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the best way to discover portugal is by car rental. Easyterra car rental has over 77 pick up locations in portugal. There is always a pick up location in your region too.
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- Ponta delgada
Portugal is a popular vacation destination. This country in the west of europe offers beautiful beaches, well kept accommodations and an enchanting nature. cities like lisbon and porto are definitely worth a trip and you can enjoy there mediterranean cuisine. The beautiful weather makes your trip complete.
the first inhabitants of today’s portugal were the celts and the lusitanians. Since 200 years before christ the land was inhabited by the romans and they stayed there ca. 600 years. After a short period of germanic domination the islamic moors came to power. Moorish domination lasted for many centuries.
Portugal became a kingdom in the twelfth century. Portugal separated from galicia and the country was declared independent by the knight heinrich of burgundy. When the knight died, his son alfonso I became his successor. Alfonso I was the first official king of portugal. In 1385, John of Avis became king of portugal. He was able to prevent neighboring countries from annexing portugal. Henry the Navigator was John’s son. He made many voyages of discovery that contributed to the establishment of portugal as a world power.
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries portugal became a great colonial power. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, portugal held territories in africa, america and the middle east. However, philipp II took over from spain in 1640 the duke of braganza leads a noble revolt against spanish rule and proclaims himself as johann IV. To the king from. In 1775, the capital lisbon is shaken by an earthquake. Large parts of the city and the country were devastated.
In 1807, the portuguese were overrun by Napoleon and his forces. With the help of Great Britain, the Portuguese managed to drive the last French troops out of the country in 1812. The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro was also the Portuguese capital between 1808 and 1821. Brazil declared independence in 1822. The city of Lisbon regained its former status and became once again the capital of Portugal.
A century later (1910) the monarchy collapsed. Portugal became a republic with teofilo braga as the first president. This period was characterized by political instability. Several governments alternated and nine presidents came and went during this period. Shortly after, the first world war broke out. economically unstable portugal joins the allies. In 1926, the military coups and ends the first republic.
Antonio de oliveira salazar was president of portugal from 1928 to 1968. Its politics were a mixture of catholic corporatism and fascism. He supported general franco during the spanish civil war (1936-1939). Portugal remained neutral during the second world war. Later, Portugal became a co-founder of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). The period under the reign of Salazar was characterized by wars in the colonial territories. Salazar’s regime fell into international isolation.
During the ‘Carnation Revolution’ in 1974, Salazar’s right-wing regime was toppled. Portugal became a political democracy. Left-wing and right-wing governments have alternated. In 1986, portugal became a member of the european union (EU). In the nineties, portugal returned its colony of macao to the chinese. Since then, portugal is no longer a colonial power.
Society and culture.
Portugal has a population of over ten million. The country is sparsely populated and the annual population growth is negative. Many portuguese emigrated in the sixties. In the seventies, portugal became an attractive country again and many emigrants went back to their home country. Today, there are still many portuguese living in the country (approx. Three million) for economic reasons in countries such as France, Germany, the United States, Canada and Venezuela. Almost 5% of the portuguese population are immigrants. Most immigrants come from Ukraine, Brazil, Cape Verde Islands and Angola. Many people also live illegally in portugal. A large part of the population lives in the big cities: lisbon, porto, braga, aveiro and coimbra.
Almost 97% of the portuguese belong to the roman catholic church. There are also Protestants, Muslims, Hindus and Jews. portuguese is the official language spoken throughout the country. (except in a few villages). The language is romanic and similar to the spanish language. Portuguese is spoken by more than 160 million people worldwide.
The architecture is characteristic of the portuguese culture, which was influenced by several peoples who once inhabited the country (e.g. B. The Moorish and Roman culture). This influence can still be seen in portuguese festivals, music and literature. Portugal’s fado is a recognized art of singing. Songs full of longing and world-weariness play an important role in the lives of the portuguese people. Soccer is the most popular sport in portugal. Also many other sports are practiced. The portuguese love their festivals.During the summer months, every town celebrates at least one festival. Carnival is celebrated very extensively. The portuguese population is friendly and they like to work a lot.
Portugal has a parliamentary democracy. The four pillars of Portuguese politics are the president, the representation of the people in parliament, the state and the (high) court. The constitution guarantees the separation of powers. The government must be accountable to the president and the president to the parliament. The president is directly elected by the people for a five-year term. The parliament consists of one chamber with 230 deputies.
The absolute majority of the government is formed by the partido socialista (PS), a social democratic party. Anibal cavaco silva has been president of portugal since 2006. He is a member of the Partido Socialdemocrata (PSD), a conservative party. Both the PS and the PSD are market-oriented and supporters of the European Union. Jose socrates has been prime minister since 2005. The prime minister is appointed by the president.
The portuguese are generally positive towards europe. Abortion is still forbidden, but will be discussed again in the near future. homosexual equality laws are currently being drafted. Women have been able to vote in portugal since 1976.
Portugal has a market economy. Accession to the european union in 1986 has strengthened the portuguese economy. Unemployment has fallen. Portugal’s economy is the fastest growing in the european union. Portugal has a negative trade balance and inflation is high. The current government aims to further market liberalization and privatization and to reduce bureaucracy. Portugal also wants to promote investment in research and information technology in order to increase competition.
