Portugal is one of Europe’s (and the world’s) most popular countries. Over the years, the region has produced greats such as Vasco Da Gama, one of the greatest navigators, and Cristiano Ronald, one of the best soccer/football players. Other than that, the country’s rich history and Fado music make it one of the most popular tourist destinations. Here, we highlight some interesting facts about Portugal, some of which you might have heard or forgotten.

1. A 28-Year-Old Once Convinced Portugal’s Money Printer to Make Banknotes for Him

At only 28 years old, Artur Alves Reis committed one of the smartest bank heists in Portugal. He convinced Waterlow and Sons Limited, a former England-based currency, bond certificates, and postage stamp engraver, to print 200,000 banknotes of Portuguese Escudos. Reis then arranged for the fake currency to be delivered to Portugal, where he laundered it.

Reis’ fake money was equivalent to 0.88% of Portugal’s nominal GDP at that period. There were almost as many illegal 500 escudos banknotes as real ones. The first batch was delivered in February 1925, in what is considered one of the biggest frauds in history.

2. Everyone in Portugal is Categorized as an Organ Donor by Law

According to Portuguese law, all of the country’s citizens are organ donors. However, the residents can state otherwise by registering in the National Registry of Non-Donors.

3. Portugal Was a Neutral Party in World War II

Portugal was a neutral party during World War II, unlike many European countries. Although it was affiliated with and even extended favorable trade terms to Great Britain, Portugal freely supplied goods and tungsten, which were necessary for the arms industry, to Nazi Germany. This went on until mid-1944.

4. Rio de Janeiro was Once the Capital of Portugal

As strange as it may sound, when Napoleon fled to Brazil from 1808 to 1821, he established Rio as the capital of Portugal. Described by some historians as a metropolitan reversal (a situation where a colony governs over an entire empire), Portugal’s highest court was transferred to Brazil. Obviously, the move led to political, infrastructural, societal, and economic effects.

5. England and Portugal Hold the Record for the Longest Alliance

Portugal and England signed the Treaty of Windsor on 9th May 1386. It went on to become the longest-lasting alliance between the two nations, with both upholding it for over 600 years. It remains active to date.

6. All Drugs are Decriminalized in Portugal

Cocaine, heroin, marijuana and any other hard drug you can think of are legal in Portugal. In 2001, Portugal signed the decriminalization bill that saw to it that users can have drugs for ten days of personal use. Interestingly, the move aimed at countering addiction and drug use, and it worked for a while. But recently, the number of crimes has risen in Portugal, with authorities alleging that it’s related to the decriminalization law.

7. There is a Submerged Village in Portugal

In Portugal, there is an ancient city called Vilarinho da Furna, which is submerged in water. In 1967, an electricity company started building a dam supplying water from River Homen. Three years later, the dam started submerging this city, and the electricity company paid off all the residents to vacate the village. When the dam water levels drop, the town begins to re-appear.

8. King Pedro I of Portugal Ripped Out the Hearts of Assassins with Bear Hands

King Pedro’s wife was assassinated by a group of assailants. After they were caught and found guilty of these crimes, King Pedro I ripped out their hearts with his own bare hands as an act of revenge.

9. Lisbon, Portugal, is Older than Rome

Rome, believed to be the cradle of modern civilization, is actually younger than Rome. Lisbon is way older than Rome (by about 400 years). Archaeologists dating Lisbon to around 1200 BC make it the second most ancient city after Athens.

10. The Largest Farm in the World is the Same Size as Portugal

It is common knowledge that Portugal is one of the smallest countries in Europe. However, did you know the country is the same size as Mudanjiang City Mega Farm, the world’s largest farm? It covers a span of 22,500,000 acres and is home to thousands of dairy cows. The United States is 107 times bigger than Portugal.

11. Branding a Child With Nicknames Is Forbidden in Portugal

Among the many interesting rules in Portugal is that parents are not allowed to brand their babies with nicknames or abbreviations. Additionally, the names must be gender explicit; gender-neutral ones are forbidden.

12. Peeing in Portugal’s Oceans Is Illegal

As in most parts of the world (and what common sense dictates), peeing in the ocean in Portugal is forbidden. Violation attracts a fine, jail term, or both.

13. Portugal Has the Oldest-Serving Navy

Portugal’s Navy started in the 12th century. It stands out as one of the oldest serving navies in the world. The department is responsible for many discoveries, such as those in South Africa, India, and the East African Coast.

14. Portugal Mourned the Death of Hitler

When Hitler died in 1945, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, the country’s then Prime Minister, ordered three days of mourning. The flags flew at half-mast. With that, among other things, Portugal’s neutrality in the Second World War has often been questioned.

15. S*x Work is Legal in Portugal

The laws in Portugal are very lenient towards commercial s*x workers in the sense that a trader is permitted to work on the streets. However, brothels or any sort of cooperative for such activities are banned. It’s also unlawful to rent an apartment to someone who engages in similar affairs.

16. In Portugal, some Lights Turn Red When Speeding

In Portugal, traffic lights turn red when someone is over-speeding. This nudges the driver and other motorists to slow down.

Categorized in:

Countries, Europe,

Last Update: May 1, 2024