Portugal, officially Portuguese Republic, Portuguese República Portuguesa, is a country lying along the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. Once continental Europe’s most significant power, Portugal shares commonalities—geographic and cultural—with the countries of both northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Its cold, rocky northern coast and mountainous interior are sparsely settled, scenic, and wild, while the country’s south, the Algarve, is warm and fertile. The rugged Estrela Mountains (Serra da Estrela, or “Star Mountain Range”), which lie between the Tagus and Mondego rivers, contain the highest point of mainland Portugal.
In The Beginning
Human beings had lived in Portugal since about 30,000 BC when the world was in the grip of an ice age. The first Portuguese were hunters and fishermen. They also gathered plants for food. They wore leather clothes, and they made stone tools. In about 5,000 BC farming was introduced to Portugal. However, the farmers continued to use stone tools. Bronze was introduced to Portugal about 2,000 BC. About 700 BC Celtic tribes entered Portugal from the north. They introduced iron to Portugal. Meanwhile, by 800 BC, the Phoenicians from what is now Lebanon had begun trading with the Portuguese. By about 600 BC the Greeks were also trading with Portugal.
The climate of Portugal is temperate and influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. In the north, the weather is cold and rainy, while moving south it becomes gradually warmer and sunnier; in the far south, the region of Algarve has a dry and sunny microclimate.
In the interior, on the border with Spain, the climate is a bit more continental. In summer, the Azores High protects Portugal, so it’s usually sunny everywhere. However, a few weather fronts can still affect the northern part of the country. In the rest of the year, and especially from November to March, rainfall can occur, especially in the north where it is more frequent and abundant. Therefore, the landscape in the north is green, while it gradually becomes arider towards the south, down to Algarve, which has a relatively dry climate.
Good To Know
92, 210 km2
The only direct nonstop services from the United States are from New York (Newark) to Lisbon with United Airlines, Lufthansa, or TAP. Flight time is around seven hours. From all other cities, you’ll need a connecting flight, either via New York or via a European airport with airlines such as BA, Delta, or Air France – in which case you can add four or five hours to your total travel time, depending on the connection. TAP can also arrange onward flights from Lisbon to Porto or Faro.