2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Countries; European Countries

República Portuguesa
Portuguese Republic
Flag of Portugal Coat of arms of Portugal
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: none
Anthem: A Portuguesa
Location of Portugal
(and largest city)
38°46′N 9°11′W
Official languages Portuguese1
Government Parliamentary democracy
 - President Aníbal Cavaco Silva
 - Prime Minister José Sócrates
Formation 868 
 - Independence June 24, 1128 
 - Kingdom July 25, 1139 
 - Recognized October 5, 1143 
Accession to EU January 1, 1986
 - Total 92,391 km² ( 110th)
35,672 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 0.5
 - July 2006 estimate 10,605,870 ( 75th)
 - 2001 census 10,148,259
 - Density 114/km² ( 87th)
295/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $203.4 billion ( 41st)
 - Per capita $19,335 ( 37th)
HDI  (2004) 0.904 (high) ( 28th)
Currency Euro ( €)2 ( EUR)
Time zone WET3 ( UTC)
 - Summer ( DST) WEST ( UTC+1)
Internet TLD .pt4
Calling code +351
1 Mirandese and Portuguese Sign Language are officially recognized and protected.

2 Prior to 1999: Portuguese escudo.
3 Azores: UTC-1; UTC in summer.
4 The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.

Coordinates: 38°42′N 9°11′W Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic (Portuguese: República Portuguesa; pron. IPA [ʁɛ'publikɐ puɾtu'gezɐ]), located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, is the westernmost country of mainland Europe. Portugal is bordered by Spain to the north and east and by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south. The Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira are also part of Portugal.

The territory which forms the modern Portuguese Republic has witnessed a constant flow of civilizations during the past 3,100 years, since the earlier pre-Roman inhabitants, to the Roman, Germanic, and Moorish peoples who made an imprint on the country's culture, history, language, and ethnic composition. During the 15th and 16th centuries, with its vast transcontinental empire, Portugal was one of the world's major economic, political, and cultural powers. It is a member of the European Union since 1986, and a founding member of Eurozone and NATO.


First portuguese flag.
First portuguese flag.

Portugal came into existence as an independent nation on June 24, 1128, when Afonso Henriques, Count of Portugal, defeated his mother in battle, Countess Teresa, and her lover, Fernão Peres de Trava, thereby establishing himself as sole leader. Afonso Henriques proclaimed himself king of Portugal on July 25, 1139, after the Battle of Ourique and was recognized as such in 1143 by Alfonso VII, king of León and Castile, and in 1179 by Pope Alexander III.

Afonso and his successors, aided by military monastic orders, pushed southward to drive out the Moors, as the size of Portugal covered about half of its present area. In 1249, this Reconquista ended with the capture of the Algarve on the southern coast.

In 1373, Portugal made an alliance with England, which is the longest-standing alliance in the world. In the following decades, Portugal spearheaded the exploration of the world and undertook the Age of Discovery. Prince Henry the Navigator, son of King João I, became the main sponsor and patron of this endeavor.

In 1383, the king of Castile, husband of the daughter of the Portuguese king who had died without a male heir, claimed his throne. An ensuing popular revolt led to the 1383-1385 Crisis. A faction of petty noblemen and commoners, led by John of Aviz (later John I), seconded by General Nuno Álvares Pereira, defeated the Castilians in the Battle of Aljubarrota. This celebrated battle is still a symbol of glory and the struggle for independence from neighboring Spain.

In 1415, the Portuguese empire arose when a fleet conquered Ceuta, a prosperous Islamic trade centre in North Africa. There followed the first discoveries in the Atlantic: Madeira and the Azores, which led to the first colonization movements.

Throughout the 15th century, Portuguese explorers sailed the coast of Africa, establishing trading posts as they looked for a route to India and its spices, which were coveted in Europe. In 1498, Vasco da Gama finally reached India and brought economic prosperity to Portugal and its then population of one million residents.

In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral landed in Brazil and claimed it for Portugal. Ten years later, Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa, in India, Ormuz in the Persian Strait, and Malacca in what is now Malaysia. Thus, the Portuguese empire held dominion over commerce in the Indian Ocean and South Atlantic.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Lisbon
Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Lisbon
The Castle of Guimarães, known as the "Cradle of Portugal".
The Castle of Guimarães, known as the "Cradle of Portugal".

