Portugal Culture Essay Ideas

The culture of Portugal is the result of a complex flow of different civilizations during the past millennia. From prehistoric cultures, to its Pre-Roman civilizations (such as the Lusitanians, the Gallaeci, the Celtici, and the Cynetes, amongst others), passing through its contacts with the Phoenician-Carthaginian world Romanperiod (see Hispania, Lusitania and Gallaecia), the Germanicinvasions and consequent settlement of the Suebi and Buri (see Kingdom of the Suebi) the Visigoth (see Visigothic Kingdom), Viking incursions, Sephardic Jewish, and finally, the MoorishUmayyad invasion of Hispania and the subsequent expulsion, during the Reconquista, all have made an imprint on the country's culture and history.

The name of Portugal itself reveals much of the country's early history, stemming from the Roman name Portus Cale, a Latin name meaning "Port of Cale" (some argue that Cale is a word of Celtic origin - Cailleach-Bheur her other name; the Mother goddess of the Celtic people as in Calais, Caledonia, Beira. She was the one who, with a hammer created mountains and valleys; the one who hid in stones and trees - Mother nature), later transformed into Portucale, and finally into Portugal, which emerged as a county of the Kingdom of León see County of Portugal) and became an independent kingdom in 1139. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal was a major economic, political, and cultural power, its global empire stretching from Brazil to the Indies, as well as Macau and Japan.

Portugal, as a country with a long history, is home to several ancient architectural structures, as well as typical art, furniture and literary collections mirroring and chronicling the events that shaped the country and its peoples. It has a large number of cultural landmarks ranging from museums to ancient church buildings to medieval castles, which testify its rich national cultural heritage. Portugal is home to fifteenUNESCOWorld Heritage Sites, ranking it 8th in Europe and 17th in the world.


The Portuguese participate in many cultural activities, indulging their appreciation of art, music, drama, and dance. Portugal has a rich traditional folklore (Ranchos Folclóricos), with great regional variety. Many cities and towns have a museum and a collection of ancient monuments and buildings. Many towns have at least a cinema, some venues to listen to music and locations to see arts and crafts. In the larger cities visits to the theatre, concerts or galleries of modern exhibitions are popular, and Portugal can boast not only international-scale venues in Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Guimarães and Coimbra but also many acclaimed artists from various disciplines. The importance of the arts is illustrated by the fact that on the death of Amália Rodrigues, the "Queen of Fado" (fado is Portugal's national music) in October 1999, three days of national mourning was declared. In 1998, José Saramago, one of Portugal's well-known writers, was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Lisbon (1994), Porto (2001) and Guimarães (2012) were all designated European Capitals of Culture, contributing to a current renaissance in artistic creation, and in 2004 Portugal hosted the European football finals in specially constructed stadiums.

In smaller towns and villages, cultural activity may revolve around local folklore, with musical groups performing traditional dance and song. Local festivities are very popular during the summer season in all kinds of localities ranging from villages to cities, as well as beach holidays from July to September. Portuguese people in almost all major towns and the cities like to know their places which are generally well equipped with modern facilities and offer a wide variety of attractions ranging from shops and stores of the most renowned brands to cinemas, restaurants and hypermarkets. Café culture is also regarded as an important cultural feature of the Portuguese. As the most popular sport, football events involving major Portuguese teams are always widely followed with great enthusiasm. There are a number of bullrings in Portugal, although the passion for bullfighting varies from region to region.


Main article: Architecture of Portugal

Since the second millennium BC, there has been important construction in the area where Portugal is situated today. Portugal boasts several scores of medieval castles, as well as the ruins of several villas and forts from the period of Celtic and Roman occupation. Modern Portuguese architecture follow the most advanced trends seen in European mainstream architecture with no constraints, though preserving some of its singular characteristics. The azulejo and the Portuguese pavement are two typical elements of Portuguese architecture. Portugal is perhaps best known for its distinctive Late-Gothic Manueline architecture, with its rich, intricate designs attributed to Portugal's Age of Discoveries. Another type of architecture is Baroque Johannine. It has this name because it was developed during the reign of King John V, which lasted 44 years. Thanks to the gold of Brazil, hired foreign artists, such Nicolao Nasoni, King John V, ordered to perform various works of art. The creations of Portuguese artists can be seen on the altars of gilded panels and tiles, blue and white, that adorn churches, halls, staircases and gardens. During this period were built in Portugal in the great works of art which are: Library of the Convent and Convent of Mafra, the Tower of the Clerics, the Baroque Library, the Church and stairs of Bom Jesus de Braga, the Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies in Lamego, the Palace and the Port of Ash Solar de Mateus in Vila Real.


Folk dances include: Circle dance, Fandango (of the Ribatejo region), Two Steps Waltz, Schottische (Chotiça), Corridinho (of the Algarve and Estremadura regions), Vira (of the Minho region), Bailarico, Vareirinha, Malhão, Vareira, Maneio, Vira de Cruz, Vira Solto, Vira de Macieira, Sapatinho, Tau-Tau, Ciranda, Zé que Fumas, Regadinho, O Pedreiro and Ó Ti Taritatu. There are also variations of these dances called the Chamarita in the Azores. Dance apparel is highly varied, ranging from work clothes to the Sunday best, with rich distinguished from the poor.


Main article: Cinema of Portugal

In the 1990s around 10 full-length fictional works were produced per annum, Portugal's filmmakers tending to be artisans. Financing of Portuguese cinema is by state grants and from television stations. The internal market is very small and Portuguese penetration of international markets is fairly precarious. A film is considered a success when it draws an audience of more than which few Portuguese films manage to achieve.

Director Manoel de Oliveira was the oldest director in the world, and continued to make films until his death on 2 April 2015, at the age of 106. Since 1990 he made an average of one film per annum. He has received international recognition awards and won the respect of the cinematography community all over the world. Retrospectives of his works have been shown at the Los Angeles Film Festival (1992), the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (1993), the San Francisco Film Festival, and the Cleveland Museum of Art (1994). Despite his international recognition, the films of Oliveira (and that of other Portuguese directors) are neglected locally.

João César Monteiro, a member of the generation that founded the "New Portuguese Cinema" in the 1960s which was influenced by the Nouvelle Vague, a provocative film maker in the 1990s made "O Último Mergulho" (1992), "A Comédia de Deus" (1995), "Le Bassin de John Wayne" (1997) and "As Bodas de Deus" (1998). "A Comédia de Deus" won the Jury's Special Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1995.

Teresa Villaverde is a younger filmmaker and in the 1990s she surfaced as a director, her film (Três Irma's, 1994) won the best actress award at the Venice Film Festival.

Significant comedy films of the 1930s and 1940s include: A Canção de Lisboa (1933) directed by José Cottinelli Telmo, starring Vasco Santana and Beatriz Costa, the second Portuguese sound feature film (the first was A Severa, a 1931 documentary by Manoel de Oliveira, was originally filmed without soundtrack, which was added afterwards), and still one of the best-loved films in Portugal, with several of its lines and songs still being quoted today; O Pai Tirano (lit. The Tyrant Father) (1941), directed by António Lopes Ribeiro, starring Vasco Santana, Francisco Ribeiro and Leonor Maia and one of the best-known comedies of the Golden Age of Portuguese Cinema; O Pátio das Cantigas (lit. The Courtyard of Songs), a comedy/ musical from 1942 directed by Francisco Ribeiro, with Vasco Santana (as Narciso), António Silva (as Evaristo), Francisco Ribeiro (as Rufino) and others. It's a portrait of the relations between neighbours in a Lisbon courtyard. A story made of small episodes of humor, friendship, rivalry, and love.

