Fortunately for everyone involved, this is not a history lesson. What's worth noting for the sake of context, however, is that for millennia Portugal has been home to a number of different peoples, and has been an officially recognized nation since the 12th century. A couple of centuries later, as Europe embarked on its great empirical age of exploration and discovery - e.g. Columbus and the New World, etc. - Portugal was a major player, pitted against Spain (and others) in a race of conquering foreign lands. Vasco de Gama, a Portuguese naval commander, led the first fleet of ships to sail to India from Europe. Students interested in gaining credits while exploring a unique and culturally rich land should consider study abroad in Portugal.
Today, when you look at South America, you see a host of countries that officially speak Spanish, while one country on the coast, Brazil, officially speaks Portuguese. (Isn't that odd, in a way? It's like you had a next-door neighbor who was way bigger and louder than you and with whom you absolutely did not get along, and you both end up getting your real estate licenses at around the same time. And then you go out and represent this one glorious home in a beautiful faraway neighborhood...only to discover your surly neighbor was representing every other house on that block.)
So it's easy to think of Portugal as something of an underdog. And, really, you could do worse than that - it's not a bad starting point, as it's a country most often overlooked in American conversations about the glories of Europe.