Carnation Revolution

The Carnation Revolution took place on April 25, 1974. It was a bloodless coup in Portugal that led to the overthrowing of a dictatorship that controlled the country since the 1920s. After a short period of unrest, Portugal became a democracy.

It all began in 1926 when the democratic government, which had been in place since 1910, was removed. This new government was called Estado Novo, or the New State. The New State was unpopular with Portuguese citizens and with other free countries around the world.

On April 25th, 1974, the Carnation Revolution began in Lisbon. A military force set out to overthrow the New State and quickly overwhelmed the government. Citizens were asked to stay home, but the felt the need to celebrate, and soon the streets of Lisbon were overrun with happy Portuguese citizens. The flower market in Lisbon was filled with carnations, so many people grabbed the fresh flowers and placed them in the gun barrels of the soldiers to show their joy. These actions inspired the name "Carnation Revolution," and the unique images were sent all over the world, bringing international attention to the Portuguese story.

The government did kill four protesters before they realized they could not win the Carnation Revolution, but the success of the revolutionaries is credited to the fact that they seemed determined to avoid violence.

After the revolution, there was some instability on Portugal. It took several years to stabilize a strong democracy, and during this time, Portugal lost most of its foreign colonies. It was a difficult few years, but most feel the Carnation Revolution was worthwhile in the end. Today this war is also known as freedom day in Portugal and is celebrated on April 25th as a national holiday.