The oldest traces of human settlement, most found along the Atlantic coast, belong to the Early Paleolithic and are estimated to be about half a million years old. However, Paleolithic cave settlements are few, and only in a single cave in central Portugal have paintings from the end-phase of the oldest Stone Age been found.
The knowledge of the settlement during the Mesolithic period is mainly based on a significant number of kitchens, of which the majority also contain grave fields. The finds from the beginning of the Neolithic, dating to the 5th century BC, show strong cultural influence from coastal settlements in the western Mediterranean. During the 4000s BC a large number of megalithic tombs were erected.
During the copper age (3000 BC), large villages were built, protected by extensive masonry; this social change can be followed into the Bronze Age for the following millennium. From the Bronze Age, stone carvings as well as erected stones with carvings are also derived. The Iron Age, which began in the 7th century BC, is well located, mainly through large fortified settlements, often in marked elevations. A Celtic influence is noticeable in the finds (compare lusitans).
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The Roman conquest of Portugal began in 194 BC. and ended 27 BC with the organization of the imperial province of Lusitania. During the imperial era, the area developed economically and politically in close proximity to the two Spanish provinces (see Hispania). At the beginning of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the region was invaded 409 AD of alans and gliders. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Portugal.
The emergence of Portugal and the struggle against the Muslims
From 585, Portugal’s current territory was ruled by the Visigoths. The Muslim empire, which began in 711, became brief in the northern parts. The port region – Terra Portucalense, later the province of Portucale, from which Portugal’s name derives – was recaptured by Christian Asturian rulers in the late 1800s. In 1064, Ferdinand I conquered the area from Castile and León to the Mondego River in the south and established the county of Coimbra.
The origin of the modern state of Portugal must be sought in the merger of the two counties of Portucale and Coimbra, which Alfons VI of Castile and León 1095–97 granted to Henry of Burgundy. He was married to an extra-marital daughter of Alfons, Teresa, and had come to Christian Spain to fight the Muslim Almoravids. Their son adopted as Alfons I in the title of “king of Portugal” after winning the battle of Ourique against the Muslims in 1139, and Castile recognized the independence of Portugal in 1143. In 1147, Alfons conquered Lisbon and thus advanced the Portuguese border to the river Tejo. The Muslim empire was definitely crushed by Alfons IIIwhen he conquered the kingdom of Algarve in 1249, which was united in a personal union with Portugal. Portugal was then given the boundaries that it still has today.
The Portuguese royal power was consolidated through fierce battles with the nobility and the church. During the 13th century, a parliament, the Cortes, was developed, and Portugal came under Dionysius (Dinis) I (1279-1325) on a par with the developed Christian states of the West. He founded the country’s first university in Lisbon in 1290 (later moved to Coimbra), promoted agriculture, stimulated trade (mainly wine exports to England) and built up a strong navy. As a result of Ferdinand I’s unsuccessful warfare against Castile, Portugal was close to losing its independence after the king’s death in 1383. However, it was rescued by a national uprising and the election of the Grand Master of the Order, Johan, to a new king.
Colonial empire is emerging; union with Spain
Johan I defeated the Castilians at Aljubarrota (near Batalha) in 1385 and concluded an alliance with England the following year. He initiated Portugal’s colonial expansion with Ceuta’s conquest in 1415 and with support for exploration. This policy, which was strongly influenced by the desire to continue the fight against Islam, was also represented by Johan’s son, Henrik Sjöfararen, and continued with varying success and intensity under Johan’s successor.
In 1458, the Portuguese conquests in Morocco gained the status of the kingdom (“Algarve beyond the sea”). Diogo Cão found the mouth of the Congo River in 1482, and Bartolomeu Diaz rounded Africa in 1488. When Portugal and Castile divided their colonial spheres of interest through the Treaty of Tordesilla’s 1494, Portugal gained exclusive rights to the African coast. The goal of discovering the sea route to India was realized in 1499 when Vasco da Gama reached the commercial city of Calicut. In 1500, P.Á. Cabral the Brazilian coast. Thanks to its superior warships and artillery, Portugal was able to quickly defeat the Muslim trade in the Indian Ocean and gain full control of shipping from East Africa to the Moluccas.
