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Portugal is a country in Europe, located in the southwestern part of Europe, borders the North Atlantic Ocean and is t the west of Spain. The country gained its independence in the 12th century from other kingdoms that were in the Iberian Peninsula and established its continental border. Portugal was among the first countries to set foot in Africa. The country joined the European Union in 1986 and has been a member since then.
The country’s capital is Lisbon. Portugal has a population of 10,524,145 according to the July, 2004 estimates. The ethnicity make-up of the country is a homogenous Mediterranean stock and African descent citizen who immigrated to the mainland during decolonization (they are about 100,000). This paper will highlight the country’s cultural overview and conduct a research on cultural behavior.
Brief Cultural Overview of Portugal
The Portuguese culture is mainly based on past dates from the prehistoric era of the ancient Roman and Moorish invasion. All these left a rich legacy of archeological remains and prehistoric cave paintings. The country’s art and history has however been enriched by foreign influences like from Italy, French and Flemish.
The majority people here in Portugal speak the Portuguese language. Portuguese is a Romance that was derived from Vulgar Latin. Other languages are Mirandese and Galician which are spoken by a few people in the northern parts of the country bordering Spain.
The Portuguese language is said to be a Romance language that originated from Spain and from Portugal: thus can be said to be a mixture of Galicia and Portuguese languages. It was derived from the Latin language spoken by the people who inhabited the Iberian Peninsula about 2000 years ago. The language spread in the 15th and 16 centuries and now is spoken in many countries around the world including Brazil, East Timor, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe (Professional Translation Service).
The dominant religion in Portugal is catholic which accounts for 94 percent of the country’s population. Many of the Portuguese holidays, traditions and festivals have their origin to Christianity. Apart from Catholics, the country has small protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian orthodox and Baha’i communities who are especially foreigners. A new and growing number of Mormon followers are also in the country and number about 40,000.
The country has several scores of medieval castles and several ruins of villas since the Roman invasion.
Portuguese art was especially restricted in its earlier years of nationality but the Portuguese art expanded after the 15th century when its borders were expanded. It was during this time that the Gothic art was replaced by humanly art from countries like France and Italy. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese artists were influenced by the Flemish art but the Portuguese art increased in terms of quality and quantity courtesy of modernist movement from such artists like Almada Negreiros and Amadeo de Souza.
The country is rich in traditional food. The Portuguese love fish, crustaceans and cheese but the country’s national food if ‘cozido’ which is Irish dish, beef and cabbage. The Portuguese are known for their delicious addition of aromatic herbs and spices addition to food. They also love the addition of fruits as well as a secret of covet recipes. The country’s cuisine cannot be complete without the mentioning its own specialty referred as caldeirada which is fish stew. The country has a long coastline and thus is a rich source of fish and other seafood (Portugal. Home).
Music traditions in Portugal are very diverse reflecting the rich cultural background that is Portugal. During the 1960s, the country experienced innovation of music like pop, jazz and rock which have been evolving since then. The country has constructed cultural centers in Lisbon that have seen expansion of opportunities for major concerts throughout the country. The country also sings to the traditional fado rhythms which remain as the country’s fundamental form of music expression (Professional Translation Service).
Portuguese Society and Culture
The family in Portugal is believed to be the foundation of a society’s social structure and it forms the basis of stability. Portuguese value the extended family and it is always close. A person derives his/her social network and assistance from the family. Every person is expected to be loyal to his/her family before any businesses or other social relationships. The Portuguese consider nepotism a good thing because they see it as a way of employing or assisting people one knows and trusted as trust is very important in this culture (Professional Translation Service). .
Portuguese people are known to be traditional and are a conservative lot. They are people who retain a sense of formality and they are known to be very polite.
The culture in Portugal is one that respects hierarchy; both the Catholic Church and the family structure do emphasize on the hierarchical relationships. Rank is equally important and anybody above your rank is to be respected as they are the people in authority and are looked upon for guidance and decision making (Professional Translation Service).
Codes of Cultural Behavior in Portugal
It is important to know that the Portuguese people are very courteous, humble and hospitable. Learning some few words of their language will serve foreigners well. The country however has its own code of cultural behavior.
The customary form of greeting is a warm handshake with direct eye contact. Men will need to wait for a hand before he can stretch his if she wants a handshake. Women can kiss on both cheeks when greeting one another
It is good to always address people by their title and last name until invited to do so. First names are only appropriate among friends and younger people. It is important to wait for the other person to initiate the use of first names before starting to use them.It is important to initiate in topics such as sports, dance, music, culture, literature and travel rather than religion or politics.Businesses are not discussed at social diners even during business diners. It is important to know the difference between business lunches and social occasions.If you are invited to a person’s house, it is a polite if you brought flowers, or a small toy or sweets if there are young children in that home (Portugal Country Review).
Taxi drivers should be tipped about 10 percent of the fare.
At lunch time, do eat the “prato do dia” which is usually cheaper and tastier. This can of food is usually the best option for tourists as it is purely rational and s served faster (Tips, Do’s and Don’ts for Lisbon Tourists).
Do not stand with your hands on your hips. This is perceived as a sign of anger. Although common culture in America, this is totally different in Portugal. If invited to dinner, it is important that you brought with yourself for the host/hostess. If you received a gift, open it immediately and thank the owner. If invited to dinner, be sure that you will reciprocate soon but do not tell that person that you owe him a favor.It is considered rude to stretch in public, therefore all visitors should watch not to stretch in public especially if they are at the table or on the street. Do not tear a paper in front of people. This is considered rude (Portugal Country Review).
My Opinion about the Dos and Don’ts
Unlike in Portugal, am used to greet people with a hug or a peck on the chick and thus I may be odd. Because am invited to a person’s house, it does not mean that I have to bring flowers to the host/hostess. We are used that when we have a business dinner, we talk business.
I am so used to standing with my arms on my hips and I may look so out or angry while in real sense am just enjoying taking a view of the surrounding. When we received gifts, we take some time to open them and not just opening them immediately and thanking the owner on the spot. I may be considered to be rude if I stretch out in Portugal despite the fact that I was just stretching and wanted to flex my muscles a little bit.
Portugal is a country in Europe with a rich culture observed by its more than 10 million people. The country has culture in music, cuisine, language religion, architecture and a complex social structure. Every country has its own cultural beliefs. It is very important for tourists to always observe a country’s cultural beliefs when they are visiting the country to show some respect and appreciation of the new culture. Some of the beliefs may seem weird but it is important that they are followed and respected.
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