Portugal - Country history and economic development

2ND CENTURY B.C. Present-day Portugal territory becomes a part of the Roman province of Lusitania.

5TH CENTURY A.D. The area is conquered by the Visigoths.

8TH CENTURY. The region is conquered by Muslim Moors.

997. The land between the Douro and Minho rivers is taken over by Bermudo II, the Spanish Christian king of Leon.

1064. The lands to the south of the Douro and Minho rivers, including Coimbra and including several Spanish fiefs, are united into a feudal entity by Ferdinand I, Spanish king of Castile and Leon. The northernmost of the fiefs, the Comitatus Portaculensis, situated around the old Roman seaport of Portus Cale (Oporto), later gives its name to Portugal. A feudal, agriculture-based economy develops.

1093. Henry (Henrique) of Burgundy becomes Count of Portugal.

1139. Alfonso Henriques, son of Henry of Burgundy, declares Portugal independent from the kingdom of Castile and Leon and becomes king. Aided by the Templars and other knights' orders, he extends the kingdom southward to the Tejo River.

1185. Portuguese settle in the reconquered area in self-governing municipalities. The Cistercian monks promote more efficient agricultural methods.

1248-79. The Moors are driven out of the southern province of Algarve, and the capital of Portugal is moved from Coimbra to Lisbon. The king starts governing with the help of a Cortes (a representative assembly of the nobility, clergy, and citizens).

LATE 13TH CENTURY. Diniz, "the Farmer King," encourages agriculture, founds the first university at Coimbra, develops the Portuguese navy into the strongest in all of Europe, and negotiates a commercial treaty with England.

LATE 14TH CENTURY. Under the lead of Prince Henry the Navigator, son of King John I, a century of exploration and conquest begins with exploring the African coast for a route to the Indies. Portugal later becomes a great colonial power as its navigators explore Madeira, discover the Azores Islands, and take a foothold in Africa.

MID-15TH CENTURY. Using the caravel, a tall ship adapted for Atlantic voyages, Portuguese sailors reach present-day Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Angola.

1488. Bartholomeu Dias becomes the first European to sail around the southern tip of Africa, opening the sea route to the East Indies.

1494. After Christopher Columbus's voyage to America, Portugal and Spain sign the Treaty of Tordesillas, which allocates to Portugal all undiscovered lands east of a line 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands.

1497-99. Vasco da Gama reaches India by the Dias route and starts a lucrative trade in spices and other luxuries. The Portuguese later conquer Goa (in present-day India), Malacca (in present-day Malaysia), the Moluccas Islands (in present-day Indonesia), and Hormuz Island in the Persian Gulf. Under pressure from Spain, Portugal expels all Jews and Muslims, depriving Portugal of much of its enterprising middle class. Trade is begun with China, and Portugal later acquires the trade colony of Macao from China.

16TH CENTURY. Portugal settles Brazil and introduces the Inquisition at home to enforce Roman Catholic loyalty. Political decline follows internal struggles for the throne, and Portugal is subdued by the Spanish Habsburgs and gradually loses its positions in the East Indies to the Dutch and the English.

1640. With help from France, Portugal restores its independence, and John IV of Braganza takes over the throne and renews ties with England. British merchants gradually come to dominate Portuguese trade, monarchy becomes more despotic, and the Cortes lose their significance.

1750-77. Chief Minister Sebastiao Jose de Carvalho e Mello encourages industry and education and ends the foreign monopoly of trade.

1807. The armies of French Emperor Napoleon threaten Portugal, and the royal family withdraws to Brazil, making Rio de Janeiro the seat of government. In 1811, Portugal is free of French influence, but the royal family remains in Brazil and makes it a separate kingdom in 1815. Brazil proclaims its independence in 1822.

1826. Pedro IV (former Pedro I of Brazil) takes over the throne in Lisbon and introduces a parliamentary regime subordinated to the monarchy. Acute internal political strife more than once requires the intervention of other European powers and popular dissatisfaction with the monarchy grows.

1910. The army and navy lead a revolution establishing a republic. A liberal constitution is then adopted, and Manuel Jose de Arriaga is elected president. Portugal is shaken by political turmoil and in 1916 begins participation in World War I fighting for the Entente.

1926. An army coup deposes the 40th successive cabinet since the founding of the republic. Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, professor of economics, is appointed minister of finance.

1932. Salazar becomes prime minister and dictator, and Portugal becomes a incorporated state with a planned economy, called the Estado Novo (New State).

1943. Portugal remains neutral in World War II but allows the Allies to use the Azores as a naval and air base. The planned economy collapses as the fishing industry declines, refugees fill the country, and the East Indies colonies are threatened by Japan.

1945. Unemployment and poverty are rampant after the war, but opposition to the Salazar regime is suppressed.

1960s. India annexes Portuguese Goa in 1961. Uprisings start in Angola, Guinea, and Mozambique and fighting continues into the 1970s. The United Nations (UN) blames Portugal for waging colonial wars. Loans help finance domestic irrigation and construction projects and some economic growth occurs.

1974. Led by Antonio de Spinola, a 7-man junta takes power and promises democracy at home and peace in Africa.

1974-75. Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, the Cape Verde Islands, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Angola become independent.

1975. The Movement of the Armed Forces (Movimento das Forcas Armadas, MFA) assumes a formal role in the government by establishing a single trade union confederation and starting to reform economic and social life. Heavy industry and banking are nationalized and large agricultural holdings are expropriated and redistributed. The Socialists win elections for a constituent assembly, but after a series of clashes between Socialists and Communists, the MFA assumes control. In the same year, Portuguese Timor is occupied by Indonesia.

1976. New parliamentary elections bring the Socialists into office and Mario Soares becomes prime minister.

1979. The Conservative Democratic Alliance wins elections and its leader, Francisco Sa Carneiro, takes office as premier but is killed in a plane crash a year later. The military Council of the Revolution is dismissed by a constitutional amendment.

1983. Socialist Soares comes back into power as prime minister. He introduces an austerity program and conducts negotiations for joining the European Community (now the EU) that are finalized in 1986.

1992. Mass student demonstrations are followed by strikes involving public employees demanding wage increases and doctors protesting plans to privatize some health services.

1996. Portugal and its former colonies of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe form the Commonwealth of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), an organization seeking to preserve the language, coordinate diplomatic efforts, and improve cooperation between the countries.

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