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England's Oldest Friend: 10 Interesting Facts about Portugal

At Executive-Golf, we love Portugal for its spectacular scenery and world-class golf courses. It is one of the world's most favoured tourist destinations, with a lifestyle and climate that is the envy of many. But it is a nation with much more than just good beaches and great seafood. Read on to find out what makes the place to special.

Did you know, the Portuguese made an alliance with England in 1373 which persists to this day? It's the longest standing alliance between nations in the world. The two countries have enjoyed a long association, with the port wine trade in particular, continuing to forge close links.

Indeed, it was this link with the British and the wine trade that led to the introduction of the game of golf to the country. The Oporto Niblicks club was formed in 1890 (renamed the Oporto Golf Club in 1901), with the sport later booming in the country from the 1960s onward.

Bigger than you think!

Portugal is by no means an inward looking nation, in fact, was one of the main players in the so-called Age of Discovery of the late Middle Ages. In 1498, the great explorer, Vasco da Gama was the first man to oversee ships that sailed directly from Europe to India. Two years later, in 1500, a Portuguese explorer named Pedro alvares Cabral claimed Brazil for Portugal and to this day, the inhabitants of the South American country speak a version of Portuguese.

As well as its landmass on the main European continent, to the west of Spain, Portugal also has two autonomous island regions out in the Atlantic Ocean. These are the Azores and Madeira, both of which have been subject to volcanic activity and earthquakes in the past. Of particular interest to the Executive-Golf team though, are the fine golf courses situated around the area!

If you were to choose Portugal as a destination for a holiday or golfing break, you'd be in good company. It is one of the most popular destinations for visitors in the world; around 13 million foreign visitors each year go to its shores. The permanent population is in the region of just 10 million people.

Food and wine

Visitors to the country will find that Portuguese cuisine is very diverse; like Spain, there are strong regional identities that make for some interesting variations in what people eat. However, holiday makers can expect to eat a lot of fish, with the 'Bacalhau', or salt cod, forming a staple of thousands of dishes. If it's alcohol you're more interested in, the nation also has a fine reputation for wine which dates back to Roman times. Indeed, the Italian empire builders associated the whole country with Bacchus, their god of celebration!

As well as wine, Portugal is a land of song, with the 'Fado' style of singing a traditional form in the country. This involves a melancholy singing and guitar style, characterised by a sense of longing. At Executive-Golf, we can testify it suits warm nights accompanied by fine wine and good food. With a rich history and a diverse and interesting culture, Portugal would be worth visiting anyway. Throw in great golf, food, wine and weather and it is an essential trip to make.

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