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The language

Portuguese is a Romance language with Latin roots. It is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It is spoken in Portugal and the Portuguese islands of Madeira and Azores. It is also the official language of Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde, and Guinea-Bissau. It is a co-official language in Macau, East Timor and Equatorial Guinea. It is a very old language with rich heritage.

A samba performer dances during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The dialects

There are two standard spoken and written forms of Portuguese: European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. Differences between the two groups can be found in the pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. Portuguese varieties spoken in Africa and Asia are closer to European Portuguese.

The script

Portuguese uses the Latin alphabet. K, w and y are only used in foreign loanwords. A cedilla under the letter c indicates that it is pronounced as [s]. Accents are used to indicate pronunciation: an acute accent over the vowels í, é, á, ó, ú; a circumflex accent over â, ê, ô; a grave accent over à; and a tilde over the vowels ã and õ.


When translating from Portuguese to English, the word count tends to decrease slightly.

Portuguese culture

Portuguese culture is a reflection of the different civilisations that have passed through the country historically. An example of this is Portugal’s architecture. A well-known feature of Portuguese architecture is the azulejos, which were introduced to the country by the Moors. Azulejos are glazed ceramic tiles found on buildings everywhere, from churches to bars to homes. Another recognisable feature is Portuguese pavements, a remnant of the Roman period, consisting of different stones assembled to form mosaics. Finally, a distinct form of ornamentation found on Portuguese buildings, particularly churches, is known as Manueline after King Manuel I. Manueline ornamentation combines Christianity with nautical elements, a reference to the sea trade which was highly important at the time.