Historically Portugal was a major force in economic trade, was at the forefront of naval explorations during the Age of Discovery and became the first global empire in history thanks to successful naval voyages and making connections with other countries.
During the Renaissance Portugal became the world’s leading economic power forging links with Africa, Brazil, India, China, Japan and many other countries, consequently building a trade system that spanned many continents. But the country’s fortunes took a turn in 1822 when Portugal lost its main colony, Brazil and then other territories in Africa.
Another major event which greatly effected Portugal’s economy over the years was the creation of the Estado Novo – also known as the Second Republic – which manifested following much political unrest in 1933. Portugal was ruled by António de Oliveira Salazar until the late 1960s. An important part of Salazar’s policy was to advocate the retention of Portuguese colonies around the world and strengthen the economy. Then there was another regime change in 1974 after a military coup and Portugal was transformed from dictatorship to democracy.
Fast forward a little and Portugal adopted the Euro in 1999 which has played a major part in the country’s economic fortunes. Britain, Germany, France and other EC countries are Portugal's principal trading partners and this relatively small and beautiful country still has to rely quite heavily on foreign trade.
Total imports (primarily food and beverages, wheat, crude oil, machinery, automobiles and raw materials) have been greater than total exports (of which the most important are textiles, clothing, footwear, paper pulp, wine, cork and tomato paste).