Portugal is a country of Southwest Europe. Located in the western part of the Iberian Peninsula, it covers an area of 92 391 km2. It is bordered on the north and east by Spain and on the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean. The Portuguese territory is composed of three territorial units: mainland Portugal, the Autonomous Region of the Azores and the Autonomous Region of Madeira, the latter two having their own organs of power, although subordinate to the supreme organs of the Nation.
Mainland Portugal is administratively divided into 18 districts: Viana do Castelo, Vila Real, Bragança, Braga, Porto, Aveiro, Viseu, Guarda, Coimbra, Castelo Branco, Leiria, Santarém, Portalegre, Lisbon, Setúbal, Évora, Beja and Faro; which in turn are subdivided into municipalities, a total of 311, and these still in parishes.
The Autonomous Region of the Azores consists of nine islands that are divided into three groups: the Western, the Central and the Eastern. The western group includes the islands of Flores and Corvo, the central group includes the islands Graciosa, S. Jorge, Terceira, Faial and Pico and the eastern group includes the islands of S. Miguel, Santa Maria and islet of Formigas. In turn, the Autonomous Region of Madeira is formed by the islands of Madeira Porto Santo, Desertas and Selvagens.
For administrative purposes, after joining the EEC, new administrative units called NUT were created, nomenclature of territorial units for statistical purposes according to European Union standards, with various hierarchical levels NUT I, NUT II, NUT III. The capital of the Portuguese Republic is Lisbon, standing out, however, other cities of significant dimension such as Porto, Coimbra, Setúbal, Aveiro, Braga and Faro.
The relief of Portugal presents a great diversity of forms. To the north of the Tagus River, it is very rugged, with the exception of the coastal plains, and with an average altitude of more than 400 meters, cut by embedded valleys and rivers with significant flows. In turn, south of the Tagus, the relief is gently undulating, with low altitudes, where the plains predominate. The mountains with the highest altitude are located north of the Tagus, especially the Estrela (1991 m), Gerês (1508 m), Marão (1416 m), Montemuro (1381 m) and Caramulo (1075 m) mountains. South of the Tagus, the Serra de S. Mamede (1025 m), Monchique (902 m) and Caldeirão (577 m) stand out. The Portuguese relief is completed with a fringe of coastal plains, highlighting three large groups: the Beira Litoral plain formed by the alluvial plains of Vouga and Mondego, the plains of the Algarve and the Tagus and Sado alluvial plains. The archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira are of volcanic origin and have a rugged relief. In the Azores the sea coasts are steep and rocky, while the interior region is extremely mountainous, reaching here the maximum altitude of Portugal in Pico, with 2351 meters. Madeira is characterized by having a high mountain range in the central part of the island.
The most important rivers are, from the north to the south of mainland Portugal, the Minho, the Douro, the Tagus and the Guadiana, which are born in Spanish territory and flow into the Atlantic. Among the rivers whose course is exclusively Portuguese, the Cávado, Vouga, Mondego, Sado and Mira rivers stand out.
Mainland Portugal has a temperate Mediterranean climate. As the country progresses towards the north, the climate is more humid, the temperatures are lower in the winter and milder in the summer, thus making maritime influence more evident. The differences between the coast and the interior translate into a progressive increase in dryness with greater distance from the sea and, at the same time, a greater contrast between summer and winter temperatures. The influence of the relief on climatic variations corresponds to an increase in precipitation, even in the interior, due to the barrier effect that accentuates the thermal and precipitation differences and also to the moderation of temperatures in summer and to its greater rigor in winter. In the island areas, the island of Madeira presents an oceanic climate on the north side (a lot of rainfall, without dry season) and on the southern side a subtropical climate (warmer and less rainy). The same happens with the island of Porto Santo. The Azores show in the islands all of the archipelago characteristics of the temperate maritime climate (mild temperatures and high and relatively distributed rainfall throughout the year). In these island areas, relief plays a fundamental role, as they are the areas with the highest rainfall.
