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On-The-Go: Portugal

Summer 2018 starts early for one of the rising high school freshmen in the Saturday Enrichment Program. His family has relatives in Portugal who will host him. Where is Portugal? It’s the westernmost country of Europe. Spain is the neighbor to the east. It is about 5 times larger! Portugal’s northern and western neighbor is even bigger—the Atlantic Ocean! 

What's in the Flag


RED= Blood shed to gain freedom

GOLD object= “armillary sphere” (an ancient model of the skies with the earth or 

sun at the center)—an important astronomical and navigational tool for Portuguese sailors

Small white shield has 5 smaller blue shields; each shield has 

  • 5 bezants (coin-like objects) all represent the 5 wounds of Christ (both hands and feet nailed to the Cross + the spear-wound to His side); symbolize support of this nation’s formation

  • 5 golden castles represent the African nations conquered by Portugal

Facts about Portugal (and Spain)

  • Only 8 miles of water separate the southernmost part of Spain and the northernmost part of Africa (the country of Morocco). 

    • This body of water is called the Strait of Gibraltar. It joins the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea—an important trade route between Africa, Asia, and Europe.

  • Portuguese is the world’s 7th most spoken language; 215-220 million people  speak it  

  • Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and its largest city (~3 million people).

Did you know…?

See the map to help answer these questions.

  • What surrounds three sides of Portugal? What is that kind of land mass called? What’s the official name of this particular one?

  • Of what continent is Portugal a part?

  • What continent is Portugal’s and Spain’s southern border?

What’s life like for youth in Portugal?


  • From September to June, ~ 5 hours/day 

    • Mandatory Basic education has 3 cycles: 1st Cycle (levels 1-3); 2nd Cycle (levels 5 & 6); and 3rd Cycle (levels 7-9).

    • Subjects are usually harder than the U.S. in the early grades. From age 6 through 10 (1st Cycle), they study Portuguese and a foreign language (English), math, environmental studies, and enrichment areas of art, music, and physical education.


  • Soccer is #1-Ronaldo and Figo (most famous players)

  • Futsal, similar to indoor soccer

  • Roller/Rink Hockey, especially among younger people

  • Basketball

  • Handball

  • Cycling—the Volta a Portugal (a long-distance cycling race) is a big event

  • Surfing of all kinds is popular, given its ocean location

  • Golf is also popular with many courses located along the coast in areas such as the Algarve 


  • Fado—most popular folk music: ballads with guitar that are melancholy, about loss, etc.

  • Contemporary, rock, metal, Eurodisco/-pop, contemporary R&B, hip hop, etc.; for Top 100 songs.

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