Portugal's independence was interrupted between 1580 and 1640. Because the heirless King Sebastian died in battle in Morocco, Philip II of Spain claimed his throne and so became Philip I of Portugal. Although Portugal did not lose its formal independence, it was governed by the same monarch who governed Spain, briefly forming a union of kingdoms; in 1640, John IV spearheaded an uprising backed by disgruntled nobles and was proclaimed king. This was the beginning of the long-lived dynasty of Braganza. By this time, however, the Portuguese empire was already under attack from other countries, specifically Britain and the Netherlands. Portugal began a slow but inexorable decline until the 20th century. This decline was hastened by the independence in 1822 of the country's largest colonial possession, Brazil. This contributed to a period of political chaos and civil war.

In 1910, a revolution deposed the Portuguese monarchy, but chaos continued and considerable economic problems were aggravated by a disastrous military intervention in the First World War, which led to a military coup d'état in 1926. This in turn led to the establishment of a right-wing dictatorship by António de Oliveira Salazar. In the early 1960s, independence movements in the colonies of Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea resulted in the Portuguese Colonial War. In 1974, a bloodless left-wing military coup led the way for a modern democracy. Portugal joined the European Union in 1986, and ever since Portugal has engaged in a process of convergence with its EU counterparts.

Government and Politics

Assembly of the Republic
Assembly of the Republic

Portugal is a democratic republic ruled by the constitution of 1976 with Lisbon, the nation's largest city, as its capital.

The four main governing components are the president of the republic, the assembly of the republic, the government, and the courts. The constitution grants the complete separation of powers among legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

The president, who is elected to a five-year term, has a supervising, nonexecutive role. The Assembly of the Republic is a unicameral parliament composed of 230 deputies elected for four-year terms.

The government is headed by the prime minister, who chooses a Council of Ministers, made up of ministers and their assistants, the secretaries of state. The national and regional governments are dominated by two political parties, the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party.

The courts are organized into categories, including judicial, administrative, and fiscal. The supreme courts are the courts of last appeal. A nine-member constitutional court oversees the constitutionality of legislation.

Foreign Relations and Military

Portugal has been a member of NATO since 1949, the European Union since 1986, and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries since 1996. It has a friendship alliance and dual citizenship treaty with Brazil. It has good relations with the United States, the United Kingdom, and China (due to Macau), as well as the other European Union countries. Portugal has centuries-old diplomatic ties with Morocco.

The only international dispute concerns the municipality of Olivenza, which Spain received in 1801 under the Treaty of Badajoz and has since administered. Portugal claimed it in 1815 under the Treaty of Vienna. Nevertheless, diplomatic relations between the two countries are cordial.

The armed forces have three branches: Army, Navy, and Air Force. In the 20th century, Portugal engaged in two major military interventions: the First Great War and the Colonial War (1961-1974). Portugal has participated in peacekeeping missions in East Timor, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon. The draft was abolished in 2003.

Administrative Divisions

Map of Mainland Portugal and the two autonomous regions of Portugal.
Map of Mainland Portugal and the two autonomous regions of Portugal.

Portugal has an administrative structure of 308 municipalities (Portuguese singular/plural: concelho/concelhos), which are subdivided into more than 4,000 parishes (freguesia/freguesias). Municipalities are grouped for administrative purposes into superior units, the most significant being the classification since 1976 into either mainland Portugal (Portugal Continental) or the autonomous regions of Portugal ( Azores and Madeira).

Geography and Climate

Continental Portugal is split by its main river, the Tagus (Tejo). The northern landscape is mountainous in interior areas, with plateaus indented by river valleys, which allow agricultural development. The south, between the Tejo and the Algarve (the Alentejo), features mostly rolling plains and a climate somewhat warmer and drier than in the cooler and rainier north. The Algarve, separated from the Alentejo by mountains, enjoys a Mediterranean climate like Morocco or southern Spain.

Snow is usual in the northern half of the nation, around the 40 N parallel. It is a rare event in the south, but it does happen.