Economically, the country has a high level of outsourcing, due to the development of services and trade. The tertiary sector employs more than half of the active population and its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product is approximately 2/3.
Industry, the second most important sector in both employment and production, is concentrated in a few districts (Braga, Porto, Aveiro, Lisbon and Setúbal) and its economic guidelines have been mainly the export of products with some tradition in the country (textiles and clothing, footwear, cellulose, cork) or as a result of foreign investment (automobile industry). The supply of the internal market has been losing competitiveness in the face of increasing competition from other community partners, especially from Spain.
Of the three sectors of activity, the primary sector is the one experiencing the greatest difficulties, the direct causes of which are insufficient modernization, imbalances in the size of property, the lack of technical preparation of the workforce and the absence of entrepreneurial spirit on the part of the majority. farmers. With the opening of agricultural and livestock markets, the low levels of productivity and income of national agriculture are an obstacle to the development of the sector. Among the productions that have managed to reverse this trend, the wine sector deserves mention, with a clear focus on quality at the expense of quantity, fruit, horticulture and livestock. Fishing is an activity that also faces difficulties due to its dependence on third countries to be able to fully exercise its activity.
The Azores archipelago, like continental Portugal, has the largest contribution to the formation of the Gross Domestic Product in the tertiary sector. In the primary sector, livestock and fishing stand out. The industrial sector is based on the food industries (dairy products, preserves) that transform raw materials obtained in the region.
The Madeira archipelago’s economy is centered on tourism, which directly and indirectly provides the largest regional revenues. Traditional agricultural (bananas, sugar cane, wine) and handcrafted (embroidery, wicker) productions largely benefit from the large influx of tourists to the region.
The Portuguese population is distributed in the continental territory unevenly: the coastal region has the majority of the population, concentrated mainly in the two metropolitan areas of the country, Lisbon and Porto. The Portuguese population has been increasing, but with a natural growth (birth rate less mortality) increasingly smaller, leading to an aging country and no renewal of generations. On the other hand, average life expectancy has been increasing, both for men and women. The greatest population growth has been observed in coastal districts, mainly Setúbal, Porto, Aveiro and Braga, but continues to decrease in the interior districts. The Portuguese age structure is characterized by a narrow base of the pyramid, due to a reduction in birth rates and an increasingly broad top of the age pyramid, generated by the increase in the number of elderly people. In recent times, immigration has been increasing as a result of the entry of Africans from the PALOP and Eastern Europeans, settling mainly in large Portuguese cities. Permanent emigration has remained at low levels since the April 25 revolution and the entry into the European Union. Internally, migration is dominated by the attraction exerted by the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto in relation to the rest of the country.
Art and Culture
It can be said that Portugal is a small architectural and artistic museum. It has several temporal testimonies that marked the past and make the present. Examples of Romanesque architecture (XI-XIII) are Domus Municipalis de Bragança and the see of Braga, Porto and Coimbra. The Gothic is very evident in buildings such as the Monastery (Abbey) of Alcobaça, the Monastery of Batalha and the Cathedral of Évora. In Portugal there was an architectural variant of its own, Manueline, derived from Gothic already in its final stage, where marine and maritime motifs are present, the result of Portuguese maritime discoveries. Among the most striking examples of this time, the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon and the Convento de Cristo window in Tomar deserve mention. Casa dos Bicos in Lisbon is a good example of Renaissance architecture, but it is in painting that Renascimento is best identified with names like Grão Vasco and Nuno Gonçalves, the famous painter of the panels of S. Vicente de Fora.
The Baroque was also a very important time in the world of the arts: the bell tower of the Church of Clérigos, by Nicolau Nasoni, and the Church of Sta. Clara, both in Porto, are two important testimonies of this artistic current, as well as the Convent of Mafra is the great representative of the Portuguese Baroque style, the so-called Joanine Baroque. Of neoclassical style, the Palácio da Bolsa, in Porto, and the Chapel of S. João Batista of the Church of S. Roque, in Lisbon, stand out. Romanticism was a time marked essentially by painting, with names like Tomás da Anunciação and Francisco Augusto Metrass. Modernism took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including works such as the D. Maria Bridge, in Porto, designed by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel, author of the famous Eiffel Tower, in Paris, France.
