Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Portugal

Portugal is famous for its beaches, food and Cristiano Ronaldo….but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As a nation, Portugal is not much given to boasting, so you may not know that….


1. Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe with its borders pretty much unchanged since 1297.  Portugal also had one of the longest running empires (from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to the handover of Macau in 1999) and one of the largest, stretching from Brazil to China.

2. Portuguese is spoken by the 10 million inhabitants of Portugal….and also by 230 million others all around the world. In fact, Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries and is the 6th most used language online.

3. Portugal accounts for about 50% of the worlds cork production.  And the best cork in the world is from the Algarve.  Portuguese cork is used by leading brands such as Moet Chandon and  Rolls Royce, by Airbus and NASA.  And in 2018, Portuguese cork will be present in the spacecraft used by the European Space Agency in its mission to mars.

4. The only place in Europe that you can interact with dolphins, swimming in the pool with these fabulous creatures is in Portugal – at Zoomarine park in the Algarve. The Dolphin Interaction programme gets you up close and personal with the dolphins.

5. The largest artificial underwater park in the world is in Portugal – or rather in the ocean just off the Algarve coast. The Ocean Revival Underwater Park has four decommissioned Portuguese navy ships nestling on the seabed, home to an ever evolving eco-system and major attraction for divers from all around the world.

6. The ATM system in Portugal, the Multibanco is one of the most advanced in the world. Long before online banking became the norm, you could do your banking, pay your bills and your taxes at your local Multibanco. Today there are over 60 operations possible via the ATM system, including buying concert tickets, donating to charities and topping up your phone credit.

7. In fact, Portugal totally kicks its traditional image by amazing innovation….the Green Lane toll pay system is a Portuguese invention, as is the pre-paid mobile phone card. And Portugal has experienced the fastest growth in innovation performance among EU member states in recent years.

8. The oldest bookshop in the world is in Portugal. Bertrand in Lisbon has been doing business since 1732 and is the cornerstore of the Bertrand chain. The location of the original store underwent an enforced change due to the massive earthquake in 1755, but has been at Rua Garrett ever since. And one of the most beautiful bookstores is in Porto. Lello bookstore was voted the third most beautiful bookstore in the world.

9. Portuguese shoes walk the world, and strut some of the biggest stages. Rihanna’s 2013 shoe collection for River Island was produced in Portugal. And Pippa Middleton, the famous royal sister, and her mother, both wore Portuguese made shoes for the royal wedding. A traditional industry that has moved with the times, the Portuguese footwear industry styles itself as the sexiest industry in Europe.

10. Some of the biggest and best waves in the world are to be found off the coast of Portugal, at Nazaré. Due to the topography and geography, it is not unusual for monster waves to batter the coastline here, attracting surfers from all over the world. Garrett McNamara rode the world record wave here - take a look at the video. Waves can get upto 100 feet here!