, in Southern Europe, shares the Iberian peninsula at the western tip of Europe with Spain. Geographically and culturally somewhat isolated from its neighbor, Portugal has a rich, unique culture, lively cities and beautiful countryside. Although it was once one of the poorest countries in Western Europe, the end of dictatorship and introduction of Democracy in 1974, as well as its incorporation into the European Union in 1986, has meant significantly increased prosperity. However it may be one of the best value destinations on the Continent. This is because the country offers outstanding landscape diversity, due to its North-South disposition along the western shore of the Iberian peninsula. You can travel in a single day from green mountains in the North, covered with vines and all varieties of trees to rocky mountains, with spectacular slopes and falls in the Centre, to a near-desert landscape in the Alentejo region and finally to the glamorous beach holidays destination Algarve. The climate, combined with investments in the golfing infrastructure in recent years, has also turned the country into a golfing haven. Portugal was recently named "Best Golf Destination 2006" by readers of Golfers Today, a British publication. Fourteen of Portugal's courses are rated in the top 100 best in Europe. If you want a condensed view of European landscapes, culture and way of life, Portugal might very well fit the bill.
For more information:Portugal Tourism Guide, Regions
MinhoTrÃ¡s-os-montesDouroMadeira IslandsBeirasEstremaduraAzores IslandsAlentejoRibatejoAlgarveCities
Lisbon - capitalGuimarÃ£es - The founding place of the nationÃ‰voraFaroPorto (Oporto)FunchalCascaisLeiriaCoimbraCascaisAlbufeiraPortimaoLagosSintraSetÃºbalVila RealViseuOther destinations
Cabo da Roca The westernmost point of mainland Portugal and European continent.Understand
Portugal is one of the warmest European countries. In mainland Portugal, yearly temperature averages are about 15Â°C (55Â°F) in the north and 18Â°C (64Â°F) in the south. Madeira and Azores have a narrower temperature range as expected given their insularity, with the former having low precipitation in most of the archipelago and the latter being wet and rainy. Spring and Summer months are usually sunny and temperature maximum are very high during July and August, with maximums averaging between 35Â°C and 40Â°C (86Â°F - 95Â°F) in the interior of the country, 30Â°C and 35Â°C in the north, and occasionally reaching 45Â°C (113Â°F) in the south. Autumn and Winter are typically rainy and windy, yet sunny days are not rare either. Temperatures rarely fall below 5Â°C (41Â°F) nearer to the sea, averaging 10Â°C (50Â°F), but can reach several degrees below 0Â°C (32Â°F) further inland. Snow is common in the mountainous areas of the north, especially in Serra da Estrela. Portugal's climate can be classified as Mediterranean (particularly the Algarve and Alentejo, though technically on Atlantic shore).Get in
Almost all major full price airlines fly to Portugal (British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa), besides the country's own TAP Portugal. However, there are some cheap fares to be had from the no-frills airlines, like Aer Lingus, Monarch, easyJet and Vueling who have recently started flying to Lisbon, Porto and Faro at good prices. There are three international airports in the mainland: Lisbon (in the north of the city, and not far from the centre), Porto, and Faro. The Madeira and Azores Islands also have international airports. From the United States, US Airways
offers many flights to Portugal via Philadelphia.By train
Trains reach most larger cities from Lisbon. Lisbon is connected to Madrid, Spain.
In the South it is not possible to enter Portugal from Spain. There are no train connections from i.e. Sevilla to Faro. The only option is to use buses, there are many.
For more information, contact:CP, Portuguese Railways.By car
Roads are generally good, and you can reach almost all major cities with ease, either by motorway or by good, modern roads. The biggest cities are well served by modern highways (most have tolls), and you can travel the full North-South length of the country without ever leaving the highway, if you choose to.
However, some secondary roads are ill-treated and may be dangerous if proper care is not taken. Also, Portuguese driving can seem erratic and, frankly, scary to the uninitiated. The country shares with most southern european countries something that the successive Portuguese governments have been trying to fight: terrible road behaviour from some drivers. This is getting a little better year by year, but still, there are many drivers whose dream is to own a Ferrari, but all they actually have is a Renault Clio or a Ford Fiesta, or that think that they can drink and drive without any kind of problem. In order to fight this national calamity, road laws changed recently in order to punish with great severity speeding, driving without license, driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, etc.
