Culture and Customs of Portugal

Culture and Customs of Portugal

Culture and Customs of Portugal

Culture and Customs of Portugal

Synopsis

Portugal has been a largely homogeneous nation steeped in historic traditions for nearly 1,000 years, and its borders have remained largely unchanged since the 13th century. Yet despite strong cultural unity, rural and urban Portuguese are split by markedly disparate attitudes and traditions, resulting in a fascinating milieu that defies easy generalization.

Excerpt

PORTUGAL has had a strong national identity, and for about a millennium the country has been a homogeneous nation regarding language, religion, culture, and ethnicity. Indeed, its borders have remained basically unchanged since the thirteenth century. Although the Portuguese people are culturally unified, a definitive divide exists between the rural and urban populations in terms of attitudes, lifestyles, and traditions. The gap is pronounced enough that it is difficult to make generalizations about the Portuguese people without marking the distinction between urban and rural citizens, and at times it may seem like two separate worlds are being discussed. Portugal’s two largest metropolitan areas, Lisbon and Porto, have a population of approximately 6.3 million people combined, leaving the remaining 4.4 million citizens spread throughout other smaller cities and in the countryside. Urban or rural, the 10.7 million Portuguese also refer to themselves as Lusitanians, which harkens back to the name the early Romans gave to the local residents.

Despite Portugal’s small size, regional diversity exists and has a strong influence on the nation’s politics. The south has a long history of radicalism when compared to the conservative north, partially a result of the landless status of lower-class southerners.

António Salazar’s and Marcello Caetano’s dictatorship—from 1932 to 1974—did little to remedy the plight of the nation’s peasants. Because Salazar realized that much of his support lay with the uneducated, conservative . . .

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