What are the main contrasts to be found in Portugal?

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, January 1997

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When answering a question such as this, one must primarily begin by pointing out that not only does Portugal have a great many contrasts within its land, but also that it contrasts greatly with the other Mediterranean countries. Portugal is not to be considered by any means as Spain's poor neighbour, nor should a shadow be cast over it by such a formidable nation. Portugal has a great deal to offer any visitor, it is not merely a tourist's paradise, yet this is regrettably how it is viewed by a large number of individuals. One must also not forget Portugal's history of being, in days gone by, one of the greater maritime nations, one of the more advanced exploring countries of Europe. Whilst Spain was occupied with discovering the Indias and consequently the Americas, Portugal was itself busy exploring Africa and making its own invaluable discoveries, although these are for the most part overlooked.

Being situated on the westernmost edge of Europe and the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal enjoys a relative privacy and independence from the rest of Mediterranean countries. Bordering on Spain on two sides and the sea on the others, the nation as naturally turned towards the sea, from which it draws both its strength and wealth and turned its back on its greatest rival, Spain. Due to its constant waves of invasion throughout the ages, Portugal is a vastly diverse land, not only in geographical terms but also in terms of heritage. It is true to say that Portugal does share a number of similarities with Spain, but it is by no means identical. Rather it is a nation which blends Moorish influences, British tradition and Mediterranean culture to form a truly unique land of peoples.

When considering the diversity of a country such as Portugal,