A History of Portugal

A History of Portugal

A History of Portugal

A History of Portugal

Excerpt

Portugal today lies almost forgotten in its corner of southwestern Europe. In the fast moving history of the twentieth century, amid the conflicts of mighty powers, nearly everyone has forgotten that this small nation a few centuries ago produced the greatest explorers and some of the greatest conquerors and colonizers the world has ever seen. Many also forget that the Portuguese language is still one of the world's leading tongues. A linguistic map of the earth will easily prove this. Such a chart, showing the places where Portuguese is either the mother tongue or the second language, would touch all the continents except Australia and would include many islands in the various oceans. Important spots on this map would represent large areas still under Portuguese control, such as the vast African districts of Angola and Mozambique. The largest spot of all would of course be Brazil, with an area greater than that of the continental United States and a population of about fifty million.

Portugal occupies just over 34,000 square miles in Europe, which means that the country is slightly smaller than the state of Indiana. Facing the Atlantic, it takes up most of the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The land frontiers, which all touch Spain, have changed very little in the last seven centuries. Although the country is a rather narrow coastal strip without much hinterland, it is drained by several important rivers, especially the Tagus, the Mondego, the Douro, and the Minho. For hundreds of years the metropolis of Portugal has been Lisbon, near the mouth of the . . .

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