The royal power was consolidated in parallel with the external expansion. The huge profits from the colonial trade made the king independent of cortes’ appropriations and thus in practice monotonous. The oppression of the Jews was somewhat milder in Portugal than in neighboring Spain. The Inquisition was introduced in 1536 by Johan III, and in 1540 the higher education came under the control of the Jesuits.
Portugal soon lost its superpower. The costs of retaining power in Asia already exceeded profits from the spice trade in the mid-16th century. Crucial to Portugal’s weakening was the defeat of King Sebastian against the Moors at Ksar el-Kebir in Morocco in 1578, where the king himself fell. Portugal’s difficult situation after Sebastian’s death was exploited by Philip II of Spain to occupy the country in 1580. However, Philip, who had many followers in the Church and the nobility, guaranteed Portugal political autonomy. Nevertheless, the union with Spain did not last more than 60 years. Economically, it never became the good deal the followers had hoped for. The Portuguese were allowed to stop trading with Spain’s enemies, including the Netherlands, who had been Portugal’s main trading partner before the Union. Furthermore, Filip was ignoredII ‘s promises of his successor, who were instead anxious to use Portugal’s resources in the service of the Spanish great power.
The dissatisfaction with the Spanish empire grew, and Portugal’s break with Spain took place in 1640. The triggering factor was the Portuguese’s unwillingness to intervene in the war against the equally dissatisfied Catalonia. The Duke of Bragança was elected Portuguese King under the name of Johan IV.
After the Restoration (1640–1910)
Following the royal restoration, Portugal initially struggled with major diplomatic, military and economic difficulties. The country must wage war not only against Spain but also against the Netherlands over the colonies. Portugal lost several colonies from the beginning of the 17th century, especially in Asia, to the Netherlands and England. Of the great colonial empire of Portugal, Brazil, Goa, Daman, Diu, Macao, some of the island of Timor, Portuguese Guinea (Guinea-Bissau), Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Azores and Madeira remained.
The pressure against Portugal eased since peace was concluded with Spain in 1668 and the so-called Methuen Treaty was signed with England in 1703. The latter became the starting point for Portugal’s long economic and political dependence on Britain. The financial situation of the monarchy improved after the discovery of gold in Brazil in the 1690s and diamonds in the 1720s. From the Brazilian mines, the income flowed to the country until about 1750 but was wasted on the splendor and the luxury.
During the reign of Joseph I (1750–77), the awning of Pombal made a remarkable attempt to bring Portugal into line with time. The finances were streamlined, trading companies and manu- factures were founded and the teaching system was modernized. Pombal, who also had the reconstruction of Lisbon after the devastating earthquake of 1755, came to possess an absolute power in practice. Against his enemies within the nobility and the church he was completely irreconcilable, and he expelled the Jesuits in 1759. Although Mary I dismissed Pombal in 1777, his reform work was partially enduring.
Portugal was drawn into the Revolutionary War early. When the country refused to join Napoleon I’s continental system, it was invaded by French troops in 1807, with the royal family fleeing to Brazil. The French were expelled in 1811 with British help. However, the court remained in Brazil, and Portugal was in practice governed by British envoy Lord Beresford. After a liberal rise in 1820, however, Johan VI returned to Portugal.
A chaotic time ensued. In 1822, Brazil declared independence, and shortly afterwards the first in a series of dramatic and bloody constitutional battles erupted, which for three decades made Portugal increasingly poor and hampered its economic development. A more constructive phase began in 1851 with the so-called Liberal governments of the rebirth, which aimed to provide Portugal with modern infrastructure, especially roads, railways, telegraphs and ports. However, the costs were not covered by domestic tax revenues but by foreign loans, which made the government financial crisis permanent.
During the 1880s, Portugal pursued an active policy in Africa. The idea was that the loss of Brazil could be offset by an expansion of the African colonial empire. However, the plans came to meet opposition from the European powers. In 1890, after a British ultimatum, Karl I had to withdraw Portuguese troops from the area of present-day Malawi. The incident triggered an angry reaction among the Portuguese public, which was directed not least at Karl for alleged indecency. It was also the beginning to the end of the Portuguese monarchy. In 1908, Karl I and Crown Prince Luís Felipe were murdered.
