History of Portugal
The history of Portugal can be traced from circa 400,000 years ago, when the region of present-day Portugal was inhabited by Homo heidelbergensis. The oldest human fossil is the skull discovered in the Cave of Aroeira in Almonda. Later Neanderthals roamed the northern Iberian Peninsula. Homo sapiens arrived in Portugal around 35,000 years ago.
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|History of Portugal|
Pre-Celtic tribes such as Lusitanians, Turduli and Oestriminis lived in the centre and north. In the south the Cynetes lived in the Algarve and Lower Alentejo regions before the 6th century BC, developed the city of Tartessos and the written Tartessian language, and left many stelae in the south of the country. Early in the first millennium BC, waves of Celts from Central Europe invaded and intermarried with the local populations to form several ethnic groups and many tribes. Their presence is traceable, in broad outline, through archaeological and linguistic evidence. They dominated the northern and central area, while the south retained much of its Tartessian character, combined with the Celtici until the Roman conquest. Some small, semi-permanent trading settlements were founded by Phoenician-Carthaginians on the southern coast of the Algarve.
The Roman invasion in the 3rd century BC lasted several centuries, and developed the Roman provinces of Lusitania in the south and Gallaecia in the north. Numerous Roman sites include works of engineering, baths, temples, bridges, roads, circuses, theatres, layman's homes, coins, sarcophagi, and ceramics. As elsewhere in Western Europe, there was a sharp decline in urban life during the Dark Ages following the fall of Rome. Germanic tribes (that the Romans referred to as Barbarians) controlled the territory between the 5th and 8th centuries. These included the Kingdom of the Suebi centred in Braga and the Visigothic Kingdom in the south. Eventually the Visigoths seized power in the whole of Iberia. Under the Visigoths a new class emerged, a nobility, which played a tremendous social and political role during the Middle Ages, and also began to play a very important part within the state, but since the Visigoths did not know Latin, the Catholic bishops continued the Roman system of governance. The clergy started to emerge as a high-ranking class.
In 711–716 an invasion by the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate, comprising Berbers from North Africa and Arabs from the Middle East plus other Muslims from all around the Islamic world, conquered the Visigoth Kingdom and founded the Islamic State of Al-Andalus. The Umayyads reigned supreme and advanced through Iberia and France until the Battle of Tours (732) and endured in the south until the final reconquista of the Algarve (Gharb Al-Andalus) in 1294. Lisbon and the rest of what would become Portugal, was reconquered by the early 12th century. At the end of the 9th century, a county based in the area of Portus Cale was established under King Alfonso III of Asturias, and by the 10th century, the counts were known as the Magnus Dux Portucalensium (Grand Duke of the Portuguese). (Portucale, Portugale, Portugalliæ) The Kingdom of Asturias was later divided so that northern "Portugal" became part of the Kingdom of León.
Initially a vassal of the Kingdom of León, Portugal grew in power and territory and gained de facto independence during weak Leonese reigns. In 1071 Garcia II of Galicia was declared king of Portugal and in 1095, Portugal broke away from the Kingdom of Galicia. At the end of the 11th century, the Burgundian knight Henry became count of Portugal and defended its independence by merging the County of Portugal and the County of Coimbra. Henry's son Afonso Henriques proclaimed himself prince of Portugal on 24 June 1128 and king of Portugal in 1139 with Guimarães (Vimarens) as capital. In 1179 a papal bull officially recognised Afonso I as king. The Algarve was conquered from the Moors in 1249, and in 1255 Lisbon became the capital. Portugal's land boundaries have remained almost unchanged since then.
From the late Middle Ages, in the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal ascended to the status of a world power during Europe's "Age of Discovery" as it built up a vast empire, including possessions in South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Over the following two centuries, Portugal kept most of its colonies, but gradually lost much of its wealth and status as the Dutch, English, and French took an increasing share of the spice and slave trades by surrounding or conquering the widely scattered Portuguese trading posts and territories. Signs of military decline began with two disastrous battles: the Battle of Alcácer Quibir in Morocco in 1578 and Spain's abortive attempt to conquer England in 1588 by means of the Spanish Armada – Portugal was then in an uncomfortable dynastic union with Spain and contributed ships to the Spanish invasion fleet. The country was further weakened by the destruction of much of its capital city in an earthquake in 1755, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars and the loss of its largest colony, Brazil, in 1822. From the middle of the 19th century to the late 1950s, nearly two million Portuguese left Portugal to live in Brazil and the United States.
In 1910, there was a revolution that deposed the monarchy. Amid corruption, repression of the church, and the near-bankruptcy of the state, a military coup in 1926 installed a dictatorship that remained until another coup in 1974. The new government instituted sweeping democratic reforms and granted independence to all of Portugal's African colonies in 1975. Portugal is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). It entered the European Economic Community (now the European Union) in 1986.