Answer by Chris Hawkins:
The above answers are incredibly interesting, given that despite the relatively small size of Portugal in terms of geography and populations, this nation has had one of the greatest impacts on three of the planet's largest continents, viz Africa, Asia and South America.
Before Portugal began its voyages of discovery, the nation was almost the first in Europe to define its borders and class itself as a nation, way before France, Spain, Italy and Germany. As long ago as 1143, following the Treaty of Zamora, the nation was recognised as in independent sovereign salthough it took another 100 years to finalise the conquest of the southern most regions of Portugal, viz the Algarve.
The University of Coimbra, () was founded in 1290, well in advance of Heidelberg and many Italian, German and Spanish centres of learning.
It was Portugal's Voyages of Discovery,, from the middle of the 15th Century onward, that began the projection of the nation onto the world stage. Although its eventual colonisation of swathes of Africa, Brazil and Asia would in the late 20th and 21st Century be considered anathema by much of the world, there is a strong argument for the thesis that the Portuguese were the pioneers of "Globalisation"!
Portuguese maritime technology gave impetus to the subsequent maritime adventures of The Netherlands, England, France and Spain.
Portugal's maritime influence also resulted in major contributions to some of the world major languages and evolution of culinary styles. Portuguese Jesuit priests were the first westerners to penetrate Japan and China.
There are apocryphal suggestions that the word "Mandarin" used in English to describe putonghua/guoyu originated from the Portuguese phrase "mandar em", – "to send in" which was used by Portuguese envoys to the Chinese Emperor's court to refer to the court officials who were the only ones allowed to enter the presence of the Emperor.
Fast forward five hundred years, and one finds Portugal again "punching above its weight" on the world stage.
Ignoring its ongoing economic crisis, most people are not aware that, almost alone among its former colonial peers, Portugal has managed to maintain and develop extremely strong social, cultural and economic links with the other nations in the CPLP () grouping of Portuguese speaking nations.
By various rankings, Portuguese is the 4th or 5th most spoken language world-wide.
It also handled with aplomb the return of its former colony Macau to Chinese control and used the opportunity to reinforce links with China.
Furthermore, Portuguese technocrats are in key positions in both the Public and Private Sector throughout the world.
– Current President of the EU Commission
– Current UN High Commissioner for Refugees
– Chief Executive Lloyds Bank, London, United Kingdom
– Former Senior Executive of Renualt and now Chief Executive of PSA (Peugeot – Citroen) – France.
Portugal is blessed with a great resources of well-educated multi-lingual talents at all levels.
Portuguese outward investment is also notable with groups such as Jeronomo Martins, a national retailer, now being the owner and operator of the largest retail operator in Poland, (Biedronka) and now spearheading a similiar effort in Colombia.
EDP Renováveis, a subsididary of national power generator, EDP () , is the third-largest generator of globally with large operations in the use.
Since the economic crisis began 5 years ago, Portugal has used these influences and links to successfully engineer a turnaround in manufactured and service exports attracting substantial foreign investment, (much more than has Greece ) and leveraged its position to be a gateway to three of the countries with some of the biggest growth potential world-wide, namely, Angola, Brazil and Mocambique.
It may be that Portugal, because of its small size and small economic "footprint" is viewed as small and unimportant, but in reality it is currently creating conditions to grow its economy out of recession and continue to be a force in the world.
How does Portugal look from where I live…?
Pretty good, growing and with great potential.
and I haven't mentioned football or NCIS Los Angeles once….:::