Portugal is a country in southern Europe. The mainland is located at the extreme southwest of the Iberian Peninsula and has an area of 91.985 square kilometers. It is bounded to north and east by Spain and to west and south by the Atlantic Ocean.
Portuguese territory also includes the archipelagoes of the Azores and Madeira. The Madeira archipelago lies in the Atlantic Ocean about 556 miles southwest of Lisbon and is constituted by the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo, Desertas and Selvagens.
The Azores archipelago lies in the Atlantic Ocean 760 miles from Lisbon and 2110 from New York. It is constituted by nine islands and a few islets: Santa Maria, São Miguel, Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico, Faial, Flores and Corvo.
The foundation of Portugal dates back to the year 1143. The stability of its continental borders, which have remained virtually unchanged since the thirteenth century, makes Portugal one of the oldest nations in the world, reflecting its distinctive identity and internal unity.
In the third quarter of the eighteenth century Portugal began its modernization. In the light of economic interventionism and cultural enlightenment the State structures were reorganized and its trade and industry restructured.
In the transition to the nineteenth century the winds of change blowing from America and France reached Portugal putting an end to the traditional monarchy in 1820 and leading to the independence of Brazil and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in Portugal.
The beginning of the twentieth century was marked by an unstable political environment which led to the establishment of the Republic in 1910. Portugal took part in the I World War alongside the Allies but by the mid-twenties the country's economic and financial situation was very serious, situation that eventually brought about the so called "New State" marked by corporatism and authoritarianism, with democratic liberties being suppressed.
In April 1974, following a military coup, Portugal again saw the establishment of a democratic regime, firmly committed to the country's development which entailed its accession to the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1986.
Comissão Nacional para as Comemorações dos Descobrimentos Portugueses
e-journal of Portuguese History
The National Flag was adopted by the Republic established by the revolution of 5th October 1910. According to a bill of law of 19th June 1911, colors have been fixed as green (2/5) and red (3/5) with the national coat of arms on the separation line.
Explanation of the Portuguese flag:
- The five blue shields represents the five moor kings defeated by the first King of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, at the Battle of Ourique.
- The dots inside the blue shields represent the five wounds of Christ when crucified. Counting the dots and doubling those five in the center, there are thirty dots that represents the coins Judas received for having betrayed Christ.
- The seven castles represents the fortified cities D. Afonso Henriques conquered from the moors.
- The globe represents the world discovered by the Portuguese navigators in the fifteen and sixteenth centuries.
- The green strip is meant to symbolize the hope in the future and the red the blood of the nation’s heroes.
Previous flags of Portugal
D. Afonso Henriques (1143-1185)
D. Sancho I (1185-1211)
D. Afonso II (1211-1223)
D. Sancho II (1223-1248)
D. Afonso III (1248-1279)
D. Diniz (1279-1325)
D. Afonso IV (1325-1357)
D. Pedro I (1357-1367)
D. Fernando (1367-1383)
D. João I (1385-1433)
D. Duarte (1433-1438)
D. Afonso V (1438-1481)
D. João II (1481-1495)
D. Manuel I (1495-1521)
D. João III (1521-1557)
D. Sebastião (1557-1578)
D. Henrique (1578-1580)
D. Filipe I (1580-1598)
D. Filipe II (1598-1621)
D. Filipe III (1621-1640)
D. João IV (1640-1656)
D. Afonso VI (1656-1683)
D. Pedro II (1683-1706)
D. João V (1706-1750)
D. José (1750-1777)
D. Maria I (1777-1816)
D. João VI (1816-1826)
D. Pedro IV (1826-1828)
D. Miguel (1828-1834)
D. Maria II (1834-1853)
D. Pedro V (1853-1861)
D. Luis (1861-1889)
D. Carlos (1889-1908)
D. Manuel II (1908-1910)
The Portuguese National Anthem is called "A Portuguesa", was composed in 1891 and adopted by the Republic in 1911. Music by Alfredo Keil and lyrics by Henrique Lopes de Mendonça. (Click on the picture to listen to the National Anthem)
01 January New Year's Day Mobile date February Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras Mobile date Good Friday 25 April Liberation Day (Carnations Revolution) 01 May Labour Day 10 June Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities Abroad' Day 19 June Corpus Christi 15 August Assumption 05 October Proclamation of the Republic 01 November All Saints' Day 01 December Restoration of Independence 08 December Immaculate Conception 25 December Christmas
According to the 2001 Census, Portugal has an inhabitant population of 10.355.824 persons, of which 4.999.964 are male and 5.355.860 are female. The population density is of 107.6 inhabitants per square kilometre.
Portugal has one of the youngest populations in the European Union: about 25% is under 15.
