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Portugal

Portugal’s rich and turbulent history shaped the country, from the 15th- and 16th-century days of discovery, to the autocratic leadership of Estado Novo (New State) from 1932 to 1974. Portugal contains enough World Heritage Sites, natural and cultural wonders to keep any visitor busy for a long time. It is a country of astonishing diversity, idyllic weather and welcoming people. Not to mention picture-postcard scenery with a rugged windswept coastline, pristine beaches where fishermen mend their nets beside brightly painted sardine boats, cobbled streets, dazzling whitewashed houses and fairytale castles.

Practical Information

Area: 92 345 km² (35 655 miles²)

Capital: Lisbon. Population: 600 000

Population: 10.6 million

Currency: Euro (EUR symbol Eur) = 100 cents

Government: Republic since 1910.

Tipping: Generally 10-15%.

Legal drinking age: 18

Time zone: GMT (GMT + 1 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)

Languages: Portuguese

Additional descriptions

Portugal: Social customs

The Portuguese way of life is leisurely, and old-fashioned politeness is essential. Warm hospitality is the norm. The country has a deeply individual national character, although each province has its own traditions and folklore. Casual wear is widely acceptable, although beachwear should not be worn in towns. In restaurants, it is usual to smoke only at the end of the meal. Smoking is prohibited in cinemas, theatres and on buses.Read more own traditions and folklore. Casual wear is widely acceptable, although beachwear should not be worn in towns. In restaurants, it is usual to smoke only at the end of the meal. Smoking is prohibited in cinemas, theatres and on buses.

Portugal: Food and local specialties

Seafood is popular, especially in Lisbon. Soup is a main dish. Portugal’s sweet pastries are also worth a try. Things to know: Table service is normal. There are no licensing hours. The national specialtiesRead more are: Sopa de marisco (shellfish soup cooked and served with wine). Caldo verde (green soup made with finely shredded green kale leaves in broth). Bacalhau (dried cod, cooked in over 100 different ways). Caldeirada is a fish stew with as many as nine kinds of fish, cooked with onions and tomatoes. Carne de porco á Alentejana, in which bits of fried pork are covered with a sauce of clams stewed with tomato and onions. Puddings include arroz doce (rice pudding), Madeira pudding and nuvens (egg custard). Portuguese wines have changed beyond recognition over the past 10 years. Many of these new, modern wines are indigenous varieties with distinctive flavours. Sparkling rosé wines are mostly produced for export. Mateus Rosé is a famous lightweight rosé. Portuguese brandies are also good, the best are produced around Porto, where port wines originate.

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