I am so happy to talk about and take you to Portugal where my grandparents were from. My grandmother was from Coimbra and my grandfather was from Porto, I lost them when I was very young; but, retained a love for the Portuguese culture and history.
Situated on the southwestern tip of the Iberian Peninsula its shape is almost rectangular. Its geographic location along the Atlantic coast, gives it a the ocean as 50% of its border (832 Km). It should be no surprise then that Portugal became a world leading sea power, competing with the Spaniards and English for World Domination with their colonial empires. Portugal occupies an area of about 91,600 sq Km, including the islands of Madeira and Azores.
Portugal has a population of more then 10 million people. The capital is Lisbon with a population of 1.5 million.
GeographyPortugal is an unbelievably beautiful country with:
- Lush rivers, forests and valleys of the center and north
- Contorted southern coastline of beaches, cliffs and coves
- Arid plains of the Alentejo region with its groves of olive, oranges, cork and vines
- Mountains in the north
The main mountain chain is Serra da Estrela, an extension of the Spanish Sierras da Gata, Gredos and Guadarrama. The highest point of Portugal is 1,991 m.
The Portuguese coasts show an alternation of rocky promontories and wide sandy bays.
Most of the rivers descend from the mountains. The largest is Douro which crosses northern Portugal from east to west. The Mondego flows though Coimbra. The Tagus follows the Spanish frontier for a while and then crosses central Portugal to enter the sea in a long estuary on which Lisbon is situated.
You should not rush to explore Portugal, indeed, Portuguese talk of their nation as a land of "brandos costumes" or gentle customs or ways. (Be careful with false friends like costumes which have an English equivalent that is not the same thing. :-)
CultureWhile it is geographically small, Portugal has a tremendous cultural and social diversity. Highly sophisticated resorts dot the Lisbon and Estremaduran coast, drawing thousands of European tourists for the past fifty years. Lisbon maintains its old-fashion look and feel while integrating thoroughly modern amenities. When you are in the farmlands of the Alentejo, the mountainous Beiras, or northern Trás-os-Montes you will see people living as though Portugal is a old world, undeveloped country.
LanguagePortuguese is an international language--the sixth most widely spoken language in the world, with approximately two hundred million speakers of Portuguese. Portuguese is spoken in:
- Europe (Portugal);
- South America (Brazil);
- Africa (Cape Verde, São Tomé e Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique);
- Asia (Macau, a territory of China,
- Indian State of Goa, and East Timor).