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Portugal is one of history’s most successful survivors. It […] made its mark on every corner of the globe through colonisation, emigration and commerce. Unlike the more prosperous Catalonia it succeeded in escaping from Spanish captivity in the seventeenth century. Unlike the equally dynamic Scotland it was not politically absorbed by its English economic patron in the eighteenth century. Unlike the middle-ranking kingdoms of Naples or Bavaria it was not cannibalised in the unification of the great nineteenth-century land empires of Europe. Unlike Germany and Italy it did not lose its African colonies in either the First or the Second World War. And unlike other farming countries such as Ireland or Denmark it remained outside the European Economic Community until the 1980s.
Portugal is a country of sandy coves, rugged landscapes, sophisticated cities, rural backwaters and sharply contrasting traditions. Its ten million people speak their own language, follow their own unique cultural traditions, and have a centuries-old history of proud independence.
[From David Birmingham, “A Concise History of Portugal”, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. I. & Martin Symington, “Portugal”, Eyewitness Travel, 2008, p. 17.]