Recent films[edit]

O Crime do Padre Amaro: (lit. The Crime of Father Amaro) is a Portuguese film (2005) adapted from a book of Eça de Queiroz, directed by Carlos Coelho da Silva. This was a low quality production sponsored by Sociedade Independente de Comunicação (television channel). Even so, this film beat all the records of box- office of all the Portuguese film in Portugal. The main characters are Jorge Corrula as Padre Amaro and Soraia Chaves as Amélia, and the main ingredients of this film are the sex and the nudity.

Zona J: is a Portuguese drama/romance film directed by Leonel Vieira in 1998, starring Sílvia Alberto, Ana Bustorff, Núria Madruga, Milton Spencer and Félix Fontoura.

Sorte Nula: (lit. The Trunk) directed by Fernando Fragata, starring Hélder Mendes, António Feio, Adelaide de Sousa, Rui Unas, Isabel Figueira, Bruno Nogueira, Carla Matadinho, Tânia Miller and Zé Pedro.

Alice directed by Marco Martins and starring Beatriz Batarda, Nuno Lopes, Miguel Guilherme, Ana Bustorff, Laura Soveral, Ivo Canelas, Carla Maciel, José Wallenstein and Clara Andermatt is a multi-prize film from 2005. Have won prizes in Cannes Film Festival; Las Palmas Festival in Spain; Golden Globes in Portugal; Mar del Plata International Film Festival in Argentina, Raindance film Festival in United Kingdom and other prizes.

Filme do Desassossego or Film of Disquiet directed by João Botelho, starring Cláudio da Silva, Alexandra Lencastre, Rita Blanco, Catarina Wallenstein, Margarida Vila-Nova, Mónica Calle, Marcello Urgeghe and Ricardo Aibéo in 2010. Inspired by a book of Fernando Pessoa.

Meu Querido Mês de Agosto directed by Miguel Gomes is a hybrid fiction/documentary film from 2009 that achieved some visibility at the Cannes Film Festival.

Tabu directed by Miguel Gomes starring Ana Moreira, Carloto Cotta, Ivo Mueller, Laura Soveral, Manuel Mesquita, Isabel Muñoz Cardoso, Henrique Espírito Santo and Teresa Madruga. The film won two prizes in the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival and another two in the Las Palmas Festival in Spain.

Rafa, a short-film directed by João Salaviza, starring Rodrigo Perdigão and Joana de Verona.This film have win the best short film is Berlin International Film Festival in 2012.

Arena, directed by João Salaviza starring Carloto Cotta, won the 2009 Cannes Film Festival Golden Palm for best short film.

Sangue do meu Sangue directed by João Canijo, starring Rita Blanco, Nuno Lopes, Cleia Almeida, Anabela Moreira, Rafael Morais and Fernando Luís. Is a multi-prized film from 2012 that won prizes in: International auteur cinema festival of Barcelona; Miami Festival, Pau Festival in France; New Vision Award in Crossing Europe Festival in Austria; San Sebastin Festival; Otra Mirada Prize by TVE channel in Spain; Faial Film Festival in Portugal; Golden Globes in Portugal; Auteur Portuguese Society in Portugal and Ways of Portuguese cinema in Coimbra, Portugal.

O Barão directed by Edgar Pêra, starring Nuno Melo, Luísa Costa Gomes, Leonor Keil, Edgar Pêra, Marina Albuquerque, Miguel Sermão and Marcos Barbosa in 2010.


Main article: Portuguese cuisine


Each region of Portugal has its own traditional dishes, including various kinds of meat, seafood, fresh fish, dried and salted cod (bacalhau), and the famous Cozido à Portuguesa (a Portuguese stew).

Alcoholic beverages[edit]

Main article: Wines of Portugal

Portugal is a country of wine lovers and winemakers, known since the Roman Empire-era; the Romans immediately associated Portugal with its God of Wine Bacchus. Today, many Portuguese wines are known as some of the world's best: Vinho do Douro, Vinho do Alentejo, Vinho do Dão, Vinho Verde, Rosé and the sweet: Port wine (Vinho do Porto, literally Porto's wine), Madeira wine, Muscatel of Setúbal, and Moscatel of Favaios. Beer is also widely consumed, with the largest national beer brands being Sagres and Super Bock. Liqueurs, like Licor Beirão and ginjinha, are popular.


Main article: Portuguese literature

Portuguese literature has developed since the 12th century from the lyrical works of João Soares de Paiva, Paio Soares de Taveirós and King D.Dinis. They wrote mostly from Galician-Portuguese and oral traditions known as "Cantigas de amor e amigo" and "Cantigas de escárnio e maldizer", which were sung by Troubadours the first ones and the last ones by jograis.

Following chroniclers such as Fernão Lopes after the 15th century, fiction has its roots in chronicles and histories with theatre, following Gil Vicente, the father of Portuguese theatre, whose works was critical of the society of his time.

Classical lyrical texts include Os Lusíadas, by Luís de Camões that is an epic book about the history of Portugal and have elements of Greek mythology if from the 16th century. It is the national epic of Portugal.[1]

Romanticism and Realism period authors from 19th century including Antero de Quental, Almeida Garrett, Camilo Pessanha, Camilo Castelo Branco, Eça de Queiroz, Alexandre Herculano, Ramalho Ortigão, Júlio Dinis and others.

Portuguese modernism is found in the works of Fernando Pessoa, José Régio, Miguel Torga, Mário de Sá-Carneiro and others.

Following the Carnation Revolution in 1974, the Portuguese society, after several decades of repression, regained freedom of speech.

José Saramago received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998.

Herberto Hélder is a young poet highly considered in Portugal from the recent wave of writers such us Valter Hugo Mãe, José Luís Peixoto, Gonçalo M. Tavares, Jorge Reis-Sá, Maria Antonieta Preto, José Ricardo Pedro and others.


Main articles: Music of Portugal and Music history of Portugal

Polyphonic music, employing multiple vocal parts in harmony, was developed in the 15th century. The Renaissance fostered a rich output of compositions for solo instruments and ensembles as well as for the voice.

The 1960s started a period of expansion and innovation with pop, rock and jazz introduced and evolving, political song developed, the fado of Lisbon and the Coimbra were revitalized. Music from the former colonies occupied an increasingly important place in the capital's musical life and local styles of rap and hip hop emerged.

The modern revival of academic music was primarily work of Luís de Freitas Branco, and continued by Joly Braga Santos. Composers like António Victorino de Almeida, Jorge Peixinho, Miguel Azguime, Pedro Amaral, and João Pedro Oliveira are known internationally. Orchestras include the Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa and the Gulbenkian Orchestra. Oporto has had its own symphony orchestra since 1962, when the Chamber Orchestra was set up by the Gulbenkian Foundation. Lisbon also has a metropolitan orchestra, and the National Theatre of São Carlos in Lisbon, which was built in the late 18th century, has its own orchestra and ballet company. Among notable pianists, Maria João Pires has won worldwide acclaim.

Cultural centres such as the Belém Cultural Centre and the Culturgest, both in Lisbon, have expanded opportunities for major concerts. Madredeus is among the most successful popular music groups. Singer Dulce Pontes is also widely admired, and Carlos Paredes is considered by many to be Portugal's finest guitarist. Folk music and dancing and the traditional fado remain the country's fundamental forms of musical expression.

Traditional or Folk music[edit]

See also: List of Portuguese traditional instruments

In all the times and all places mankind always showed great ingenuity making sound and music from existing materials in its natural environment. The voice and the clapping of hands can certainly be considered the first instrumental forms used by man.

The Iberian Peninsula was home to a lot of different peoples and cultures, so its normal to these cultures to influence the others but still retain a little of their aspects - this happened with the Portuguese music.

Portuguese folk music is the joint of the traditional songs of a community that express through a poetic character their beliefs and tell their history to other people and generations. The danças do vira (Minho), Pauliteiros de Miranda (Miranda), Corridinho do Algarve or Bailinho (Madeira), are some examples of dances created by the sound of folk. Some of the typical instruments used are a guitar, mandolin, bagpipes, accordion, violin, drums, Portuguese guitar and an enormous variety of wind and percussion instruments.