The islands of the Azores and Madeira are located in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Some islands have had volcanic activity as recently as 1957. Portugal's highest point is Mount Pico on Pico Island, It is an ancient volcano measuring 2,351 m (i.e., 7,713 ft.).

The climate can be classified as Mediterranean in the south and Oceanic in the north. One of the warmest European countries, yearly temperature averages in mainland Portugal are 13°C (55°F) in the north and 18°C (64°F) in the south. The Madeira and Azores archipelagos have a narrower temperature range. Spring and summer are sunny, whereas autumn and winter are rainy and windy.


Modern Parque das Nações, where Expo'98 took place.
Modern Parque das Nações, where Expo'98 took place.

Portugal joined the European Union in 1986 and started a process of modernization within the framework of a stable environment. It has achieved a healthy level of growth. Successive governments have implemented reforms and privatized many state-controlled firms and liberalized key areas of the economy. Portugal was one of the founding countries of the euro in 1999.

Major industries include oil refineries, automotive, cement production, pulp and paper industry, textile, footwear, furniture, and cork (the world's leading producer). Agriculture no longer represents the bulk of the economy, but Portuguese wines, namely port wine (from Porto )and Madeira wine, are exported worldwide. Tourism is also important, especially in the Algarve and Madeira Islands.

Energy, Transportation and Communications

An Airbus A330-200 from national airline TAP Portugal.
An Airbus A330-200 from national airline TAP Portugal.

In June 2006, U.S. energy companies GE Energy, PowerLight Corp. and Portuguese renewable energy company Catavento began building the world's largest solar power plant in southeast Portugal.

The world's first commercial wave farm opened in October 2006 in northern Portugal.

As of 2006, 55% of electricity production was from coal and fuel power plants. The other 40% was produced by hydroelectrics and 5% by wind energy. The government is channeling $3.8 billion into developing renewable energy sources over the next five years.

Transportation was seen as a priority in the 1990s, pushed by the growing use of automobiles and industrialization. The country has a 68,732 km (i.e., 42,708 mi.) network of roads, of which 2,000 km (i.e., 1,240 mi.) are part of 44 motorways.

World mobile phone usage
World mobile phone usage

The two principal metropolitan areas have subway systems: Lisbon Metro and Porto Metro, each with more than 35 km (22 mi) of lines. Construction of a high-speed TGV line connecting Porto with Lisbon and Lisbon with Madrid will begin in 2008; it will replace the Pendolinos. A new Lisbon airport will be built at the same time in Ota.

Portugal has one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the world. As of October 2006, 36.8% of households had high-speed Internet services and 78% of companies had Internet access. Most Portuguese watch television through cable (June 2004: 73.6% of households).

The most important airports are in Lisbon, Faro ( Algarve), Oporto, Funchal ( Madeira), and Ponta Delgada ( Azores).


The country is fairly homogeneous linguistically and religiously. Native Portuguese are ethnically a combination of pre-Roman Iberians and Celtics with some Roman and Germanic influences, among other minor contributions.

In the 2001 census, the population was 10,356,117, of which 51.7% was female. By the end of 2003, legal immigrants represented 4.2% of the population, and the largest communities were from Ukraine, Brazil, Cape Verde, and Angola, with other immigrants from parts of Latin America and Eastern Europe. The great majority of Portuguese are Roman Catholic. The biggest metropolitan areas are Lisbon, Oporto, Braga, Coimbra, and Aveiro.

Portugal, long a country of emigration, has now become a country of net immigration, and not just from the former Indian and African colonies. Today, many Eastern Europeans (especially Ukrainians, Moldavians, Romanians and Russians), as well as Brazilians, are making Portugal their home. There is a rapidly growing community of Chinese and a notable number of Macanese, who are descendants of Chinese and Portuguese settlers, with some Malays and Indians.


The tower of the famous University of Coimbra
The tower of the famous University of Coimbra

The educational system is divided into preschool (for those under age 6), basic education (9 years, in three stages, compulsory), secondary education (3 years), and higher education (university and polytechnic).

Portuguese universities have existed since 1290 and were first established in Lisbon before moving to Coimbra. Universities are usually organized into faculties. Institutes and schools are also common designations, specially in politechnical institutions. The Bologna process is expected to be adopted before 2011.


