Born in 1143, Portugal is one of the world’s oldest countries . D. Afonso Henriques was the first Portuguese king and the father of Portuguese nationality. By the 13th century, the country had stabilized its borders which encouraged a strong spirit of cultural identity and internal unity.
The Portuguese maritime vocation was fostered by the location next to the Atlantic Ocean. By the early 15th century, the Portuguese began the Age of Discoveries, spearheading the exploration of the world by sea. During this period Portuguese ships sailed around Africa, reaching Brazil, India, China, Japan and Indonesia among others. Prince Henry the Navigator, D. João II and Vasco da Gama are some of the names that helped model the nation’s brilliant path. The Age of Discoveries was also the golden age of Portuguese history with the Portuguese sailing to the limits of the known world and fostering a global meeting of cultures.
The 17th century witnessed a dark period of Portuguese history with the introduction of the Inquisition and later with the loss of independence to Spanish kings. In 1640, Portugal regained its independence.
Modernization reached Portugal in the third quarter of the 18th century. Political leadership, an economic boost and cultural enlightenment led to major state reforms. Portugal was still considered one of the six major European powers.
The French revolution and American independence bought about winds of change and in 1820 Constitutional Monarchy was established in Portugal. The independence of Brazil forced Portugal to turn its attention to Africa, particularly Angola and Mozambique. Slow economic growth and the lack of structural reforms and investment distanced Portugal from the leading European countries. All this decay fostered political instability and on October 5th 1910, the Monarchy was overthrown and the Republican era began.
Portugal fought in World War I alongside the Allies. The war heightened the disturbing economic crises and in 1926 a military coup d’état brought down the Republic. Seven years later, in 1933, an authoritarian right-wing dictatorship was implemented. This regime suppressed democratic freedoms until 1974.
On April 25th 1974, a peaceful military revolution ended the dictatorship. Portugal embraced democracy and strove to develop. 1986 saw Portugal join the European Union (then EEC) and confirmed Portugal as a modern nation.
Today, Portugal is politically mature, economically prosperous and socially developed. The Portuguese are fully committed to affirming themselves on the world stage by their positive attitude, negotiating skills, will to communicate and comprehension of other cultures, skills that were acquired thanks to long-lasting relations with other countries.