Contemporary bands include Dazkarieh, Cornalusa, Gaitúlia, Strella do Dia etc.

Philharmonic music[edit]

In the popular culture the philharmonic bands represent each locality and play different types of music, from popular to classical. Lidia Costa, Carlos Marques, Alberto Madurai, José Caminos and Railcar Morays are some of the most important names in philharmonic music.


Main article: Fado

Fado (translated as destiny or fate) is a music genre which can be traced from the 1820s, but possibly with much earlier origins. It is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade, a unique word with no accurate translation in any other language. (Home-sickness has an approximate meaning. It is a kind of longing, and conveys a complex mixture of mainly nostalgia, but also sadness, pain, happiness and love).

There are two main varieties of fado, namely those of the cities of Lisbon and Coimbra. The Lisbon style is the most popular, while Coimbra's is the more refined style. Modern fado is popular in Portugal, and has produced many renowned musicians. According to tradition, to applaud fado in Lisbon you clap your hands, in Coimbra you cough as if clearing your throat.

Mainstream fado performances during the 20th century included only a singer, a Portuguese guitar player and a classical guitar player but more recent settings range from singer and string quartet to full orchestra.

The ingredients of Fado are a shawl, a guitar, a voice and heartfelt emotion.

Themes include: destiny, deep-seated feelings, disappointments in love, the sense of sadness and longing for someone who has gone away, misfortune, the ups and downs of life, the sea, the life of sailors and fishermen, and last but not least "Saudade" (one of the main themes used in fado, that means a kind of longing).

Fado is probably the oldest urban folk music in the world and represents the heart of the Portuguese soul, and for that matter fado performance is not successful if an audience is not moved to tears.

Classical music[edit]

Portugal has been an important centre of practice and production of music over the centuries, as the music history of Portugal expresses. In contemporary classical music, notable Portuguese musicians include the pianists Artur Pizarro, Maria João Pires and equeira Costa, and the composers: Fernando Lopes-Graça, Emmanuel Nunes, João Pedro Oliveira, Jorge Peixinho, Constança Capdeville, Clotilde Rosa, Fernando Corrêa de Oliveira, Cláudio Carneyro, Frederico de Freitas, Joly Braga Santos and Isabel Soveral.

Portuguese rock[edit]

Main article: Portuguese rock

The Portuguese rock started to be noted in 1980 with the release of Ar de Rock by Rui Veloso, which was the first popular Portuguese rock song, other Portuguese bands and singers such Sétima Legião, Rádio Macau, Jafumega, Mão Morta, Taxi, Peste e Sida, were popular too. Before that, Portugal had a vibrant underground progressive rock scene in the 1970s like Tantra, Quarteto 1111, José Cid and others in 1950 and 1960 rock and roll scene with bands like Os Conchas and Os Sheiks. Among the numerous bands and artists which followed its genesis, are Xutos & Pontapés, GNR, Quinta do Bill, UHF, The Gift and Moonspell.

Popular music[edit]

The 1980s and 1990s were marked by the search for a new musical discourse in urban popular music, the increase, commodification and industrialization of musical production, and the mediatization and expansion of music consumption. The boom in Portuguese musical production was accompanied by both the diversification of the musical domains and styles produced and consumed in Portugal and the emergence of new styles which are increasingly taking the global market into account. The denominated Pop music uses melodies easily to memorize, becoming very popular and commercial; it's also characterized by the amount of publicity made (through videos, magazines, appealing clothing, etc.).

It is possible to note two stylistic tendencies in the popular music of the 1980s and 1990s:

  • A musical discourse created by Portuguese musicians that is integrated within the major international developments experienced by commercial popular music;
  • A new musical style that vindicates its Portugueseness by both drawing upon various musical elements which musicians and audiences alike identify as Portuguese and emphasizing the Portuguese language.

Canções de intervenção (political songs)[edit]

Political songs (canções de intervenção) played an important part in the protests against the totalitarian regime that ruled Portugal from 1926 up to the 1974 revolution. Once it was created as an object to criticize what was wrong, mainly in a political point of view. One of its main protagonists was José (Zeca) Afonso (1929–1987) but others also contributed to its development, for example Adriano Correia de Oliveira, José Mário Branco, Luís Cilia, Francisco Fanhais, José Jorge Letria, José Barata Moura and Sérgio Godinho. They traced a new course for urban popular music and influenced a further generation of musicians, some of whom also participated in the protest movement and are still active, including Fausto, Vitorino, Janita Salomé and Júlio Pereira, among others.

This musical style reflects a confluence of influences from traditional music, French urban popular songs of the 1960s, African music and Brazilian popular music. By the late 1970s the revolutionary climate had subsided and the need to express political militancy through song was no longer felt by poets, composers and singers, who subsequently redefined both their role and their creative contribution.

Hip hop[edit]

Main article: Hip hop Tuga

Hip hop has been important since the 1980s with areas like Amadora, Cacém and the South Bank of the Tagus are considered to be the cradle of Hip Hop Tuga.

The compilation called "Rapublica" released in 1994, which featured young rising artists and groups such as Black Company and Boss Ac, is responsible for establishing hip hop in Portugal. The refrain from a song called "Não sabe nadar, yo" ("Can't swim, yo!") was used by the president of Portugal, Mário Soares in a speech about the cave painting in Foz Côa saying that "As gravuras não sabem nadar, yo!" ("The paintings can’t swim, yo!").

Apart from Lisbon, other urban centers also established vibrant hip hop scenes during the early nineties, especially Porto, that gave birth to important groups such as Mind Da Gap. More recently other local scenes have also developed on other urban centers, such as Coimbra and Faro.

There are two major showcase events, Flowfest and Hip Hop Porto. Flowfest, in Coimbra, started in 2005. Hip Hop Porto is a free event held at Casa da Música, in September. It features mainly the northern hip hop names as headliners, drawing a very local audience. Its first edition in 2005 carded Rodney P, NBC, Blackmastah, Bomberjack, Rui Miguel Abreu, etc. Usually the event is held outdoors, but in 2006 the heavy rains made the event relocate to the parking lot of the building, causing a really "underground" look.

Students festivals[edit]

Festivals organised by students of several higher education institutions, take place every year across the country. The 'Queima das Fitas' in Coimbra and Porto and 'Enterro da Gata' in Minho. Summer festivals include Vilar de Mouros Festival, Festival Sudoeste, Rock in Rio Lisboa, Super Bock Super Rock, Festival de Paredes de Coura, Boom Festival, Ilha do Ermal Festival, etc.


See also: Portuguese Renaissance and List of Portuguese painters

Portuguese art was very restricted in the early years of nationality, during the reconquista, to a few paintings in churches, convents and palaces.

It was after the 15th century, with national borders established and with the discoveries, that Portuguese art expanded. Some kings, like John I already had royal painters. It is during this century that Gothic art was replaced by a more humanistic and Italian-like art.

During the reign of King Alfonso V, an important Portuguese artist Nuno Gonçalves shaped Portuguese art, leading it to gain local characteristics (Escola Nacional, National School). His influence on Portuguese art continued after his death. He was the royal painter for the famous Retábulo do Altar das Relíquias de São Vicente in the Cathedral of Lisbon (Sé de Lisboa). The painting caught fire and was replaced by a Baroque structure. Parts of his work still exist and can be found in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga National (Museum of Ancient Art).

During the Golden Age of Portugal, in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Portuguese artists were influenced by Flemish art, and were in turn influential on Flemish artists of the same period. During this period, Portuguese art became internationally well-known, mostly because of its very original and diverse characteristics, but little is known about the artists of this time due to the medieval culture that considered painters to be artisans. The anonymous artists in the Portuguese "escolas" produced art not only for metropolitan Portugal but also for its colonies, namely Malacca or Goa and even Africa, gratifying the desires of local aristrocatic clients and religious clients.

