Monday, October 29, 2012

Religion & Weather in Switzerland


Christianity is the predominant religion in Switzerland.. The 2000 census shows Swiss religious preferences as:
  • 41.8% Roman Catholic
  • 35.5% Protestants
  • 11.1% have no religion
  • 4.3% are Muslim
  • 4.3% specified no religion
  • 1.8% are Eastern Orthodox
  • 1% other
  • 0.4% other christian religions

Of note, the Reformation  began in Zurich on January 1, 1519, when Father Ulrich Zwingli departed from church tradition by preaching a series of expository sermons from the Gospel of Matthew. In the weeks that followed, people crowded his church in Zurich to hear such revolutionary teaching.

In keeping with Swiss neutrality, Jesuits were the only religion barred from settling in Switzerland. The constitution of 1874 guaranteed full religious liberty but repeated the 1848 constitution’s prohibition of settlement by Jesuits and their affiliated societies. Finally, this anti-Jesuit article was repealed in a national referendum in 1973.


As you may recall from one of my earlier posts, Switzerland consists of a plains between a norther and southern mountain ranges. This geographic characteristic is responsible for big differences in the weather among different regions.

In a matter of minutes, the driver on Swiss roads can travel from a clear blue sky to an overcast, rainy region and see temperatures plunge.

On the plain, temperatures can rise to 30ºC (86ºF) in the summer and rarely drop below minus 5ºC (41ºF) in the winter. Now the mountains can get cold, especially the Alps to the South.

The palm lined lakes of Montreux, Ticino, and Valais are the warmest areas. Ticino brags that they have over 298 sunny days a year and a daily mean temperature in July of over 26ºC (79ºF). In Valais, kiwis, peaches, figs and tomatoes are grown in orchards and tiny scorpions can be found.

The best weather for sightseeing is June through October.

A wonderful thought...

Do not worry at all about negative thoughts, and do not try to control them. All you have to do is begin to think good thoughts each day. Plant as many good thoughts as you can in each day. As you begin to think good thoughts you will attract more and more good thoughts, and eventually the good thoughts will wipe out the negative thoughts altogether.
May the joy be with you,
Rhonda Byrne

Friday, October 26, 2012

Capitol, Geography and Currency in Switzerland


I always thought the capitol of Switzerland was Zurich, but in fact it is Bern.

Bern, the fourth most populous city in Switzerland, has a population of 125,681. The Bern area includes 43 municipalities with a population of 353,300..

Bern is a shoppers delight with one of the longest covered shopping promenades in the world and 6.3 km of shopping arcades with a mixture of cafés, restaurants, theaters, museums, and shops. Bern is a shoppers paradise where everything is accessible on foot - no rental card needed.

Goethe, a famous German writer, artist, and politician called Bern the prettiest city he has ever seen.

Bern History

Founded on a peninsula surrounded by a river on three sides and protected with steep river banks, Duke Berchtold V. von Zähringen had a well protected location which helped it flourish. In 1353, it joined the young Swiss Confederation. In 1798, the river and steep banks weren't enough protection and French troops occupied it during the French Revolutionary wars. In 1831, the city became the capital of the Canton of Bern and in 1848 it additionally became the Swiss Capital. The Parliament Building from where Switzerland is governed is in the hearth of the Old Town.

The old town of Bern has a romantic feel with buildings that haven't changed in 500 years. The sandstone arcades and the cobbled streets take the visitor back into Bern's storied past.

On the other side of the river, Bern is a very modern city with lots of shops, restaurants, and public transportation. Like many modern cities with medieval centers, auto traffic is restricted from the old town, giving the casual pedestrian the right of way.

As you must know, while Chocolate wasn't discovered in Switzerland, leave it to the Swiss to perfect this delicious natural product by creating milk chocolate and the many famous brands found throughout Switzerland. As I drove into Bern in 1980, I recall being overwhelmed with the fragrance of Chocolate. A marvelous sensation, since I love chocolate so much.


Switzerland is divided in three major geographical areas with protective mountains on the north and south:
  • Alps: 60%
  • Plateaus: 30%
  • Jura Mountais: 10%

The beauty of the mountains and nature is just magnificent, it took my breath away. Everywhere you look is just  amazingly beautiful. 

