Portugal (Portuguese pronunciation: [puɾtuˈɣaɫ]), officially the Portuguese Republic (Portuguese: República Portuguesa [ʁɛˈpuβlikɐ puɾtuˈɣezɐ]), is a sovereign state located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.
Portugal is the oldest state in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the oldest in Europe, its territory having been continuously settled, invaded and fought over since prehistoric times. The Pre-Celts, Celts, Carthaginians and Romans were followed by the invasions of the Visigoths and Suebi Germanic peoples. Portugal as a country was established during the Christian Reconquista against the Moors who had invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711 AD. Despite attempts at independence since its foundation as a county in 868, only after the Battle of São Mamede in 1128, where Portuguese forces led by Afonso Henriques defeated forces led by his mother, Theresa of Portugal, the County of Portugal affirmed its sovereignty and Afonso Henriques styled himself Prince of Portugal. He would later be proclaimed King of Portugal at the Battle of Ourique in 1139 and was recognised as such by neighbouring kingdoms in 1143.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal established the first global empire, becoming one of the world’s major economic, political and military powers. During this period, today referred to as the Age of Discovery, Portuguese explorers pioneered maritime exploration, notably under royal patronage of Prince Henry the Navigator and King John II, with such notable voyages as Bartolomeu Dias’ sailing beyond the Cape of Good Hope (1488), Vasco da Gama’s discovery of the sea route to India (1497–98) and the European discovery of Brazil (1500). During this time, Portugal monopolized the spice trade, and the empire expanded with military campaigns in Asia. However, events such as the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, the country’s occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence of Brazil (1822), left Portugal crippled from war and diminished in its world power.
After the 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy, the democratic but unstable Portuguese First Republic was established, later being superseded by the Estado Novo right-wing authoritarian regime. Democracy was restored after the Carnation Revolution in 1974, ending the Portuguese Colonial War. Shortly after, independence was granted to almost all its overseas territories. The handover of Macau to China in 1999 marked the end of what can be considered the longest-lived colonial empire. Portugal has left a profound cultural and architectural influence across the globe, a legacy of 300 million Portuguese speakers, and many Portuguese-based creoles. A member of the United Nations and the European Union, Portugal was also one of the founding members of NATO, the eurozone, the OECD, and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
Portugal is a developed country with a high-income advanced economy, a developed market, and high living standards. It is ranked highly in terms of LGBTI rights (6th in Europe), press freedom (14th), social progress (20th) and prosperity (25th). With its political stability and low crime rates, it is ranked as the most peaceful country in the EU and the 3rd in the world. Additionally, it is a sustainable state, maintaining a unitary semi-presidential republic, a strong rule of law, and the lowest levels of corruption in southern Europe. Portugal ranks above the OECD average in mathematics, science, and reading, having been the country with the most expressive positive evolution throughout PISA’s studies. Although a Catholic-majority country for most of its history, modern Portugal is a secular state with one of the world’s highest rates of moral freedom. It was the first country to abolish life imprisonment and one of the earliest to abolish capital punishment. Practices such as abortion, same-sex marriage and adoption, medically assisted insemination for single women and lesbian couples, and altruistic surrogacy have been legalized. In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the possession and consumption of all illicit drugs, focusing on treatment and harm reduction, with significant public health gains.
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