In the 19th century, naturalist and realist painters like Columbano, Henrique Pousão and Silva Porto revitalized painting against a decadent academic art.

In the early 20th century, Portuguese art increased both in quality and quantity, mainly due to members of the Modernist movement like Amadeo de Souza Cardoso and Almada Negreiros. In the post-war years the abstractionist painter Vieira da Silva settled in Paris and gained widespread recognition, as did her contemporary Paula Rego.


See also: Portuguese Renaissance

Portugal never developed a great Dramatic theatre tradition due primarily to the fact that the Portuguese were more passionate about lyric or humorous works than dramatic art. Gil Vicente is often seen as the father of Portuguese theatre - he was the leading Portuguese playwright in the 16th century. During the 20th century, theatre found a way to reach out to the people, specially the middle class, through what in Portugal is known as "Revista" - a form of humorous and cartoonish theatre designed to expose and criticize social (and political) issues, but in a way that entertains and amuses the audience.

Gil Vicente (1435–1536) is considered the first great Portuguese playwright. Frequently called the father of Portuguese theatre, he portrays the society of the 16th century. Anticipating the 17th-century French writer Jean-Baptiste de Santeul's well-known phrase "castigat ridendo mores", Gil Vicente became famous for his satirical plays such as the "Triologia das Barcas" ("Auto da Barca do Inferno" (1517), "Auto da Barca do Purgatório" (1518); "Auto da Barca da Glória" (1518)). In these plays, he creates some characters who are representative of their social group. This results in not only comical, but also strong critical situations. Gil Vicente also wrote other important plays such as "Auto da Índia" (1509), "Auto da Fama" (1510), and "Farsa de Inês Pereira" (1523).

Another relevant playwright of the 16th century is António Ferreira (1528–1569), who wrote "A Castro" (1587), a well-known tragedy about the forbidden love between D. Pedro I and D. Inês de Castro. António Ferreira is considered the father of Renaissance culture in Portugal.

One of the most famous playwrights of the 18th century is António José da Silva (1705–1739), commonly known as "O Judeu" because of his Judaic origins. He wrote several plays such as "Os Encantos de Medeia" (1735), "As Variedades de Proteu" (1737) and "Precipício de Faetonte" (1738).

Almeida Garrett (1799–1854) was a turning point in Portuguese literature as far as the themes are concerned. His most outstanding play is "Frei Luís de Sousa" (1844), which became a classic of Portuguese theatre. Garrett also wrote "Um Auto de Gil Vicente" (1838), "Filipa de Vilhena" (1846) and "O Alfageme de Santarém" (1842). These three plays as well as "Frei Luís de Sousa" are somehow connected with Portuguese history. Furthermore, Garrett is also the founder of the "Conservatório Geral de Arte Dramática" as well as of the "Teatro Nacional D. Maria II".

As far as the 20th century is concerned, it's worth noticing Bernardo Santareno's (1920–1980) work. His most famous play is "O Judeu", based upon the life of António José da Silva, mentioned above. Santareno also wrote "A Promessa" (1957), "O Crime da Aldeia Velha" (1959) and "Anunciação" (1962). Most of his plays deal with universal questions such as liberty, oppression and discrimination.

Born in 1926, Luís de Sttau Monteiro (1926–1993) wrote several plays, some of them portraying and criticising Portuguese society of his time. His most famous play is "Felizmente Há Luar" (1961), which is a strong criticism of the political context of that time (dictatorship – Estado Novo). "O Barão" (1965), "A Guerra Santa" (1967) and "Sua Excelência" (1971) were also written by Sttau Monteiro.

In the 20th century, theatre in Portugal became more popular with the "Revista" – a comical and satirical form of theatre. It is a creative way of expressing one's ideas as well as criticising political and social problems. The most important actors who performed this form of theatre in the 20th century were Vasco Santana (1898–1958), Beatriz Costa (1907–1996) and Ivone Silva (1935–1987). Nowadays it is worth mentioning Maria João Abreu, José Raposo and Fernando Mendes, who perform this form of theatre at the well known "Parque Mayer" (a theatre in Lisbon where the "Revista" used to be performed).

Important Portuguese actors are Ruy de Carvalho, Eunice Muñoz, Rui Mendes, Irene Cruz, Luís Miguel Cintra, just to name a few.

In later years, theatre in Portugal has developed into many other forms as in any other European country. Almost every repertoire can be seen in Portugal. Many companies have the works of Shakespeare, Molière, Brecht, Becket or Chekhov, and Portuguese classic and modern authors on their repertoire. Other companies show more experimental projects. All this makes the theatre repertoire very varied. Some of the most important professional theatre companies nowadays are: Teatro da Cornucópia, Teatro da Comuna, Teatro Aberto, Teatro Meridional, Teatro da Garagem, Companhia de Teatro de Almada, Companhia Teatral do Chiado, A Barraca, Teatro dos Aloés, Teatro Praga, Artistas Unidos, Seiva Trupe, As boas raparigas, ACTA, among many others.

Portugal hosts several festivals such as FITEI, ACERT and FIAR, and one of the most important is Festival Internacional de Teatro de Almada (International Theatre Festival of Almada), organized for 25 years by Companhia de Teatro de Almada (Almada Theatre Company), with directors Joaquim Benite and Vítor Gonçalves.


Trasgos, almas penadas, peeiras, Jãs, maruxinhos, moledros, marafonas, are part of a rich folklore tradition of mythical beings preserved in old people's lore and literature, frequently seen as the remains of pre-Christian traditions. The lore associates the ancient monuments to the legends of the Enchanted Mouras and almost every Portuguese town has a tale of a Moura Encantada.

=Festivities and holidays[edit]

During the summer, in the month of June, festivities dedicated to three saints known as Santos Populares take place all over Portugal. Why the populace associated the saints to these pagan festivities is not known. But they are possibly related to Roman or local deities from the time before Christianity spread in the region. The three saints are Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter. Common fare in these festivities are wine, água-pé (mostly grape juice), and traditional bread along with sardines. During the festivities are many weddings, traditional street dances and fireworks.

Saint Anthony is celebrated on the night of 12th-13 June, especially in Lisbon (where that saint was born and lived most of his life), with Marchas Populares (a street carnival) and other festivities. In the meantime, several marriages known as Casamentos de Santo António (Marriages of Saint Anthony) are made. But the most popular saint is Saint John, he is celebrated in many cities and towns throughout the country on the night of the 23rd-24th, especially in Porto and Braga, where the sardines, caldo verde (traditional soup) and plastic hammers to hammer in another person's head for luck are indispensable. The final saint is Saint Peter, celebrated in the night of 28th-29th, especially in Póvoa de Varzim and Barcelos, the festivities are similar to the others, but more dedicated to the sea and with an extensive use of fire (fogueiras). In Póvoa de Varzim, there is the Rusgas in the night, another sort of street carnival. Each festivity is a municipal holiday in the cities and towns where it occurs.

Carnival is also widely celebrated in Portugal, some traditional carnivals date back several centuries. Loulé, Alcobaça, Mealhada, Funchal, Torres Vedras, Ovar and Figueira da Foz, among several other localities, hold several days of festivities, with parades where social and political criticism abound, along with music and dancing in an environment of euphorya. There are some localities which preserve a more traditional carnival with typical elements of the ancient carnival traditions of Portugal and Europe. However, several parades in most localities have adopted many elements of the tropical Brazilian Carnival.

On January 6, Epiphany is celebrated by some families, especially in the North and Center, where the family gathers to eat "Bolo Rei" (literally, King Cake, a cake made with crystallized fruits); this is also the time for the traditional carols - "As Janeiras", the new year's Wassailing.

Saint Martin Day, is celebrated on November 11. This day is the peak of three days, often with very good weather, it is known as Verão de São Martinho ("Saint Martin summer"), the Portuguese celebrate it with jeropiga (a sweet liqueur wine) and roasted Portuguese chestnuts (castanhas assadas), and it is called Magusto.