This diversity creates wide variances in the climate and depends on the time of the year. While some parts of Switzerland has weather that will remind you of Siberia, other parts can be balmy like the Mediterranean.


The Swill Franc of Switzerland is one of the most stable currencies in the world and is often used as an international benchmark in the world of finance. While Bern is the official capital of Switzerland, Zurich could be considered the financial capital, not only of Switzerland, but of all Western Europe.

Foreign currency exchange
While getting currency from an ATM (e.g. Capital One)  that doesn't charge a currency exchange fee is the best alternative for travelers, if you just exchange currency, check out the train station in Switzerland. Exchange of foreign currency here entails no commission and the exchange rates are the same as the major banks.

If you go the ATM route, all major cities and towns in Switzerland have many banks with ATMs that accept foreign cards and dispense Swiss currency. Similarly, most hotels, shops and restaurants in the big towns and cities of Switzerland accept major international credit cards. Just look for the Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club logo's.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Introduction to Beautiful Switzerland


Archaeological evidence shows that the area that is now Switzerland was inhabited as early as 40,000 BC . As the Alpine glacier melts, more and more artifacts are being found of hunting civilizations dating back to 4500 BC. Switzerland became a cross roads for many nomadic cultures.
The development of modern Switzerland can be traced back to a confederation  of several Alpine valley communities from the Middle Ages. Originally called cantons, today Switzerland's twenty-six Cantos make up the country.

For such a small country Switzerland has taken center stage in the world with it's:
  • Political neutrality
  • Unparalleled banking system,  
  • Idyllic landscapes
  • Marvelous skiing

Switzerland is also renowned for its cheeses, chocolate, watch making, Saint Bernards and, you guessed it, Swiss army knives.

Today, Switzerland's population is about 7 million very diverse people.
It is composed of four major ethnic groups: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Yep, that is right, Romansh, a small group of Swiss people, (1%) speak a language call Romansh. It isn't clear what sets them apart, other that the language.

But the real news is that Switzerland is located at the crossroads of Europe. Isn't it ironic that the white cross on the Swiss flag could also be seen as a road crossing? Although a small country, it is the meeting point for three of Europe's major cultures, German, French and Italian. It is a country known for its stability, multiculturalism, and prosperity.

Swiss political history never consolidated into a single monarchy. Instead, the different members of the confederation governed political affairs. In today's political system, many powers are still left in the hands of the cantons.

Switzerland's present boundaries were fixed in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna. Switzerland was neutral (refused to take sides) in World War I (1914–1918) and World War II (1939–1945). Its neutral stance has also kept it from joining the United Nations.

The Swiss live in a democracy where the average citizen often has greater influence than in other countries. A unique example of direct democracy found in parts of Switzerland is the Landsgemeinde (People's Assembly). Citizens gather under the open sky on a Sunday in spring to pass laws and elect officials by a show of hands.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Where should you stay in Portugal

1. Hotel Olissippo Lapa Palace (5 stars)

The gracious 5 star Olissippo Lapa Palace hotel is surrounded with beautiful gardens on the most prestigious of Lisbon's seven hills is a stately 19th century palace. The service found at this hotel is reminescent of a bygone era, while the updated facilities will meet the needs of the most demanding contemporary guest.

In summer you can enjoy a beautiful outdoor swimming pool and lavish sub tropical gardens. The spa is always a treat, with a heated indoor swimming pool, sauna, Turkish bath, fully equipped gym and some of the finest spa treatments available.
The magnificent grounds, luxury accommodation, excellent facilities, unrelenting attention to detail, and  superlative service at Lapa Palace earns this property a ranking among the best hotels in the world.
Price: Start at $258 dollars per night.

Address: Rua do Pau da Bandeira nº4
1249-021 Lisbon

Phone: (+351) 291 724 325

2. Hotel Avenida Palace (5 stars)

Set in a beautifully restored 19th Century building, the Hotel Avenida Palace is located in the Lisbon’s vibrant heart, making it the perfect home base from which to see this capital city. Speaking of sightseeing, this hotel gives you great views of the majestic Moorish Castelo São Jorge.

Combining this exceptional location between Lisbon’s Pombaline Downtown and the Avenida da Liberdade, an elegant neoclassical architecture, sophisticated and luxurious decoration and more than a century of history, Hotel Avena Palace creates a wonderful experience for the traveler.

