A Profile of Portugal

The love of my life and I are taking a vacation later this year to Portugal! I figured I would organize and share some Portugal facts/stats as we continue to research and solidify our trip…

Major Dates

  • 1143 – Kingdom of Portugal Recognized
  • 1578 – Battle of Ksar El Kebir in Morocco, in which the Portuguese King and (pretty much) the entire Portuguese nobility were lost. That resulted in Portugal being annexed by Spain for 60 years. (info from Rod Carvalho)
  • 1755 – Major, Devastating Earthquake
  • 1803-1815 – Napoleonic Wars
  • 1822 – Independence of Brazil
  • 1910 – Deposition of the Monarchy, Republic Proclaimed
  • 1974 – Left-Wing Military Coup
  • 1975 – Colonial Independence (Angola, Mozambique, East Timor)
  • 1976 – Constitution Adopted
  • 1986 – Becomes Member of EU (formerly the EC)

Fun Facts

  • During the Napoleonic Wars, Portugal was, for a time, Great Britain’s only ally on the continent.
  • Also during the Napoleonic invasions, the Portuguese royal family moved to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro was, albeit for a brief period, the capital of the Portuguese Empire. Such empire was named the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. (again thanks here to Rod Carvalho!)
  • The oldest alliance in the world, still in force, is the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, signed in 1373.
  • The Vasco de Gama Bridge in Lisbon is the longest bridge in Europe.
  • Portugal is a global leader in renewable energy with its solar energy farm in Alentejo.
  • It is illegal for a bull to be killed in Portuguese bullfighting.
  • The Estoril Casino, 20 km outside of Lisbon, is the largest gambling outlet in Europe.

Famous Portuguese

  • Henry the Navigator (explorer)
  • Vasco da Gama (discovered the sea route to India)
  • Bartolomeu Dias (first person to sail round the southern tip of Africa, which he named the Cape of Good Hope)
  • Ferdinand Magellan (first to complete a circumnavigation of the world, which he did in 1522)
  • Pedro Alvares Cabral (discoverer of Brazil)
  • José Mourinho (soccer coach, Inter Milan)
  • Nelly Furtado (singer)
  • Luis Figo (soccer player)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer player)
  • Click here for more (via Wikipedia)…


  • Total Area: 92,090 sq km (ranked #110, slightly smaller than Indiana)
  • Land Area: 91,470 sq km
  • Water Area: 620 sq km
  • Capital: Lisbon
  • Structure: 18 Districts, 2 Autonomous Regions (Azores, Madeira)
  • Land Boundary: 1,214 km (with Spain)
  • Coastline: 1,793 km
  • Highest Altitude: 2,351 km (Ponta do Pico in the Azores)
  • Population: 10,707,924 (July 2009 est., ranked #76)
  • Population Growth Rate: 0.275% (ranked #178)
  • Population Density: 115 ppl / sq km (ranked #89)
  • Median Age: 39.4 years
  • Life Expectancy at Birth: 78.21 years (ranked #47)
  • HIV/AIDS Prevalence Rate: 0.50% (ranked #74)
  • Religious Breakdown: 84.5% Roman Catholic, 9.0% unknown, 3.9% none, 2.2% other Christian
  • Literacy: 93.3%
  • Education Expenditures (% of GDP): 5.5% (ranked #50)
  • Human Development Index: 0.909 (ranked #34)
  • Happy Planet Index: 37.5 (ranked #98)
  • Euromoney Country Risk Rating (Low=Best): 82.43 (ranked #24)
  • Military Expenditures (% of GDP): 2.3% (ranked #72)
  • GDP: $232.2 Billion (ranked #50)
  • GDP – Per Capita: $21,700 (ranked #56)
  • Exports: $41.42 Billion (ranked #52)
  • Export Partners: Spain (25.6%), Germany (12.6%), France (11.1%), Angola (5.9%), UK (5.3%)
  • Imports: $58.79 Billion (ranked #40)
  • Import Partners: Spain (28.9%), Germany (11.6%), France (8%), Italy (4.9%), Netherlands (4.4%)
  • Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (ranked #103)
  • Total Airports: 65 (ranked #76)
  • Annual Air Traffic (2006): 11,722,211 (ranked #20)
  • Railways: 2,786 km (ranked #59)
  • Roadways: 82,900 km (ranked #55)
  • Internet Hosts: 1.967 Million (ranked #33)
  • Internet Users: 4.476 Million (ranked #45)
  • Cell Phone Users: 14.91 Million (ranked #44)
  • Freedom Press Rating (Low=Free): 16 (ranked #16)


happy havens

We all need something – a haven – through which we can rid ourselves of stress and pain and renew our mind and body.

Stress is a part of life. So is pain, sadness and sorrow. There are times when we feel really small – when we don’t have an impact or don’t matter that much. There are times when we feel big – the world is closing in on us and we are at a breaking point. That’s when we all need to find a haven.

A haven is a place to go – physical, mental, or spiritual – where you come back to your own self, to your most simple and purest form. It’s a place of refuge or rest. It’s a sanctuary for your mind, body, and soul.

There’s a funny thing about life, that feelings can change in an instant. Good days can turn bad with a frown. Bad days can turn good with a smile. With that, we must know that when we are in a rut, there are places to go that can always pick us up and renew our spirits. Places where you can refresh yourself and turn you back into you. Places where you can root the weeds and plant some seeds.

A haven is…
…a place that spurs rejuvenating, creative thought.
…a person that gives you the love and joy found nowhere else.
…a feeling that, when absorbed, squeezes out the immediate stresses of life.
…a view that brings you back to the “big picture”.

A haven is not…
…somewhere to just be alone – havens can be for couples, families, and larger groups.
…one place or thing – it may be the right combination of feelings and surroundings.
…unchanged – havens can be dynamic through time.
…something you have to find – many times it will find you, at the right moment and right time.

A few havens of mine:
Seeing the stars at night or the sun at dawn.
Knowing and feeling love.
Thanksgiving dinner.
Funny dreams.
Fall foliage, cool breeze, mountains, and the serenity of nature.***

In the end, it’s important to know that these places and feelings exist, and that at many times in your life, happiness is only a haven away.

***Picture at top is from last weekend in Blue Ridge Mountains / Shenandoah Valley with Christine. The foliage and scenery were absolutely beautiful and we had a great time at Wintergreen Resort – highly recommend it!

st maarten and anguilla

Well, I just got back last night from a great trip to St. Maarten. I was visiting my brother Andy, who is in med school down there, for a good 5 days / 4 nights. It was easily the best time I’ve ever had (or close to it), the most beautiful place I’ve been to in terms of look & feel, and certainly a much needed getaway from the states.

Our days consisted of drinking piña coladas in the AM and some heinekens in the PM, lounging at the beaches, touring the island, eating ribs, listening to music, traveling to Anguilla, playing beach volleyball, smoking great cigars, going to some good bars/clubs/restaurants, and taking our time to do everything. We were always full, sunny, warm, sandy, relaxed, and happy.

Considering it was pretty simple to get down there (flew through Charlotte, 1.5 and 3.5 hr flights – see SXM airplane landing here) I may just go back pretty soon. It’s really all about taking the step. I’m sure glad my brother took the step to get away and live/learn down there. I feel like a lot of people just can’t take that step, even if it’s just for the visit. Sure there are financial and other personal considerations/obligations that make that step seem too big to take, but trust that happiness and fulfillment will come with taking that step. If they don’t, then maybe try another staircase.