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  • Writer's pictureDiann Schindler, Ph.D.

Guess how many American expats reside in Portugal?

In 2022, Portugal expats from all countries numbered around 661,000. That's about 6.5 percent of the population. Over 7,000 Americans live in Portugal currently in 2023, and that number is quickly rising for all kinds of reasons I’ll cover in another blog.


However, for today's blog, I want to share just a few of the intriguing facts that showcase the rich history, culture, and unique attributes that make Portugal a fascinating and diverse country. Let's begin.

Cork Production: Portugal is the world's largest producer of cork. One third of the world's total cork oak area is in Portugal which produces roughly half the world's cork (310,00 tons from 2,150,000 hectares or 5312765.702 acres). The tradition of cork harvesting has proven to be both a social and ecological sustainable industry providing various jobs and maintaining the presence of the high absorbing carbon dioxide oak trees. ( The process doesn't hurt the trees which is great.)

Lisbon's Elevators: Lisbon is known for its charming trams, but it also features two historic elevators – the Santa Justa Lift and the Bica Funicular – which provide both transportation and scenic views.


The Portuguese language is Global: Portuguese is the official language of several countries, including Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, and Cape Verde.

Big Wave Surfing: Portugal is a hotspot for big wave surfing, particularly in Nazaré, on the Silver Coast. This coastal town is renowned for having some of the largest waves in the world, attracting surfers from around the globe. Can you imagine? I am planning a trip to Nazare in late September.

World's Oldest Bookstore: The Bertrand Bookstore in Lisbon, founded in 1732, holds the Guinness World Record for being the world's oldest operating bookstore.

Serra da Estrela is the highest mountain range in Continental Portugal. Together with the Serra da Lousã, it is the westernmost constituent range of the Sistema Central and also one of the highest in the system. It includes mainland Portugal's highest point at 1,993 meters (6,539 feet) above mean sea level (although the summit of Mount Pico in the Portuguese Azores islands is higher). This point is not a distinctive mountain summit, but rather the highest point in a plateau, being known as Torre ("Tower" in English). Torre is an unusual summit in that it is accessible by a paved road. But, don't be fooled. It can be dangerous, especially in the winter months.

Protected Atlantic Archipelagos: To be clear, an archipelago is an area that contains a chain or group of islands scattered in lakes, rivers, or the ocean and Portugal is home to two autonomous Atlantic archipelagos: the Azores and Madeira. Both are known for their stunning landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and unique cultures.

Codfish Cuisine: Portugal has a long history of consuming bacalhau (salted codfish). There are said to be more than

365 ways to prepare this dish – one for every day of the year.

Bacalhau is so ingrained in the Portuguese national psyche that the dish is served as the main celebration meal at Christmas. Click here for a traditional recipe.

World Heritage Sites: Portugal boasts an impressive number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including historical city centers (like Porto and Sintra), monasteries, and cultural landscapes.

Come and see for yourself!

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