The Portugal reference article from the Simple Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Portugal is a country in Europe. It is in the extreme southwest of Europe. It is on the Iberian peninsula. It borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south, and Spain to the north and east. It also includes three groups of islands in the Atlantic: the Azores (Açores), the Madeira and the Savage Isles (Ilhas Selvagens). The Savage Isles are a small, remote and unhabited group administrated by Madeira. The country claims that Olivença is also part of it, but it is administrated by Spain.


Portugal emerged as an independent kingdom in 1143. The border with Spain is almost the same as it was in the 13th century. It has barely changed in that time. The Portuguese have always been interested in the sea. Since early times, fishing and overseas trade have been the main economic activities. Portugal's role in world exploration occurred for two reasons. Henry the Navigator was very interested in exploration. Inventions in navigation also made Portugal's expansion possible. This led to great advances in geographic knowledge.

Portugal was a world power during the 15th and 16th centuries. However, it lost much of its wealth and status soon after. The city of Lisbon was destroyed in a 1755 earthquake. The country was occupied during the Napoleonic Wars. Its Brazilian colony was lost in 1822.

In 1926, a military coup d'etat took control of the nation from the monarchy. This began a time of rule by fascist governments. This lasted until 1974. That year, a bloodless left-wing military coup, called the Carnation Revolution occurred. They installed a government to perform broad democratic reforms.

The next year, Portugal granted independence to its colonies in Africa: Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe. It lost its colony of East Timor in Asia to an Indonesian invasion. Portugal entered the European Union in 1986. Another Asian colony, Macau, reverted to Chinese rule in December 1999.