Officially the Portuguese Republic (Portuguese: República Portuguesa), is a country on the Iberian Peninsula, in Southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, being bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. The Portugal–Spain border is 1,214 km (754 mi) long and considered the longest uninterrupted border within the European Union. The republic also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.
The land within the borders of current Portugal has been continuously settled and fought over since prehistoric times. The Celts and the Romans were followed by the Visigothic and the Suebi Germanic peoples, who were themselves later invaded by the Moors. These Muslim peoples were eventually expelled during the Christian Reconquista. Portuguese nationality can be traced back to the creation of the First County of Portugal, in 868. In 1139, Afonso Henriques was proclaimed King of Portugal, thus firmly establishing Portuguese independence, under the Portuguese House of Burgundy.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, under the House of Aviz, which took power following the 1383-85 Crisis, Portugal expanded Western influence and established the first global empire, becoming one of the world’s major economic, political and military powers. During this time, Portuguese explorers pioneered maritime exploration in the Age of Discovery, notably under royal patronage of Prince Henry the Navigator and King Manuel I, with such notable discoveries as Vasco da Gama’s sea route to India (1497–98), Pedro Álvares Cabral’s discovery of Brazil (1500), and Bartolomeu Dias’s reaching of the Cape of Good Hope. Portugal monopolized the spice trade during this time, under royal command of the Casa da Índia, and the Portuguese Empire expanded with military campaigns led in Asia, notably under Afonso de Albuquerque, who was known as the “Ceasar of the East”.
The destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, the country’s occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, the independence of Brazil (1822), and the Liberal Wars (1828-1834), all left Portugal crippled from war and diminished in its world power. After the 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy, the democratic but unstable Portuguese First Republic was established, later being superseded by the “Estado Novo” right-wing authoritarian regime. Democracy was restored after the Portuguese Colonial War and the Carnation Revolution in 1974. Shortly after, independence was granted to all its colonies, with the exception of Macau, which was handed over to China in 1999. This marked the end of the longest-lived European colonial empire, leaving a profound cultural and architectural influence across the globe and a legacy of over 250 million Portuguese speakers today.
Portugal maintains a unitary semi-presidential republican form of government and is a developed country with an advanced economy, a high living standard, being also the 11th most peaceful country in the world. It has the 18th highest Social Progress in the world, putting it ahead of other Western European countries like France, Spain and Italy. It is a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Eurozone, OECD, NATO and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. Portugal is also known for having decriminalized the usage of all common drugs in 2001, the first country in the world to do so. However, the sale and distribution of these drugs is still illegal in Portugal.