Renowned for its beautiful, hot countryside and its delicious olives, wheat, wine and cork, Portugal is a wonderful place to holiday but it’s not without its fair share of victorious and somewhat tragic history.
Portugal hit the jackpot in 14th Century by storing, selling and importing spices from Asia which were notoriously expensive in Europe. Dominating the spice trade, Portugal steadily took over certain countries including Goa, Malacca and Macao, not forgetting the colonisation of Brazil. However, as the spice economy grew, Portugal was unable to sustain its superiority of the trade and slowly but surely got pushed out and dominated by larger and more powerful countries. Unfortunately, Portugal never recovered from that loss and remained indebted and influenced by neighbouring countries, especially Spain.
1911 saw a military coup depose of the monarchy with the assassination of King Manuel I and his son. The following decades were met by repressive governments running a poverty hit country. When Antonio Salazar stepped to the plate he began running Portugal with an iron fist which only negatively developed Portugal into its third world state. Many poor Portuguese had high hopes for the revolution but afterwards they saw no improvement in their living standards. In 1926 the army took power placing Salazar as Prime Minister. Under his dictatorship a secret police force, the PIDE (Policia Internacional e de Defensa do Estado) was formed, the press was censored and political parties were banned. However, on a more positive note Salazar did spend money on public works i.e. roads, bridges and public buildings which steadily grew the industry but did not decrease the country’s poverty line. Salazar resigned in 1968 due to ill health.
A revolution took place in 1974 which was staged by the army and invited people to wear red and white carnations to show their support. The revolution resulted in Portugal becoming a democracy. A further positive move was made in 1986 when Portugal decided to join the EU. It soon reiterated history however, by making a poor decision to join the Euro.
Today Portugal’s tourism is an important industry. Like the rest of Europe, Portugal suffered in the recession of 2009 but has eventually recovered.