Sunbathers flock to Portugal's glorious beaches. Golfers enjoy its year-round mild climate. Travellers esteem Portugal's treasure of centuries-old churches and castles, the peaceful villages in a lovely land. Discerning palates savour Portugal's impressive wines and robust food, and adroit investors join a vigorous business boom. Suddenly the Portuguese, descendants of the great discoverers, are once again on the move. From bloodless revolution in 1974 and subsequent uncertainty has emerged a stable, democratic nation determined to erase decades of backwardness and poverty, and to remind the world of a distinguished past. An independent maritime nation since the 12th century, Portugal can look back upon a rich and colourful history - the inheritance of the Romans and the Moors, conquest and reconquest, bold exploration and the dramas of discovery, dynasties of extraordinary kings and queens, a vast empire earthquake, the horrors of Inquisition, bloody battles, fierce politics, tyrants and autocrats, despair, emigration, passion and intrigue. The focus on a society in transition embraces Portuguese present-day convictions, quirks and customs along with the exhuberance of the past, the beauty and variety of the landscape and the threats to it, the splendours of architecture and the arts and the complex challenges of EC membership and a mutating eastern Europe which face the country today.