(From someone on a motor touring holiday in late 2006: The most obvious bit of selfish driving is overtaking. You can be on a 2-lane toll highway and be unable to see any other traffic except the car you're overtaking at 30 kph over the speed limit and the car about 6 feet from your back end flashing its headlights to get past you. "Letting on" manners when slip roads come on to fast roads are also pretty poor. On other roads, you'll get used to two classic Portuguese experiences: suicidal overtakig attempts and the resultant absurdly overdone signs indicating when you can and can't overtake - sometimes all of 5 yards apart, and the "penalty stop" traffic light as you enter the 50 kph zone in each small town, with camera to decide whether you're over the speed limit. Rather absurdly, once you're through this, you can go as fast as you like - we never saw a second penalty stop signal. Someone really should add up the cost of all the no-overtaking signs and tell Portuguese drivers how many they must be paying for each.)
It is probably unwise for those unfamiliar with Portuguese driving to try to drive in the cities - be aware if you do that city drivers give no quarter and have limited respect for lane markings. If you do want to try, choose a weekend or an hour outside the rush hour periods. These are early mornings (8 am - 9.30 am) and late afternoons (5 pm - 7.30 pm).By busSpain/Portugal: ALSASpain/Portugal: Auto ResBy boatGet around
Thanks to generous government subsidies, rail travel
in Portugal is often cheaper and faster than travel by bus
. Unfortunately the rail network is limited, so you may find yourself bussing about to get anywhere off the beaten path. The immediate areas surrounding Lisbon and Porto are reasonably well-served by suburban rail services.
Lisbon and Porto also have a clean, modern and air-conditioned metro system
(underground/subway and light railway). Road traffic in Lisbon and Porto is pretty congested all day round and gets completely stuck in the rush hours. Car travel is the most convenient or only method to reach areas outside the main cities, however (car rental is not too expensive, but the associated insurance is - unless you book the total package abroad). Heed the advice about the quality of some people's driving skills mentioned above.
In Lisbon you might want to try to hop on one of the trams, but be prepared for a noisy ride.Talk
The official language of Portugal is Portuguese
. Although it's somewhat related to Spanish, Italian, and other Romantic languages, it's not identical. Moreover, pronunciation of some Portuguese letters and words can be daunting. Spanish-speakers will be able to make themselves understood: if you choose to speak Spanish (or have no alternative), try to speak slowly and evenly. Your chances of being understood that way are quite high, but don't expect the locals to speak or understand Spanish.
English is spoken in many tourist areas, but is far from ubiquitous. However, the younger Portuguese will speak at least some English, or French.
The Portuguese people are of generally excellent humor when they are interested in talking with someone who can't speak their language. This means that all manner of shop owners, sales-folk, and people curious about you will take time to try to carve out any means of communication, often with funny and unexpected results. If the traveler attempts to speak Portuguese with locals, the action is taken with respect and oftentimes the local will apologize for how "difficult" it is to learn Portuguese, or how "hard" the language is. This good favor might encourage travelers to learn the very basics of Portuguese, such as daily greetings and the routine "please-thank you" exchanges.
See also: Portuguese phrasebookSee
If you want to spend your holidays in the countryside, you might want to visit Braga, Viana do Castelo, Castelo Branco, Guarda, or even Viseu. If you are more into visiting beautiful monuments and enjoy remarkable views, then Lisbon, Porto, GuimarÃ£es, Coimbra, Setubal, Braga, Sintra, BraganÃ§a and Ã‰vora are some of the cities with wonderful and magnificent monuments.
On the reverse, you have the Algarve's beaches and sport's clubs.
At night Setubal, Lisbon, Porto and Algarve are the best choices as you have major places of entertainment.
And even if you wish to observe wild life in its natural state, Madeira and Azores Islands are places to remember.Do
Surrounded by sea in almost it's entirety, the Portuguese beaches are well worth visiting. A lot of activities are offered, from surfing, to kite-surfing, and during the summer months the most frequented beaches offer sand based activities such as aerobics. If you're not the type of breaking into a sweat during holidays, almost every single public beach will have a bar where locals sit.
