In ancient times, what is now Portugal was inhabited mainly by the Lusitanians. This tribe carried on trade with the Phoenicians at Gades (Cádiz) and later with the Carthaginians who colonized southern Spain.

Important dates in Portugal
1000's B.C. Phoenicians established settlements in what is now Portugal.
100's B.C. Portugal became part of the Roman Empire.
A.D. 711 Muslims invaded the Iberian Peninsula.
1143 Portugal became an independent nation.
1419 Portugal began its overseas expansion.
1500 Pedro Alvares Cabral claimed Brazil for Portugal.
1580 Spain invaded and conquered Portugal.
1640 Portugal regained its independence.
1822 Portugal lost its colony of Brazil.
1910 The Portuguese established a republic.
1928 Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, who ruled as a dictator for 40 years, began his rise to power.
1949 Portugal and 11 other nations formed a military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
1960's Rebellions against Portuguese rule broke out in the country's African colonies.
1974 A revolution overthrew the Portuguese dictatorship.
1975 Almost all remaining Portuguese colonies gained independence.
1976 Portugal held its first free general elections in more than 50 years.
1986 Portugal joined the European Community, an economic organization that later became the basis of the European Union.

About 200 B.C. the Romans annexed the Iberian Peninsula, and in 60 years had subdued the Lusitanians. In the early fifth century A.D., the Alans, a Scythian tribe, settled in Lusitania. In mid-century the Germanic Suevi, who had settled to the north, invaded Lusitania and sacked Lisbon. About 470 the Visigoths from southern Gaul (France) migrated to the peninsula and founded a kingdom.

In 711 the Moors, Muslims from Africa, began invading Spain. By 719 they had conquered the whole peninsula. Lisbon was besieged by Norsemen in the ninth century, but withstood the attack. In the north of Spain the Christians had slowly pushed the Moors southward, and at the end of the ninth century the northern part of modern Portugal was occupied by the Christian Kingdom of León. By the mid-11th century, the boundary reached almost to Lisbon.