A Look at the Past
Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe. Its frontiers were established in 1297 and have not changed since.

The Celts and Iberians were the first inhabitants of the area. In the second century B.C., the area was under Roman domination and was known as the province of Lusitania. The German Visigoths invaded in the fifth century A.D. and in the eighth century, North African Muslims, known as Moors, took control of the area.

The Spanish fought to retake the area from the Moors. What is now the northern part of the country became a feudal province of Spain in the 11th century. In 1139, Alfonso Henriques, son of the count of Portugal, declared Portugal's independence from Spain. He and his successors continued the fight against the Moors and by 1279, the Moors had been expelled from Portugal. The Moorish influence, however, remained in Portuguese architecture and design.
Did you know?

Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, found a route to the Far East in 1498, six years after Columbus' voyage across the Atlantic. Pedro Alvares Cabral landed in South America in 1500.

Portuguese mariners and explorers roamed the world and dominated sea trade during the 15th and 16th centuries. Portugal colonized Brazil in South America, Mozambique, Angola and Portuguese Guinea in Africa, Goa in India and the trading post of Macao in China.

During the 19th century, the monarchy adopted a constitution and granted independence to Brazil. In 1910, the monarchy was overthrown and a republic was announced. After a period of instability, Prime Minister Antonio de Oliveira Salazar took control with the support of the country's elite and the Roman Catholic Church. He abolished political parties and trade unions and implemented political censorship.

In the 1960s, the African Liberation Movement led to the rebellion of Portugal's African colonies. Angola rebelled against Portugal in 1961 followed by Portuguese Guinea in 1963 and Mozambique in 1964. In 1974, the Portuguese government was overthrown by a group of army officers in a coup called the Revolution of the Carnations. During the next two years, the African colonies were granted their independence. In 1976 Portugal adopted a new constitution.

In the 1980s, Portugal worked to improve its economy, trade and educational system. Portugal joined the European Economic Community in 1986. This allowed the Portuguese better access to education, health care, employment and social justice.