Portugal, formally the Portuguese Republic, is a nation in Southwestern Europe located on the Iberian Peninsula. It is the westernmost nation on the European continent. It is bounded on the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the east and north by Spain. The Portugal–Spain border is 1,214 kilometers (754 miles) long and is regarded the European Union’s longest continuous border. Additionally, the republic encompasses the Azores and Madeira archipelagos, both of which are independent entities with their own regional administrations.
Since prehistoric times, the area of modern Portugal has been continually inhabited, invaded, and fought over. Following the Pre-Celts, Celts, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans, the Visigothic and Suebi Germanic peoples invaded. In 711, the Moors conquered the Iberian Peninsula, and for the next centuries, Portugal would be a member of the Muslim Al Andalus. Portugal was established as a consequence of the Christian Reconquista, and in 1139, Afonso Henriques was crowned King of Portugal, thus securing Portugal’s independence.
Portugal created the world’s first empire in the 15th and 16th centuries, becoming one of the world’s main economic, political, and military powers. Portuguese explorers pioneered maritime exploration during this period, most notably under the royal patronage of Prince Henry the Navigator and King Joo II, with such notable discoveries as Vasco da Gama’s sea route to India (1497–98), the discovery of Brazil (1500), and the reaching of the Cape of Good Hope. During this historical period, Portugal monopolized the spice trade, while the Portuguese Empire grew via military operations in Asia. However, Lisbon’s devastation in a 1755 earthquake, the country’s occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, Brazil’s independence (1822), and the Liberal Wars (1828–34) all left Portugal wounded by conflict and reduced in global influence.
After the monarchy was overthrown in 1910, the democratic but unstable Portuguese First Republic was formed, only to be succeeded by the right-wing authoritarian dictatorship of the Estado Novo. After the Portuguese Colonial War and the 1974 Carnation Revolution, democracy was restored. Shortly afterwards, virtually all of its foreign colonies gained independence, thus ending the world’s longest-lived colonial empire. Portugal has a significant cultural and architectural impact on the rest of the world, as well as a legacy of over 250 million Portuguese speakers.
Portugal is a developed nation with a developed economy and a good quality of life. It is the world’s fifth most peaceful nation, with a unitarysemi-presidential republican system of government. It ranks 18th in the world in terms of social progress, surpassing other Western European nations such as France, Spain, and Italy. NATO and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries are also founder members, and it is also a member of a number of other international organizations, including the United Nations, the European Union, the eurozone, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.