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Portugal

After the death of Joseph I, Portugal's new ruler, Queen Maria I, the first undisputed Queen regnant of Portugal immediately withdrew all of Sebastiao's political offices, and his powerful dictatorship came to an end.

Over the next century, or so, Portugal began a slow economic decline, which was accelerated by Brazil (a Portuguese colony). Brazil, Portugal's wealthiest colony, declared its independence in 1822, a movement caused by a series of economic and political disputes between Brazil and Portugal.

By the turn of the 20th century, social turmoil, economic disturbances, protests, revolts and critics of the monarchy prevailed. The new King of Portugal was overthrown, and by 1910 republicanism was instated.

Those weaknesses created a fertile ground for chaos and unrest, which was further aggravated by the Portuguese military intervention in World War I, and ultimately led to a military coup d'etat in 1926 and the creation of a national dictatorship.

As World War II raged in the 1940's, Portugal was among one of only five neutral European countries. It did however grant both British and American armed forces access to some key areas, including the Azores, to help protect Allied shipping in the mid-Atlantic.

From the mid-1940s to the 1960s, Portugal was a founding member of NATO, OECD and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). White mainland Portuguese citizens were relocated into Portugal's overseas colonies of Angola and Mozambique.

By 1975, for a wide variety of reasons, all of the valuable Portuguese African territories were now independent and Portugal held its first democratic elections in 50 years. However, the country continued to be governed by a military-civilian provisional until 1976.

In 1986, Portugal joined the European Economic Community (EEC) that later became the European Union (EU). In the following years Portugal's economy progressed considerably as a result of its EU associations.

Macau, Portugal's last overseas territory, was handed over to the People's Republic of China in 1999. Then, in 2002, the independence of East Timor (Indonesia) was formally recognized by Portugal, and the days of Portugal's colonial rule were over.

In 2011, the economic disruption from the late-2000s financial crisis led Portugal to negotiate with the IMF and the European Union, for a loan to help the country stabilize its finances.

Although its role on the world's economic stage has waned some from its 15th and 16th centuries hay day as a global maritime power, Portugal remains a vital part of Europe, and one of the real tourism gems on the continent.

And we can't end our brief description of Portugal without a few words on soccer. The Portuguese football first-division league is one of the best leagues in Europe, and the country's national team is noted as one of the best in the world. If you travel to Portugal you should grab the soccer fever, as the country's passion for the sport is an epidemic worth catching.

About Portugal

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.