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Portugal’s roots can be traced as far back as the 5th century when the Celtic invasion reached the Iberian Peninsula. Although many people had occupied the land before the Celts invaded, the Celtiberians are regarded as the basic stock for the people of Portugal. Shortly after the invasion of the Celts, the Romans and then the Moors invaded the territory and remained in occupancy until the 11th century when Ferdinand, ruler of what is now Spain, conquered the territory. Over the next 200 years, the Moors were driven out of the territory and the boundaries were fixed into what is considered modern day Portugal. Despite the fact that Ferdinand and the Castilians were expelled from the country in 1385, Eppstein (1967) notes that the initial occupation of Spain in Portugal began a love-hate relationship that haunts all of Portuguese history.
Succeeding Ferdinand and the Castilians was Jõao of Aviz who helped Portugal to build a colonial empire in Africa, Latin America, India and the Far East. By the late 1500s, the Peninsula along with the rest of Portugal fell under Spanish rule until 1640 when the Portuguese launched an uprising that enabled it to succeed from Spanish rule. By the time the Portuguese recovered their independence, however, they had lost a bulk of their empire, including their East Indies territories, which were now occupied by the French. The Braganza dynasty, which took power after the defeat of the Spanish, lasted until the mid-19 century. At this time Portugal was economically weak and politically undeveloped despite the Enlightenment during the 18th century.
Through out the 18th and 19th centuries occasional conflicts with Spain and France threatened the country’s autonomy, but were easily quelled with the help of the allied British. In 1910, however, the Portuguese monarch was overthrown by republican forces that held strong ties with the Catholic Church. For several years the country once again found itself in political and economic disarray until a right-wing dictatorship took power in 1926. Primarily military in composition, the central figure of the new dictatorship was Antonio de Oliveria Salazar who became President in 1932 and remained in power until 1968.
Salazar was succeeded by Marcello Caetano who ruled for only six short years. Overwhelmed with the financial burdens of nationalist movements in overseas possessions, on April 25, 1974, Caetano was deposed in a bloodless coup by army officers who simply had reached their limit. After another 2 years of political uncertainty, in 1976 Portugal became committed to a socialist development and has since followed a standard Western European model of political pluralism.