The climate, combined with investments in the golfing infrastructure in recent years, has turned the country into a golfing haven. Portugal was recently named "Best Golf Destination 2006" by readers of Golfers Today, a British publication. Fourteen of Portugal's courses are rated in the top 100 best in Europe. Portugal is also a great location to learn the game and perfect technique. Many resorts offer classes with the pros. Courses can satisfy the most demanding golfer, while newcomers won't be intimidated, unless they find the beautiful landscapes and stunning vistas distracting to their game.
The countryside also offers a great deal of possibilities, although you will have to incite the travel agent's advise a little more than usual, as they tend to just sell beach holidays. Cycling through the mountainous terrain of Gerez or white-water rafting in the affluents of river Douro is an exhilirating experience. Events
The annual Ecotopia 2007
gathering is being held in Aljezur from 4th till 18th of August south of Portugal. Aljezur is 250km south of Lisbon, the capital and 30 km from Lagos, the nearest city.Buy
Portugal is part of the Eurozone and uses the euro
as its currency (symbol: €
accepting international cards can be found everywhere, and currency conversion booths spring up wherever there is a steady flow of tourists (although the closer they are to tourist attractions, the worse the rates they offer).
In smaller (non-high-street) shops you can try some haggling, especially if you offer to buy multiple items. You might want to check your change, though: although not a widespread practice, some shopkeepers might "accidentely" overcharge tourists.
Tipping in restaurants is optional - if you are not too happy with the service, don't tip. 10% is a good value tip, although most people would just round up the total bill to the next ten's. Keep in mind that whilst tipping, the Portuguese themselves almost always simply leave the coin portion of their change, not considering actual percentages. Waiters are viewed (and paid as) professionals in Portugal. A 'tip' is considered a note of appreciation, not a means to make up for a tiny salary.Eat
This is potentially the most varied experience to have in the country.
Portuguese cuisine evolved from hearty peasant food drawn from the seafood of the country's abundant coast and the pork raised on the limited grazing land of its interior. From these humble origins, Mediterranean ingredients and spices brought back to the country during its exploration and colonisation of the East Indies and the Far East helped shape what is regarded as 'typical' Portuguese cuisine.Soup
is the essential first course of any Portuguese meal. The most popular is the Minho specialty, caldo verde
, made from kale, potatoes and spiced sausage.
You will see another Portuguese staple bacalhau
(dried codfish) everywhere. Locals will tell you that there are as many ways to cook this revered dish as there are days in the year.
The most common of Portugal's delicious fish
) dishes revolve around sole (linguado
) and sardines (sardinha
) although salmon (salmÃ£o
) and trout (truta
) are also featured heavily. These are fried, grilled or served in a variety of sauces.
You'll see grills, thick with the smoke of charring meat, in front of many restaurants during your stay. Other than traditional sardines and salmon, Portuguese grilled chicken
-- marinated in chilli, garlic and olive oil -- is world famous.Vegetarians
may have a tough time of it in Portugal, at least in traditional Portuguese restaurants. In most restaurants, vegetables (usually boiled or fried potatoes) are simply a garnish to the main meat dish. Even 'vegetarian' salads and dishes may just substitute tuna (which locals don't seem to regard as a 'meat') for ham or sausage. However, the Portuguese really like their choose-5-items salad bars, and restaurants serving Indian, Chinese, Mexican, or Italian fare can be found in most cities.
In many Portuguese restaurants, if you order a salad it will come sprinkled with salt - if you are watching your salt intake, or just don't like this idea, you can ask for it "sem sal" (without salt).
A few restaurants, particularly in non-tourist areas, do not have a menu, you have to go in and ask, and they will list a few items for you to choose from. It is wise to get the price written down when you do this so as to avoid any nasty surprises when the bill comes.
Most restaurants bring you a selection of snacks at the start of your meal - bread, butter, cheese, olives and other small bites - invariably there is a cover charge on these items. Do not be afraid to ask how much the cover charge is, and get them to take the items away if it is too much. It can be quite reasonable, but occasionally you will get ripped off.