Torre de Centum Cellas, c. 1st century AD
Maios celebration in Madeira island [1]



Identification. The name "Portugal" derives from a Roman or pre-Roman settlement called Portus Cale (the modern city of Porto) near the mouth of the Douro River. The Romans referred to this region as the province of Lusitania, and the prefix Luso (meaning "Portuguese") is still used in some contexts. In the ninth century, during the reconquest (714–1140 C.E. ), Christian forces dominated the area between the Minho River, which forms the border of modern Portugal in the north, and the Douro River, and the region became known as Territorium Portucalense . In 1095, the king of Castile and Leon granted Portucale (northern Portugal) to a Burgundian count. Despite the diversity of invading populations and distinct regional economies and ways of living, Portugal is a homogeneous nation with a single national cultural identity and no ethnolinguistic groups.

Location and Geography. Continental Portugal at 35,516 square miles (91,986 square kilometers) occupies approximately a sixth of the Iberian peninsula. Since the majority of the population was rural until the 1960s, geography has been an important factor in cultural adaptations and worldview. The northwest (the province of Minho) is lush, green, densely populated, and the major source of emigrants. The northeast (the province of Trás-os-Montes) is more mountainous and is divided into a northern region ( terra fria ) with long cold winters and a warmer region ( terra quente ) to the south. The central part (including the provinces of Beira Alta, Beira Baixa, and Beira Litoral) varies from high and desolate mountain plateaus (the Serra da Estrela) to low coastal areas. The provinces of Ribatejo and Estemadura are low-lying regions near Lisbon and the Tagus River. Much industry is concentrated in this area. Southern Portugal, drier and more Mediterranean in climate, includes the provinces of the Alentejo and the Algarve. The Alentejo, an undulating plain with cork trees and wheat fields, was traditionally an important cash-crop area. The Algarve is semitropical with almond, fig, and citrus trees. It is also a region of tourism and fishing.

Portuguese inhabit the Azores and Madeira in the Atlantic. As a result of colonial expansion and massive emigration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there are Portuguese-speaking people in Asia, Africa, South America, the United States, Canada, Australia, and northwestern Europe. The capital is Lisbon, located on a number of hills on the northern shore of the Tagus River estuary. The original name for Lisbon, an important Roman city, was Olisipo . Lisbon, which became the capital in 1298, is also the political, cultural, economic, educational, and social center.

Demography. In 1999, the population of continental and island Portugal was estimated at 9.9 million. The population increased until the 1960s, when it declined by more than 200,000 as a result of emigration to northern Europe. In the 1970s, the population rose by more than a quarter million as retornados returned from Africa after decolonization. Portugal has been receiving immigrants, primarily from former overseas territories such as the Cape Verde Islands. This immigrant population, which has settled primarily in the greater Lisbon area, is estimated to be approximately 200,000.

Linguistic Affiliation. Portuguese is a Romance language with Latin roots, although some words are Arabic in origin. Emerging as a language distinct from Latin and Castilian in the ninth century, Portuguese was made the official language under King Dinis (1279–1325). Dialects are found only in regions near the border with Spain and are disappearing. French was widely used by the aristocracy in the nineteenth century. Spoken in Brazil, Angola,


Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, the Cape Verde Islands, São Tomé, Príncipe, and Macão, Portuguese is the world's fifth largest language in terms of number of speakers.

Symbolism. Many cultural symbols of national identity focus on the Age of Discovery and an imagined community that extends beyond the political frontiers of the nation. The national flag, adopted on 19 June 1911 during the First Portuguese Republic (1910–1926), includes an ancient astronomical device (the armillary sphere) used for maritime navigation and represents Portugal's role in global exploration. " A Portuguesa ," the national anthem, officially adopted in 1911, has as its central symbol a female figure modeled after "La Marseillaise" (the Woman of Marseilles), the French symbol of republicanism. It expresses the nationalism that emerged in late nineteenth-century Anglo-Portuguese conflicts over African territory.

Nostalgia for the past and for the homeland is represented in the sentiments of Sebastianismo and saudade and in the lyrics of the fado . Sebastianismo is a messianic belief in the return of King Sebastian, who died in Morocco in 1578 or 1579. Sebastian was expected to drive out the Spaniards (who ruled from 1580 to 1640) and restore the nation to glory. Until recently, 1 December was a national holiday commemorating the overthrow of the Spaniards in 1640. Sebastianism is present in a worldview that expresses a hope that what one wants will happen and a feeling that it will never happen. Saudade refers to a melancholic and hopeful nostalgia for a homeland that is far away. The fado, derived from the Latin word for "fate," is a popular urban song form that generally expresses sadness, longing, and regret. The fado is thought to date back to the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century and to combine Moorish, African, and indigenous elements.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Portugal has been inhabited since Paleolithic times. Various peoples settled in the region, though the modern Portuguese trace their descent to the Lusitanians, who spread over the peninsula in the third millennium B.C.E. Lusitanians made contact with Celtic peoples who moved into the region after 900 B.C.E. Roman armies invaded the peninsula in 212 B.C.E. and established towns at the present-day sites of Braga, Porto, Beja, and Lisbon. Successive invasions of Germanic tribes in the fifth and sixth centuries C.E. and Moors in the eighth century C.E. added new elements to the population, particularly in the south. Portugal emerged as an independent kingdom in 1140 with its capital in the northern city of Guimarães. Early statehood, the expulsion of the Moors, and the expulsion or conversion of the Jews laid the foundation for a unified national culture.

In the fifteenth century, the Portuguese inaugurated the Age of Discovery and for three centuries built and expanded a seaborne empire. This imperial enterprise gave the nation a reputation for racial tolerance that is still invoked as the foundation of Portugal's comfort with cross-cultural diversity despite homogeneity at home. The loss of Brazil in 1822 and a series of economic and political crises led to a decline in the world position of the nation in the nineteenth century. The monarchy was eliminated in 1910 with the establishment of the First Portuguese Republic, which was replaced by the authoritarian dictatorship of António Salazar in 1926. Salazar formed his New State ( Estado Novo ) in 1932 on a corporatist political model and emphasized God, family, and work as the central values of the national culture. He limited access to higher education and, in emphasizing the Catholic faith, promoted humility, routine, and respect for authority as guiding principles of social life. He also celebrated the rural way of life by sponsoring a national competition in 1938 for the most Portuguese village.

The Salazarist regime survived until 1974, when it was overthrown by military men frustrated by the hopelessness of the colonial wars in Africa. The African colonial system was dismantled after 1974. In the late 1980s, Portugal became a member of the European Community, and in 1994, Lisbon served as the European cultural capital.

National Identity. The population of Portugal, the first unified national-state in Western Europe, has been extremely homogeneous for most of its history. A single religion and a single language have contributed to this ethnic and national unity. Portugal was the last western European nation to give up its colonies and overseas territories, turning over the administration of Macau to China as recently as 1999. Its colonial history has been fundamental to national identity, as has its geographic position at the margin of Europe looking out to the Atlantic.

Ethnic Relations. Portugal has retained linguistic and other cultural ties with former colonies, including Brazil. In 1996 the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries was created. A recently-arrived population of immigrants, most from former colonies in Africa and Asia, has introduced some ethnic diversity, particularly in the Lisbon metropolitan area. These populations are residentially segregated in neighborhoods with poor housing and a general absence of public amenities. They are subjected to a form of subtle racism within a society that views itself as anti-racist.

Portugal's gypsy population, estimated at about 100,000, offers another element of ethnic diversity. The gypsies live apart, and primarily in the south. They can often be found at rural markets selling clothing and handicrafts. Portugal also has small Protestant and Jewish communities, largely composed of foreigners.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

In 1930, 80 percent of the population lived in rural villages, and thirty years later, 77 percent of the population was still rural. Since 1960, urbanization has been fueled by extensive internal migration from the countryside to the cities, but only 35.8 of the population was defined as urban in 1996. The two large cities of Lisbon and Porto are both on the coast.

