Fly London – an iconic UK shoe brand right? Erm, no. This may surprise you, but Fly London is owned by Fortunato O. Frederico & Ca Lda with head office and production in Portugal. Portuguese shoes really do walk around the world – and are seen on some of the biggest stages. Rihanna’s 2013 shoe collection for River Island was produced in Portugal. Pippa Middleton and her mother, both commissioned Portuguese shoes for the royal wedding from Helsar, a family-run shoe company near Porto.

Portugal ranks second in shoe manufacturing in the European Union, with all products manufactured in small and medium-sized enterprises.

Yet More Surprises

That’s one surprising fact about Portugal, and here’s another. Portuguese is one of the most spoken languages in the world. Obviously, it’s spoken by the 10 million in Portugal . . . but also by 230 million others around the world. Portuguese is the official language of nine countries and one Chinese territory. It is the sixth most used language online.

Brazil – Portuguese. Not Spanish or English.

There are an estimated 1.5 million foreigners currently living in Brazil and tourism is increasing. In 2018 there were around 7 million visitors. Many of these expect that English or Spanish is widely spoken, but this is not the case in Brazil – or Brasil as it is in Portuguese. According to the British Council’s research, only five per cent of Brazilians say they are fluent in English. Speaking Portuguese will undoubtedly give you a huge advantage in Brazil, allowing you to communicate and integrate quickly.

Why Portuguese is not like Spanish

The Moors from North Africa and the Middle East conquered Portugal and Spain in the eighth century. A form of Arabic was the official language until the 13th century. As a result, the Portuguese language has a heavy influence from Arabic. Many words of Arabic origin remain, including almofada (cushion), azeitona (olive), and garrafa (bottle).

So, while Portuguese and Spanish are closely related, as they are both Latin-based languages and share many grammatical structures and patterns, they are very different in practice.

Here at la Academia we offer Portuguese language tuition with Ana Botas. Ana is from Santarem, 80 km north of Lisbon. We’ve got an interview with Ana lined up for our next blog – but if you can’t wait until then, contact us now to book your Portuguese lessons with her.