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Portugal is a country in the extreme southwest of Europe, on the Iberian peninsula, bordering the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south, and Spain to the north and east. It also includes three groups of islands in the Atlantic: the Azores (Açores), the Madeira and the Savage Isles, a small, remote and unhabited group administrated by Madeira.

República Portuguesa
(In Detail)
National motto: None
Official languagePortuguese
(Mirandese is officially recognised in a small town.)
PresidentJorge Sampaio
Prime MinisterJosé Manuel Durão Barroso
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 109th
92,391 km²
 - Total (2001)
 - Density
Ranked 79th
 - Declared ¹
 - Recognised ¹
From Kingdom of Leon
1128, as a county
1139, as a kingdom
1143, by the Kingdom of Leon
1179, by the Pope
CurrencyEuro², Portug. euro coins
Time zonesUTC -1 to 0
National anthemA Portuguesa
Internet TLD.PT
Calling Code351
(1) The actual concept declaration of independence did not exist at the time. Nether the recognization, Portugal was recognized as a kingdom with its own king.
(2) Prior to 1999: Portuguese escudo

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Districts and regions
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 International Disputes
8 Culture
9 Miscellaneous topics
10 External links


Main article: History of Portugal

Portugal emerged from the Reconquista as an independent kingdom in 1143. The border with Spain has remained almost unchanged since the 13th century. Portugal has always turned towards the sea. Since early times fishing and overseas commerce have been main economic activities. Henry the Navigator's interest in exploration together with some technological developments in navigation made possible Portugal's expansion and led to great advances in geographic knowledge.

Following its heyday as a world power during the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the loss of its Brazilian colony in 1822. A 1910 revolution deposed the Portuguese monarchy starting a period of chaotic republicanism (First Republic); in 1926 a nationalist military coup d'etat began a period of more than five decades of repressive fascist governments.

In 1974, a effectively bloodless left-wing military coup (the Carnation Revolution) installed a government that instituted broad democratic reforms. The following year Portugal granted independence to its colonies in Africa: Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe) and lost its colony of East Timor in Asia to an Indonesian invasion. Portugal itself entered the European Union in 1986, whilst another Asian dependency, Macau, reverted to Chinese sovereignty in December 1999.

See also: List of Portuguese monarchs - Kings of Portugal family tree - Timeline of Portuguese history - Monuments of Portugal -Lusitania


Main article: Politics of Portugal

In the years following the 1974 coup Portugal has progressively done away with undemocratic institutions and established itself as a constitutional democracy. The four main organs of Portuguese politics are the presidency, the prime minister and Council of Ministers (the cabinet), the Assembly of the Republic (the parliament), and the Judicial branch.

The president, elected to a 5-year term by direct, universal suffrage is also commander in chief of the armed forces. Presidential powers include appointing the prime minister and Council of Ministers, in which the president must be guided by the assembly election results. The Council of State, a presidential advisory body, is composed of six senior civilian officers, any former presidents elected since 1976, five members chosen by the Assembly, and five selected by the president.

The government is headed by the prime minister, who names the Council of Ministers. A new government is required to define the broad outline of its policy in a program and present it to the assembly for a mandatory period of debate. Failure of the assembly to reject the program by a majority of deputies confirms the government in office.

The Assembly of the Republic (Assembleia da República) is a unicameral body composed of up to 230 deputies. Elected by universal suffrage according to a system of proportional representation, deputies serve terms of office of 4 years, unless the president dissolves the assembly and calls for new elections.

The national Supreme Court is the court of last appeal. Military, administrative, and fiscal courts are designated as separate court categories. A nine-member Constitutional Tribunal reviews the constitutionality of legislation.

Districts and regions

Main article: Districts of Portugal

Mainland Portugal consists of 18 districts (distritos, singular - distrito):

Beyond these there are two autonomous regions (regiões autónomas): the Azores (Açores) and Madeira. Each district is further subdivided into the Municipalities of Portugal. The country has also two metropolitan areas that gatters some municipalities.


Main article:
Geography of Portugal

Continental Portugal is split in two by its main river, the Tagus (Tejo). To the north the landscape is mountainous, though Portugal's highest point is Mount Pico in the Azores at 2,351 m. The south down to the Algarve features mostly rolling plains and the climate here is somewhat warmer and drier than the cooler and rainier north. Other major rivers include the Douro, the Minho and the Guadiana, similar to the Tagus in that all originate in Spain.


Main article: Economy of Portugal

Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Union in 1986. Over the past decade, successive governments have privatised many state-controlled firms and liberalised key areas of the economy, including the financial and telecommunications sectors. The country qualified for the European Monetary Union (EMU) in 1998 and began circulating its new currency, the euro, on January 1, 2002 along with 11 other EU member economies.

Economic growth has been above the EU average for much of the past decade, but GDP per capita stands at just 75% of that of the leading EU economies. The government has failed to rein in a widening deficit and to advance structural reforms needed to boost Portugal's economic competitiveness. In particular, a poor educational system has been an obstacle to greater productivity and growth. Portugal has been increasingly overshadowed by lower-cost producers in Central Europe and Asia as a target for foreign direct investment.


Main article: Demographics of Portugal

Portugal is a fairly homogenous country linguistically, ethnically and religiously; Portuguese is spoken throughout the country, with only the town of Miranda de Douro's Leonese dialect recognised as a locally co-official language as Mirandese, Asturian in Spain is another Leonese dialect but not officially recognized by Spain. Minorities, such as those of African immigrants from the former colonies, number less than 100,000. The majority of the Portuguese population are members of the Roman Catholic Church.

International Disputes

Portugal has periodically reasserted claims to territories around the town of Olivenza, Spain


Main article: Culture of Portugal

Miscellaneous topics

External links

European Union:
Austria  |  Belgium  |  Denmark  |  Finland  |  France  |  Germany  |  Greece  |  Ireland
Italy  |  Luxembourg  |  Netherlands  |  Portugal  |  Spain  |  Sweden  |  United Kingdom

Countries acceding to membership on May 1, 2004:
Cyprus  |  Czech Republic  |  Estonia  |  Hungary  |  Latvia  |  Lithuania  |  Malta  |  Poland  |  Slovakia  |  Slovenia

Community of Portuguese Language Countries |  Countries of the world  |  Europe  |  Council of Europe