The hallmark of Portuguese architecture are azulejos , glazed ceramic tiles that cover the facades and interiors of churches, government buildings, and private homes. Azulejos were introduced by the Moors. Both geometric and representational patterns are used, the latter often depicting historical events or religious scenes. The azulejos style was taken to colonial Brazil and to India, and has been adopted by returned emigrants who have built new houses across the landscape of northern and central Portugal as social statements of their success abroad. Akin to azulejos are the mosaics used on the sidewalks of major walking avenues in Lisbon and Porto as well as in provincial towns. These avenues, lined with cafés and teahouses, are important public spaces where people stroll and converse. Stucco in various pastels is used on buildings, including the main government buildings in Lisbon. The other distinctive style of architecture is known as Manueline, after King Manuel I. It is a form of ornamentation that mixes elements of Christianity with ropes, shells, and other aquatic imagery, reflecting the nation's seafaring past.

Vernacular buildings in rural areas use local materials. In the north, traditional peasant houses, often with two stories and a red tubular clay tile roof, were built with thick granite walls. Animals were kept on the ground floor, which also was used for storage. Many of these houses had verandas. All had a big hearth in the kitchen with an overhanging chimney used to smoke hams and sausage as well as to cook and heat. The kitchen is the center of private family space; these houses often also contain a parlor ( sala ) for receiving guests. In the south one-story, whitewashed, flat-roofed houses with blue trim around the windows and doorways are common. This form of architecture evokes the Moorish past. These houses, which are built to keep out the summer heat, have huge chimneys and hearths. Since the 1970s, new housing and large apartment complexes have been built to accommodate the growing urban population.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. The cuisine varies by region. The north is known for caldo verde , a kale and potato soup generally flavored with a slice of chouriço (spicy sausage). Also important are grilled sardines. The traditional bread, especially in the northwest, is broa , a grainy corn bread with a thick crust. In Minho, the traditional wine is vinho verde , a young wine made from grapes that grow on arbors that often serve as property markers. In the northeastern region of Trás-os-Montes, fresh and cured pork, is used in a number of dishes. A stew of mixed meats and vegetables called cozida a` portuguesa originated in this region and has become a national dish. In central Portugal, cheeses are more common because of pasturing in the Serra da Estrela and fish (including octupus, squid, and eel) is abundant. In the south, the most popular soup is a form of gazpacho with bread and smoked pork. A pork and clam stew cooked in a cataplana (a tightly sealed steamer) is the regional dish of the Alentejo. Olive oil ( azeite ) is used throughout the country.

Bacalhau (salt cod) has been a national dish since the fifteenth century, when the Portuguese began fishing off the coast of Newfoundland. Pastéis de bacalhau (codfish croquettes) are a popular appetizer. An important seasoning is cumin; equally important is piri-piri , a hot red chili often used to season barbecued chicken. Cinnamon is a common flavoring for desserts, such as the traditional rice pudding ( arroz doce ).

Port, a fortified wine produced in the region of the upper Douro River, is a major export. In rural households on ceremonial occasions, port is offered to celebrated guests, including the parish priest.

The noon meal ( o almoço ) is served at about twelve thirty, and dinner ( o jantar )at 8 P.M. Breakfast ( o pequeno almoço ) is Continental style. In rural regions, it was traditional for men to stop at the local café before heading to the fields to have their pinga (a shot of stiff brandy) to matar o bicho (kill the beast).

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. One of the most important ceremonies in rural households is the annual killing and preserving of the pig. This event occurs in late December or January and usually takes two days, since it involves making sausage, smoking ham ( presunto, ), and salting several other parts of the pigs, including the belly ( toucinho ). The noon meal on the first day is called sarrabulho and consists of rice, innards, and the blood of the pig.

Azulejos, blue glazed tiles, are made into pictorial panels throughout Portugal. Ceramics and architecture are the country's greatest art forms.

The traditional family meal on Christmas Eve is bacalhau with molho verde (a green sauce made with virgin olive oil), cabbage ( couve ), and boiled potatoes. On Twelfth Night, a bolo rei (kings' bread) is served, often with a lucky coin in it. On the occasion of the village festa , some families roast a goat ( cabrito ).

Coffehouses are places to meet friends, talk business, and study. Various styles of coffee are served, each with a special label.

Basic Economy. According to 1998 estimates agriculture constitutes 4 percent of the gross domestic product, industry 36 percent, and services 60 percent. Twelve percent of the population works in agriculture (compared with 40 percent in 1960), 32 percent in industry (32 percent in 1960), and 56 percent in services, commerce, and government (28 percent in 1960). Tourism is an important component of the service sector. Few families are wholly subsistence farmers, having relied traditionally on cash from the sale of surplus produce or from emigration of family members. Remittances from workers abroad are important to the economy, as are European Union transfers. Competition in the context of the European Union is changing the face of subsistence agriculture. Oil and gas are imported, and hydroelectric power is underdeveloped.

Land Tenure and Property. Patterns of land tenure vary by region. In the Algarve, landholdings are small and are cultivated by owners, tenants, or sharecroppers. The Alentejo has traditionally been a region of low population density, latifundia that originated in the Roman estate system, and landless day laborers. Before 1974, approximately five hundred absentee landlords owned the bulk of the land. After 1974, the agrarian reform movement altered the system of land tenure in this region, although some of the early "revolutionary" expropriations have been restored to their original owners. The north has a much higher population density, land fragmentation, minifúndia that originated with the system brought by the Germanic invaders of the fifth and sixth centuries, and subsistence farming. These peasants ( lavradores ) own, rent, and/or sharecrop several fields scattered throughout a village as well as neighboring villages. Although not as numerous as in the south, there is a population of landless day laborers ( jornaleiros ) in northern Portugal, many of whom are women. Jornaleiros provide supplemental labor to the peasant household. In the much less densely populated northeastern region, a form of communal property ownership and communal farming survived into the twentieth century.

Commercial Activities. Commercial activities vary regionally. The peasants in the north cultivate corn (rye in the northeast), potatoes, wine grapes, and vegetables to sell at regional markets. Many also raise milk cattle, and the milk is sold to local cooperatives. Along the coastline, populations engage in fishing. Fish canning is an important export industry. The local economies in the north have been supplemented by centuries of emigration, and as a result, men have developed artisanal skills as masons and carpenters. Around Braga, Porto, and Guimarães there is a population of worker-peasants employed in the textile industry. The people of the Algarve engage in agriculture, fishing, and tourism. Cash-crop agriculture (wheat, olives, cork) predominates in the Alentejo. In central continental Portugal, a variety of irrigated grains (wheat, corn, and rice) are cultivated on medium-sized family farms for commercial sale. The Azores are largely agricultural, with some islands depending primarily on dairy and meat production and others on a combination of cattle raising, whaling, fishing, and small-scale agriculture (sugar beets, tea, tobacco, and vegetables). Madeira relies on agriculture (wine, bananas, sugarcane), fishing, and whaling in addition to small-scale cottage industry and tourism. The embroidery industry is a major employer of female workers.

Major Industries. Furniture, food processing, wineries, and pulp and paper are among the major industrial activities in the north. Heavier industry (steel working, shipbuilding, iron production, transport equipment, electrical machinery) and the bulk of the industrial working class are concentrated in the Lisbon-Setubal region in the south. In recent years, the construction industry has become important, and tourism is growing. Other important manufacturing industries are leather products, textiles, porcelain, and glassware.

