One of the oldest countries in Europe, its territory has been continuously settled, invaded and fought over since prehistoric times. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal established one of the longest-lived maritime and commercial empires, becoming one of the main economic and political powers of the time. At the end of the 16th century, Portugal suffered a war for the crown succession with Spain, leading to the Iberian Union.
The Portuguese Restoration War re-instated the House of Braganza in 1640 after a period of substantial loss to Portugal. By the early 19th century, the accumulative crisis, events such as the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, the country’s occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the resulting independence of Brazil in 1822 led to a marked decay of Portugal’s prior opulence.
Portugal has left a profound cultural, architectural and linguistic influence across the globe, with a legacy of around 250 million Portuguese speakers around the world.