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PORTUGAL - DID YOU KNOW ?

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What are some mind-blowing facts about Portugal?

Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe - Having the same defined borders since 1249, almost 800 years ago. The name Portugal first appears in 868, during the Reconquista over the Muslims.

Lisbon is older than Rome - Around four centuries older to be precise. It is in fact the second oldest European capital after Athens. Many historians believe that it was settled by the Phoenicians around 1200 BC, who used the excellent transport possibilities offered by the River Tagus.

Portugal once had a dead Queen - When Pedro I was crowned King of Portugal in 1357, he proclaimed his lover, Ines de Castro, Queen despite the fact that she had died in 1355

Portugal is one of the world's top surf spots. In October 2011, Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara caught the biggest wave (30 m / 90 ft) ever surfed to date at Praia do Norte, near the town of Nazaré, in central Portugal.

Paris is the second-largest "Portuguese city", based on the number of Portuguese residents, with nearly 700,000 Portuguese. But Paris is not the only place in Europe with lots of Portuguese people: around 12 per cent of the population of Luxembourg is actually Portuguese.

The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance between England/UK and Portugal is the oldest alliance in the world which is still in force. It was signed in 1373 and is in force until this day. Both countries entered wars to defend the other, including the United Kingdom entering the Iberian Peninsular War and Portugal entering World War I.

Half of the "New World" once belonged to Portugal - In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed which essentially gave Portugal the eastern half of the "New Word", including Brazil, Africa, and Asia. The Portuguese Empire was actually the first global empire in history and one of the longest-lived colonial powers, lasting for almost six centuries from when Ceuta was captured in 1415, until Macau (now China) was handed-over in 1999.

Portugal was the first colonial power to abolish slavery. It abolished slavery all the way back in 1761 - that's half a century before Britain, France, Spain, or the United States.However, Portugal was also the first country in Europe to open a 'Slave Market' in Lagos, Algarve.

Portuguese is the eighth most spoken language in the world. With approximately 200 million native speakers and 240 million total speakers,

is usually listed as the eighth most spoken language in the world after Mandarin, English, Spanish, English, Hindi, Arabic, Russian and Bengali

Portugal has the world's largest Solar Energy plant. Based in Alentejo. Portugal also boasts the world's first wave energy plant, which became producing energy in October of the 2006

Portugal introduced the habit of drinking tea in Britain. The world-famous tea ceremony in England has emerged thanks to Portuguese Catherine of Braganza, who married the King Charles II of England and brought this mode to the court. Japanese tempura, a set of buttered dishes, has specifically Portuguese origin because of Portuguese navigators.

Portugal is the third country in the world by fish consumption indicator, following Japan and Iceland. The Azores citizens eat nearly 76 kg of fish annually, while in the world the average amount is16 kg.

Portugal does not have an official religion, though some 84% of the population are Catholic.

The world-famous "Port" wine comes from Porto. It became very popular in England after the Methuen Treaty of 1703, when merchants were permitted to import it at a low duty, while war with France deprived English wine drinkers of French wine. The long trip to England often resulted in spoiled wine; the fortification of the wine was introduced to improve the shipping and shelf-life of the wine for its journey. In the UK, the military (British Army, RAF and Royal Navy) at formal dinners use port as a wine with which to toast the Queen. It has been imitated in several countries - notably Australia, South Africa, India and the United States.

Lisbon runs the largest Casino one in Europe - Casino do Estoril.

Lisbon was struck by one of the most powerful earthquakes in history, which led to the birth of seismology. On the 1st of November in 1755, Lisbon was struck by about a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Furthermore, the earthquake struck on All Saints Day, a major holiday when the churches were filled with burning candles. The earthquake struck, toppling the candles, causing major fires. 275,000 residents were killed and 85% of the buildings were destroyed, including famous palaces and churches. Lisbon being the capital of a devout Catholic country with a long history of evangelism in the colonies, the catastrophe caused much embarassment to the Catholic Church, which could not explain this manifestation of the anger of God - striking moreover on a Catholic holiday.

Although Portugal was always a very small nation state, the Portuguese Empire was huge. Following its heyday as a global maritime power during the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence of its wealthiest colony of Brazil in 1822.