Have you ever been to Portugal? Let me guess. You loved it. I might be biased, but I have to admit that I’d judge you if you didn’t.
After all, this relatively small country has miles of stunning coastlines and picture-postcard cities, towns and villages galore, making it the perfect holiday destination.
But have you ever considered Portugal for more than just your favourite spot for city breaks or beach holidays? It’s got so much more to offer than just that. It’s a fantastic place to live on all kinds of levels and is brimming with smart investment opportunities.
Still need a little convincing? Here’s a selection of the coolest facts about Portugal.
1 – One of the oldest universities in Europe is in Coimbra
Academically speaking, Portugal was ahead of the curve. The University of Coimbra was established way back in the year 1290.
2 – Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries
If you ask most people where Portuguese is spoken apart from Portugal most would say Brazil, the largest ‘Lusophone’ country in the world.
But not that many people know that, as a result of Portugal’s colonial history, it’s the official language of Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe and Equatorial Guinea. It’s also spoken in Macao (China), East Timor and Goa (India).
Over 236 million people worldwide speak Portuguese as their native language, so the Portuguese-speaking market is a powerful one, and it’s a very useful language to learn.
3 – Portugal and England have the world’s oldest diplomatic alliance
The Anglo-Portuguese alliance was signed back in 1373 and is still going strong.
4 – Portugal made same-sex marriage legal in 2010
Considering the country was ruled by a harsh dictatorship for half of the 20th century, it’s a pretty liberal place. It was the 6th country in Europe to legalise same-sex marriage.
5 – People in Portugal carry the least cash of any European citizens
The ATM system is so good in Portugal that the average citizen only carries 29 euros in cash. 63 euros is the European average, so that’s quite a difference! You can do anything from buying train tickets to donating to charity through the ATMs here. On top of that, card payments are very widespread and becoming ever more widely used.
6 – Portugal is leading the way with renewable energy
This western European country is blazing a renewable trail. It’s making the most of its natural resources, and by July 2014 70% of energy here came from wind, hydro and solar power.
They’re forward-thinking here, with projects like the WindFloat floating wind farm and the WaveRoller, converting those powerful waves, so famous amongst surfers, into energy.
7 – Portugal produces half of the world’s cork
When you pop open a bottle of port, the cork is almost certainly home-grown. About half of the world’s cork is produced in Portugal, and, as you might have guessed, its most popular use is for stoppering wine bottles. I’ll drink to that!
But I would say the coolest thing about Portugal is really its people. Humble and welcoming, they’re always open to making new friends.
And the best thing is that we’re all over the world. Find out all about how the Portuguese are spread over the seven continents here.
If you’d like to know some facts about the lovely Portuguese language, you can find some info here.