Portugal is a European country, sharing the Iberian Peninsula with the much larger Spain, its only neighbor. The Portuguese speak a language derived from Latin, just as the Spanish do, but they are not Spanish by any means. On a whole, Portuguese is more like "Spanish if spoken by the French."
Portugal is a Roman Catholic country, with 84% of the population nominally members of the church -- but only 20% can be persuaded or frightened into attending mass regularly. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that refusing to attend mass without good reason is a mortal sin and can lead to Hell. Apparently, the Portuguese do not follow this teaching.
Portugal was the original colonial empire, and the first imperial power to become truly global (yes, even before the British). As the longest-lived of all European colonial empires (it spanned six centuries), Portugal established colonies in a grand total of 53 sovereign states, including Macau, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, and East Timor. The official end of the empire came in 1999 at the handover of Macau to China or in 2002 at the granting of full independence to East Timor.
Portugal was a fascist state from 1926 to 1974, when communist soldiers overthrew the government. The communists then held free elections, expecting a grateful nation to sweep them into legitimate power. Mistake (for them). Portugal has been a democracy ever since, and joined the European Union in 1986.
Portugal has taken the war on drugs to a new level - by decriminalising all personal use. Although the law was passed by the socialist government in 2001, the conservatives kept the law when they gained power the following year, and transferred the country's drug and addiction institute from the justice ministry to the health ministry.
The effect of the law has been a reduction in teenage use of the drugs, and a reduction in HIV cases caused by sharing needles. The country has also saved money - originally part of the law's intention - as treatment of drug takers costs less than imprisonment.
Portugal is famous for a type of folk music known as Fado—a romantic, mournful, sentimental type of song sung mostly by women with very powerful voices, accompanied by strings. For a taste of it, check out the divine Natalie Pireš.
 Food & wine
Portuguese chefs seem to spend their days inventing new ways to serve salt cod (bacalhau), because the dish is ubiquitous and you can eat it in a different recipe every day for at least a year. It's delicious, but you really have to like fish.
If you don't—don't despair. There's always blood sausage (morcelo) and chicken stew (frango). If you're really lucky, you'll come across feijoada—a beanfeast having something in common with the French cassoulet with added rice.
Famous wines include vinho verde and albarinho.
 Ver também
 Ligações externas
- Portugals drug reforms discussed at Salon
- Comcept - Comunidade Céptica Portuguesa (Portuguese Skeptical Community)
- ↑ Andorra, high in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, is defined, perhaps arbitrarily, as not part of the peninsula
- ↑ Or they all have "good" reasons every week not to go to mass
- ↑ Only after a counter-coup by the non communist military, of course.
- ↑ How Portugal dealt with drug reform
- ↑ Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?