Nationhood: 1143; independent republic proclaimed Oct. 5, 1910
National Holiday: Day of Portugal, June 10
Portugal is a republic in extreme southwest of Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula,
and the Atlantic Ocean (the islands of Azores, Madeira and Savage). Portugal claims Olivença, administrated by Spain, as part of its national territory. It shares land
borders with Spain in the north and east, shares a marine border with Morocco in the south.
A Portuguese citizen is usually identified as Portuguese but also as Luso (or Lusitano)1.
Before the creation of the Portuguese state, Portugal was ruled by the Phoenicians
(since 1104 BC), Carthaginians (since 258 BC), Lusitanians (native insurrection from
194 BC), Romans (since 218 BC), Suevi (since 409), Visigoths (since 416), Arabs
(since 711), Asturians and Leonese (since 739).
By the division of the Spains and following a Visighot tradition, Portugal first became
independent (as Kingdom of Galicia and Portugal) in 1065 under the rule of Garcia. Because
Garcia was a tyrant, Portuguese and Galician nobles rebelled and the country rejoined Leon
Portugal traces its national origin by the Battle of São Mamede in 23th June 1128, when
the first Portuguese King, Afonso I, proclaimed himself as Prince of Portugal. By the
conference of Zamora in 1143, with the assistance of a representant of the Holy See,
Portugal was recognized as independent 2. and the prince as Dux Portucalensis. In 1179,
Afonso I was declared, by the pope, as King. The first Capital of Portugal is fixed in
Coimbra. In 1249 - 1250, the Algarve is finnaly reconquest by Portugal to the Moors, and
in 1255, the capital is shifted to Lisbon. Rio de Janeiro (Today a city of Brazil), also
became the Portuguese capital between 1808 and 1821, with the loss of it's power, Brazil
declares independence and Lisbon regained it's statute.
The border with Spain has remained almost unchanged since the 13th century. Portugal has
always turned towards the sea. Since early times fishing and overseas commerce have been
the main economic activities. Henry the Navigator's interest in exploration together with
some technological developments in navigation made Portugal's expansion possible and led
to great advances in geographic knowledge.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal eclipsed most other nations in terms of
economic, political, and cultural influence and it had an extensive empire throughout the
Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755
earthquake, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the loss of its Kingdom of Brazil
in 1822. A 1910 revolution deposed the Portuguese monarchy starting a period of chaotic
republicanism (First Republic); in 1926 a nationalist military coup d'etat began a period
of more than five decades of repressive fascist governments.
In 1974, a effectively bloodless left-wing military coup (the Carnation Revolution)
installed a government that instituted broad democratic reforms. The following year
Portugal granted independence to its colonies in Africa (Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau,
Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe) and lost its colony of East Timor in Asia to an
Indonesian invasion. Portugal itself entered the European Union in 1986, whilst another
Asian dependency, Macau, reverted to Chinese sovereignty in December 1999.
Origin of the Name
Portugal's name is due to a settlement in the estuary of Douro River, named Cale. Some
believe that the name Cale is from the Greek Kalles (The Greek word for beautiful),
because of the beautiful scenario of the Douro River where some ancient Greek had settled,
while others refer that the name has a Phoenician origin, a people that settled in the
Portuguese coast. Nevertheless during the Roman dominion on all the territory, the
settlement grew and became a Roman port, so it became known as Portus Cale (Port of Cale).
During the Middle ages, the king Luivegildus of the Visigoths and its successors coined
currencies with the legend Portucale, which turned to Portugale in the 7th and 8th
centuries. In the 9th century the name was extensively used by the all region between the
Douro and Minho rivers. In the 11th century, the province gained importance in Galicia,
and it became a county of the Kingdom of Leon, like Galicia.
Music of Portugal
Portugal is internationally known in the music scene for its traditions of fado, a popular form of music that has undergone
numerous mutations in the last half of the 20th century. Within Portugal, regional folk music remains popular, having been
updated and modernized in many cases, especially the northeastern region of Trás-os-Montes.
A crucial concept in Portuguese music is saudade, which can be most closely translated as yearning, but has a more expansive
meaning. Saudade is said to be requisite for musicians, as it powers their performances and causes frenzied crowd reactions.
Fado (fate in Portuguese) arose in Lisbon as the music of the urban poor, and is thus often compared to rembétika music of
Greece. Fado songs are typically lyrically harsh, with the singer resigned to sadness, poverty and loneliness, but remaining
dignified and firmly controlled. Fado is said to have been born in the beginning of the 19th century, when immigrants from
Brazil were commonplace, and their music was the fofa and lundum dances. These were often crude and vilified by the
upper-class at the time, but soon became the basis for fado. Portuguese literature, especially the quatrain couplets and
modhina ballads, were another integral part of early fado, but fado had appeared by 1836, when Maria Severa sang a fado so
beautifully that she seduced and ruined the Comte de Vimisio. References to what may have been fado appear in Brazil in 1829,
while modern fado is known since at least 1910, when it was first recorded.
Late in the 19th century, the city of Coimbra developed a distinctive fado scene. Coimbra, a literary capital for the
country, is now known for being more refined and majestic. The sound has been described as "the song of whose who retain
and cherish their illusions, not of those who have irretrievably lost them" by Rodney Gallop in 1936. A related form are
the guitarradas of the 1920s and 30s, best known for Dr. Antonio Menano and a group of virtuoso musicians he formed,
including Artur Paredes and José Joãoquim Cavalheiro. Student fado, performed by students at Coimbra University, have
maintained a tradition since it was pioneered in the 1890s by Augusto Hilario.
Starting in 1939 with the career of Amália Rodrigues, fado was an internationally popular genre. A singer and film actor,
Rodrigues made numerous stylistic innovations that have made her probably the most influential fadista of all time.
A rival in terms of influence is José Afonso, who began performing in the 1950s; he was a popular roots-based musician
that led the Portuguese roots revival. With artists like Sérgio Godinho and Luís Cília, Afonso helped form nova canção
music, which, after the 1974 revolution, gained socially-aware lyrics and became canto livre. The biggest name in canto
livre was Brigada Victor Jara, a group that seriously studied and were influenced by Portuguese regional music.
 The use of the words Lusitania or Nação Lusa to mean the Portugal and Lusitano to mean a Portuguese citizen is
due to ancient tribes that lived in most of today’s territory of Portugal, whose land was conquered by the Romans,
that by that created, in the area, the Roman Province of Lusitania.
 The actual concept declaration of independence did not exist at the time. Nether the recognization, Portugal was
recognized as a kingdom with its own king by Leon in 1143 and by the Pope in 1179. What is compared to today's recognition
 Mirandese language as an official recognition it is not an official language. It is spoken in the villages of the
Municipality of Miranda do Douro, but it is being discovered that some other remote villages in neighbouring municipalities
has dialects similar to this ancient language. Mirandese is not spoken in any town or city.
This information was taken from.
For more of Portugal's history click on the above link.