If you have kitchen facilities, Portuguese grocery stores are surprisingly well-stocked with items such as lentils, veggie burgers, couscous, and inexpensive fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
In some grocery stores
the scales are in the produce section, not at the checkout. If you don't weigh your produce and go to the checkout, you will probably be told Tem que os pesar
or Tem que pesar
("You have to weigh them").Snacks
Portugal is famous for its wide variety of amazing pastries, or pasteis
. The national pastry, pasteis de nata
(called just natas
further north), is a flaky pastry with custard filling topped with sugar (acucar
) and cinnamon (canela
). Buy one (or half a dozen) at the Pasteis de Belem
a few minutes by tram from central Lisbon, where supposedly the best pasteis
in the country can be found. Also excellent are the bolo de arroz
(literally, "rice cake") and the orange-carrot cake.
But don't stop here. Head for Sintra, a short trip away from Lisbon, and try the famous queijadas de sintra
. From the more egg-oriented North to almond-ruled South, Portuguese pastry is excellent and often surprising.
On October/November, roasted chestnuts (castanhas
) are sold on the streets of cities from vendors sporting fingerless gloves tending their motorcycle driven stoves: a treat!Drink
When traveling in Portugal, the drink of choice is wine. Red wine is the favorite among the locals, but white wine is also popular. Also Portugal along with Spain have a variation of the white wine that is actually green (Vinho Verde). Its a very crisp wine served cold and goes best with many of the fish dishes. Drinking wine during a meal is very common in Portugal, and also after the meal is finished people will tend to drink and talk while letting their food digest. (Don't let yourself be bullied into drinking if you're driving, though!)
Folks might find it a bit difficult to refrain from drinking, even if there are very good reasons to do so (such as the above mentioned driving). The easiest way is to explain that one can't for health reasons. The Portuguese aren't as easily insulted as others when it comes to refusing the obvious hospitality of a drink, but a lie such as "I'm allergic" might make clear a situation where one would have to otherwise repeatedly explain a preference. Drinking is considered almost socially intimate.
Be careful of 1920 and Agua Ardente (fire water
), both pack a mighty punch.
Portugal is well known as the home of Port wines.Sleep
The youth hostel network has a great number of hostels around the country, all with very good conditions although not very cheap.
There's a wide and abundant hotel offering all through Portugal.
If budget is a concern, and you want a true 'typical-portuguese' experience, gather your courage and try one Residencial, the home-like hostels ubiquitous in cities and most towns. In most places you can get a double room for 25-35euro (Oct 2006). Be sure, however, of the quality of the rooms. On the luxury side, you might try the 'Pousadas de Portugal', a network of hotels remarkable for using very beautiful ancient buildings.
The "Casas de Campo", when traveling through the countryside, are also an affordable, pictoresque and comfortable B&Bs.Stay safe
Portugal is a safe country. This does not mean that you should throw caution to the wind and let down your guard, but generally speaking, you are safer in Portugal than in most other western countries. In particular, there is a refreshing lack of boozy stupidity at the weekends, despite the profusion of bars open to all hours in the major cities. Also, there are no internal conflicts to speak of, and no terrorism-related danger.
Like any big city, there are some areas of Lisbon and Porto that you might want to avoid, especially at night. Also like in any other tourist areas, you might want to have in mind that pickpockets do tend to target tourists more frequently - but some common sense should be enough to keep you safe.Stay healthy
Major cities are well served with medical and emergency facilities. The national emergency number is 112.
Members of the European Union receive free medical healthcare as long as they hold an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).Respect
The Portuguese are a very tolerant people. That said, you should not engage in hot discussions about football with the locals unless you know them well!
When visiting churches or other religious monuments, try to wear appropriate clothes. Yes, that means "avoid bikinis".
'''Also try to avoid confusing Portugal with Spain. Some travelers get confused to the point of thinking Portugal is a province of Spain, which is regarded as very offensive.
It is not unusual for women to sunbathe topless.
, officially the Portuguese Republic
(Portuguese: RepÃºblica Portuguesa; IPA: ÊÉ›'publikÉ puÉ¾tu'gezÉ), is located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, and 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 Iberian and Celtic 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 global empire, Portugal was one of the world's major economic, political, and cultural powers. Portugal is a developed country, member of the European Union (since 1986) and the United Nations (since 1955); as well as a founding member of the Eurozone, OECD, NATO and CPLP (Comunidade dos PaÃses de LÃngua Portuguesa â€” Community of Portuguese Language Countries).History
The early history of Portugal is shared with the rest of the Iberian peninsula. The region was visited by Phoenicians and Carthaginians, settled by Celts, incorporated in the Roman empire (as Lusitania in 138 BC), settled again by Suevi, Buri and Visigoths and conquered by Muslims. In 868, during the Reconquista, the First County of Portugal was formed. A victory over the Muslims at Ourique in 1139 is traditionally taken as the occasion when Portugal is transformed from a county into an independent kingdom.
