Portugal is visited by around 27 million tourists a year, maybe you’ve been there yourself. Most visitors head for the glorious beaches of the Algarve and spend their time enjoying the sun, sand and splashing about, however, there’s a lot more to discover about this country than the 200km stretch of its southernmost beaches. Here’s a few things about this fascinating country that you may not know.

Portugal produces more than half the world’s cork

Portugal passed the world’s first environmental laws when, in 1209, it created legislation to protect its cork forests. Their cork forests contain the highest level of plant diversity found anywhere in the world. In the cork region of Alentejo, 60 species of plants were recorded in just one square metre. The cork oak grows up to 65 feet tall and can live for 500 years.

Braga was voted best destination in Europe 2021

Never heard of it? Well, according to a poll by ‘Europe Best Destinations’, which analysed responses from over 100,000 respondents, 72% of whom live outside of Europe, Portugal’s third largest city is a more desirable destination than Rome, which came in at second place. Braga is a religious centre with numerous churches, grand baroque buildings, an historic centre with a labyrinth of ancient narrow streets as well as a great variety of shops and restaurants and a vibrant nightlife.

Portugal is the oldest country in Europe

The country’s first king was crowned in 1139, but Phoenicians settled in Lisbon in about 1200 BCE, making Portugal’s capital nearly four centuries older than Rome. Portugal also holds the record for the longest and shortest reign by a monarch. King Henrique reigned for 73 years but the unfortunate Luis Filipe enjoyed his throne for just 20 minutes.

Portugal has some of the cheapest rental property in Europe

As well as having one of the lowest costs of living in Europe, rental properties in Portugal are about a third cheaper than most European countries and are nearly 35% cheaper than the U.K.

Portugal is making waves

The record for surfing the biggest wave of 2020 was set by Maya Gabeira at Nazare in Portugal, a surfing spot famed for the height of its winter waves. The record-breaking wave was a massive 73.5 feet.

Portuguese territory is the westernmost part of Europe

The Azores are a group of islands, located in mid Atlantic, a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Lisbon and yet still part of the E.U. The islands are the tips of volcanoes and are famous for their lush green pastures, deep blue ocean and rich red earth. The islands’ microclimate is highly productive and the Azores export in the region of 2 million pineapples a year as well as producing half of all the cheese consumed and exported by Portugal. The islands are also famous for some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world and twenty-six spectacularly active volcanoes.



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