National Statistical Institute / Instituto Nacional de Estatística
Generally speaking, Portugal has a temperate climate with average daily temperatures ranging between 8 and 18 degrees centigrade in winter, and 16 and 30 degrees centigrade in summer. However, at certain times of the year there are sharp differences between north and south and the coastal and inland temperatures.
The north has a higher rainfall and lower annual average temperatures but the greater temperature ranges are to be found inland. The Mediterranean influence is clearly felt south of the Tagus with long, hot summers and short, fairly dry winters. Madeira has a Mediterranean-type climate with mild, pleasant temperatures all year round, whilst the Azores have a temperate maritime climate with heavy rainfall.
Portuguese Institute of Meteorology / Instituto de Meteorologia
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Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and has approximately two million inhabitants counting those in the city's outskirts. The history of Lisbon goes back more than twenty centuries. As well as being a modern and cosmopolitan city, Lisbon also shows the typical life of the old quarters, with distinctive medieval architecture, narrow streets where the old houses stand side by side with old palaces and imposing churches.
Lisbon has been the scene for some international cultural festivals and in 1998 hosted the last World Exposition of the century - EXPO'98 - of which the subject was "The Oceans: a heritage for the future".
At the mouth of the river Douro is the country's second largest city, Porto, with an historic center, recently classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Much of the city's reputation comes from the wine that bears the same name (Port wine). Porto has strong typical characteristics and is known for the dynamic nature of its business and cultural life. Updated news from the city of Porto
Coimbra is one of Europe's oldest university towns. It has kept its secular academic traditions, as seen in the black-caped students, in the soulful tones of the fado and in the "Burning of the Ribbons" ceremony ("Queima das Fitas"). Overlooking the city is the University, with its famous tower and a sumptuous baroque library which holds a precious collection of ancient books and manuscripts.
Braga was founded by the Celts in 300 BC and became an important administrative center in Roman times. Today a major religious center and site of the oldest cathedral in Portugal. It is also the carrier of the important clothing and textile industry which are among Portugal's principal exports.
Faro is the capital of the southernmost Algarve region, an area famed for its fine beach resorts. The city has a medieval wall, a number of monuments and museums and is the gateway to many small towns and villages characterized by houses with whitewashed walls and colorful chimneys, sturdy granite palaces and Roman ruins.
Portuguese is the official language. Derived from Latin, the Portuguese language spread along the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula with the Roman invasion of 218 BC. Since then the Portuguese language has been variously influenced and altered, adopting new words used by the Germanic invaders and later, in 711, numerous Arab words after the Moorish invasion of the Peninsula. Finally words from the peoples and lands discovered and/or colonized were also adapted together with more recent French and English additions. The result is a language which is spoken in eight countries: Angola, Brasil, Cabo Verde, Guiné-Bissau, Moçambique, Portugal, São Tomé e Príncipe and Timor-Leste.
The Portuguese language is one of the most-widely spoken languages in the world and it is estimated that by the current year (2002) it will be spoken by approximately 230 million people.
Centro Virtual Camões
Ministry of Culture
Projecto Vercial - the largest database on Portuguese Literature available on the Web
Freedom of conscience, of religion and of worship are granted by the constitution of the Republic. The churches and religious communities are independent and separate from the State.
For historical reasons dating back to the foundation of the Portuguese nation, the Catholic church still plays a dominant role nowadays.
Under the terms of the present constitution, the Portuguese Republic operates under a democratic rule of law based on popular sovereignty, pluralism of expression and democratic political organization and on the respect for and guarantee of fundamental rights and liberties whose objective is to achieve economic, social and cultural democracy and the deepening of participative democracy.
The Constitution of the Republic was written by the Constituent Assembly elected in 1975, promulgated by the President of the Republic on April 2, 1976 and later revised three times, the last of which in November 1992.
The Constitution establishes a semi-presidential system based on the rules of representative democracy. Sovereignty is exercised by four organs in accordance with the principles of the division of powers: President of the Republic, Assembly of the Republic, Government and Courts.
The President of the Republic represents the Portuguese Republic, guarantees national independence, the unity of the State and the regular functioning of the democratic institutions. He is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
The election of the President of the Republic is by universal, direct, secret ballot for a five-year term of office.
No more than two consecutive terms of office are permitted.