The service sector is important for the portuguese economy. A sub-sector is tourism. ten to twenty million tourists visit portugal every year. A disadvantage is that the economy could become dependent on tourism. The industrial sector also provides employment for a large part of the working population. The companies are small and the industry in portugal is not yet as developed as in most European countries. Important industries are the textile industry, shipbuilding, fish canning, wine growing and petrochemical industry. Portugal’s trade partners include the United States, Spain and Germany. Portugal exports wine, textiles, clothing, canned fish and cork (portugal has 50% of the global cork market). Important import products are: petroleum, machinery, iron and steel.
The agricultural sector also plays a major role in the country’s social product. Thanks to EU financial aid, portugal is able to modernize the agricultural sector and increase production. The agriculture and viticulture provide products such as: olive oil, wine, wheat and corn. Above all, port wines are exported. fishing is important for the food supply of the population. Mining yields little in the way of raw materials.
Geography and climate
Portugal is located in the extreme west of Europe. Together with spain, portugal forms the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal borders Spain to the north and east and the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west. Portugal has a size of more than 92.000 km². The coastline is a good 950 km. (excluding islands). The coasts are varied and there are beautiful beaches, secluded coves, dunes, and rock formations. Especially the algarve (the southern coastal strip) has a lot to offer.
the azores and madeira belong to portugal. These islands are located in the atlantic ocean. Some islands have volcanoes that are still active. Portugal’s river, the tejo, divides portugal into two parts. The landscape in the north is mountainous. The south consists mainly of rolling hills, the coastal region is flat. The highest point is on the island of pico. the peak ‘ponta do pico’ is 2351 m. High. Besides the tejo, there is another big river, the douro. Other rivers are: the guadiana, the minho, the mondego and the sado. The capital of portugal is lisbon. Almost three million people live here. Other important cities are: porto, amadora, braga, coimbra and funchal.
Most of portugal has a Mediterranean climate. Hot and dry in summer and cool and rainy in winter. The algarve has more than 3000 hours of sunshine a year. In the south of Portugal it is warmer and drier than in the north. The average temperature on the mainland is 15 degrees C. In the north and 18 degrees in the south. Portugal is one of the warmest countries in europe. August is the warmest month. Inland, temperatures can rise to 40 degrees Celsius. And above.
The increasing drought is a climatological problem that portugal has to face. The increasing drought often leads to forest fires during the hot summer months.
Transport and infrastructure
The number of vehicles, as well as the industrialization, has increased greatly in the last years. There have been many changes in the transportation system since 1990. The road network is almost 70.000 km and in good condition. Especially the roads between the big cities are well maintained. In portugal, you drive on the right side of the road, just like in our country. speeds are given in km. Public transportation is mostly owned by the state-owned company rodoviaria nacional (RN). Private companies also offer their services. There is an extensive transportation network, especially in the cities.
The length of the railroad network is approx. 2850 km. Rail travel tends to be inexpensive. The national railroads (CP) have three service areas. There is the regional train, which stops at almost every station, and the intercidad, which stops in the larger cities. Between lisbon and porto runs the long distance train "rapido". The two cities of lisbon and porto have good metro connections. A TGV connection between porto, lisbon and madrid (spain) is planned for 2008.
The main airports are in lisbon (lisbon portela airport), faro (faro airport) and porto (porto airport). The last two airports have been recently modernized. The main airports in the portuguese islands are:(madeira airport), porto santo (porto santo airport) and ponta delgada (ponta delgada airport).
Seaports are important for portugal. Many goods are shipped by ship. the two most important ports are lisbon and porto. From lisbon, ferries cross the river tejo every quarter of an hour to the suburb of cacilhas.
The time in portugal is identical to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+0). Compared to the continent of Europe, the clock here is one hour behind. In spring the clock is moved forward one hour.
Food and drink
The portuguese cuisine is very varied. Everywhere in portugal you can find mediterranean dishes. Many dishes are prepared with fresh fish. Shellfish, crustaceans and shellfish, as well as less expensive fish, such as.B. Sardines, are often eaten. Fish dishes are prepared differently, depending on the regional recipe. A famous portuguese meal is bacalhau: a dried and salted cod (stockfish). Many portuguese start the meal with a starter soup. Portuguese cuisine also has a variety of meat dishes to offer. Beefsteak, pork, lamb and chicken are often eaten. In the north of portugal, meat is often prepared in an earthenware dish called a pacura. Many dishes are prepared with olive oil. In the restaurant it is customary to give the waiter a 10% tip. Officially, gratuities are already included in the bill.
Portugal has many good wines and wine is a popular drink here. port wines are a well-known export product and the portuguese are very proud of their port wine. The wine varieties are grown on the portuguese wine hillsides. These wines are very good and vary from average to exclusive. The tap water in portugal is safe to drink. However, sometimes the water tastes like chlorine. In this case you should prefer mineral water. Especially in the countryside you should rather drink water bottles.
Portugal has adapted well to the millions of tourists who visit the country every year. Accommodations are plentiful. There are vacation homes, B&Bs, hotels, guesthouses and campsites. Beautiful campsites can sometimes be found in the vineyards and for families there are large and well-equipped campsites. The accommodations in portugal are clean and well maintained. The algarve is a famous vacation destination and the tourist will find wonderful beaches, sun and sea here.
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