Portugal traces its national origin to June 24 1128 with the Battle of SÃ£o Mamede. At the Battle of SÃ£o Mamede, Afonso Henriques, Count of Portugal, defeated his mother, Countess Teresa, and her lover, FernÃ£o Peres de Trava, in battle - 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 LeÃ³n and Castile, and in 1179 by Pope Alexander III.
Afonso Henriques 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, giving Portugal its present day borders, with minor exceptions.
In 1373, Portugal made an alliance with England, which is the longest-standing alliance in the world.
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 Ãlvares 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 the following decades, Portugal spearheaded the exploration of the world and undertook the Age of Discovery. Prince Henry the Navigator, son of King JoÃ£o I, became the main sponsor and patron of this endeavor.
In 1415, Portugal gained the first of its overseas colonies when a fleet conquered Ceuta, a prosperous Islamic trade center 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 Ãlvares Cabral, en route to India, discovered 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 a state in Malaysia. Thus, the Portuguese empire held dominion over commerce in the Indian Ocean and South Atlantic. It was also the Portuguese sailors that were the first Europeans to discover Australia.
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 dynasty of Braganza, which was to reign until 1910.
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.
In 1910, a revolution deposed the Portuguese monarchy, but chaos continued and considerable economic problems were aggravated by the military intervention in the First World War, which led to a military coup d'Ã©tat in 1926. This in turn led to the establishment of a right-wing dictatorship by AntÃ³nio 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 known as the Carnation Revolution led the way for a modern democracy as well as the independence of the last colonies in Africa shortly after. Portugal joined the European Union in 1986, and ever since it has engaged in a process of convergence with its EU counterparts.Government and politics
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 division or 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 current President is AnÃbal Cavaco Silva. 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 (currently JosÃ© SÃ³crates), who chooses the Council of Ministers, comprising all the ministers and the respective state secretaries. The national and regional governments, and the Portuguese parliament, are dominated by two political parties, the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party. Minority parties CDU (Portuguese Communist Party plus Ecologist Party "The Greens"), Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc) and CDS-PP (People's Party) are also represented in the parliament and local governments.
The courts are organized into categories, including judicial, administrative, and fiscal. The supreme courts are the courts of last appeal. A thirteen-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, and a treaty with the United Kingdom which is the world's oldest active alliance. It has good relations with the United States and China (due to Macau), as well as the other European Union countries.
The only international dispute concerns the municipality of OlivenÃ§a, 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 (Nasiriyah), and Lebanon.Administrative divisions
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. For continental Portugal the municipalities are gathered in 18 Districts, while the Islands have a Regional Government directly above them. Thus, the largest unit of classification is the one established since 1976 into either mainland Portugal (Portugal Continental
) or the autonomous regions of Portugal (Azores and Madeira).Geography and climate
The climate can be classified as Oceanic in the north and Mediterranean in the south. One of the warmest European countries, yearly temperature averages in mainland Portugal 13 Â°C (55 Â°F) in the north and 18 Â°C (64 Â°F) in the south. The Madeira and Azores Atlantic archipelagos have a narrower temperature range. Spring and summer are sunny, whereas autumn and winter are rainy and windy.
Extreme temperatures occur in North-Eastern parts of the country in winter (where it may reach -12 Â°C) and South-Eastern parts in summer (where temperatures can soar up to 44 Â°C). Sea coastal areas are milder, varying between -2 Â°C on some coldest winter mornings and 37 Â°C on some of the hottest summer afternoons.
Mainland Portugal is split by its main river, the Tagus. The northern landscape is mountainous in interior areas, with plateaus indented by river valleys. The south, between the Tagus 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 southern Spain. Snow happens sometimes (on some cold winter days) in the northern interior of the country. However it is a rare event in the south.
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 (7,713 ft).Economy
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, and therefore is integrated into the Eurozone.
