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35. Atlantico
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Oh salty sea, how much of your salt
Are tears of Portugal
To cross you, so many mothers cried,
so many sons prayed in vain!
So many brides remained unmarried
So that you could be ours, oh sea!

Was it worth it? Everything is worth it.
If the soul is not small.
Whoever wants to go beyond Bojador.
Has to go beyond the pain.
God gave the danger and the abyss to the sea,
Entitled “Portuguese Sea,” published in “Mensagem” by Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935), here is one of many poems dedicated to our sea, in a historical reference to the period of the Discoveries in the 15th century. To talk about Portugal is inevitably to talk about its relationship with the sea, as the country is bordered from south to west by the Atlantic Ocean, totaling a coastline of 963 kilometers, adding the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores.

The development of the country is closely linked to the sea. Its potential was realized early on, not only as a source of natural resources but also as an opportunity for economic expansion, even at a time when mythological creatures and other dark stories were feared. It was the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the belief that there was more beyond what was visible that allowed the discovery of territories and peoples that were previously unknown. Had it not been for this, Gil Eanes might not have sailed around Cape Bojador nor Vasco da Gama discovered the Sea Route to India. The world changed with this, trade exchanges were encouraged, and advancements were made in the field of astronomical navigation and shipbuilding. What was initially a threat became a sea of opportunities that continues to this day. In Portuguese cuisine, the sea has a great influence. From north to south, even to the islands, we are the country of sardines and grilled fish, but also of large seafood platters. Always fresh, always abundant.

Beaches are another great attraction. The ones in the south are the most famous, but the truth is that only a few countries have a coast as attractive as ours. From the Algarve to Viana do Castelo, there are more than 500 beaches, where recreational and sports maritime activities also abound, making Portugal a desirable tourist destination.

Recently, the National Strategy for the Sea 2021-2030 was approved by the Council of Ministers with the purpose of “enhancing the contribution of the sea to the country’s economy, prosperity, and well-being of all Portuguese, and addressing the major challenges of the decade, strengthening the position and visibility of Portugal in the world as an eminently maritime nation.” Once again, the Atlantic is seen as a source of hope for the future.