In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal established the first global maritime and trading empire, becoming one of the world's greatest economic, political, and military powers.

An excerpt from the article 37 facts about Portugal

Portugal was at the forefront of European world exploration and the Age of Discovery. The main sponsor and patron of this project was Prince Henry the Navigator, son of John I, King of Portugal. During this time, Portugal discovered the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores, Madeira, and the Cape Verde Islands, colonized selected areas of Africa, discovered the eastern route to India through the Cape of Good Hope, Brazil, established trade routes across most of southern Asia, and sent the first direct European trade and diplomatic missions to China and Japan. There are speculations that it was the Portuguese, not the Spanish, who discovered Australia in 1521.