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During this period, today referred to as the Age of Discovery, Portuguese explorers pioneered maritime exploration, notably under royal patronage of Prince Henry the Navigator and King João II, with such notable voyages as Bartolomeu Dias' sailing beyond the Cape of Good Hope (1488), Vasco da Gama's discovery of the sea route to India (1497–98) and the European discovery of Brazil (1500).
Portugal monopolized the spice trade during this time, and the empire expanded with military campaigns in Asia.
The handover of Macau to China in 1999 marked the end of the longest-lived colonial empire.
Portugal has left a profound cultural and architectural influence across the globe and a legacy of over 250 million Portuguese speakers today.
However, events such as the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, the country's occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, the independence of Brazil (1822), and the Liberal Wars (1828–34), left Portugal crippled from war and diminished in its world power.
After the 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy, the democratic but unstable Portuguese First Republic was established, later being superseded by the Estado Novo right-wing authoritarian regime.
is a sovereign state located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe.
It is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain.