Portugal

Country size: about 92,400 m2, citizens: 10.6 Mio.

Capital: Lisbon (about 680,000 citizens)

Largest Island: Madeira (797 km2)

EU-Member since January 1st 1986
 

The Portuguese Flag

- Shipping in its center -

Since 1911, the official state flag of Portugal looks like this:

The main colors green and red are vertically divided in the ratio 2:3.

This Green stands for hope - and is also symbolic for Henry the Navigator (Heinrich den Seefahrer), the founder of Portugal's seafaring.

Red symbolizes the blood of those who died defending the nation, as a means to endow them with a patriotic and dignified sentiment.

The colors white and blue correspond to those of the old monarchist flag. They occur in the two coats of arms, which are in the middle of the flag in the yellow armillary sphere. The nautical instrument symbolizes the conquest to the sea, which once led to a world power Portugal.

 

Portugals maritime history

- The famous explorers in the age of discovery -

Especially the position of Portugal on the edge of Europe gave the best conditions for the dawn of a new world. This small country on the edge of Europe became the first successful explorers' nation of the Old World.

Between 1415 and 1578, Portugal explored the Atlantic Ocean with discovering several Atlantic archipelagos like the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde. Furthermore they explored the African coast, colonizing areas of Africa, discovered an eastern route to India with circling the Cape of Good Hope, discovered Brazil, explored the Indian Ocean and established trading routes throughout most of southern Asia. Portugal sent the first European maritime trade and diplomatic missions to China and Japan.

Portuguese discoveries and explorations

 

 

Henry the Navigator Bartolomeu Dias Vasco da Gama
Henry the Navigator Bartolomeu Dias Vasco da Gama Ferdinand Magellan

 

A generation after the death of Henry the Navigator, the two most significant Portuguese voyages of exploration took place: 1487-8, Bartolomeu Dias proves that there is a sea route round the southern tip of Africa.

Ten years later, 1498, Vasco da Gama demonstrates that this route leads to India.

Ferdinand Magellan undertook the first voyage around the world, started in 1519. He could not finish them personally, as he was killed (1521) while traveling. The expedition (ended in 1522) and proved the spherical shape of the earth.