Major industries include oil refineries, automotive, cement production, pulp and paper industry, textile, footwear, furniture, and cork (of which Portugal is the world's leading producer). Agriculture no longer represents the bulk of the economy, but Portuguese wines, namely Port Wine (named after the country's second largest city, Porto) and Madeira Wine (named after Madeira Island), are exported worldwide. Tourism is also important, especially in mainland Portugal's southernmost region of the Algarve and in the Atlantic Madeira archipelago.
The Global Competitiveness Report for 2005, published by the World Economic Forum, places Portugal on the 22nd position, ahead of countries like Spain, Ireland, France, Belgium and Hong Kong. This represents an increase of two places from the 2004 ranking. Portugal was ranked 20th on the Technology index and 15th on the Public Institutions index.
Research about standard of living by Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) Quality-of-life Survey
places Portugal as the country with the 20th-best quality of life in the world.
The major Portuguese stock exchange is the Euronext Lisbon which is part of the NYSE Euronext, the first global stock exchange.Energy, transportation and communications
In 2006 the world's largest solar power plant began operating in the nation's sunny south while the world's first commercial wave power farm opened in October 2006 in the Norte region. 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.
Portugal wants renewable energy sources like solar, wind and wave power to account for nearly half of the electricity consumed in the country by 2010. "This new goal will place Portugal in the frontline of renewable energy and make it, along with Austria and Sweden, one of the three nations that most invest in this sector", Prime Minister Jose Socrates said.
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 (42,708 mi) network of roads, of which 2,000 km (1,240 mi) are part of 44 motorways.
The two principal metropolitan areas have subway systems: Lisbon Metro and Metro Sul do Tejo (in final stages of completion) in Lisbon and Porto Metro in Porto, 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. The government is currently studying two locations (Ota and Alcochete) to replace the present Lisbon airport. Currently, the most important airports are in Lisbon, Faro, Porto, Funchal (Madeira), and Ponta Delgada (Azores).
Portugal has one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the world (the number of operative mobile phones already exceeds the population). 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).Demographics
The country is fairly homogeneous linguistically and religiously. Native Portuguese are ethnically a combination of pre-Roman Iberians and Celts with a fair amount of Roman and Germanic, along with some other minor contributions (Berbers, Arabs and Jews).
In the 2001 census, the population was 10,356,117, of which 51.7% was female. Portugal, long a country of emigration, has now become a country of net immigration, and not just from the former Indian and African colonies; by the end of 2003, legal immigrants represented about 5% of the population, and the largest communities were from Brazil, Ukraine, Romania, Cape Verde, Angola, Russia, Guinea-Bissau and Moldova with other immigrants from parts of Latin America, China and Eastern Europe. The great majority of Portuguese are Roman Catholic. The biggest metropolitan areas are Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Coimbra, SetÃºbal and Aveiro.Education
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. The oldest Portuguese university was first established in Lisbon before moving to Coimbra. Universities are usually organized into faculties. Institutes and schools are also common designations for autonomous subdivisions of Portuguese higher education institutions, and are always used in the polytechnical system. The Bologna process has been adopted since 2006 by Portuguese universities and polytechnical institutes.Law
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.Religion
Portuguese society is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Approximately 90% of the population consider themselves Roman Catholic, but only about one-third attend Mass and receive 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.
The sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, in FÃ¡tima, Portugal, has great religious significance for many Catholics around the world.Culture
Portugal has developed a specific culture while being influenced by various civilizations that have crossed the Mediterranean and the European continent, or were introduced when it played an active role 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 LuÃs de CamÃµes (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 (1888â€“1935). Modern literature is internationally known through the works of Almeida Garrett, Camilo Castelo Branco, EÃ§a de QueirÃ³s, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, AntÃ³nio Lobo Antunes, and 1998 Nobel Prize winner, JosÃ© 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 AmÃ¡lia Rodrigues, Carlos Paredes, Mariza, MÃsia, 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, the Portuguese listen to pop and other types of modern music. Bands with international recognition include Blasted Mechanism and The Gift, both of which were nominated for an MTV Music Award. Portugal has several summer music festivals, such as Festival do Sudoeste
in Zambujeira do Mar, Festival de Paredes de Coura
in Paredes de Coura, Festival Vilar de Mouros
near Caminha, and Rock in Rio Lisboa
and Super Bock Super Rock
in Lisbon. Out of the summer season, Portugal has a large number of festivals, designed more to an urban audience, like Flowfest or Hip Hop Porto. Furthermore, one of the largest international Goa trance festivals takes place in northern Portugal every two years.
