europe. The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is 10.5 miles (17 kilometers) long.
Vasco de Gama Bridge
Vasco de Gama Bridge
  • Portugal and England have the oldest diplomatic alliance in the world. The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance was signed in 1373 and is still enforced today.
  • Portugal is one of the world’s top surf spots. The country has a coastline that spans 497 miles (800 kilometers) and is said to have 364 days of surf.
  • Lisbon was struck by one of the most powerful earthquakes in European history on November 1, 1755. The quake registered at 9.0 on the Richter Scale and was followed by a tsunami and fires that left the city in ruins. 275,000 residents were killed and 85% of the buildings were destroyed.

Learn more about student educational travel programs to Portugal.