Historically, the Portuguese people's heritage includes the pre-Celts, Celts (Celtiberians, Lusitanians, Gallaecians and Celtici - from whom the majority of the population descends), the Romans, Greeks, Scandinavians and migratory Germanic tribes like the Vandals, Visigoths (Western Goths) and Suebi. A considerable portion of the Portuguese population also has Jewish ancestry, although, in most cases, mixed with that of other ethnic groups. To an even smaller degree, due to the religious and cultural differences that formed a barrier to intermixing, some Portuguese share traits with North Africans, a result of the Moorish rule of the Iberian Peninsula which was, for the most part, a military occupation. After the Reconquista, some Muslims converted to Christianity and in turn were not expelled.
The Roman Republic conquered the Iberian Peninsula during the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. from the extensive maritime empire of Carthage during the series of Punic Wars. As a result of Roman colonization, the majority of local languages stem from the Vulgar Latin. Due to the large historical extent from the 16th century of the Portuguese Empire and the subsequent colonization of territories in Asia, Africa and the Americas, as well as historical and recent emigration, Portuguese communities can be found in many diverse regions around the globe, and a large Portuguese diaspora exists.
Portuguese people began and led the Age of Exploration which started in 1415 with the conquest of Ceuta and culminated in an empire with territories that are now part of over 50 countries. The Portuguese Empire lasted nearly 600 years, seeing its end when Macau was returned to China in 1999. The discovery of several lands unknown to the Europeans in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania (southwest Pacific Ocean), helped pave the way for modern globalization and domination of Western civilization.
In contemporary times, Portugal exhibits a multicultural and multiethnic society formed especially from people hailing from its former colonies, mainly Brazilians, Cape Verdeans, Angolans, Mozambicans, Goans, Macanese and Timorese people.
The Portuguese are a Southwestern European population, with origins predominantly from Southern and Western Europe.