Price: Start at $178 dollars per night.

Address: Rua 1. De Dezembro, 123, 1200-359 Lisbon

Phone: (+351) 213 218 115

3. Hotel Solar Do Castelo  (4 stars)

For the history buff, the Hotel Solar Do Castelo will take you back to the 18th century where the Hotel is built on the site of the former kitchens of the Alcáçovas Palace. The doors of the hotel open out onto a beautiful, uncluttered patio where the blue of the peacocks predominates the visual impact. Framed by the Lisbon Pombaline tile-work, the patio creates a serene refuge . Security and privacy are paramount at Solar Do Castelo where our grounds are exclusive for our guests.
The small unit comprising an attic, two living areas, and a patio and a garden also stores objects found during the renovation of a property with eight centuries of History.

Price: Start at $183 dollars per night

Address: Rua das Cozinhas 2 | (ao Castelo), Lisbon 1100-181, Portugal

Phone: (+351) 218 806 050

4. Suites Mercador (4 stars)

Suites Mercador provides an elegant, Rococo style ambiance with tiled floors, stuccoed walls, and intricate decor. This 16th century hotel is located in the heart of Lisbon and offers elegant rooms with modern kitchenettes.

All rooms feature lovely furnishings and plush beds with crisp, white linens. Some rooms feature ornate, wooden headboards and chandeliers.

The kitchenettes are well-equipped with a coffee maker, a refrigerator and silverware. A dining area and a sitting area with a sofa is offered in every room.

Price: Start at $ 143 dollars per night

Address: Rua De São José, 164, Coracao de Jesus, 1150-326 Lisbon

Phone: (+351) 912 269 865

 4. SANA Executive Hotel (3 stars)

The Sana Executive Hotel is located in one of the new areas of Lisbon, within walking distance of many of the major visitor attractions. Close by the traveler can enjoy the charms of the world famous Calouste Gulbenkian Museum .

Located close to major business districts and only approximately 15 miles from Lisbon International Airport, the SANA is an ideal base for business travellers.

Price: Start at $72 dollars per night

Address: Avenida Conde de Valbom, 56, Lisbon, , 1050-069 Portugal

Phone: (+351)-217 951 157

6. Hotel HF Ipanema Park in Porto (4 stars)

If you are traveling to Porto, the Hotel Ipanema Park is an icon of tradition and luxury. A business, luxury hotel, it is renowned for its exceptional personalized service and attention to details. The hotel also boasts excellent security and state-of-the-art technology.

Strategically located between Boavista and Foz, just a few minutes from both the city center and the highway, the Hotel Ipanema Park provides access to the airport and the city of Lisbon.

Price: Starts at $ 67 dollars per night

Address: Rua De Serralves 124, Porto, 4150702 Portugal

Phone:(+351) -225 322 100

7. Hotel Astoria in Coimbra (3 stars)

With a prime location overlooking the Mondego River in the very heart of Coimbra’s historical city the Hotel Astória is a charming, classic hotel. Its stylish comfort, classic feel and refined European service have given it a reputation of quiet elegance for the refined guests.
Centrally positioned in this fine university city, Hotel Astória is easily within range of numerous top city attractions, such as the university - with it’s exclusive Baroque library, the fascinating Machado de Castro Museum and the ‘Baixa’ – a vibrant downtown area warren of cobbled, narrow streets full of cafés, shops and churches.

Price: Starts at $ 67 dollars per night

Address: Avenida Emidio Navarro 21, Coimbra, 3000 Portugal

Phone: ‎(+351)-239 853 020

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Places to go in Portugal

1. The most expensive chapel in the world

See what the gold found in colonial Brazil was able to pay for, hidden in the surprisingly rich Sao Roque Church. The Chapel of St. John the Baptist inside is a European masterpiece (what look like paintings are actually mosaics!) made in Rome for this Lisbon church, and to see more baroque magnificence head to Santa Catarina Chruch nearby.
If you develop a taste for this type of golden art, don't miss the golden carriages of the Coaches Museum.

