The 1950 census recorded 7,856,993 residents in the continental territory, and 8,441,312 with those of the four districts of Madeira and the Azores (only present population; the resident population was slightly higher), for a total density of about 90 residents / km 2; compared to the 1940 census, the increase was almost 10%. More recently (December 31, 1959) the total population reached 9,052,000 residents. The increase that has taken place in recent years has not substantially altered the distribution of the population; in fact, the highest percentages of increase occurred in the coastal strip of Extremadura (district of Lisbon), in the region of the lower Douro (district of Porto, where the highest density of the whole country is reached) and on the northernmost coast, up to Minho; that is – mainly – around the two major cities (Lisbon and Porto have respectively reached 800,000 and 300,000 residents). The rest of the country, with the exception of the narrow coastal strip of the Algarve, is home to a much sparser population:
Economic conditions. – The economic life of the Portugal appears to be in considerable progress. The surface occupied by crops (agricultural or forestry) today corresponds to 65% of the territory; more than 750,000 ha of it are covered by wheat crops (but unit incomes still remain quite low, so that production – although it has risen to almost 6 million q – is not sufficient for national needs) and even 1/10 from vineyards (whose annual production always oscillates between 7 and 10 million hl of wine), while the olive groves cover a slightly smaller surface and in some of the last years they have given more than one million hl of product; then the fruit-bearing crops are in continuous development. On the other hand, cattle breeding is decreasing (about 830,000 head), while sheep now exceed 4 million and goats (which remain numerous especially north of the Tagus) are about 1,200,000. The income of the cork trees is still impressive (production in 1958, 125,066 t of cork), while extensive reforestation is underway (especially with maritime pines).
Fishing activities continue to generate significant income (455,200 tons of product in 1958), providing the means of subsistence to about 100,000 people; the most important product remains the sardines, processed in the traditional centers of Matozinhos, Setúbal and Portimão.
Industrial development also had a considerable boost, although limited only to the periphery of the major urban centers. In fact, in recent years the production of electricity has increased considerably, thanks to the use of water resources, with the impressive works carried out on the Lima, the Cavado, the Douro, the Mondego, the Zezere and the Tagus. In 1959 the production was over 2988 million kWh, of which more than 90% of water origin (in ten years that is, both the total production and the percentage of hydroelectric energy have doubled), but with the works under construction it will soon reach 3.5 billion kWh. This compensates for the shortage of coal, whose production – despite reaching over 600,000 tons per year – is still largely insufficient for the country’s needs. Moreover, imports of oil have also increased significantly, but mainly of crude oil, thanks to the refinery plants in Lisbon and elsewhere. Singular perspectives then seem to open up to the country for the use of uranium, which seems to be able to be extracted from the Portuguese subsoil. Mining activities always provide an important production of pyrites (more than 598,000 t in 1958) and volframio (over 3,000 t in the same year). Overall, mineral products are just under 1,500,000 tons per year, of which 38% are coal. For Portugal 2019, please check philosophynearby.com.
The industrial equipment in the metallurgical and mechanical sector is still modest, although in 1958 a cast iron furnace was put into operation in Leixões, while a steel mill and rolling mills are under construction on the outskirts of Lisbon. The textile industry has undergone a modest development, retaining the main concentration of offices in lower Minho and continuing to devote itself mainly to the processing of cotton imported from colonial territories (production of 55,000 tons of yarns and 44,000 tons of fabrics); that of wool retains its main centers in the Covilhã region. The cement and brick industry is growing considerably, as is the chemical industry (with offices in Barreiro for phosphates and acids and in Alferrarede for ammonia).
Communications. – In recent years, efforts have continued to improve communications (especially with the construction of roads) and to strengthen the merchant navy, in consideration of the importance of the maritime route for the country’s international trade.
Commercial movement. – Portugal remains an importer from abroad of coal (especially from England), oil (USA), wool and cotton, iron and steel. It exports agricultural and fish products, copper, volframio and salt.
Finances. – Portugal’s national income rose from escudos 41 billion in 1952 to escudos 55 billion in 1959; the gross national product, which in 1950 had been valued at 45 billion escudos, rose to 62 billion in 1959. The main items that contributed to the formation of the national product in 1959 include private consumption (49 billion) and private investments (8 billion). Throughout the period under review, the exchange rate hovered around 28.75 escudos for one US dollar, with fluctuations between the limits of 28.48 and 29.02 escudos.. The balance of payments (goods and services balance) is active only for 1951, 1953 and 1954 (while in the other years it shows a deficit whose amount ranges from 25 million dollars in 1952 and 1955, to 84 million in 1957) in 1959 there was a deficit of 47 million dollars, resulting from a negative balance of approximately 57 million for the metropolitan area and a positive balance of approximately 10 million for the overseas territories.