It has also a rich history in what painting is concerned. The first well-known painters date back to the XV century â€“ like Nuno GonÃ§alves - were part of the Gothic painting period.
JosÃ© Malhoa, known for his work Fado
, and Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro (who painted the portraits of TeÃ³filo Braga and Antero de Quental) were both references in naturalist painting.
The 20th century saw the arrival of Modernism, and along with it came the most prominent Portuguese painters: Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, who was heavily influenced by French painters, particularly by the Delaunays. Among his best known works is CanÃ§Ã£o Popular a Russa e o FÃgaro
. Another great modernist painter/writer was Almada Negreiros, friend to the poet Fernando Pessoa, who painted his (Pessoaâ€™s) portrait. He was deeply influenced by both Cubist and Futurist trends. Prominent international figures in visual arts nowadays include painters Vieira da Silva, JÃºlio Pomar, and Paula Rego.
Traditional architecture is distinctive. Modern Portugal has given the world renowned architects Eduardo Souto de Moura and Ãlvaro Siza Vieira. Internally, TomÃ¡s Taveira is also noteworthy.
Since the 1990s, Portugal has increased the number of public cultural facilities, in addition to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation established in 1956. These include the BelÃ©m Cultural Center in Lisbon, Serralves Foundation and the Casa da MÃºsica, both in Porto.Cuisine
Portuguese cuisine is diverse. The Portuguese love dry cod (bacalhau
in Portuguese), for which there are hundreds of recipes. Two other popular fish recipes are grilled sardines and caldeirada. Typical Portuguese meat recipes, that may take beef, pork, lamb, or chicken, include feijoada, cozido Ã portuguesa, frango de churrasco, and carne de porco Ã alentejana. Typical fast food dishes include the francesinha from Porto, and bifanas
(grilled pork), prego
(grilled beef) or leitÃ£o
(piglet) sandwiches which are well known around the country. The Portuguese art of pastry has its origins in ancient recipes of which pastÃ©is de BelÃ©m from Lisbon (also known as pastÃ©is de nata) and ovos-moles from Aveiro are good examples.
Portuguese wines have deserved international recognition since the times of the Roman Empire, which associated Portugal with their God Bacchus. Today the country is known by wine lovers and its wines have won several international prizes. Some of the best Portuguese wines are: Vinho Verde, Vinho Alvarinho, Vinho do Douro, Vinho do Alentejo, Vinho do DÃ£o, Vinho da Bairrada and the sweet: Port Wine, Madeira Wine and the Moscatel from SetÃºbal and Favaios. Port Wine is well known around the world and the most widely exported Portuguese wine.Sports and games
Football is the most known, loved and practiced sport. The legendary EusÃ©bio is still a major symbol of Portuguese football history. LuÃs Figo was one of the world's top players of his generation, along with other contemporary players like Rui Costa, Paulo Sousa, and Fernando Couto. Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Quaresma, and SimÃ£o Sabrosa, are among the Portuguese-born widely known players currently active in professional football and the national football team. JosÃ© Mourinho, the highest paid football manager in Europe, is regarded (by some) as being one of the brightest managers in world football.
The Portuguese national team, SelecÃ§Ã£o 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.
S.L. Benfica, F.C. Porto and Sporting C.P. are the largest sports clubs, often known as "os trÃªs grandes
" ("the big three"). In football, F.C. Porto has two titles in the UEFA Champions League and a UEFA Cup. S.L. Benfica has also two titles in the UEFA Champions League. S.L. Benfica is the biggest club by number of supporters and has more than 160,000 registered paying affiliates, being recognised by the Guinness World Records as the club with the most affiliates in the world. Sporting Clube de Portugal has won a European Cup Winners' Cup. Other than football, many Portuguese sports clubs, including the "the big three", compete in several other sports events with a varying level of success and popularity.
Portugal has a successful rink hockey team, with 15 world titles and 20 european titles, making it the country with the most wins in both competitions. The most important Portuguese hockey clubs in the European championships are F.C. Porto, S.L. Benfica, and Ã“quei de Barcelos.