2.Belem Tower

The Belem Tower is a symbol of the Portuguese capital Lisbon. This beautiful architectural masterpiece is included in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO because of its enormous historical significance and the role it has played in the so-called voyages of discovery. Belem Tower was the starting point of departures of the caravels going in search of new uninhabited lands.  Belem Tower is a complex of bastion and thirty-foot tower that is visible to all the four directions.  It is built of white limestone and is decorated with beautiful stone ornaments and statues. Today, the Belem Tower still remains a fundamental building in Lisbon, because it reminds of the largest discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world.

3.The Baixa

 Lisbon’s downtown area, is still the traditional center of city life, and is where Lisbon’s oldest and traditional shops still exist.  In this heart of the city the streets that run parallel to Rua Augusta identify the various tradesmen and craftsmen, who have continued to do business there since the time of the Maritime Discoveries.
The Baixa was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755, but was later reconstructed by the king’s prime minister, the Marquês de Pombal, which is why it is more popularly known as the Baixa Pombalina. This visionary conceived a uniform and perpendicular architecture for the city center, making no distinction between the various social strata that lived here, a phenomenon that can still be seen today.
Recently renovated, it hasn’t lost any of its mysticism…

4. Algarve
Sea, sun and sand mark Portugal’s famous Algarve. While the region’s beaches and picturesque villages have made it world renown, the region also has some world-renown golf courses. The area’s capital, Faro, remains nearly the same as it was in the 18th century, with its charming neighborhoods intact. A big draw for travelers here is also the region’s temperate climate which has little rainfall and an average 3,000 hours of sunlight each year.
Lagos and Sagres on the east end of the Algarve date back to Roman times. But it was in the 15th century that Sagres achieved importance with the frequent presence of Prince Henry the Navigator during the first days of Atlantic exploration of the African coast as far as the Gulf of Guinea.

5. Sintra

Sintra’s  Palácio da Pena is one of the best examples of 19th-century Romantic revivalism in Portugal.
Set at the top of the Monte da Pena, the palace was built on the site of an old monastery belonging to the Order of St. Jerome. It was the result of the imagination of Dom Fernando of Saxe Coburg-Gotha, who married Queen Dona Maria II in 1836. After falling in love with Sintra, he decided to buy the convent and the surrounding land to build a summer palace for the royal family. The royal consort built the palace in a somewhat offbeat mixture of architectural styles, and in the surrounding area established a beautiful woodland park in English style, with a wide variety of exotic trees.
The highlight of the beautiful interior of the palace is the chapel, with its magnificent alabaster altarpiece attributed to Nicolau Chanterenne, one of the architects of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, in Lisbon. A restaurant has now been opened in one of the wings of the palace, with a terrace that offers a beautiful panoramic view of Serra de Sintra and the coast.

6. Porto
Capital and gateway to the north of Portugal, Porto is both the city that provided a nation with a name and a fortified wine known worldwide as port.
With its splendid geographical location on the mouth of the Douro River and an architectural heritage of exceptional quality, the historic center of Porto was declared a UNESCO World Heritage in 1996. The second largest city in the country; it’s a city known for its commercial enterprise.
The Cais da Ribeira riverfront is the center of the city center and the most picturesque part of Porto. The area has a mix of ancient narrow streets and narrower alleyways, with centuries-old buildings. Old homes of granite and tile loom over the waterfront, and the harbor is filled with Rabelo boats and river excursion ships. In 1996 the Cais de Ribeira area was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Cais da Ribeira is a romantic place that comes alive as the sun goes down, when the numerous cafés, bars and restaurants open. Couples stroll along the Douro, as the hint of music drifts from the bars and cafes, and the smell of coffee and grilled fish fills the air.

7. Coimbra

Roughly halfway between Lisbon and Oporto in the north, Coimbra was once the capital of the Portugal. But it is most famous for the University of Coimbra, founded in 1290 and one of the oldest universities in Europe. It’s a city of medieval churches and a maze of medieval streets, some so picturesque you’ll think you’re in another time, which is likely the reason some consider it the most romantic city in Portugal.
Located in a commanding position overlooking the rest of the city, with a magnificent view over the River Mondego, the University is a rambling building, constructed around a central courtyard in which a number of features stand out due to their artistic interest and symbolism. The entrance to the University is through the Porta Férrea (Iron Gate), an impressive Mannerist work (1634), where one can see the statues of the University´s patrons, the kings Dom Dinis and Dom João III. You’ll see students all around the city, identified by the black capes they still wear. Those little colored ribbons on their briefcases denote the school they attend.

