October 5, 2011 - Portugal's Republic Day

Moorish influence in Portugal
Portugal is the western-most country in Europe. It was settled by Celts, then made part of the Roman Republic; it was settled later by Germanic peoples such as the Visigoths, then conquered by the Moors (Islamic people from Africa and Arabia). When Christian people reconquered the area, in 1139, Portugal established itself as an independent kingdom, and it claims to be the oldest nation-state in Europe.

Westernmost and oldest? Can we add some more “most-ests” to the list?

Well, in the 15th and early 16th centuries, Portugal was the leader of all of Europe in the Age of Exploration. Inspired by Henry the Navigator, Portuguese “discovered,” explored, settled, and conquered islands in the Atlantic Ocean, parts of Africa and India, and Asia, and Brazil in South America. The Portuguese Empire was the first transoceanic empire in history (that is, the first to cross a major ocean, as opposed to a mere sea), and of all the European colonial empires, it was the longest lasting.

Still, the Portugal of today is considered of less power and influence than many other nations.


Portugal has its primary national day on June 10; called Portugal Day, it commemorates the June 10, 1580, death of national poet Luis Vaz de Camoes. This Republic Day celebrates the first democratic republic which was set up on this date in 1910, after the king of Portugal was overthrown. The best news of all is that the overthrow was bloodless—no fighting, no deaths!

  • Learn a little Portuguese here
  • Learn about Portugal here
  • Check out the mixture of old and new that is Portugal, here

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