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12 Fun Facts About Portugal

Bertrand bookshop Lisbon.jpg

Are you planning on visiting this westernmost country in Europe soon? Or maybe you have Portuguese roots and want to learn more about your ancestors. In any case, below are twelve facts that are bound to impress anyone about Portugal.

12 Interesting and Fun Facts About Portugal

Portugal is a fascinating country with a proud history that can be felt all throughout the country - from its capital, down to each tiny, picture-perfect village.

1. Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries
Over 236 million people world-wide are native Portuguese speakers. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome, and Equatorial Guinea. Portuguese is also spoken in Goa (India), Macao, and East Timor.

2. The oldest bookstore in the world is in Portugal's capital

Established in 1732, Bertrand bookshop, located in Lisbon, Portugal, is the oldest operating bookshop. Although it was destroyed in the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, it was moved to the very location it still occupies in 1773.

3. World record holder for largest dining table set

The world record for the largest dining table was set when around 15 000 people were served lunch on the bridge as part of the inauguration celebrations.

4. Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world

Portugal produces 70% of the world's cork exports. Main importers of Portuguese cork are: Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. The country also has the largest cork forest.

5. Portugal is one of the world's top surf spots

Portugal has a coastline that spans 497 miles (800 kilometers) and it's known to have 364 days of surf!

6. You must be fingerprinted for ID cards

In 2008, Portugal became the first country to make it compulsory for people to have fingerprints on identity cards.

Oldest & Longest Facts:

7. One of the oldest universities in Europe is in Portugal

The University of Coimbra was established in 1290, making it one of the oldest universities on the European continent.

8. Portugal and England have the oldest diplomatic alliance in the world

The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance 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. Talk about having someone's back!

9. Portugal has the longest bridge in Europe

The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is 17 kilometers long, making it the longest in Europe.

Historical Facts:

10. 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.

11. Portugal is the oldest country in Europe

Portugal has had the same defined borders since 1139, making it the oldest nation-state in Europe. Afonso Henriques was proclaimed the first King of Portugal in 1139 and the country remained a kingdom for almost 800 years thereafter, until 1910.

12. 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.

In 1755, Lisbon was struck by one of the most powerful earthquakes in European history.

On the 1st of November in 1755, Lisbon was struck by about a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which was followed by a tsunami, and fires that brought the city to rubble! 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! People talk about the devastating earthquake to this day.