The Portuguese legal system is part of the civil law legal system, also called the continental family legal system. Until the end of the 19th century, French law was the main influence. Since then the major influence has been German law. The main laws include the Constitution (1976, as amended), the Civil Code (1966, as amended) and the Penal Code (1982, as amended). Other relevant laws are the Commercial Code (1888, as amended) and the Civil Procedure Code (1961, as amended). Portuguese law applied in the former colonies and territories and continues to be the major influence for those countries.


12th century Cathedral of Lisbon
12th century Cathedral of Lisbon

Portuguese society is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Approximately 97% of the population consider themselves Roman Catholic , the highest percentage in Western Europe, but only about one-third attend mass and take the sacraments regularly. Yet a larger number wish to be baptized, married in the church, and receive last rites.

The practice of religion shows striking regional differences. Even in the 1990s, 60% to 70% of the population in the north regularly attended religious services, compared with 10% to 15% in the historically anti-clerical south. In the greater Lisbon area, about 30% were regular churchgoers.


Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon.
Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon.

Portugal has developed a specific culture while being influenced by various civilizations that have crossed the Mediterranean or were introduced during the Age of Discovery.

Portuguese literature, one of the earliest Western literatures, developed through text and song. Until 1350, the Portuguese-Galician troubadours spread their literary influence to most of the Iberian Peninsula. Gil Vicente (ca. 1465 - ca. 1536), was one of the founders of both Portuguese and Spanish dramatic traditions. Adventurer and poet Luís de Camões (ca. 1524-1580) wrote the epic poem The Lusiads, with Vergil's Aeneid as his main influence. Modern Portuguese poetry is rooted in neoclassic and contemporary styles, as exemplified by Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935). Modern literature is internationally known through the works of Almeida Garrett, Camilo Castelo Branco, Eça de Queirós, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, António Lobo Antunes, and 1998 Nobel Prize winner, José Saramago, and others.

Portuguese music encompasses a wide variety of genres. The most renowned is fado, a melancholy urban music, usually associated with the Portuguese guitar and saudade, or longing. Coimbra fado a unique type of fado is also noteworthy. Internationally notable performers include Amália Rodrigues, Carlos Paredes, Mariza, Mísia, and Madredeus. One of the most notable Portuguese musical groups outside the country, and specially in Germany, is the goth-metal band Moonspell. In addition to fado and folk, Portuguese listen to pop and other modern music. Bands who have international recognition include Blasted Mechanism and The Gift, who were both nominated for an MTV Music Award. Portugal has several music festivals: Zambujeira do Mar, Paredes de Coura, Rock in Rio Lisboa, and SuperBock SuperRock, among others.

Traditional architecture is distinctive. Modern Portugal has given the world renowned architects Eduardo Souto de Moura and Álvaro Siza Vieira. Prominent international figures in visual arts include painters Vieira da Silva and Paula Rego.

Since the 1990s, Portugal has increased the number of public cultural facitilies, in addition to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation established in 1956. These include the Belém Cultural Centre in Lisbon, Serralves Foundation and the Casa da Música, both in Oporto.


Pastéis de nata (cream custards)
Pastéis de nata (cream custards)

Cuisine is particularly diverse. Recipes for rice, potato, bread, meat, seafood, and fish dishes are staples. The Portuguese have a reputation for loving cod ( bacalhau in Portuguese), for which, it is said, there are 365 recipes (i.e, one for each day of the year): pastéis de bacalhau, bacalhau à Brás, and bacalhau à Gomes de Sá are some of the most popular ones. Other fish recipes are popular like grilled sardines and caldeirada. The art of pastry, having its origins in old and rich recipes, is popular. Desserts and cakes, such as Lisbon's pastéis de nata (delicious with strong coffee), Aveiro's ovos-moles, and many others, are appreciated. Portugal has its own adaptation of fast food; one of the most popular is Porto's francesinha. Other recipes include the feijoada, made with pieces of meat, sausages, and beans served with white and dry rice, the cozido à portuguesa, made with various kinds of meat, rice, potatoes and other vegetables, all boiled, and the espetadas.