Trade. Portugal's major exports are textiles, clothing and footwear, cork and paper products, machinery, transport equipment, and chemicals, and agricultural products. More than 80 percent of this trade is with other member states of the European Community. The most important trading partners are Germany and Spain.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. At the end of World War II, Portugal had a small upper class, a small middle class, a small urban working class, and a mass of rural peasants. The upper class included leaders of industry, financiers, top military personnel, the Catholic episcopate, the large landholders of the Alentejo, some professionals, and some government officials. The middle class included smaller rural landowners, secondary-level military officers, small business operators and shopkeepers, civil servants, and schoolteachers. The lower class ( o povo ) consisted of the urban and rural working poor. There was little social mobility, and a distinction was made between those who worked with their hands and those who did not. Social status was ascribed and sustained by class endogamy. Before 1974, the State was based on corporative bodies representing different interest groups (the military, the Church, landholders, workers' syndicates, etc.). In theory, the Corporate State channeled class interests but in practice these were often circumvented by personal contacts.

The rural south with its massive population of landless day laborers was more hierarchical than the rural north, explaining the strength of the Communist Party and class consciousness in the south after the 1974 "revolution." Social stratification in the villages of the north was more fluid. Exposure to the very wealthy elites was also more limited. The 1976 constitution defined Portugal as a republic engaged in the formation of a classless society. While the Marxist tones of the constitution have largely been eradicated, Portugal is less socially rigid than in the past and education, which is more widely accessible as the country moves toward a service-oriented economy, is an avenue to social mobility. The middle class has grown and the peasant population has declined, but the distance separating the social, economic, and political elites from the bulk of the population remains.

Political Life

Government. Portugal has moved from an authoritarian regime, to a provisional military government, to a parliamentary democracy. The president, representing the executive branch, is elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term and appoints the prime minister. In 1982, a constitutional revision put the military under civilian control, with the president as the commander in chief. A unicameral Assembly of the Republic, with two hundred thirty members elected by universal suffrage for four-year terms, constitutes the legislative branch. Center-right leadership predominated between 1985 and 1995 and the Socialist Party assumed leadership in 1995. Portugal has had regional voting patterns

A commercial building in the Amoreiras district of Lisbon. Services and industry account for 96 percent of the GDP.

since the nineteenth century, with urban voting trends opposed to rural trends and the north voting more conservatively than the south.

At the local level, villages are run by a parish council ( junta da frequesia ) whose members are elected by village households. Throughout the Salazar period, the juntas had little real power and few economic resources, though the members had local prominence. They depended on the câmara , the administrative body in the county seat, and the câmara is still an important unit of political organization and administration. After 1974, political parties and agricultural cooperatives assumed importance, though participation varies by region.

Regionalization has become increasingly important, in part mandated by constitutional provisions for administrative decentralization.

Leadership and Political Officials. Although there was only one legal political party under Salazar (the União Nacional), today there are a wide variety of political parties with varying political viewpoints that stretch from the far right to the far left. The four major parties are the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), The Portuguese Socialist Party (PS), the Social Democratic Party (PSD), and the Popular Party (PP; formerly the Center Democratic Party or CDS).

Before 1974 local people were not engaged with the political process but since then public debate and voting have both increased dramatically. In some rural communities, particularly in the south, a system of patronage prevailed, but this also changed after the 1974 revolution. Cultural elites have been replaced by officeholders and politicos, ambitious men who are part of the village bourgeoisie. Today office and positions of leadership are an achieved rather than an ascribed status, based on personal achievement rather than on whom one knows or the family of one's birth.

Social Problems and Control. There is a national Supreme Court and several administrative, military, and fiscal courts. Under the Estado Novo, the PIDE (political police) was a powerful mechanism for repression. Known to have scores of informants, the PIDE had the authority to arrest and detain without charge or trial and served not only as an internal investigative arm but also as an institution of border and customs control. The PIDE was abolished in 1974, but there is a police force ( Polícia de Segurança Pública ) in the main cities and towns. In rural areas, order is maintained by the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR). Violent crime is rare. Drugs and theft have become a problem, primarily in large metropolitan areas. In small communities, shame is still a powerful mechanism of social control,

Vineyards above the upper Douro River. This region produces port, a major export.

and throughout the country, parents use shame to discipline children.

Military Activity. The three military branches are the Army, Navy, and the Air Force. In 1997 military expenditures were 2.6 percent of the GDP. The military age is 20. The Portuguese military was heavily involved in the Colonial Wars in Africa and by 1974, 80 percent of Portugal's military forces were committed to that region. Military service was extended to as long as four years during the 1960s, a phenomenon that resulted in a sharp increase in clandestine emigration to France during that decade. The military, under the title of the Armed Forces Movement (Movimento das Forças Armadas/MFA), instigated the bloodless coup of 25 April 1974 that overthrew the Estado Novo dictatorship. Portugal was a founding member of NATO. The United States maintains use of the Lajes Air Base on the island of Terceira in the Azores.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Prior to the twentieth century, the Roman Catholic Church and other charitable institutions such as the Santa Casa de Misericórdia were the primary mechanisms of social welfare in Portugal. During the Salazar regime, a system of Casas do Povo were established in local places, primarily to regulate the Corporate State, but also to take care of individual needs. Their impact was limited. State-operated systems of welfare did not emerge until the 1960s and they have improved with the growth of parliamentary democracy and greater economic stability and prosperity. Even so, in the early 1990s welfare benefits, financed through employee and employer contributions, were low by comparison with other European nations. Welfare programs include benefits for the ill and disabled, old-age pensions, maternity leaves, and small family allowances. After 1975 Portugal introduced a national health care system that paid all medical and pharmaceutical expenses.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

The Church is the major nongovernmental association that organizes social relationships. At the local level, people belong to a range of confraternities ( confrarias ) that are under the auspices of their parish church. In the past confraternities were important mutual aid societies, sources of loans and the organizations responsible for proper burials. At the local level there has also been an important increase in folkloric dance groups ( ranchos ) that involve adolescents and young adults in the reinvention of traditions. These ranchos are under the auspices of the national Federation for Portuguese Folklore. Portuguese people participate in a variety of other urban and national associations, many of them professionally based. Recently new associations for particular social groups, for example the gay and lesbian community and various immigrant communities, have also been formed.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Labor force statistics frequently underestimate the participation of women, particularly in the rural economy of the north. Some anthropologists view these activities as the basis of the significant economic and political power of peasant women. Middle- and upper-class women were at one time restricted to the domestic sphere, but this has changed as women have received advanced education and professional training, and full legal equality. Factors such as an interventionist state, low wages, flexibility in the allocation of labor resources of family members, a rigid social structure, and incipient economic and technological development explain the low rate of labor market segregation by gender.

Since the 1960s, women have outpaced men in higher education, although class factors are ultimately more important in shaping these trends. Portugal has had one woman serve as president. Local attitudes are more conservative, and women have been slower to win political positions in municipal elections.

Women still perform the major domestic chores, although men are involved in child care. Among the elites, women rely on inexpensive domestic help. Important religious positions are still primarily in the hands of men.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Under the Salazar regime, women were subordinate to men and had few personal, political or economic rights. After 1974, the status and roles of women changed. The 1976 constitution outlawed discrimination by sex, and divorce and abortion became legal under certain circumstances. Women were given control over their economic lives and gained the right to carry their own passports and vote.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. The marriage rate rose in the twentieth century. People generally marry later in the north than in the south, though the differences are disappearing. In the south, consensual unions have been common, and the north has had high rates of permanent spinsterhood. Although it has declined since 1930, illegitimacy was high in rural northern Portugal and remains high. Marriage has generally been class endogamous, and there is a tendency for villages to be endogamous.

Domestic Unit. Households in the north tend to be complex, many of them composed of a three-generation stem family. Some villagers in the northeast follow a custom of natalocal residence for many years after marriage. In the south, households are simpler, generally composed of a nuclear family. Obligations between friends are sometimes felt to be more important than those between kin. Headship of the household is held jointly by a married couple, who in the rural north are referred to as o patrão and a patroa . Among urban middle-class groups and in the south, the concept of a dominant male head of household is more prevalent.

