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General Information about Portugal

(Main source: CIA - The World Factbook 2004)

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 independence in 1822 of Brazil as a colony. A 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy; for most of the next six decades, repressive governments ran the country. In 1974, a left-wing military coup installed broad democratic reforms. The following year, Portugal granted independence to all of its African colonies. Portugal is a founding member of NATO and entered the EC (now the European Union) in 1986.

Country name (long form): Portuguese Republic  (República Portuguesa).

Government type: parliamentary democracy.

Capital: Lisbon.

Currency: euro.

GDP (purchasing power parity):  US$ 182.3 billion (2003 est.).

GDP per capita (purchasing power parity):  US$ 18,000 (2003 est.). 

Total area: 92,391 km² (includes Azores and Madeira Islands).

Coastline: 1,793 km.

Highest point: Ponta do Pico (Pico or Pico Alto) on Ilha do Pico in the Azores 2,351 m.

Population: 10,524,145 (July 2004 est.).

Population growth rate: 0.41% (2004).

Life expectancy at birth: 77.3 years.

Religions: Roman Catholic 94%.

Languages:  Portuguese (official), Mirandese (spoken in northeast Portugal, recognized by the Portuguese Parliament in 1999).

Climate

Maritime temperate; cool and rainy in north, warmer and drier in south.

Administrative divisions

18 districts and 2 autonomous regions; Aveiro, Açores (Azores), Beja, Braga, Bragança, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Evora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisboa, Madeira, Portalegre, Porto, Santarém, Setúbal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real, Viseu.

Terrain

Mountainous north of the Tagus River, rolling plains in south.

Economy - overview

Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Community in 1986. Over the past decade, successive governments have privatized many state-controlled firms and liberalized 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 the euro on 1 January 2002 along with 11 other EU member economies. Economic growth has been above the EU average for much of the past decade, but fell back in 2001-03. GDP per capita stands at 70% of that of the leading EU economies. A poor educational system, in particular, 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. The coalition government faces tough choices in its attempts to boost Portugal's economic competitiveness and to keep the budget deficit within the 3% EU ceiling.

Disputes - international

Some Portuguese groups assert dormant claims to territories ceded to Spain around the town of Olivenza.

 

Torre de Belém Portugal

 

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Tower of Belem in Tejo river, Lisbon. A fortress constructed from 1514 to 1520.  Today a cultural icon and a World Heritage Cultural Site. See more Pictures of Portugal