Portugal was settled by a tribe called the Iberians. Over the centuries it was conquered and re-conquered by the Phoenicians, Celts, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, and Spanish. By the mid-1500s, Portugal had become a world power with ambitious overseas colonization aspirations in Africa, South America, and the Far East. Due to many factors, Portugal was unable to maintain its colonial empire in Africa and after years of strife granted them independence by 1975. In 1910, Portugal revolted against its long-standing monarchy and became a republic. After additional political and social changes, Portugal became a democratic republic in 1974 with a government that emphasizes many kinds of freedom.
The Portuguese held on to their Catholic faith after the fall of the Roman Empire. When the invading armies arrived from North Africa, the people would not convert to other religions, even when fiercely persecuted. Church and state were legally separated in 1911 but the Roman Catholic Church remains strong there. The Catholic Church claims about 97 percent of the population, the other three percent being Protestants and other religions. The pentecostal message was first preached in Portugal in 1913 and the first Assemblies of God church in Portugal was established in Portimão in 1924. The first full-scale Assemblies of God Bible School opened in the capitol, Lisbon, in 1975. More than half the Protestants in Portugal are Pentecostals. In June 2013, the national Assemblies of God celebrated 100 years of pentecostal ministry.
The Movement Today
The Assemblies of God in Portugal reports the following statistics: 459 churches and outstations, 397 ministers, 35,000 members and adherents, nine missionaries, two Bible schools training 75 students and one extension program with 15 students enrolled.
Additional Facts About Portugal
- Official Name: Portuguese Republic
- Capital: Lisbon
- Area: 35,603 square miles
- Population: 10.4 million
- Urbanization: 61%
- Agriculture and Industry: Textiles, footwear, cork, chemicals, fish canning, wine, paper, grains, potatoes, grapes, and olives.