[fancy_image path="public://Belem-Tower.jpg" alt="Belem Tower, Lisbon, Portugal." align="left" title="Belem Tower, Lisbon, Portugal." caption="Belem Tower, Lisbon, Portugal - photo by Elvir72 (flickr)" image_style="quicktab-normal" lightbox="true"][/fancy_image]
Portugal: The Iberian Peninsula's Gem
Portugal, Spain's little neighbor, is the Iberian Peninsula's gem in more ways than one. The country is an active member of the European Trade Union, even though the population is only 10.6 million. Our Portugal Travel Guide highlights the country's get-a-way resort cities, where visitors can enjoy the serene beauty that this old world country has to offer. The travel guide shines a light on the secluded areas that make travelers feel like they died and went to heaven. Busy resorts like Algarve, and others like it, introduce tourists to hidden places filled with new discoveries. These little towns seem like they were lost in time, but they are very timely when it comes to offering the simple things in life. The Portuguese soul is rooted in this magnificent land where boulder-crusted peaks watch the gently flowing rivers touch the pine forest with the hand of a masterful creator. The picturesque charm of Lisbon and the grand old dame of Sintra bring the true essence of this ancient country to the surface. The old university town of Coimbra and the sun-drenches beaches of Sagres and Cascais offer visitors a taste of refinement as well as a look into the geological beauty that has made this incredible country a gem on the Iberian Peninsula. The protected coves and wild dune-covered beaches as well as the long, sandy islands of Portugal's coastline have always enchanted the locals who never seem to get enough of this magical paradise. Portugal has spent the last 900 years building a place in world history even though it is a relatively small country. No one would dispute the fact that the Portuguese Monarchy played a crucial role in expanding Europe's presence in South America as well as other parts of the world. The list of new Portuguese discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries is impressive by anyone's standards. This ingenious group of seafarers also established a sea route to India, and colonized Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique in Africa. But, they didn't stop there. The Portuguese managed to colonize Macau in Asia, and East Timor. The Portuguese language and tidbits of the Portuguese culture is the invisible glue that gives these nations a sense of Portuguese loyalty that has withstood the test of time. The Republic of Portugal was established in 1910, and the Monarchy was abolished. The Republic was a fragile one so a military dictatorship ruled the small nation for 40 years. That dictatorship plunged the country into a period of stagnation. In 1974 Portugal became a free democracy, and in 1986 the country joined the European Union. Years of repression hindered growth and development. Thanks to the EU progress is being made in terms of economic growth. There is still work to do since the GDP is still only $19,300. But Portugal is not just about production and financial output. It is a nation filled with natural beauty and hidden treasures. The loyal residents of this noble land are doing everything they can to keep the country one of the best-kept secrets in Europe.
Portugal In A Few Words
We can sum up Portugal in a few words by saying it is a country that holds a special place in the minds of millions of people around the world. The food, wine, music, and culture of this great nation captivate the hearts of everyone. It is a land of discovery as well as a land of opportunity. The biggest attractions may be the weather and the beaches as well as the ancient stories that circulate in the small towns, but the ingredient that makes this nation a one-of-a-kind gem is the people. The people of Portugal are taking us with them as they step into the future. Portugal is the land that makes life simple, and that makes it a great place to spend a couple of weeks or a lifetime.