8. Saint George Castle
he castle of Lisbon, locally named Castelo de São Jorge is located right on top of the tallest of Lisbon´s seven hills of the historic centre of the capital city, above the old Moorish quarter. The castle is clearly visible from a long way off and it is famous for its panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside.
The initial period of the military stronghold’s construction is relatively unknown. The oldest parts date from the 6th century when it was fortified by the Romans, Visigoths and the Moors, respectively, before the final conquest by D. Afonso Henriques. The castle was classified as national monument in 1910 and reflects values of the memory and antiquity which attested the importance of the unique history, archaeology and architecture in the context of the national cultural heritage.

9. Cristo Rei, Lisbon

On the banks of the Tagus River, on a high pedestal, stands a statue of Jesus Christ with outstretched arms that seems as if he wants to embrace and bless the residents and tourists. Cristo Rei is certainly one of the landmarks of Portugal. The statue is a mini copy of the Jesus Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro. On the opposite bank of Tagus you can enjoy a walk at the Commerce Square which is always crowded and full of the unique energy of the town.

10.The Monastery of Alcobaca

 Cistercian Monastery of Santa Maria d'Alcobaça is a great example of Gothic architecture in Portugal. Built in the 12th century by the first Portuguese King Afonso I (Afonso Henriques), Alcobaca Monastery is incredibly beautiful, spectacular and unforgettable. It hosts a lot of cultural and historical monuments and relics, but the most important thing is that it is one of the historical prides of the Portuguese. Over the centuries, the monastery has played a significant role in education and has enormous implications for the formation of the Portuguese culture. With its 106 m length Alcobaca church impresses with size and its unique Gothic decoration. You can admire the Hall of the fountain and the extremely beautiful baroque statues, created by the monks of the Alcobaca.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What can you expect to eat in Portugal

Portuguese food is very delicious and you can find a tremendous variety.
Garlic and herbs to make their food incredibly tasty. As you might expect from their geography.


Portuguese eat a lot of fish and one of the most traditional dishes is the “bacalhau” (salted and dried cod fish). They actually say that there are 365 ways to cook bacalhau - a new recipe for every day of the year!

The most popular bacalhau dishes are:

  • "Bacalhau com Natas" which translates to "Cod with cream" 
  • "Bacalhau à Brás" which translates to "Cod à la Brás," a dish prepared with scramble eggs, potatoes and shredded cod. 

Don't forget to ask for Bolinhos de Bacalhau, they are amazing!

Sardinhas Assadas "grilled sardines"

The traditional season for Sardines in Portugal is July during the religious festivals. Sardines feature in everything from large banquets to fast food stalls where you eat one on a piece of bread while standing and drinking a glass of wine or sangria.

Sardines for grilling need to be absolutely fresh, medium size and pre-salted for at least 30 minutes.

You can also have them with potatos.

Cozido de grão

Chickpeas stew is also delicious. The word "cozido" really doesn't have a correct translation, because it is not quite a real stew.

In Portuguese cuisine you often find dishes named "cozido", because everything in that dish is boiled rather than braised or stewed.
This is an excellent dish from the Serra de Monchique, Algarve.

Leitão da Bairrada

Leitão da Bairrada, is suckling pig. It has a crunchy golden rind that's drenched in garlic and pepper and soft meat.

It is a regional dish and very appreciated by the region of Bairrada and there are years and years of tradition, between Coimbra e Anadia.


Cozido à Portuguesa

Cozido à Portuguesa is a stew made from every imaginable Portuguese meats including beef, pork, and sausages (including blood sausage), mixed with all sorts of boiled veggies and potatoes. It's usually served topped with lots of olive oil and at least one copo de vinho (glass of wine).


Bitoque is steak with an egg sunny side up over it, fries, rice or potato chips as a side dish and a salad. This dish can be found at any Portuguese restaurant or even at malls as fast food.

Feijoada Tramontana

Feijoada, is Portugal’s version of Chili. It originated around the 14th century in the Northern region of Portugal. During that time meat was scarce, so the poor peasants began using every part of the pig as a staple in their diets along with beans and cabbage which were easily available.

To prepare it, a stew of beans of Trás-os-Montes, is prepared with white beans and cabbage cut into strips. Usually, it was cooked at the earliest hours of the day, to be re-heated for lunch, and, therefore, getting even more tasteful.

