Portugal’s comeback is a long way from its recently discovered 400,000 year old history. A confirmation made in 2017 with the discovery of the oldest human fossil skull in Cave Aroeira in Almonda central Portugal. Neanderthals would come later and Homo sapiens arrived just a wee 35,000 years ago. Good history to keep in mind the next time you’re feeling old…
A little bit of history is good to understand a county’s character, considering the lengthy timeline with Portugal and that we could perish before getting through it all, we’ll just skip on to the most relevant bits.
Location, Location, Location. Portugal is, and has been, part of the Iberian peninsula one of 5 in Europe. It faces west toward Africa and the Atlantic Ocean, and has a defining coastline of 943km (586 mi), added to by archipelagos in the Azores (667km) and Madeira(250km) – in other words a lot of beach. This is also the kind of geography that could make for ocean curious people and culture, and indeed it did.
Early in the 15th century advancements in Portuguese marine technology allowed navigators a sail from Lagos, Algarve to discover new trade routes, resulting in what would become the Age of Discovery. Transatlantic exploration, trading and partnerships that led Portugal to become a global sea power between the 15th and 17th centuries, and began the era of globalisation.
Through Portugal’s history it experienced the complexities of successions, invasions, reconquistas, colonisations, decolonisations, ghost wars, world wars, had a monarchy, a republic, a dictatorship, revolutions, coup d’etats, joined the EU, and had religious, constitutional and economic crises. It survived devastating plagues, fires and an earthquake and tsunami that levelled much of Lisbon, requiring the city to be rebuilt, but lead to new seismic technology for building safety and advanced warnings systems. It made good and horrid history, formed historic economic alliances and was also able to maintain its borders throughout. It held strong on cultural preservation, education, infrastructure expansion and has been an active member of the European Union along with peacekeeping initiatives globally.
Heavy history for a small country but its proven Phoenix from the ashes resilience may well have helped Portugal surpass the global recession to come, where Portugal was heavily affected but emerged with a stronger economy and growth trajectory.
Where is Portugal now and where is it looking to go in the future? Here are recent initiatives and advantages:
Business & Technology:
- Startup and Tech Visa Programs – for business innovation
- Green Visa Program – focused on environmental research and technology.
- Golden Visa Program – residency by investment focused on real estate and urban renewal
- Non Habitual Residency – tax relief on income from pensions, dividends, royalties and interest income for foreign investors
- Portuguese Sephardic Jewish Citizenship – for descendants of traditional Jewish communities of the Iberian peninsula
- WebSummit – multi year hosting of the world’s leading technology conference, held in Lisbon annually. In 2019 it brought in 70,469 attendees from 163 countries
- ICT Investment – 1% of Portugal’s GDP is invested in technology and communication advancements. The second highest ICT investment level in the EU
- Startup Support – multiple financing and incubation initiatives for business innovation in a variety of sectors from medical, environmental, marine, robotics, etc.
- ICT Access – high speed internet penetration is expected to reach above 86% in 2020
- G5 Technology – commenced in 2020 with expected completion by 2020
- Free Wifi – distribution in most public locations and on public transport
- eGov services – with 93% businesses adoption and increasing personal use. European average is 84%
- Fintech – advanced banking network and systems, MultiBanco combines, ATM, eBanking and mobile payments
- Via Verde Digital – expanded technology of the country’s portage and toll system
- 5th European country and 11 world wide with the highest number of doctorate degrees in science and technology
- 7th position in leading offshore services for technology in Europe, Middle East and Africa
- Global Gateway to Europe, Asia, Africa, South America
- Recommitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, by 2030, and decarbonising by 2050
- Reached target of 80% electricity from renewable resources including total phase out of coal
- Accomplished 54% of renewables in electric energy generation
- Investments in renewable energies: wind, hydro electric, bioenergy, solar, geothermal
- Electric Vehicle Incentives – programs for EV replacements for public and private transport
- Continuous initiatives to reduce energy consumption
- Underground Network – planning for new modes of interconnectivity nationally and across Europe in negotiation
Health & Social:
- Biomedical – active investment in research and patient care in the areas of neuroscience, physiology and cancer
- Drug decriminalisation – rehabilitation programs for addiction disorders
- Wellness – incentives for investment and development of healthcare services, solutions, technologies and therapies
- Mature and well functioning judicial system and constitution – as a EU member state with sovereignty
- Multi-layered public safety and crime prevention, supported by military units and one of the lowest crime rates in Europe
- Portugal ranked 3rd on the Global Peace Index 2019
Culture & Sport:
- Portugal continues to receive international awards for culture and tourism, 12 in 2019 alone
- Multi-award winner for World Golf and European Golf Destination. Host of Golf Championships year round and Algarve annual Portugal Masters
- Capital of Cool – Lisbon has won multiple awards for being a creative capital and as tourism hot spot
- Strong coastal preservation and maritime authority managing with up to date weather information on 640+ beaches, 352 certified Blue Flag
- Championship surfing, cliff and under water diving, and numerous water sports
- Cycling paths, community, tours throughout country
- Sailing, yachting, boating, and deep sea fishing
- Portugal has an active lifestyle culture where a wide variety of sports and activities can be enjoyed
Food & Drink
- Rich wine heritage with an increasing list of internationally recognised and award winning wines
- Investment and support for sustainable agriculture and horticulture
- Protection and management of fisheries to ensure continued selection of vast diversity of fish stocks
- Continued support for fresh food markets
- selection of fresh fruit and produce year round
- Increasing number of Michelin restaurants
Portugal’s recent investments and momentum suggest, like it’s past, its not only not afraid to navigate forward but its tooling up in preparation of the new digital and sustainable economy, and sailing forward is something Portugal knows how too do well.
For all of these reasons and because we believe the lives we all want to live include more than just the walls that contain us we thought Portugal would be a good place to start on our journey. We hope to welcome you to a wonderful new home here in Portugal, or elsewhere as we expand our portfolio. Welcome to BlackBook.