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Welcome to the infinite lusciousness of its green mountains and valleys, welcome to the bluest winter skies, welcome to the long languid days of summer, welcome to the delicious traditional foods and the colorful cultural motives, welcome the warmest and most caring nation of Europe, welcome to Portugal.

Once a hidden gem, now Portugal is an expats’ top contender on their wish-list of “most consider” for relocation.

From young families starting anew to people seeking early retirement. Plenty are leaving all behind, to find a new home in Portugal. Coming from all around the world to find a more peaceful, easygoing and relaxed way of living.

Portugal can be defined by these 5 elements that constitute the soul of the country and that will give you the best overview of what this beautiful nation is all about:

1. Its Relationship With The Sea.

Portugal has a deep and historic relationship with the sea, which has played a crucial role in shaping the country's culture, economy, and identity. Being situated on the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal has a long coastline that stretches for over 800 kilometers (500 miles) along the Atlantic Ocean and a maritime history that dates back to ancient times. The Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians were among the early seafaring civilizations that traded along Portugal's coast. However, it was during the Age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries that Portugal made its most significant contributions to maritime history. Led by explorers like Vasco da Gama, Pedro Álvares Cabral, and Fernão de Magalhães, Portuguese sailors explored new routes to Africa, India, Asia, and the Americas, establishing an extensive maritime empire.

The influence of the sea stretches from fishing and trade to its nautical heritage and to an ingrained seafaring culture. The Portuguese are proud of their maritime traditions, which are celebrated through festivals, art exhibitions, and maritime museums. The sea has left a significant mark on Portugal's culture, literature, and music. Themes of exploration, voyages, and the dangers of sea often feature prominently in Portuguese folk songs and traditional Fado music.

Portugal is also actively engaged in ocean research and conservation efforts. With an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covering a large portion of the Atlantic Ocean, the country has a vested interest in understanding and preserving marine ecosystems. Overall, Portugal's relationship with the sea is deeply ingrained in its history, culture, and economy. The sea has shaped the nation's identity and continues to play a vital role in its development and global presence.

2. The Culture of Wine.

The wine culture of Portugal is a fascinating tapestry interwoven with the nation's rich history, traditions, and geography. Dating back centuries, Portugal's viticulture heritage holds a significant place in the country's identity and economic development.

The origins of Portuguese wine can be traced to ancient times, with evidence of wine-making dating back to the time of the Phoenicians and later the Romans. However, it was during the medieval period that Portugal's wine trade flourished, fueled by the growing demand from both domestic and international markets.

The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, established in the 14th century, played a pivotal role in shaping Portugal's wine industry. This alliance, notably through the Treaty of Windsor in 1386, facilitated close diplomatic and economic ties with England (and later the United Kingdom), leading to an increase in wine exports to British markets, particularly the Madeira wine and the iconic Porto wine.

The modern era has witnessed a renaissance in Portuguese wine-making, with renewed emphasis on quality and innovation. Wine producers have sought to blend tradition with modern techniques, crafting exceptional wines that appeal to contemporary tastes while preserving their ancestral roots.

Throughout Portugal, wine is not merely a beverage but a pillar of social gatherings and cultural events. Harvest festivals, known as "vindimas," unite communities in celebration of the vineyards' bounty, fostering a sense of communal pride and identity.

The history of wine culture in Portugal is a captivating narrative, reflecting the nation's resilience, innovation, and enduring connections with the global community. From the ancient vineyards of the Douro Valley to the vibrant Vinho Verde of the north, Portugal's wines continue to captivate hearts and palates worldwide, making an indelible mark on the world's viticulture heritage. Also it has led to Portugal’s biggest and most important exports, cork. In fact, Portugal is the biggest cork producer in the world and produces more than 50% of the world’s cork supply.

3. The Land of Emigrants.

Portugal, a country with a rich history of emigration, has also embraced a welcoming and tolerant approach towards emigrants. Throughout its history, Portugal has witnessed waves of emigration, with its people seeking opportunities in various parts of the world, from former colonies to other continents.

The Portuguese diaspora, which spans across countries like Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, and various American and European nations, reflects the historical connections Portugal had with these regions. The emigrants who left their homeland often did so in pursuit of better economic prospects or to escape political turmoil, resulting in significant communities of Portuguese descent worldwide.

Portugal's government has shown a commitment to creating policies that promote integration and provide support for immigrants. Efforts to facilitate language learning, access to education, and healthcare services have been made to ensure that newcomers can adapt and thrive in their new home.

Furthermore, the Portuguese people have generally embraced and welcomed immigrants with open arms, fostering a sense of community and acceptance. The warmth and friendliness of the Portuguese culture have helped immigrants feel at ease and included in society.

Expats from countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, United States, Canada, Sweden and Denmark have expressed satisfaction living in Portugal. They find the country appealing due to its pleasant climate, rich cultural heritage, affordable cost of living but most of all, because of its friendly locals.

4. Peaceful.

Portugal holds the distinguished position of the seventh most peaceful nation globally, according to the 2023 Global Peace Index, an authoritative report issued by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace. Remarkably, despite the observed worldwide average decline in peace, registering a decrease of 0.42% as documented in the annual report, Portugal has also experienced a reduction in its own peace index. In spite of this decline, Portugal manages to uphold its prominent standing as the 7th most peaceful country on a global scale.

This circumstance underscores that while Portugal might encounter certain challenges or diminishments in its peace dynamics, it nonetheless remains markedly tranquil in comparison to other countries across the globe. The Global Peace Index extensively considers diverse indicators encompassing violence, conflict, and social facets to evaluate a nation's degree of tranquility. Portugal's steadfast ranking signifies its commendable performance in these aspects relative to the majority of other nations.

Significantly, there exist villages nestled within the heartland of Portugal where residents continue to leave their homes and vehicles unsecured, devoid of any apprehension of wrongdoing. Acts of violence remain remote concepts in their consciousness, allowing them to live their lives akin to the manner of generations past, unaffected by the tumult of modern times.

5. Technologically savvy.

Portugal is very technology-friendly due to its history of inventiveness and innovation. It is not just that Portugal has been the host of the Web Summit conference since 2016, world's largest technology conference, bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, tech enthusiasts, and industry leaders from all around the globe.

Notable inventions such as the caravel, astrolabe, and the passarola from the past demonstrate the country's creative and knowledge-seeking spirit during the Age of Discoveries. In modern times, Portugal continues to foster technological advancement with contributions like the first windscreen ball for microphones, the Multibanco system (one of the most sophisticated in the world), and various innovations by engineer Jaime Filipe, including the wheelchair elevator and electronic cane for the blind. Additionally, Portuguese creations like prepaid phone cards, Via Verde (a toll payment system), and the anti-epileptic drug Zebinix have further showcased the country's technological prowess. Moreover, developments like Coloradd, a color identification system for color-blind individuals, and the lightweight gas cylinder called Botija de Gás Pluma also exemplify Portugal's commitment to innovative solutions.

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Marisol Ferreira