Inheritance. The Civil Code of 1867 called for partible inheritance, but parents can dispose freely of a third share ( terço ) of their property, and women have the right to receive and bestow property. Among the peasants of the north, where inheritance is generally postmortem, parents use the promise of the terço as a form of old age security by marrying a child into the household. At their death, that child becomes the owner of the house ( casa ); the rest of the property is divided equally among all heirs. Partilhas can cause friction between siblings since land is variable in quality. Some peasants hold land under long-term lease agreements that traditionally was passed on in one piece to one heir. The 1867 Civil Code eliminated the system of entailed estates ( vínculos ) that made it possible for wealthier classes to pass on property to a single heir, usually by male primogeniture. Wealthier landowners have been able to keep property intact by having one heir buy out the siblings.

Kin Groups. Kinship is reckoned bilaterally, but the structure of domestic groups and the kinship links that are emphasized vary by region and social class. In northern Portugal, nicknames ( apelidos ) are extremely important as terms of reference that connote moral equivalence in otherwise socially stratified rural communities. In the northwest, nicknames identify localized kin groups linked through females. In this region, there is a preference for uxorilocality and uxorivicinality, both of which can be linked to male emigration. Spiritual kinship ties are established at baptism and marriage. Kin frequently are chosen to serve as godparents ( padrinhos ). In the absence of government-based institutions

Portraits of the deceased ornament their grave markers in an Azorean cemetery.

of childcare, eldercare, etc. the support networks based on kinship are extremely important in both rural and urban areas.


Child Rearing and Education. Socialization is an important aspect of education. A child who is " bem educado " has good manners and is respectful toward adults. The Portuguese are indulgent toward their children, who are welcome everywhere. Life cycle ceremonies for children are in accordance with Catholic ritual. Baptisms are important events for the extended family. First communion can be an occasion for a family celebration.


Although Portugal has become more informal in its rules of etiquette, polite terms of address are still used. People with education are still addressed with phrases such as Senhor Doutor (Mr. Dr.) and an upper class and/or educated women still garners the title Dona, often coupled with a first name as in "Dona Maria." Like Spanish, Portuguese makes a distinction between the more formal and courteous "o senhor/a senhora" and the more informal and intimate tu . Strangers generally greet each other with a handshake. In more informal environments men who know one another will embrace and women greet one another with a kiss on both cheeks. Urban Portuguese of the middle and upper classes dress quite formally and there is a powerful sense of propriety about appropriate public dress.


Religious Beliefs. The majority of the citizens are Catholic, nominally if not in practice. Portugal has experienced waves of political anticlericalism throughout its history. Under Salazar, Portugal experienced a religious revival and the position of the local priest in the villages was greatly enhanced. Only after 1974 was this position challenged, and in recent years there has been a decline in the number of clergy. Religiosity is generally weaker in Lisbon and the south and stronger in the center, the north, and the islands. People develop personal relationships with particular saints. Magical practices, sorcery ( feitiço ), witchcraft ( bruxaria ) associated with notions of illness and healing, and notions of envy ( inveja ) that invoke the evil eye are still part of the belief system of many people.

Rituals and Holy Places. Local village life is marked by celebrations honoring the saints and the Virgin Mary. Romarias (pilgrimages) to regional

A group of people wait for a bus in Angro Do Heroismo. Urban Portuguese have a powerful sense of propriety about appropriate public dress.

shrines are a central feature of religious practice, especially in the north. Villagers also celebrate an annual festa (generally to honor the patron saint) that includes a procession and combines sacred and secular elements.

The famous religious shrine Fátima is in the province of Ribatejos northeast of Lisbon, where the Virgin of the Rosary appeared to three small shepherd children in 1917. In 1932, devotion to Our Lady of Fátima was approved by the Catholic Church and a large basilica was built. Fátima is now a place of international pilgrimage. Pilgrims often walk there from the remotest corners of northern Portugal for the May and October observances. Among the other important pilgrimage sites are Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga and Nossa Senhora dos Remedios in Lamego.

Death and Afterlife. Death is a fundamental part of village life. Church bells toll to send the message that a neighbor ( vizinho ) has passed away. In some areas, the gates and doors of the dead person's house are opened to allow anyone to enter and relatives begin to wail around a body prepared for viewing. Burial is in local cemeteries, and family graves are well tended. Each village has several burial societies (confrarias). All Saints Day is an occasion for reverence for those who have departed. Mourning is signified by the wearing of black; a widow generally will wear black for the rest of her life, while other kin remain in mourning for varying lengths of time. Portugal has various cults of death. Such beliefs are not confined to rural areas; in the cities there is a network of spirit mediums who claim to contact the dead.

Medicine and Health Care

The death rate and infant mortality have declined, and life expectancy has increased. Since 1974, medical education has been improved and there are more medical personnel and hospitals. Health care is better in the cities than in the countryside, although women in rural areas no longer give birth at home. Good health often is associated with what is natural, and changes in diet are frequently cited as the cause of disease. The leading causes of death are malignant neoplasms, diseases of the circulatory and respiratory systems, and death from injuries and poisons. Portugal has a low suicide rate but high motor accident fatalities. Folk medical practices are still prevalent in some parts. Curers use a combination of prayer, religious paraphernalia, and traditional and modern medicines.

Secular Celebrations

25 April has been an official holiday since 1974, commemorating the overthrow of the Estado Novo by the Armed Forces Movement. On 1 May, the Portuguese celebrate Labor Day. Portugal Day (10 June) commemorates the death of Luis de Camões, the national epic poet. 15 August, celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin, is observed. 5 October is Republic Day, commemorating the collapse of the monarchy in 1910. Since 1974 it has assumed more significance as a national holiday, while 28 May, a commemorative day complete with military parades that in the Salazar regime honored the 1926 military coup, is no longer a day of national celebration.

The Arts and Humanities

Literature. The most famous work of national literature is Os Lusíadas , an epic poem about the voyage of Vasco da Gama by Luís de Camões (1525?–1579?). Of importance during the seventeenth century, when Portugal regained autonomy, were the Lettres Portugaises ( Portuguese Letters ) written by Sister Mariana Alcoforada. In the early 1970s, Alcoforada's work stimulated the Novas Cartas Portuguesas ( New Portuguese Letters ), a statement of feminism written by the so-called three Marias. The greatest period for literature was the nineteenth century, when Júlio Dinis, Camilo Castelo Branco, and José Maria Eça de Queirós used a social realist and sometimes satirical style to write about class relations, family, inheritance, and religion. Realism was revived during the twentieth century with the short stories of rural life by Manuel Torga, the novels of Aquilino Ribeiro, and epic tales such as Ferreira de Castro's Emigrantes . Perhaps the greatest Portuguese modernist is Fernando Pessoa. Modernism attacked the values of the middle classes of the liberal period. Contemporary realists include Lobo Antunes and José Saramago, who won the Nobel Prize in 1998.

Graphic Arts. The greatest art forms are architecture and ceramics. Painting has not been particularly important. Folk arts are well developed, and craftspeople are found throughout the country. Rugs made in Arraiolas are well-known internationally. Women in the north and the island of Madeira produce embroidered goods that are sold to tourists. Pottery varies in style according to geographic region. Artistic expression is also evident in the items produced for decorating the floats carried in religious processions and in the filigree jewelry made in the Porto region, which also is worn at festivals.

Performance Arts. The fado is one of the most important performing traditions. Ranchos folklóricos (folkloric dance groups) are being revived, supported by the tourist industry. Dancers dress in traditional regional costumes and perform dances that have historical and regional origins. Bull-fighting is also an important performance art.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Since 1974, the social sciences have emerged strongly, with programs in most universities. Of importance are the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon and the Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais in Lisbon. Portugal publishes two major journals of social science.


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