Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Welcome to Portugal with Incantato Tours!

Bem-Vindo a Portugal!

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a fascinating country with a proud history that can be felt all throughout the country. It lies in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. The westernmost country in Europe, Portugal is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and Spain to the north and east.

Although originally settled in prehistoric times, Portugal did not become an established nation-state until 1143 during the Christian Reconquista. The country is the self-proclaimed oldest European nation-state.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, as a result of the maritime exploration, Portugal established a global empire that included property possessions in Africa, Asia, and South America, thus becoming the world’s prime economic, political and military power of the time. The Portuguese Empire was the longest-lived of the modern European colonial empires, spanning almost 600 years, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to the handover of Macau in 1999 and granting of sovereignty to East Timor in 2002.
Portugal's international status was reduced during the 19th century, especially following the Independence of Brazil - the largest colony.

Portugal is a developed country with the world's 27th highest quality of life as of 2010 according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the 25th in Bloomberg's Global Innovation Index. It is the 13th most peaceful and 8th most globalized country in the world and a member of the European Union and the United Nations, and a founding member of the Latin Union, the Organization of Ibero-American States, OECD, NATO, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the eurozone and the Schengen Agreement.

Portugal is defined as a Mediterranean climate, and is one of the warmest European countries: the annual average temperature in mainland Portugal varies from 53.6 °F in the mountainous interior north to over     64.4 °F in the south. The Algarve, separated from the Alentejo region by mountains reaching up to 3,000 ft in Pico da Foia, has a climate similar to that of the southern coastal areas of Spain or Southern California.

Portuguese music encompasses a wide variety of genres. The most renowned is fado, a melancholy urban music normally associated with Portuguese guitar and themes of longing. Fandango is one of the most popular regional dances, a lively Andalusian folk dance performed in triple-meter. Internationally notable performers include Amália Rodrigues, Carlos Paredes, José Afonso and Madredeus.
Here you can watch a traditional Fandango dancer perform to the live accompaniment of authentic Portuguese guitarists.

If you want to learn more about Portugal - here are some interesting facts:

Did you know that...
  1. ...Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries in the world?
    Over 236 million people world-wide are native Portuguese speakers. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome, and Equatorial Guinea. Portuguese is also spoken in Goa (India), Macau and East Timor.
  2. ...Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world?
    Portugal produces 70% of the world's cork exports. Main importers of Portuguese cork are: Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. The country also has the largest cork forest.
  3. ...the longest bridge in Europe is in Portugal?
    The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is 10.5 miles long, which makes it the longest in Europe.
  4. ...Portugal is one of the world's top surf-sports?
    Portugal has a coastline that spans 497 miles and is known to have 364 days of surf.
  5. ...one of Europe's oldest universities is in Portugal?
    The University of Coimbra was established in 1290, making it one of the oldest universities on the European continent.
Photos courtesy of Wikipedia

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