History of Portugal




Monument of the Discoveries, in Belém, Portugal.


Map PortugalIn the first millennium BC, Celtic peoples lived in Portugal. Later, the Phoenicians and Carthaginians conquered the south, while, Iron Age cultures predominated in the north. In the 2nd century BC, Portugal became part of the Roman Empire.

After the collapse of the Roman rule, Portugal was colonized by the Germanic tribes. Suebi, in the north, and Visigoths, in the south. Portugal was then conquered by Muslims from North Africa, before coming under the control of Spanish kings. In the 12th century, Portugal became an independent kingdom.

In the 15th century Portugal emerged as the foremost center of maritime exploration in Europe. Over the next century, Portuguese sailors explored the world and dominated the sea trade. These sailors helped Portugal build the first great European overseas empire, with colonies in Africa, Asia and South America.

Brazil was discovered in 1500, when the Portuguese landed in Porto Seguro, in southern Bahia. In 1549, they founded Salvador, the first Brazilian capital. In the 19th century, Brazil became independent and most of the Portugal’s Asian colonies were lost.

In 1910, revolution deposed the monarchy and the first Portuguese republic was proclaimed. A period of great instability followed. In 1926 a coup d’état installed a dictatorship that ruled Portugal for nearly five decades. A series of costly colonial wars in Africa beginning in the 1960s drained Portuguese resources and weakened the national economy.

In 1975 Portugal granted independence to all of its African colonies. A new constitution, in 1976, established a democratic government. The country joined the European Community in 1986, and in 1999 adopted the euro.

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Discoveries Belem


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Inside the library of the Coimbra University (Biblioteca Joanina da Universidade de Coimbra) built in the 18th century.

Founded in 1290, Coimbra is one of the world's oldest universities.


History Brazil


Statue of Dom Sancho I in Castle of Silves, in Algarve. Sancho ruled from 1185 to 1211 and was nicknamed "the Populator" .


Silves Castle


Coimbra University




University of Coimbra. Originally founded in 1290, it was one of the first European universities (photo Sérgio Brito).




Copyright © Geographic Guide - Portugal, History of Europe.




History of Portugal






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