Prof. Doutor Aníbal Cavaco Silva, was elected President of the Republic on the 22th of January, 2006
List of Presidents since the beginning of the Republic:
- Dr. Manuel de Arriaga (1911 - 1915)
- Dr. Teófilo Braga (1915)
- Dr. Bernardino Machado (1915 - 1917)
- Dr. Sidónio Pais (1917 - 1918)
- Admiral Canto e Castro (1918 - 1919)
- Dr. António José de Almeida (1919 - 1923)
- Dr. Manuel Teixeira Gomes (1923 - 1925)
- Dr. Bernardino Machado (1925 - 1926)
- Comdt. Mendes Cabeçadas (1926)
- General Gomes da Costa (1926)
- Marechal Óscar Carmona (1926 - 1951)
- General Fancisco Craveiro Lopes (1951 - 1958)
- Admiral Américo Tomás (1958 - 1974)
- Gen. António de Spinola (1974)
- Gen. Francico Costa Gomes (1974 - 1976)
- Gen. António Ramalho Eanes (1976 - 1985)
- Dr. Mário Soares (1985 - 1996)
- Dr. Jorge Sampaio (1996 - 2006)
- Dr. Anibal Cavaco Silva (2006 - )
According to the Constitution, the Assembly of the Republic (Parliament) represents all Portuguese citizens.
It is the sovereign body that exercises legislative power and is also responsible for ensuring compliance with the Constitution and other laws, as well as assessing acts of the Government and of the Administration.
Under the terms of the present electoral law the Assembly of the Republic is made up by 230 deputies elected for a 4-year term of office by constituencies geographically defined by law. Following the parliamentary elections of February 20th, 2005, the composition of the Assembly of the Republic is as follows: Socialist Party (PS) - 121 seats; Social Democratic Party (PPD/PSD) - 75 seats; Coalition of the Communist and the Green Ecological Parties (CDU) - 14 seats; Popular Party (CDS/PP) - 12 seats; Left Bloc - 8 seats.
Article 185th of the Constitution establishes that the Government is the responsible body for the country's politics and the highest responsible for public administration. The Government is headed by a Prime Minister, who establishes his/her choice of Ministers, Secretaries and Under-Secretaries of State. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of the Republic in accordance with the electoral results for the Assembly of the Republic.
On 12 March 2005, the seventeenth constitutional Government (Socialist Party) took office under the leadership of the Socialist Party's Secretary-General, HE Mr. José Sócrates.
The Constitution also determines that the courts are the sovereign bodies responsible for administering justice in the name of the people. They issue decisions that are binding for all public and private bodies, that prevail over those issued by any other authority. The courts are divided as follows: Constitutional Court; Supreme Court of Justice; Judicial Courts of First and Second Instance; Audit Court; Administrative Courts; Tax Courts and Military Courts.
Portugal's political History online
Local administration in Portugal is carried out by the local authorities: municipalities and parishes. These are autonomous bodies with a long historical tradition whose aim is to pursue the collective interests of the populations by means of representative organs democratically elected by universal, direct and secret ballot of the population.
The Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira have special political and administrative status and autonomous Government bodies. The Regional Assembly and the Regional Government are the Government bodies of each region. The Regional Assembly is elected by universal, direct and secret ballot, under proportional representation.
In the Autonomous Regions the sovereignty of the Republic is represented by a Minister of the Republic, who is appointed and dismissed by the President of the Republic following a proposal made by the Government.
The President of the Regional Government is appointed by the Minister of the Republic following the results of the elections for the Regional Assembly.
The President of the Regional Government of Madeira is the social democrat Alberto João Jardim, and the President of the Regional Government of the Azores is the socialist Carlos César.
Portugal has diplomatic representation in 146 posts: 71 embassies, 10 permanent diplomatic missions attached to international organizations and 65 career consulates.
Please check here for the main lines of the Portuguese Foreign Policy
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of the Portuguese Communities
Do you need a Visa to go to Portugal? Check here
The Euro is the currency used in Portugal as our country is one of the 12 Member States of the European Union that are participating in this common currency.
Ministry of Economy
Ministry of Finances
All you need to know about the Euro
Portugal's accession to the European Union was an historic landmark in the development of the Portuguese economy.
There has been a progressive opening of the Portuguese economy to the outside world since 1988 with the attendant increase in the average growth rate of GDP as the result of increases in consumption, investment, public expenditure and exports.
The increase in consumption is due to greater supply and greater purchasing power.
Direct foreign investment contributed greatly to the increased investment. Public expenditure grew with the structural funds whilst exports increased due to the greater openness of the European markets.
Due to their importance in the construction of the Economic and Monetary Union (namely the convergence criteria) we would like to emphasize the reduction of the deficit, of the rate of inflation and of the interest rate.
The business world is mainly made up of small and medium sized family run companies.
Traditionally, and in view of favorable natural conditions, economic activities are centered on textiles, shoe manufacturing, tourism, cork and paper pulp. Reflecting a recent trend, new sectors have evolved in the last years: moulds, car industry and electronics.
Ministry of Economy
Ministry of Finances
Portugal in business
Portuguese Yellow Pages - Search whatever you are looking for in Portugal
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CTT - Portuguese Post Office Services
Library of Congress of the United States
A Collection of Home Pages about Portugal
Portugal Live... Your Portal to Portugal
Information about Portugal