For Educators

Where in God’s World is Portugal?

Portugal stretches along the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The oldest country in Europe, Portugal was established in the 12th century.

Portugal became home to many explorers, including Ferdinand Magellan who led the first expedition to sail all the way around the world in 1522.

Portugal is a leader in renewable resources. In 2016, the country ran on only wind and solar energy for four days. Portugal also produces more than half of the world’s supply of cork, harvested from the renewable bark of cork oak trees.

In the fall, Portugal welcomes travelers; many different species of migratory birds—thrushes, finches, flamingos, storks, and egrets—stop in Portugal on their way to and from central Europe and Africa.

More permanent animal residents here include boars, wild goats, deer, and hares. The most endangered cat species in the world, the Iberian lynx also lives (protected) in Portugal. This spotted lynx has a distinctive beard (facial ruff) and long black ear tufts that help it locate prey.

Most Portuguese people live along the Atlantic Ocean. Surfing is a popular sport. A deep sea canyon creates especially tall waves off the central coast of Nazaré. This winter, a surfer rode a record-breaking wave more than 100 feet tall! The ocean also offers a source of work. Many locals are fisherman.

In addition to surfing, football (soccer) is Portugal’s favorite sport. Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is considered one of the best players in the world.

Seafood is a staple of the Portuguese diet. Particularly well-loved, bacalhau (dried salted codfish) is nicknamed “the faithful friend” because it is used in hundreds of recipes. Portugal is also famous for its pastel de nata (custard tarts), whose recipe originated with nuns who baked the tarts in the 1800s.

About 83 percent people here are Christian. Each town has its own patron saint, honored with a festival each year. For instance, Porto celebrates John the Baptist on June 23. Streamers decorate the streets, and potted herbs adorn the shop windows. People use soft plastic hammers to knock (gently) on their loved ones’ heads.


Learn the Language

Portuguese is the official language in 10 countries, including Brazil, Mozambique, and of course, Portugal. Here are some Portuguese phrases to try:

Bom Dia.—Good morning.

Vamos explorar!—Let’s go exploring!

Você gosta de frutos do mar?—Do you like seafood? Esta tudo fixe. —Everything’s cool.

Tenho que ir agora.—I have to go now.

Obrigado.—Thank you.



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