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PORTUGAL
 
   
   
 

Portugal Identity Card

 

 
Country name:
~ conventional long form: Portuguese Republic
~ conventional short form: Portugal
~ local long form: Republica Portuguesa
~ local short form: Portugal
Area: 92,391 sq km
Coastline: 1,793 km
Highest point: Ponta do Pico (Pico or Pico Alto) on Ilha do Pico in the Azores 2,351 m
Population: 10,566,212
Density: 114/km2
Population growth rate: 0.39%
Official Language: Portuguese
Religions: Roman Catholic 94%, Protestant
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: Lisbon
GDP - per capita: $17,900
Inflation rate: 2.1%
Currency (code): euro (EUR)
Vehicle Country Id-Code: P
ISO CODE Alpha2: PT
ISO CODE Alpha3: PRT
ISO NUMERIC CODE: 620
Calling code: +351
Internet country code: .pt
Time Zone: + 1.0 H

 
 
 
 

Portugal, once a world power that became a puppet in the hands of the 1755 earthquake and later, in the hands of Napoleon Bonaparte, has been the witness to a seemingly unending flow of civilizations. The past 3100 years have seen the Iberians, Celtics, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans and the Visigoths knocking at its doors; the Moors have also left their cultural imprints in the once-Roman city of Portus Cale. Apparently meaning The Beautiful Port, the current name stands as an even mix between Greek and Latin. The people of Portugal are descendants of the pre-Roman Iberian and Celtic tribes, though a fair portion of them shares their roots with the Romans and ancient Germanic tribes. Cultural differentiation, though prominent, doesn’t hamper this linguistic and religious uniformity.


Lisbon roofs in Baixa district

Geography

Portugal experiences snowfall in the northern mountainous regions - Serra da Estrela being the most notable one. The Tagus (or Tejo) divides Portugal into two halves; the north landscape is mountainous and the south mostly a plain land. Other major rivers include the Douro, the Minho and the Guadiana originating in Spain and the Mondego, originating in the Serra da Estrela. The Azores and Madeira Islands are on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge while the São Miguel Island is the result of a volcanic eruption in 1563.
The Portuguese coast is 943 km long for continental Portugal, 667 km for the Azores and 250 km for Madeira and the Savage Islands giving rise to fine beaches and one of the largest exclusive economic zones in entire Europe (1,727,408 km²).


Lagos Ponta da Piedade

Climate

Portugal has an Atlantic-Mediterranean climate and is one of the warmest countries in Europe with the average temperature varying between 13ºC in the north and 18ºC in the south, though July and Augusts sometimes see drastic changes.


Palace of Pena in Sintra

History

Portugal, in the first millennium BC saw the Celt invasion and later, settlement, giving rise to Celt-Iberians. Early name for the region was "Ophiussa" (named by the Greeks) which meant ‘land of serpents’ because of the snake-worshipping natives. Then the Carthaginians came only to be driven out by the Roman troops in 219 BC. The Punic Wars are thus considered the reason behind the Roman conquest of Portugal, which started from the south. It was the Lusitanians who re-conquered the Roman occupied territories in 194 BC.
The Germanic barbarian tribes, most notably the Suevi and the Visigoths, invaded the Iberian Peninsula in the 5th century BC, but their settlements were up-rooted by the Islamic invasion in 711. 868 AD was when Count Vímara Peres reconquered the region between the Minho and Douro rivers and was named Portucale, along with the residence of the Count - Vimaranes (today's Guimarães). The Portuguese territory of this time was only the northern Portugal of today, Guimarães being the capital. As a nation, Portugal came into existence on the 24th of June, 1128, following the Battle of São Mamede.The re-conquesta, as the series of the battles was named, came to an end in 1250, after the southern coast of Algarve was won back.
History, mostly knows about Portugal as a land of explorers. The Portuguese started their first expedition on the 25th of July 1415. The first victim was Ceuta in North Africa; a rich Islamic trade center that was conquered in the same year on the 21st of August. Other notable Portuguese conquests or discoveries are the discovery of Porto Santo, Madeira Island and the Azorean islands between the 13th and the 14th centuries. The technological developments in navigation also made Portugal expand and make great advances in geographical knowledge apart from the financial support provided by the wealth of the Order of Christ - an order founded by King Denis.