Republic and dictatorship
In 1910, Manuel II was overthrown, and a republic was proclaimed with Joaquim Teófilo Braga as provisional president. The new regime separated the church from the state, abolished hereditary privileges and embarked on ambitious reform efforts. However, the Republic did not work well, i. due to internal divisions among Republicans. The period was marked by political unrest and instability. Portugal, fearing a German intervention in Angola and Mozambique, participated in the First World War on the United Kingdom and France. The Democratic Republic was finally overthrown by a military coup in 1926.
General AO de Fragoso Carmona became Portuguese President in 1928, but real power came to be exercised by António de Oliveira Salazar, who was Finance Minister 1928-40 and Prime Minister 1932-68 with dictatorial powers. Salazar succeeded in curing Portugal’s chronic state financial crisis and, by a new constitution in 1933, created a constitutional framework for the new regime. Salazar’s Estado Novo (‘The New State’) was based on corporatist notions and strict Catholic conservatism. During both the Spanish Civil War and World War II, Portugal observed a cautious neutrality.
Resistance to the Salazar regime began to take shape after 1945. In 1958, moderate General Humberto Delgado got about 23% of the vote in the presidential election. Delgado was murdered in 1965, and the deed was attributed to the PIDE security police (Polícia Internacional e Defesa do Estado). Incidents like this gradually undermined the base of the Salazar regime. Foreign policy joined Portugal in 1949 with NATO and gained membership in the UN in 1955. Portugal was affected by the post-war colonization wave. The country lost Goa, Daman and Diu to India in 1961, and the same year began the first unrest in Angola. The war in the colonies, the so-called transmarine provinces, evolved over time into the Salazard dictatorship’s biggest problem. Salazar resigned after a stroke in 1968.
After the 1974 revolution
Salazar’s successor Marcelo Caetano tried to rescue the regime with a cautious liberalization, but was nonetheless overthrown in a bloody military coup in 1974. The “carnival revolution” was carried out by the Movemento das Forças Armadas, an underground group of officers who were dissatisfied with the armed forces. General António de Spínola became provisional president but was replaced in September of that year by General Francisco da Costa Gomes. A failed right-wing coup in March 1975 led to a radicalization of the revolution. The foreground figure during this troubled period was the Prime Minister, Colonel Vasco Gonçalves. In 1974, Guinea-Bissau became independent. It was followed in 1975 by Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe, and in 1976 Portuguese Timor was joined to Indonesia.
The radical phase came to an end after a coup attempt from the far left was defeated by Lieutenant Colonel Ramalho Eanes in 1975. The victory of the Socialists and the right-wing parties in the April 1976 elections and Eane’s triumph in the June presidential election stabilized the political situation despite the difficult economic crisis. Between 1976 and 1980 Portugal was ruled by a series of center-left governments, most often led by socialist Mário Soares. The 1980 election temporarily gave power to a mid-right alliance. By dissolving the so-called Revolutionary Council, the government definitely deprived the military of the political power they acquired in 1974-75. Soares formed a new coalition government in 1983, which had some economic success and created the conditions for Portugal’s membership in the EC in 1986. Soares won the 1986 presidential election, becoming Portugal’s first civilian president in 60 years. He was re-elected in 1991.
From 1985–95, the government was held by Aníbal Cavaco Silva’s Liberal Social Democratic Party (PSD). During these years, business was modernized, and the Marxist-inspired constitution (from 1976) was reformed to allow the privatization of state-owned enterprises. The presidential post was held in 1986–96 by Mário Soares, who diligently used his right of veto to block the legislation. The Socialists, now led by António Guterres, re-formed the government after the 1995 elections.
The 1996 presidential election was won by socialist Jorge Sampaio. Domestic policy then came to be characterized by the objective of qualifying Portugal for membership in EMU. The Lisbon World Exhibition in 1998 and the entry into the EMU in 1999 marked two important successes for the Socialist government, but from spring 2001 it became increasingly difficult to manage the economy. Guterres and his government resigned at the end of 2001 following a setback in the municipal elections that year. New Prime Minister became PSD leader José Manuel Durão Barroso, who after the 2002 parliamentary elections formed a coalition government with the equally bourgeois Partido Popular(CDS-PP). The new government tightened the economy, but the price was falling figures for the government parties. Barroso left the government in the summer of 2004 after being appointed new President of the European Commission. He was succeeded by party-mate Pedro Santana Lopes, who led a more populist policy than the representative.