Caldo Verde

This nourishing and nutritious soup is one of the signature dishes of Portuguese cuisine. Tinted a subtle green by finely shredded kale or collard greens, and thickened with potatoes, caldo verde is often served with spicy chouriço sausage and a slice of the thick cornmeal bread called "broa." Caldo Verde orginated in northern Portugal, but it is now enjoyed all around the country. Caldo Verde is common at celebrations and is often eaten as the first meal after midnight on New Year's Day. It is also popular in Brazil.

You may not be aware of this, but the Portuguese are excellent bakers and pastry makers, each famed for their traditional local pastries. I will give you a couple of deserts from Portugal.

Baked Custard Tarts

These are "the reigning monarch of desserts in Lisbon and, frankly, in all of Portugal.

Pudim de leite

"Pudim de Leite" is Portuguese for “Milk Pudding” and it is very similar to Creme Caramel; which comes from France. However, I was taught how to make this pudding the Portuguese way!  It is a very easy pudding, very cheap and it tastes delicious!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Brief History of Portugal

Ancient Battles

Portugal, as we now know it, was inhabited first by Neanderthals and then by Homo Sapiens, who roamed the border-less region of the northern Iberian peninsula. Early in the first millennium BC, several waves of Celtic invaders flowed into Portugal and inter-married with the local populations, forming many different tribes.
  1. Gallaeci in the north
  2. Lusitanian in the central plains
  3. Celts of Alentejo
  4. Conii of the Algarye
In the south the Phoenicians and Carthaginians established port cities and coastal settlements.

The powerful Roman Empire invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 219 BC, expelling the Carthaginians and began a slow expansion from the south to the north. During this Roman colonization, Lusitania grew in prosperity and many of modern Portuguese cities and towns were founded. Eventually, Rome named Lusitania and Gallaecia, Roman provenances.

In the early 5th century, as Rome weakened, Germanic Tribes began wave after wave of invasions until the Visigoth conquered all of the Iberian Peninsula. Then, in the 8th century, the Moors invaded from Northern Africa, destroying the Visigothic Kingdom.

In 868, Count Vimara Peres drove down from the mountainous north and reconquered the region between the rivers Minho and Douro. By then the county was known as Portu Cale which eventually became Portugal.

At the end of the 11th century,  Henri, the knight  from Burgundy became Count of Portugal and defended his independence, merging the County of Portucale and the Coimbra while the rest of the Iberian Peninsula was locked in a bloody civil war. His son, Afonso Henriques then took control of the country and with the support of the clergy of Braga, demanded the independence of the renewed country.

The Battle of Sao Mamede marks the national origin of Portugal as we now know it. Afonso proclaimed himself  first Prince of Portugal and in 1139 the first King of Portugal. By 1143, with the assistance of a representative of the Holy See at the conference of Zamora, Portugal was formally recognized as independent.

Colonial Expansion

By 1279, King Diniz invited a Genovese sea captain to Portugal and placed him in charge of developing the mercantile and naval fleets. He also ordered the Atlantic coastline planted with trees to provide timber for the ocean-going fleets, he envisioned in Portugal's future. Sixty three years later, in 1341, a fleet of three vessels sailed from Lisbon and explored the Canary Islands, off the northwestern coast of Africa, the beginning of  the golden years of exploration under Henry the Navigator.

The Treaty of Windsor Peace Pact made between Dom João I and King Richard II of England in 1386, linking the two countries together formed a alliance that secured their independence in the face of French and Spanish expansionism.

Although Portugal became a kingdom under Alfonso Henriques around 1140, its Empire didn't actually begin until the 15th century, following a period of world exploration. It came under Spanish domination between the years 1580 to 1640 and was invaded in 1807 by the French.

Modern Portugal

The First Republic was set up in 1910, following the overthrow of the monarchy. In 1926 a military coup took place and this was followed by a 35 year dictatorship under Dr. Salazar.

This period of stability came to an end in 1974 due to yet another military coup. After another 10 years of political unrest, the Social Democratic party obtained a large enough majority to enable them to govern the country properly. For the first time in over sixty years, Portugal had a President, Mario Soares.

 Today, Portugal is an active member of the European Union and has alliances with England, France, Spain and the United
States which secure its borders.