It is hardly surprising that the Portuguese have a rich maritime heritage. Like other seafaring peoples - such as the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Vikings and the Arabs - they have a long history of overseas contact, trade and colonization.
The Portuguese offshore craft of the Atlantic coast with their 'eyes' and tapering prows are similar to the fishing boats of Malta and ancient Phoenicia. The method of construction of the 'Barcos Rebelos' of Oporto is reminiscent of the Viking longboats.
The Portuguese undertook their voyages of discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries based on Arab or Moorish and Jewish knowledge of geography.
The 'discoverers' included:
Vasco Da Gama, who discovered the sea route to India around Africa in 1498
Pedro Alvares Cabral, who accidently discovered Brazil in 1500.
The legacy of the Portuguese explorations remains with us today in the names of places around the world. It is also seen in the fact that Portuguese remains the fifth most spoken language in the world.