The Castle of Guimaraes

The beginning of the Portuguese exploration in Africa started in 1434, as Gil Eanes went around Cape Bojador, south of Morocco. The next fourteen years saw the formation of the castle on the island of Arguim; however, the castle served as a feitoria (a trading post) for commerce with the Arabs of inland Africa attempting to cross the Sahara.
Bartholomew Dias discovered the Cape of Good Hope in 1487, while Vasco da Gama had set sails for India, paving the paths for Afonso de Albuquerque to conquer Goa in India. Other worthwhile expeditions were conducted at the end of the 15th century, when Pêro de Barcelos and João Fernandes Lavrador explored North America and Ethiopia. Portugal was then grounded in 1755 as the Lisbon earthquake wiped off majority of the Portuguese population, making Algarve a victim as well. Domestic politics received a blow, further intensified by the Napoleonic Wars from 1801.
19th Century Portugal meant Liberalism unbound, though the disputes between King Pedro IV and his brother, King Miguel led to the civil war (1832 – 1834). This was the beginning of a new constitution; however, the political and social evolutions in Portugal during the end of the 19th century were completely unstable.
The first republic in Portugal was formed in 1910, followed by the Estado Novo in 1933, led by António de Oliveira Salazar, an authoritarian right-wing dictator. The Estado Novo later got transformed into a single party corporate regime. Portugal, a founder-member of NATO, EFTA and OECD had to give up Goa in 1961, marking the beginning of the Independence movements in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea. The single party corporate regime came to an end with the Carnation Revolution in April 25th, 1974, putting in command a left-wing military coup to initiate democracy. 1975 saw Portugal undergoing its first free multi-party elections for the first time since 1926, a phenomenon that liberated its colonies in Africa.


Porto

Economy

Agriculture of Portugal though supports a large part of the country’s economy through extensive monoculture of cereals and olive trees it’s the industrialisation boom in the 1950s that has put the country into the economy-map of the world. Other sources are its exports in wine - the Port and Vinho Verde being the leading exporters and fruits other than horticulture, floriculture, beet sugar, sunflower oil, and tobacco. Portugal’s per capita output stands at 76% of EU-15 average, making the Portuguese GDP grow by 1% in real terms in 2004.
The country started modernizing since 1985 and is with the European Economic Community since 1986. Reforms and privatisation of several state-controlled firms and liberalisation of key areas of the economy (financial and telecommunications sectors included) helped Portugal develop an increasingly service-based economy. Being one of the eleven founding countries of the Euro in 1999, Portugal began circulating the new currency from January 1, 2002.
The major industries of Portugal are textile, footwear, leather, furniture, ceramics and cork, with industries like oil refineries, petrochemicals, cement, automotive and ship industries, electrical and electronics industries, machinery and paper industries newly making their way into the market.
On the trade front, Portugal is marked negatively for its purchases made from the European Union; however Portuguese goods are sold mostly in Germany, Spain, and France.
Another source of the country’s economy is the travel and tourism sector which is now focusing on the cultural part. Formerly, there was only beach tourism. The new measure is expected to attract more wealthy tourists with a bent of mind to know the real Portugal.


The Bom Jesus Sanctuary in Bragas

Politics

Portuguese politics has four heads - President of the Republic, the Parliament, the Council of Ministers (Government), and the Judiciary; the President been elected to serve for 5 years also as the commander in chief of the armed forces. The President chooses the Prime Minister as per the advice of the Parliament and the Council of Ministers and has the power to dismiss the Government, dissolving the Parliament and declaring war or peace under constitutional restrictions posed by the presidential advisory body.
The Parliament or Assembleia da República is a unicameral body of 230 deputies, each to serve 4 years and is the main legislative body. The President of the Parliament is also a supplement to the President of the country. Head of the Government is the Prime Minister.
The Courts are divided into judicial, administrative and fiscal parts, with the national Supreme Court being the place for last appeal. Constitutionality of legislation depends solely on the nine-member Constitutional Tribunal.


Albufeira


The marina of Sao Miguel (The Azores Islands)
 



 

 

 
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