In the 20th century, names like: António Areal, whose painting and sculpture work are inserted in Surrealism, Abstractionism, Neofigurativism and Pop Art; Nadir Afonso, framed in Abstractionism; Paula Rego, whose works also passed through several artistic currents, from Surrealism to Pop Art; Maluda, famous for its peculiar landscape painting; Cargaleiro, painter and ceramist; Siza Vieira, architect of international fame, author of the Casa da Chá da Boa Nova project, in Leça da Palmeira, and of the Portugal pavilion at Expo’98; and lastly, although many more could be mentioned, Eduardo Souto Moura, an architect who achieved international fame with the presentation and approval in competition of a project for a hotel in the historic area of Salzburg, Austria.
In the field of Literature, one of the country’s greatest cultural riches, Portugal has come a long way in the hourglass of time. The first literary manifestations date back to the 11th-13th centuries and are gathered in songbooks, examples of which are the songs (texts in verse) composed by King D. Dinis. Later, in the midst of rebirth, the great Portuguese poet, Luís de Camões, was born, author of the epic poem Os Lusíadas and of a vast lyric work, whose theme of love is sublimated there, as an example is the poem “Love is fire that burns without seeing each other “. Subsequently, the Baroque is represented by names such as Rodrigues Lobo (Corte na Aldeia), D. Francisco Manuel de Melo (Married Guide Letter), and Padre António Vieira, famous for his sermons, such as the Sermon of Santo António aos Pisces. In the 18th century, one of the best Portuguese neoclassical poets is born, Bocage. Then, in romanticism (XIX), there are the great names of Portuguese prose such as: Almeida Garrett, who wrote the emblematic play Frei Luís de Sousa and the narrative work Viagens na Minha Terra; and Alexandre Herculano, in whose poetic and narrative work (for example, Eurico, the Elder) the historical aspect is evident. In the second half of the 19th century, the name of Eça de Queirós, a great national preacher, author of Os Maias, is linked to realism / naturalism. In the meantime, Symbolism emerged, introduced in Portugal by Eugénio de Castro, of which the names of António Nobre and Camilo Pessanha also stand out. Alongside Symbolism, Teixeira de Pascoaes has a nationalist artistic movement, Saudosismo, which aims to exalt the “national soul”. At the dawn of the twentieth century, names linked to the movements of Modernism, Surrealism and Futurism appear, including Fernando Pessoa, considered a genius of Portuguese poetry, Mário de Sá-Carneiro and Almada-Negreiros. In 1940, during the turbulent period of the Second World War and in the midst of a dictatorial period, a current arose concerned with the representation of social and human problems, which was called Neorealism, which includes names like Alves Redol and Fernando Namora. Portugal is full of good contemporary writers, including Vergílio Ferreira, Agustina Bessa-Luís, Sophia de Mello Breyner, António Lobo Antunes and José Saramago (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1998). which include names like Alves Redol and Fernando Namora. Portugal is full of good contemporary writers, including Vergílio Ferreira, Agustina Bessa-Luís, Sophia de Mello Breyner, António Lobo Antunes and José Saramago (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1998).
In music, among the musical interests that are cultivated in the country, fado stands out, considered the national song. Fado singer Amália Rodrigues, already deceased, and guitarist Carlos Paredes are the exponents of this musical genre.
