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The Portuguese Republic is a country in the extreme southwest of Europe, on the Iberian peninsula, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean to the west and south, and Spain to the north and east. It also includes two groups of islands in the Atlantic: the Azores (Açores) and the Madeira.

República Portuguesa
(In Detail[?])
National motto: None
Official languagePortuguese
PresidentJorge Sampaio[?]
Prime MinisterJosé Manuel Durão Barroso[?]
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 109th
92,391 km²
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 79th
CurrencyEuro¹, Portug. euro coins
Time zonesUTC -1 to 0
National anthemA Portuguesa
Internet TLD.PT
Calling Code351
(1) Prior to 1999: Portuguese escudo[?]

Table of contents

History Main article: History of Portugal

Emerging from the Reconquista as an independent country in 1143, and with almost always the same main territory border line since the 13th century, Portugal has always been turned to the sea. Since early, fishing and overseas commerce have been main economical activities. Henry the Navigator's interest in exploration together with some technological developments in navigation brought together, gave way to the Portuguese expansion and to great geographical knowledge advancements.

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 loss of its Brazilian colony in 1822. A 1910 revolution deposed the Portuguese monarchy starting a period of chaotic republicanism (First Republic); in 1926 a nationalist military coup d'etat began a period of more than five decades of repressive fascist governments.

In 1974, a effectively bloodless left-wing military coup (the Carnation Revolution[?]) installed a government that instituted broad democratic reforms. The following year Portugal granted independence to its colonies in Africa: Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe) and lost its colony of East Timor in Asia to an Indonesian invasion. Portugal itself entered the European Union in 1986, whilst another Asian dependency, Macau, reverted to Chinese sovereignty in December 1999.

Politics Main article: Politics of Portugal

In the years following the 1974 coup Portugal has progressively done away with undemocratic institutions and established itself as a constitutional democracy. The four main organs of Portuguese politics are the presidency, the prime minister and Council of Ministers (the cabinet), the Assembly of the Republic (the parliament), and the judiciary.

The president, elected to a 5-year term by direct, universal suffrage, also is commander in chief of the armed forces. Presidential powers include appointing the prime minister and Council of Ministers, in which the president must be guided by the assembly election results. The Council of State, a presidential advisory body, is composed of six senior civilian officers, any former presidents elected since 1976, five members chosen by the Assembly, and five selected by the president.

The government is headed by the prime minister, who names the Council of Ministers. A new government is required to define the broad outline of its policy in a program and present it to the assembly for a mandatory period of debate. Failure of the assembly to reject the program by a majority of deputies confirms the government in office.

The Assembly of the Republic (Assembleia da República) is a unicameral body composed of up to 235 deputies. Elected by universal suffrage according to a system of proportional representation, deputies serve terms of office of 4 years, unless the president dissolves the assembly and calls for new elections.

The national Supreme Court is the court of last appeal. Military, administrative, and fiscal courts are designated as separate court categories. A nine-member Constitutional Tribunal reviews the constitutionality of legislation.

Districts and regions Main article: Districts of Portugal

Mainland Portugal consists of 18 districts (distritos, singular - distrito):

Beyond these there are two autonomous regions (regiões autónomas): the Azores (Açores) and Madeira. Each district is further subdivided into the Municipalities of Portugal[?].

Geography Main article: Geography of Portugal

Continental Portugal is split in two by its main river, the Tagus (Tejo). To the north the landscape is mountainous, though Portugal's highest point is Mount Pico[?] in the Azores at 2,351 m. The south down to the Algarve features mostly rolling plains and the climate here is somewhat warmer and drier than the cooler and rainier north. Other major rivers include the Douro, the Minho and the Guadiana, similar to the Tagus in that all originate in Spain.

Economy Main article: Economy of Portugal

Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Union in 1986. Over the past decade, successive governments have privatised many state-controlled firms and liberalised 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 January 1, 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.

Demographics Main article: Demographics of Portugal

Portugal is a fairly homogenous country linguistically, ethnically and religiously; Portuguese is spoken throughout the country, with only the town of Miranda de Douro's Asturian dialect recognised as a locally co-official language. Minorities, such as those of African immigrants from the former colonies, number less than 100,000. The majority of the Portuguese population is a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

Culture Main article: Culture of Portugal[?]

Miscellaneous topics

External links

European Union:
Austria  |  Belgium  |  Denmark  |  Finland  |  France  |  Germany  |  Greece  |  Ireland
Italy  |  Luxembourg  |  Netherlands  |  Portugal  |  Spain  |  Sweden  |  United Kingdom

Countries acceding to membership on May 1, 2004:
Cyprus  |  Czech Republic  |  Estonia  |  Hungary  |  Latvia  |  Lithuania  |  Malta  |  Poland  |  Slovakia  |  Slovenia

Countries of the world  |  Europe

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