Capital | Lisbon
Population | 10,760,305 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 92,391 SQ KM
Official Language | Portuguese, Mirandese
Holidays | Portugal Day (Dia de Portugal), 10 June (1580); note - also called Camoes Day, the day that revered national poet Luis de Camoes (1524-80) died
Currency | Euro (EUR)
Time Zone | UTC 0
Best Time to Visit | Mid-June to September (summer)
Connecting with the Culture | Enjoying the nightlife of Bairro Alto, Lisbon. Exploring the revitalized medieval district of the Alfama in Lisbon. Sunbathing on the sandy beaches of Coast da Caparica. Discovering Neolithic standing stones in the wild countryside near Évora, Elvas, and Castelo de Vide. Wandering around the beautifully preserved hill-top villages of Monsaraz and Marvão.
Read | Fernando Pessoa & Co: Selected Poems by Fernando Pessoa, a collection of works by Portugal’s greatest poet. Nobel Prize winner José Saramago’s O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo (The Gospel According to Jesus Christ) is a unique reinterpretation of the biblical gospels.
Listen | to O Melhor by Amália Rodrigues, who brought fado (bitter-sweet Portuguese folksongs) international recognition, or Film by rock band The Gift.
Watch | O Fantasma directed by João Pedro Rodrigues, which recounts the tale of a sex-obsessed trash collector, or Wim Wenders’ A Lisbon Story.
Eat | sardinhas asadas (charcoal-grilled sardines) or pasties de nata (custard tarts).
Drink | vinhosi (wine) or tawny port.
In a Word | Tudo bem (All’s good)
Characteristics | Cork plantations; golf courses; Lisbon nightlife; football fanatics; wild ocean beaches; late-bottled vintage port; the Lisbon earthquake of 1775.
Surprises | Many historians believe that it was Portuguese explorers who first reached Australia, some 250 years before its ‘official’ discovery by Captain James Cook; some 15 thousand million corks a year come from Portugal- around 60% of world output.