In several Mediterranean languages, the word for "oranges" is a modified form of "portugal". There is a village in the Netherlands called "Poortugaal", and one in the Basque country called "Portugalete". There is also a "minor planet" called "3933 Portugal" and an American band called "Portugal. The man". But in this section we present a brief description of Portugal, the seaside European country.
Territory - Portugal is the westernmost country in Europe. Its mainland territory is part of the Iberian Peninsula, but the Portuguese territory also includes two archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean: Madeira and the Azores, the latter being located in the mid-Atlantic, over the divide between the European and the American ocean plates.
Population - Portugal has a stable population of about 10.5 million people, approximately 500 thousand of whom are foreign citizens. The people of Portugal have travelled and migrated to all parts of the world. In Europe, the Portuguese emigrant community surpasses 1 million people, with the same number being reached in the United States. In total, it is believed that there are about 5 million Portuguese emigrants spread out across the globe.
Time - Mainland Portugal and Madeira are in the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) time zone, which is the same as London, Reykjavik, Casablanca, Luanda, and several other Western African capitals. The Azores are in a different time zone, to the West, corresponding to "GMT-1 hour". Portugal observes Summer Time adjustments (or Daylight Saving Time - DST), so we are always in tune with the time in the United Kingdom.
In Portugal, there are nine national holidays, some of which belong to the Catholic calendar, while others celebrate historical events. Besides these, each town has a local holiday. Some companies and offices close for staff holidays during the month of August, and also in December for Christmas and New Year’s festivities.
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Whether in their own territory or in foreign lands, the Portuguese have always lived within mixed cultures, communicated with different people and languages, and shared their knowledge.
Portugal became an independent country as early as the 12th century, and the borders it maintains with Spain since the 13th century are the longest-standing in the world. This generated a very unique culture, which allows the Portuguese to maintain a strong sense of identity, even when they move to the farthest corners of the globe.
Portuguese played a particularly relevant role during a period of utmost importance in the history of the world. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal led Europe to the discovery of the rest of the world, in what many consider to be "the birth of globalisation”, or “proto-globalization".
The Portuguese sailed the Atlantic in pursuit of uncharted routes to the Far East, and new, undiscovered territories and riches. Names like Vasco da Gama, Pedro Álvares Cabral and Infante D. Henrique (Henry the Navigator) are some of the heroes who exponentially increased the size of the world map. But this was also an age in which science, diplomacy, and even language, flourished within a new scenario, when the "Old World" discovered the "New World". Fernão de Magalhães (Magellan) became the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe, crossing all its meridians. The crew that arrived in Spain in 1522 discovered, much to their surprise, that their calendar was a day behind, which was the first account of the need for different time zones.
The Portuguese empire was the vastest and longest-standing of all European colonial empires. It stretched from both coasts of Africa to South America, and to the Far East (where the Portuguese established an impressive number of trade posts, which covered areas that now incorporate the territories of Japan, China, India and Indonesia), with a notable highlight in the vast territory of Brazil. This Empire is considered to have lasted from 1415 to as late as 2002, when the independence of East Timor was recognised by the United Nations.
This short account of a long and heroic history emphasises the capacity of the Portuguese to communicate and do business with people from very different cultures, at a time when the concept of marketing had yet to be invented, and word-of-mouth took years to be effective.
A recent study ranked Portugal as the 8th most globalised country in the world, which means that it values important commercial, cultural and scientific connections to the world.
Portugal plays an important role in the world today, mainly as a full member of the European Union. It is also one of the eight members of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, where a privileged relationship with African countries and Brazil boost transnational commercial and cultural projects. Portugal also has an important position in international forums such as the United Nations and the Organization of Ibero-American countries. The latter is a community of 23 countries, with over 400 million people.
From sports to literature, from architecture to science, Portuguese names are recognised the world over as being among great contributors to global culture. For football fans, Eusébio, Luís Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho (who, interestingly, began his career as a translator) are considered the best in the world at what they do. People who carry the name of Portugal to the world today include: Nobel award-winning writer José Saramago, fado singers like Amália and Mariza, artists like Paula Rego, Pritzker-awarded architects like Siza Vieira and Souto de Moura, scientists like António Damásio and politicians like Durão Barroso (President of the European Commission) and António Guterres (UN High Commissioner for Refugees).
Portugal has also gotten used to being at the forefront of many technological revolutions. It was the first country in the world to distribute laptop computers to its entire first-grade student population, an effort that became known as project "Magellan". Portugal is also a pioneer in renewable energy, with major projects not only in wind power (a Portuguese company is the world's 4th-ranked player in wind-generated energy, and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index leader in 2011), but also in tidal and solar power.
A campaign describing Portugal as "Europe's West Coast" highlights some of the projects that shape Portugal as a high-tech country. Not only international companies such as Microsoft, Bosch, Volkswagen, Blaupunkt and Cisco, but also top research institutes and universities are taking part in this new era for the Portuguese industry: MIT, Carnegie-Mellon University, the University of Texas, and Fraunhoffer Gesellschaft are all big names that regularly work with Portuguese universities and companies. Similarly, Portuguese companies that offer high-quality technology, like ALERT, Ydreams, Critical Software and NDrive are present all over the world, in hospitals, mobile devices and in the most advanced technology centres, such as NASA and ESA. Solutions like non-stop highway toll systems, prepaid mobile phone cards, the most advanced mould industry in the world, and resource management software such as the one used by the London Underground, are all "made in Portugal".
Portugal is in tune with the world, as it always has been. But globalisation presents new challenges in communication and technology. Strong translation companies like TIPS are up to those challenges.