The national rugby team made a dramatic qualification into France 2007 and become the first all amateur team to qualify for the World Cup, taking the last place. They debut in Pool C with favourites the All Blacks, Italy, Romania and Scotland. The Portuguese national team of Rugby Sevens is also strong, becoming one of the strongest teams, proving their status as European champions in several occasions.
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). In 2007 she won the Duathlon's World Championship.Political and economic rankingsPolitical freedom ratings - Free; political rights and civil liberties both rated 1 (the highest score available)* Press freedom - 10th freest, at 3.00GDP per capita - 34th highest, at I$22,677Human Development Index - 28th highest, at 0.904Income Equality - 59th most equal, at 38.5 (Gini Index)Unemployment rate - 48th lowest, at 7.60%Corruption - 25th least corrupt, at 6.6 on indexEconomic Freedom - 30th freest, at 2.29 on indexHealth rankingsFertility rate- 158th most fertile, at 1.48 per woman* Birth rate - 159th most births, at 10.72 per 1000 peopleDeath rate - 58th highest death rate, at 10.56 per 1000 peopleLife Expectancy - 33rd highest, at 77.87 years* Suicide Rate - 40th highest suicide rate, at 18.9 for males and 4.9 for femalesHIV/AIDS rate - 73rd most cases, at 0.40%Other rankingsCO2 emissions - 66th highest emissions, at 5.6 tonnes per capitaElectricity Consumption - 44th highest consumption of electricity, at 44,010,000,000 kWhBroadband uptake - 21st highest uptake in OECD, at 11.5%Beer consumption - 20th highest, at 59.6 litres per capitaGlobal Peace Index - 9th highest, out of 121 countriesFacts 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: 123,45Thousands are officially separated by a space â€” 10 000 â€” although the point is still used â€” 10.000.The currency is the euro, abbreviation â‚¬, divided into 100 cÃªntimos (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 â‚¬ - â‚¬ 10,95 - â‚¬ 10.95 - 10.95 â‚¬Postal code: 4+3 digits, separated by a hyphen (main article: Postal code#Portugal). Notes
References Sources Ribeiro, Ã‚ngelo & Saraiva, JosÃ© Hermano HistÃ³ria de Portugal I - A FormaÃ§Ã£o do TerritÃ³rio QuidNovi, 2004 (ISBN 989-554-106-6)Ribeiro, Ã‚ngelo & Saraiva, JosÃ© Hermano HistÃ³ria de Portugal II - A AfirmaÃ§Ã£o do PaÃs QuidNovi, 2004 (ISBN 989-554-107-4)de Macedo, Newton & Saraiva, JosÃ© Hermano HistÃ³ria de Portugal III - A Epopeia dos Descobrimentos QuidNovi, 2004 (ISBN 989-554-108-2)de Macedo, Newton & Saraiva, JosÃ© Hermano HistÃ³ria de Portugal IV - GlÃ³ria e DeclÃnio do ImpÃ©rio QuidNovi, 2004 (ISBN 989-554-109-0)Ribeiro, Ã‚ngelo & Saraiva, JosÃ© Hermano HistÃ³ria de Portugal V - A RestauraÃ§Ã£o da IndepÃªndencia QuidNovi, 2004 (ISBN 989-554-110-4)Saraiva, JosÃ© Hermano HistÃ³ria de Portugal X - A Terceira RepÃºblica QuidNovi, 2004 (ISBN 989-554-115-5)LouÃ§Ã£o, Paulo Alexandre: Portugal, Terra de MistÃ©rios Ã‰squilo, 2000 (third edition; ISBN 972-8605-04-8)MuÃ±oz, Mauricio Pasto: Viriato, A Luta pela Liberdade Ã‰squilo, 2003 (third edition; ISBN 972-8605-23-4)Grande EnciclopÃ©dia Universal Durclub, 2004ConstituiÃ§Ã£o da RepÃºblica Portuguesa, VI RevisÃ£o Constitucional, 2004Programa do Movimento das ForÃ§as Armadas, 1974 External links
Official Portuguese Government website Official Parliament websiteOfficial Travel and Tourism office websiteWikitravel guide to PortugalPhotos & Poetry of Portugal