World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide

Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Europe

Portugal Travelling Guide
Portugal Travelling Guide

General background: Following its heyday as a world power during the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence in 1822 of Brazil as a colony. A 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy; for most of the next six decades repressive governments ran the country. In 1974, a left-wing military coup installed broad democratic reforms. The following year Portugal granted independence to all of its African colonies. Portugal entered the EC (now the EU) in 1985.

Area comparative: Slightly smaller than Indiana.

Climate: Maritime temperate; cool and rainy in north, warmer and drier in south.

Terrain: Mountainous north of the Tagus River, rolling plains in south.

Population: 10,084,245 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: Homogeneous Mediterranean stock; citizens of black African descent who immigrated to mainland during decolonisation number less than 100,000; since 1990 East Europeans have entered Portugal.

Religions: Roman Catholic 94%, Protestant (1995)

Language: Portuguese

Government type: Parliamentary democracy

Capital: Lisbon

Legal system: Civil law system; the Constitutional Tribunal reviews the constitutionality of legislation; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations.

Economic overview: Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Community in 1986. Over the past decade, successive governments have privatized many state-controlled firms and liberalized key areas of the economy, including the financial and telecommunications sectors. The country qualified for the European Monetary Union (EMU) in 1998 and began circulating its new currency, the euro, on 1 January 2002 along with 11 other EU member economies. Economic growth has been above the EU average for much of the past decade, but GDP per capita stands at just 75% of that of the leading EU economies. The government has failed to reign in a widening deficit and to advance structural reforms needed to boost Portugal's economic competitiveness. A poor educational system, in particular, has been an obstacle to greater productivity and growth. Portugal has been increasingly overshadowed by lower-cost producers in Central Europe and Asia as a target for foreign direct investment.

Communication/Telephone system: Undergoing rapid development in recent years.

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