It can perhaps be said that the History of Portugal begins in the year 1095, the date when Count D. Henrique, coming from Burgundy to help fight the Muslims who then occupied a large part of the Peninsula, received, in reward for his deeds of arms, the Portucalense County of Afonso VI of Castile and Leon. The son of the Burgundian, D. Afonso Henriques, proclaimed king in 1143, launched himself to the conquest of new territories, either in the fight against the neighboring Christian kingdoms, or against the potentates Moors. This struggle, led successively by the monarchs D. Sancho I, D. Afonso II, D. Sancho II and D. Afonso III, lasted until 1249, the year in which the conquest of the Algarve took place. Once the continental territory is complete, Portugal enters a time of internal organization, in the reigns of D. Dinis, D. Afonso IV, D. Pedro I and D. Fernando. For Portugal democracy and rights, please check intershippingrates.
In the 15th century, the overseas expansion of the Portuguese began, who would undertake more or less methodical trips for recognition and trade in Africa, Asia and America. Thus, they discovered the archipelagos of the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde; explored the Atlantic coast of Africa and interned on the continent until they reached the mouth of the Congo; they doubled the Cape of Storms in 1485 (what they then called Cape of Good Hope), reached India by sea in 1498, discovered Brazil in 1500, were the first Europeans to contact various peoples in the Far East, and it was a Portuguese (Fernão de Magalhães, in 1519-21) making the first circumnavigation trip on the globe.
Meanwhile, several monarchs succeeded each other on the throne of Portugal (D. João I, D. Duarte, D. Afonso V, D. João II, D. Manuel I, D. João III). In the time of D. Manuel I, Portugal reached the maximum of power, with which only Spain rivaled: a vast empire in the East, Portuguese sails sailing at will in all seas, the domain of warehouses and routes that made Lisbon a large commercial emporium. With D. João III, however, a period of decay begins that will culminate in the loss of independence in favor of Spain, in 1580, after the military defeat of D. Sebastião’s troops in the North African plaza of Alcácer Quibir. Thus, Portugal is subject to Spanish rule for sixty years (corresponding to the reigns of Philip I, Philip II and Philip III), until, in 1640, national sovereignty was restored with the acclaim of D.
Long period has passed. Several monarchs succeed one another on the throne: D. Afonso VI, D. Pedro II, D. João V, D. José I, D. Maria I, D. João VI. In this last reign, in 1822, Brazil proclaimed its independence, acclaiming its emperor the crown prince of Portugal, D. Pedro. Portugal is going through vicissitudes, because the civil war (the so-called Liberal Wars) devastates the country. King Miguel was acclaimed, then D. Pedro IV and later D. Maria II, achieving stability only in the middle of the 19th century. They succeeded him D. Pedro V, D. Luís, D. Carlos and D. Manuel II.
In 1910 the Republic was proclaimed, which will live a period agitated by economic difficulties, chronic political instability and the painful participation in the First World War of a Portuguese contingent. In 1926, however, a military coup imposed a dictatorship on the country that, consolidated by António de Oliveira Salazar, would last for 48 years. Following the revolution of April 25, 1974, a democratic regime was implanted that reestablishes the fundamental rights of citizens and immediately ended the colonial war, which had dragged on since 1961, when granting independence to the then colonies of Angola, Mozambique , Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and São Tomé and Príncipe – countries that, as indeed happened with Brazil, adopted Portuguese as an official language. With the consolidation of the democratic regime, Portugal has been trying to follow the path of progress, to recover from the backwardness that, since at least the decline of the overseas empire in the 19th century and aggravated by decades of unclear dictatorship, keeps the country away from the group of more developed countries. In this perspective, the accession, in 1986, to the European Economic Community, today European Union, represented a new stage in the positioning of Portugal in the World.
The Portuguese administrative territory of Macau passed to the Chinese administration on December 20, 1999. In the same year, East Timor, a territory recognized by the international community as being under Portuguese administration, freed itself from the Indonesian occupation it suffered for two decades, making become an independent country.
Portugal is a constitutional Republic with a parliamentary and multiparty regime, whose main sovereign bodies are the President of the Republic, the Assembly of the Republic and the Government, which among themselves and in conjunction with other bodies (the Constitutional Court, the Court of Auditors, the Supreme Administrative Court) ensure the performance of the legislative, executive and judicial powers.
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