The dissatisfaction with Santana Lope’s politics also grew within his own party, and in the fall of 2004 President Jorge Sampaio decided to dissolve Parliament and announce new elections. The new election in February 2005 was won by the Socialist Party, which got its own majority in parliament. Their electoral victory was regarded more as a declaration of disbelief against the former government than any strong support for the socialists. Socialist leader José Sócrates was appointed new head of government. The new government made promises of investments in technical research and a sharp reduction in the number of public employees. The country’s continued budget deficit forced economic austerity measures that triggered protests from trade unions and the left-wing party of the government.
In the 2006 presidential election, PSD’s Cavaco Silva already won the first round of elections. He was re-elected in 2011, even by a large majority. The Socialist Party retained government power after another electoral victory in 2009. In March 2011, Sócrate’s government resigned and a new election was announced after Parliament voted down several of the budget austerity packages presented by the government.
Portugal’s already vulnerable economy had further deteriorated as a result of the global financial crisis that erupted in 2008–09. To avert a state-financial collapse, in May 2011, Portugal, as the third EU country after Ireland and Greece, was granted an emergency loan from the EU, the ECB and the IMF. In connection with the loans, Portugal committed itself to a powerful budget restructuring policy, with government spending cuts and tax increases.
In the new election in June 2011, PSD prevailed and party chairman Pedro Passos Coelho was able to form a new government together with CDS-PP. The new government continued to pursue crisis policy and in agreement with the Socialist Party several new crisis packages were pushed through Parliament. The large cuts in the public sector, as well as fee and tax increases, led to widespread protests and demonstrations supported by Portuguese trade unions in the fall of 2012. The agreement between the government and the Socialist Party ended when they later refused to be part of the austerity policy and instead wanted to renegotiate the terms of the support packages. In the local elections in September 2013, the Socialist Party advanced strongly while Coelho’s PSD lost many mandates.
In 2014, it was clear that Portugal would not need more emergency loans. However, the country still had major financial problems, partly due to a high government debt.
Although the effects of the government’s austerity policy were very visible to the residents, protest movements of the kind that had emerged in neighboring Spain and Greece had not developed in Portugal. However, the results of the 2014 local elections indicated that the opposition parties, especially the Socialist Party, were strongly advancing thanks to their criticism of the austerity policy.
During the election campaign before the 2015 parliamentary elections, the government coalition (PSD and CDS-PP) and the largest opposition party (socialist party) chose different political lines. The government pointed out that its measures resulted in GDP growth and falling unemployment and, for the sake of stabilization, wanted to continue with austerity policy measures for another two to three years, while the Socialist Party and other opposition parties demanded relief to improve the economic situation of citizens and businesses.
Despite years of unpopular austerity policy, the sitting coalition PAF with Passus Coelho at the forefront renewed the confidence of Portuguese voters. However, the coalition did not gain a majority in Parliament. In November, a left-wing alliance defeated the bourgeois minority government by voting against their programs in parliament. Passus Coelho’s second government thus became the most short-lived in Portugal after the introduction of democracy in 1974. At the end of November, Socialist leader António Costa was named prime minister. The message highlighted the political uncertainty that has characterized the country since the election.
In 2016, 2017 and 2018, fierce forest fires raged around Portugal. In June 2017, some 60 people died in a forest fire in the Pedrógão Grande in central parts of the country; most of the dead were caught by the flames as they sat in their cars on the road between Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera. Prime Minister António Costa announced three days of country grief. Also in August and October, several fires raged, caused by extreme drought and heavy winds on the Iberian Peninsula. In October, at least 27 people died in fires in northern and central Portugal. The latter fires led to Interior Minister Constança Urbano de Sousa choosing to resign.
The country’s economy gradually recovered. In 2017, the budget net (budget deficit) was just at the EU approved threshold, -3.0%.