History of Portugal
In the first millennium BC, Celtic peoples lived in Portugal. Later, the Phoenicians and Carthaginians conquered the south, while, Iron Age cultures predominated in the north. In the 2nd century BC, Portugal became part of the Roman Empire.
After the collapse of the Roman rule, Portugal was colonized by the Germanic tribes. Suebi, in the north, and Visigoths, in the south. Portugal was then conquered by Muslims from North Africa, before coming under the control of Spanish kings. In the 12th century, Portugal became an independent kingdom.
In the 15th century Portugal emerged as the foremost center of maritime exploration in Europe. Over the next century, Portuguese sailors explored the world and dominated the sea trade. These sailors helped Portugal build the first great European overseas empire, with colonies in Africa, Asia, and South America. By the late 16th century, however, much of its power and resources were exhausted, and most of the country’s Asian colonies were lost. Portugal kept its largest colony, Brazil, until 1822 and its African empire until the late 20th century.
In 1910, revolution deposed the monarchy and the first Portuguese republic was proclaimed. A period of great instability followed. In 1926 a coup d’état installed a dictatorship that ruled Portugal for nearly five decades. A series of costly colonial wars in Africa beginning in the 1960s drained Portuguese resources and weakened the national economy.
In 1975 Portugal granted independence to all of its African colonies. A new constitution, in 1976, established a democratic government. The country joined the European Community in 1986, and in 1999 adopted the euro.
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