10 Fun Facts about Portugal for Kids

Want to learn about Portugal? Here are 10 fun facts about Portugal for kids. You will also find a few activity suggestions and further resources at the bottom of this article.

Portugal, or the Portuguese Republic, as it is officially known, is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, being bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. Its capital city is Lisbon (Lisboa in Portuguese). There are roughly 10.4 Million inhabitants in Portugal. The language of Portugal is Portuguese.
Flag of Portugal
The Portuguese flag

 10 Fun Facts about Portugal for Kids

Did you know that…

 1. … the unofficial symbol of Portugal is a rooster?

It is called the Barcelos Rooster. It is found in many shops under many forms and is almost always very brightly coloured. The story goes that a pilgrim sentenced to death in the city of Barcelos claimed that if he was innocent a rooster would come and crow at the time of his execution. When that time came, a rooster did appear on a table just as the pilgrim was being hanged. The judge then realised his mistake and freed the man just in time.

Barcelos rooster
Barcelos rooster via Wikipedia

2. … there is a different recipe for cod for every day of the year?

The Portuguese love to eat cod, in particular dried cod. Called bacalhau, the salted cod fish is a staple of Portuguese cuisine. Salting the fish is a traditional way of preserving it. Portuguese people eat cod fish for Christmas (not turkey). And any buffet table or party will contain a dish made out of cod fish. It can be a little bit of an acquired taste but it is delicious. Children love these little fried fish cakes made with bacalhau and potatoes called pasteis de bacalhau. You can find more typical child-friendly Portuguese foods here.
pasteis de bacalhau
pasteis de bacalhau

3. … Lisbon has the longest bridge in Europe?

The bridge, spanning the river Tagus, was opened in 1998 and celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery by Vasco da Gama of the sea route from Europe to India. It is called the Vasco de Gama bridge. It is 12.345 kilometers and carries 6 lanes of traffic.

4. … a Portuguese pirate created the first Pirate code?

Bartholomew Português was a pirate from the 17th Century. He used to operate from the Caribbean where he attacked and captured Spanish ships arriving from Africa or Europe full of gold or cacao beans.  which English pirates later adopted. He established a  set of rules known as the Pirate’s Code. These rules were later used by English pirates.

Bartolomeu Português
Bartolomeu Português in The Buccaneers of America via Wikipedia

5. … the Portuguese were/are great travellers?

By the early 16th Century, the Portuguese were dominating many of the earliest spice routes around the world. Portuguese explorers and navigators played a huge part in finding new territories and bringing new ingredients back and forth between continents. Chilli peppers, potatoes and tomatoes were brought to India by the Portuguese. Today these are key ingredients in the making of typical Indian dishes like curry. The Portuguese also brought black pepper back to Europe from Asia. Later, they also introduced coffee to Brazil (then a Portuguese colony). And this trading and influence is not limited to food. Did you also know that the Hawaiian ukulele we know today is a descendant of Portuguese instruments brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants from Madeira (Portuguese island)?

6. …  there are banned baby names in Portugal?

The Portuguese government has an 80-page list of illegal names, or names prohibited to name your baby. For example, ‘Ovnis’ is on the list. In Portuguese it means ‘UFO.’ There are many surprising names on the list. Often, it is a case of a spelling being banned (ie Mark or Marc). You can download the list here.

7. … the city with the largest number of Portuguese people outside of Portugal is Paris?

There are more than 1.5Million Portuguese people in France. They majority of them came to live in France in the 1960s and 1970s when they fled the Portuguese dictatorship and to find better work conditions.

8. … Portugal is famous for its surfing?

People like to say that you can surf 364 days of the year in Portugal. Also, the biggest wave ever surfed (30 meters, almost 100 feet) was in Nazaré, Portugal. Here are some of the most amazing surfing images from Portugal and those gigantic waves.

9. … Lisbon was struck by one of the most powerful earthquakes in European history?

On the 1st of November in 1755, Lisbon was struck by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which was followed by a tsunami, and fires that almost completely destroyed the city. The earthquake struck on All Saints Day, a major holiday when the churches were filled with people and burning candles. The earthquake struck, toppling the candles, causing major fires. 275,000 residents were killed and 85% of the buildings were destroyed! People talk about the devastating earthquake to this day. You can see remnants of the earthquake in monuments around the city.

Lisbon today

10. … Portugal was one of the few countries to ever have a totally peaceful revolution?

In 1974, a military coup was organised by the Armed Forces Movement. The coup turned into a campaign of civil resistance. The revolution was called the carnation revolution as the movement led to the day of the 25th April 1974 when the population took to the streets to celebrate the end of the dictatorship and the war with the colonies. Almost no shots were ever fired. Soldiers carried carnations in their guns instead.

Activity Suggestions

– Find Portugal on a map. Highlight its shape. Place Lisbon, the capital, on the map. What makes Portugal’s position in Europe special? Can you tell why it is a sea-loving nation?

– On a map, trace the routes Portuguese explorers would have taken to India or Brazil.

– Draw and colour a rooster as brightly as you can in the style of the Portuguese one.

– Take a look at the banned baby names list. Sim means yes and Não mean no. Can you find some names of people you know that would be banned if you lived in Portugal?

Check Out these Children’s Books about Portugal for Kids

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More Resources About Portugal for Kids

Want to learn about the Portuguese language? Here is an article with a neat infographic and some children-friendly videos.

Want to cook something Portuguese? How about little chorizo breads or Portuguese doughnuts? My children love these.

For more kid-friendly activities around Portugal, you can download this printable full of colouring pages and fun facts about Portugal for kids.

Fun facts about Portugal for Kids
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Former linguist raising third culture kids (currently in Portugal), I am the author of "I am on the Move - Friends Books", a little keepsake autograph book for kids who move internationally.

2 thoughts on “10 Fun Facts about Portugal for Kids”

  1. Interesting post! I knew some of these facts but not all of them! We are off to Portugal for the Easter hols so it´s good to know these facts. Will be checking out the resources mentioned!

  2. Pingback: 10 Fun Facts About Taiwan for Kids - Multicultural Kid Blogs

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