Wines have been exported since the time of the Romans, who associated Portugal with Bacchus, their god of wine and feasting. Today, the country is known by wine lovers, and its wines have won international prizes. Many famous Portuguese wines are known as some of the world's best: Vinho Verde, Vinho Alvarinho, Vinho do Douro, Vinho do Alentejo, Vinho do Dão, Vinho da Bairrada and the sweet: Port Wine, Madeira wine and the Moscatels of Setúbal and Favaios (Douro). Port wine is the most widely exported, followed by Vinho Verde, whose export is increasing rapidly in response to growing international demand.

Sports and Games

Luís Figo as captain of Portugal national football team.
Luís Figo as captain of Portugal national football team.

Football is the most known, loved and practiced sport. Luís Figo was one of the world's top players along with Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Quaresma, and Nuno Gomes, some of them new to the team, but the legendary Eusébio is still a major symbol of Portuguese football. Figo retired from the National Team after the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

The Portuguese national team, Selecção Nacional, has won two FIFA World Youth Championships and several other UEFA youth championships. After a third place in the 1966 FIFA World Cup, they finished in fourth place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. In addition, they finished second in Euro 2004, their best result in this competition to date.

SL Benfica, Sporting Clube de Portugal and FC Porto, are the main clubs, often known as "os três grandes" ( "the big three"). Benfica has played in the UEFA Champions League final (then the UEFA Champions Cup) seven times and has two titles, FC Porto also has two titles in that competition and a UEFA Cup. Benfica is the most popular club in Portugal with more than 160000 affiliates and is recognised by the Guinness World Records as the club with more affiliates in the world. Sporting Clube de Portugal has won a European Cup Winners' Cup.

Portugal has a successful rink hockey team, with 15 world titles and 20 european titles, making it the country with more wins in both competitions. The most important Portuguese hockey clubs in the European championships are FC Porto, SL Benfica, and Óquei de Barcelos.

The national rugby union team have not yet qualified for a Rugby World Cup, but are very close to entering France 2007. The Portuguese national team of Rugby Sevens is also strong, becoming one of the strongest teams, proving their status as European champions.

Francis Obikwelu again won two European gold medals in the 100 m and the 200 m in 2006, having already received gold and silver medals in 2004 and a silver in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Naide Gomes is a European elite athlete in pentathlon and long jump.

In the triathlon, Vanessa Fernandes, three times European champion in elite sub-23, won the silver medal in the world championships and became the winner of 2006's World Cup by winning 12 consecutive Grand Prix (world record tied).

Festivals and Holidays

Festivals play a major role during the summer. Almost every city, town, and village has a festival, and they are especially popular in June, when events are dedicated to three saints known as the santos populares (popular saints: Saint Anthony, Saint John, and Saint Peter). Why the populace associated these Catholic saints with pagan festivities is not known, but it is possibly related to Roman or local deities who existed before Christianity spread into the region. These festivities generally include wine and água-pé (a watered-down wine), traditional bread, grilled sardines or traditional meat-based dishes, pimba music, traditional street dances, fireworks, and religious processions.

Facts and figures

  • Official date format: YYYY/MM/DD (ex. 2006/09/08)
  • Common date format: DD/MM/YYYY (ex. 06/09/2006), dates are written out as DD de MM de YYYY (ex. 18 de Agosto de 2005)
  • Decimal separator is a comma: 123,45
  • Thousands are officially separated by a space — 10 000 — although the point is still used — 10.000.
  • The currency is the euro, abbreviation €, divided into 100 cêntimos (main article: Linguistic issues concerning the euro#Portuguese).
  • The euro sign is commonly placed either before or after the amount, with the separator either a comma or a point: 10,95 € - € 10,95 - € 10.95 - 10.95 €
  • Postal code: 4+3 digits, separated by a hyphen (main article: Postal code#Portugal).

Neighbouring countries

North Atlantic Ocean Flag of Spain Spain
North Flag of Spain Spain
West   Flag of Portugal Portugal    East
North Atlantic Ocean North Atlantic Ocean
Image:Template CanadianCityGeoLocation South.png
Flag of Morocco Morocco
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