September 16, 2009

Any port in a storm

photo by Tolga Bermek

Modern-day Portugal was established in the late 1100s at half its current size. By 1300, the Moors had been forcibly driven from the Iberian peninsula and Portugal spread down the coast. In 1373, Portugal made an alliance with England, which is the longest-standing alliance in the world.
At one point in time the Portuguese Empire was the largest in the world. Among its colonies were Brazil, Macau, and Angola. They established trading posts as far East as Nagasaki, Japan. They also had the longest-lived empire, from their first victory in 1415 to the handover of power in Macau in 1999.
Like the United States, Portugal is a democratic republic. It has a president and a prime minister. Portugal is a joiner. It holds membership in the United Nations and NATO as well as the EU. In addition, Portugal is a member of the Latin Union and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
Mainland Portugal (as distinguished from its outlying islands) is split by the Tagus river. It is mountainous in the north, whereas the south features mostly rolling plains and a climate somewhat warmer and drier than in the north.
The most famous export (aside from long-dead explorers like Vasco de Gama) is port wine.

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