planisphere lisbon modern portugal

3 minute introduction to modern Portugal  

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Since 1974, when it emerged from one of the longest lasting dictatorships in Europe, Portugal has come up in leaps and bounds. This post celebrates recent achievements and serves as an introduction to those who don’t know much about modern Portugal.


Quick run through 1975-2015

It rebuilt its democratic institutions, entered the EEC (European Economic Community) in 1986, enjoyed an economic boom, hosted a hugely successful Expo ’98 and joined the Euro monetary union in 1999. Then it was all downhill. A cycle of difficult economic conditions ensued, largely due to a huge budget deficit. In 2007 financial crisis spread around the world like wildfire, making the position of Southern European countries even more difficult. Confidence was at its lowest and Portugal, Spain, Greece and Ireland, seen as the bad pupils about to be excluded.

Then, from 2015 onwards, Portugal defied all expectations and made an extraordinary recovery.



This small country of only 10 million people, that only a generation ago was choking in a dictatorship and hanging on to its colonies, when the rest of the western world had long seen the light.

Portugal was never the winner, never the popular kid on the block, never worthy if featuring in the international news. Just recently, in conversation, someone noted to me: “Portugal is never in the news. Why is that? I know so little about it”. The answer to that will need to be for another blog post, or perhaps even a PhD. If you’re not familiar with Portugal’s recent record, here are a few recent achievements worthy of note:


  • In recent years Portugal won popular international competitions like the Eurovision content and the EURO Football cup.



  • In 2017 it came off the EU naughty step and is now enjoying its fastest growth rate since 2000.
  • The more politically aware may have noticed that more Portuguese people now occupy places at the highest level, such as Antonio Guterres, UN’s General Secretay, or that innovative enterprises make a splash in their own niche areas.
  • Portugal’s successful experiment in left-wing coalition and hugely effective policy of discrimination of drugs are becoming textbook case studies.
  • LGBT rights in Portugal are now among the best in the world.
  • Its policy to make Lisbon a silicon valley of Europe is paying off. It now hosts annually the influential Web Summit and boasts a vibrant tech ecosystem

web summit in Lisbon

  • It has won multiple international awards in the Travel, Food and Drink industries
  • A leader in clean energy, now able to produce more clean energy than it requires

Portugal is certainly on a high and has much to be proud of.

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