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THE PARTNER COUNTRY PORTUGAL
Portugal, country lying along the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. Once continental Europe’s greatest power, Portugal shares commonalities—geographic and cultural—with the countries of both northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Its cold, rocky northern coast and mountainous interior are sparsely settled, scenic, and wild, while the country’s south, the Algarve, is warm and fertile. The rugged Estrela Mountains (Serra da Estrela, or “Star Mountain Range”), which lie between the Tagus and Mondego rivers, contain the highest point of mainland Portugal.

In the 1st millennium BCE the Celtic Lusitani entered the Iberian Peninsula and settled the land, and many traces of their influence remain. According to national legend, though, Lisbon, the national capital, was founded not by Celts but by the ancient Greek warrior Odysseus, who was said to have arrived at a rocky headland near what is the present-day city after leaving his homeland to wander the world and who, liking what he saw, stayed there for a while; his departure was said to have broken the heart of the nymph Calypso, who, the legend goes, turned herself into a snake, her coils becoming the seven hills of Lisbon. Of course, had Odysseus actually come to Portugal, he would have found the land already well settled by the Lusitani.

Lusitani tribes battled the Romans for generations before acceding to empire, whereupon Rome established several important towns and ports; the Roman presence can be seen in the very name of the country, which derives from Portus Cale, a settlement near the mouth of the Douro River and the present-day city of Porto. Later, the descendants of Romans and the Lusitani would live under Moorish rule for several centuries until an independent kingdom was established.

In constant battle and rivalry with Spain, its eastern neighbour, Portugal then turned to the sea and, after Henry the Navigator’s establishment of a school of navigation at Sagres, in time founded a vast overseas empire that would become Europe’s largest and richest. Much of that empire was quickly lost, but even then Portugal retained sizable holdings along the African coast, in southern and eastern Asia, and in South America. Portugal remained a colonial power until the mid-1970s, when a peaceful revolution transformed the country from a dictatorship into a democratic republic. Long among the poorest countries of Europe, Portugal modernized in the last decades of the 20th century, expanding its economy from one based primarily on textile manufacture and livestock raising to include a range of manufactures and services.
THE PARTNER CITY VIEIRA DO MINHO
Vieira do Minho is a municipality in the district of Braga, in the north of Portugal. The population in 2011 was 12,997, in an area of 216.44 km². Vieira do Minho is essentially a rural municipality. Along with the town of Vieira do Minho, the seat of the municipality, the other major location in the municipality is the town of Rossas with 2071 inhabitants.
THE PARTNER SCHOOL
AGRUPAMENTO DE ESCOLAS VİEİRA DE ARAÚJO
We are a pre-primary (kindergarten), primary and general/ technical secondary school. We have 1340 students. The school is in the outskirts of a small city in a green and rural area, next to Geres National Park. We live in a region where unemployment and desertification is increasing, so we have a lot of students at risk of social exclusion. The school has a large experience in providing training for students within the areas which are, nevertheless, a scarce source of employment in the areas of rural tourism and gastronomy services.