In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy, and history, The Statesman brings to you a Weekly Focus on countries with which India shares diplomatic ties and friendship. This week’s focus is on Portugal. Know all about the country.

Capital: Lisbon

Currency: Euro

Ethnic groups: Homogeneous Mediterranean population; citizens of black African descent, who immigrated to mainland during decolonisation number less than 100,000; since 1990, East Europeans have migrated to Portugal.

Languages: Portuguese (official), Mirandese (official, but locally used)

Religions: Roman Catholic 81%, other Christian 3.3%, other (includes Jewish, Islam) 0.6%, none 6.8%, unspecified 8.3%

Food and drink

Portuguese cooking is not too well known in other parts of Europe, or the world for that matter. Nevertheless, it is definitely worth exploring properly. Seafood is a regular staple, especially the salt cod that is very much a “love it or hate it” thing. Anchovy, bass, clams, mussels, salmon, sea bream, sole and swordfish are easier on the palate and also popular. The spice peri-peri is widely used to flavour chicken and shrimp, while Goan curry spices also add extra flavour to a variety of dishes and broths eaten widely.

Meat lovers can gorge on espetada, leitão and cozido à portuguesa, which mixes beef, pork, sausage and vegetables in a delicious dish. Another traditional delicacy is porco à alentejana. Sweets such as chocolate mousse and arroz doce (lemon and cinnamon-flavoured rice pudding) can be seen on tables up and down the country to finish off a superb meal. Some of the specialities are Bacalhau á bras, Lulas recheadas à Lisbonense.

Indian presence

Portugal has a large Indian origin diaspora with the Indian community in Portugal estimated at 65,000. According to a High-level Committee Report on Indian Diaspora of 2002, there are about 33,000 Hindus, 15,000 Goan Catholics, 12,000 Sunni Muslims, 8,000 Sikhs and 5,000 Ismailis in Portugal.

The migration of the community took place in two streams: firstly, direct movement from India, in smaller numbers from Goa, Daman and Diu before 1961; thereafter, in a pronounced flow after 1961, mostly of Gujaratis, from Portugal’s former African colonies, particularly Mozambique and Angola, at the start of the decolonization process in Africa in 1975. An estimated 7,500 people of Gujarati origin live in Portugal now.

Weather and climate
Not surprisingly, considering its close proximity to northern Africa, Portugal is one of the warmest European countries with an average temperature of 15°C in the north and 18°C in the south, while the Azores and Madeira are wetter and hotter respectively on the coast. It can become rainy and windy during autumn and winter, but spring and summer see temperatures soar to as high as 40°C around the interior and 35°C in the north.
Secular celebrations
Portuguese celebrate Labor Day, Portugal Day (10 June), Assumption of the Virgin, (15 August), Republic Day (5 October, commemorating collapse of the monarchy in 1910); 25 April has been an official holiday since 1974, commemorating the overthrow of the Estado Novo by the Armed Forces Movement.
Commercial relations

Not surprisingly, considering its close proximity to northern Africa, Portugal is one of the warmest European countries with an average temperature of 15°C in the north and 18°C in the south, while the Azores and Madeira are wetter and hotter respectively on the coast. It can become rainy and windy during autumn and winter, but spring and summer see temperatures soar to as high as 40°C around the interior and 35°C in the north.

The northwest has mild winters Bilateral trade has been growing steadily during the past few years. Trade balance has always been in favour of India. Bilateral trade increased by $ 120 million over the previous year’s figure of $ 692.19 million, registering an increase of 17.3%. Major articles of export from India include Cotton, Fish and Crustaceans, Iron and Steel, Machinery and Mechanical Appliances, Footwear; Plastics and articles, Man-made fibres and

Organic Chemicals. Major articles of import from Portugal are Machinery and Mechanical Appliances, Electrical machinery and equipment, plastics, organic chemicals, copper and articles, paper, raw hides and skins. Portugal ranks 55th in FDI to India.

Major Portuguese investors in India are Martifer (Porto) in the Metals Manufacturing sector; Efacec (Oeiras) in Industrial Machinery, Equipment and Tools sector; Euroamer Garuda, a subsidiary of Euroamer (Lisbon), a Construction project in Bangalore in the Real Estate sector; Sodecia’s acquisition of the Indian Automotive Ancillary Services Group in 2011. While precise figures are not available, Indian investments in Portugal are in the range of US $ 150 million.

VISA

Portugal is part of the Schengen Area. One can apply for Portuguese Schengen Visa. Documents required are: Application form, 2 Recent (not older than six months) passport-size photographs, The Passport should be valid for at least three months, Copy of refusal notification of previously denied Schengen Visas if any, Covering letter explaining the purpose of the visit and Names of the applicants travelling together with complete and full address and contacts of host/relative/hotel in Portugal.

Confirmed onward/return travel ticket, Proof of accommodation (confirmation of reservation of hotel/apartment), Overseas travel medical insurance valid for all Schengen-countries, Proof of sufficient funds to cover all expenses

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

Libson: Lisbon comprises several key districts ~ all with their own charm and atmosphere. Must- explore areas include Chiado (historical streets, popular shopping district), Baixa, Belém (home to the original Portuguese tarts) and Alfama (the oldest district, with winding, labyrinthine and utterly charming streets). Viewpoints of the city are best seen from Miradouro Das Portas Do Sol (Alfama rooftops), Miradouro da Graça. There are many must-see monuments, notably the Castle of São Jorge (a Moorish castle sitting on the Alfama hilltop, overlooking the historic centre of Lisbon), Mosteiro dos Jerónimos,

Oceanário de Lisboa, Torre de Belém and the Lisbon Cathedral (a Roman Catholic Cathedral and the oldest church in Lisbon).

Pena National Palace: The Pena National Palace seems like a fairy tale castle as it stands above the clouds on overcast days. Yet, sitting atop a hill in Sintra, it can be seen from Lisbon on a clear day. Created by King Ferdinand II, it is an impressive example of 19th century Romanticism, not only in Portugal but also the world, as it combines Moorish and Manueline architectural styles. Other must-see highlights are: Palácio Nacional de Sintra, Ribeira do Cavalo beach, Convento do Cristo (Tomar), Bom Jesus do Monte (Braga), Universidade de Coimbra, Castelo de Guimarães, Torre de Clérigos and Palácio da Bolsa (Oporto), Sé (cathedral) and Roman Temple

 

Compiled by Kunal Jain ([email protected])