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10 Things You Never Knew About Portugal

Portugal has remained one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, with tourism mostly concentrated in the Algarve region. Tourism is well-developed in the country with most resorts catering for every need travellers may have. Because of this, many people are completely unfamiliar with the rest of the country and know little of the international presence Portugal enjoys.

For example, who knew that…

  1. Portugal, whose borders have remained almost unchanged since 1297, is one of the oldest countries in Europe. The country also had one of the largest and longest running empires, stretching from Brazil to China from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to the handover of Macau in 1999.
  2. Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries and the 6th most used language online. Apart from the 10 million population, Portuguese is also spoken by 230 million people worldwide.
  3. 50% of the world’s cork production comes from Portugal with the highest quality coming from the Algarve. Portuguese cork is used by high-end brands such as Moet & Chandon, Rolls Royce, Airbus and NASA. In 2018, cork from the country will be present in the spacecraft used by the European Space Agency in its mission to mars.
  4. The Zoomarine Park in the Algarve is the only place in Europe where people can interact with dolphins, swimming in the pool as part of The Dolphin Interaction Program which allows very close contact with the amazing creatures.
  5. Just off the Algarve coast is the largest artificial underwater park in the world. The Ocean Revival Underwater Park has four decommissioned Portuguese navy ships resting on the seabed, providing a home to an ever-evolving eco-system which attracts divers from all over the world.
  6. The Multibanco is the ATM system in Portugal and is one of the most advanced in the world. Even before online banking became the norm, there was the facility to pay bills and taxes at a local Multibanco and today there are over 60 operations possible via the ATM system.
  7. Portugal is becoming a world leader in innovation having invented both the Green Lane toll pay system which debits bank accounts after scanning a permit on the windscreen at toll points and also the pre-paid mobile phone card which is now commonplace throughout the world.
  8. Lisbon is home to the oldest bookshop in the world. Lello bookshop is the foundation stone of the Bertrand chain and has been open for business since 1732. The unique design of the building has led to the bookshop being voted the third most beautiful bookshop in the world.
  9. Portugal make some of the finest footwear available. A traditional industry that has moved with the times, customers such as Rhianna and Pippa Middleton ensure that the ‘Made in Portugal’ label remains popular internationally.
  10. Some of the biggest and best waves in the world are to be found off the coast of Portugal at Nazaré where waves be more than 30 meters high. World Champion surfer Garrett McNamara rode the world record wave in Portugal, increasing the country’s profile amongst the surfing fraternity.

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