Portugal, officially the Portuguese
República Portuguesa; ,
is located in southwestern Europe on
Peninsula, and is the westernmost country
of mainland Europe. Portugal is bordered by Spain to
the north and east and by the Atlantic
Ocean to the west and south. The Atlantic archipelagos of
the Azores and Madeira are
also part of Portugalc.
The territory which forms the modern Portuguese
Republic has witnessed a constant flow of civilizations during
the past 3,100 years, since the earlier pre-Roman Iberian and Celtic inhabitants,
to the Roman, Germanic,
and Moorish peoples
who made an imprint on the country's culture,
history, language, and ethnic composition. During
the 15th and 16th centuries, with its global
empire, Portugal was one of the world's major
economic, political, and cultural powers. Portugal
is a developed
country, member of the European
Union (since 1986),
Nations (since 1955),
and a founding member of the Eurozone, OECD, NATO and CPLP (Comunidade
dos Países de Língua Portuguesa — Community
of Portuguese Language Countries).
Portugal is a democratic republic ruled by the constitution
of 1976 with Lisbon,
the nation's largest city, as its capital. The
four main governing components are the president
of the republic, the assembly
of the republic, the government,
and the courts. The constitution grants the division
or separation of powers among legislative, executive,
and judicial branches.
The president, who is elected to a five-year term,
has a supervising, nonexecutive role. The Assembly of the Republic
is a unicameral parliament
composed of 230 deputies elected for four-year
The government is headed by the prime
who chooses the Council of Ministers, comprising
all the ministers and the respective state secretaries.
The national and regional governments, and the Portuguese
parliament, are dominated by two political
parties, the Socialist
Party and the Social
Democratic Party. Minority parties CDU (Portuguese
Communist Party plus Ecologist
Party "The Greens"), Bloco
de Esquerda(Left Bloc) and CDS-PP (People's
Party) are also represented in the parliament and
Portugal has been a member of NATO since 1949, the European Union since 1986, and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries since 1996. It has a friendship alliance and dual citizenship treaty with Brazil, and a treaty with the United Kingdom which is the world's oldest active alliance. It has good relations with the United States and China (due to Macau), as well as the other European Union countries.
The only international dispute concerns the municipality of Olivença, which Spain received in 1801 under the Treaty of Badajoz and has since administered. Portugal claimed it in 1815 under the Treaty of Vienna. Nevertheless, diplomatic relations between the two countries are cordial.
Portugal has an administrative structure of 308 municipalities (Portuguese singular/plural: concelho/concelhos), which are subdivided into more than 4,000 parishes (freguesia/freguesias). Municipalities are grouped for administrative purposes into superior units. For continental Portugal the municipalities are gathered in 18 Districts, while the Islands have a Regional Government directly above them. Thus, the largest unit of classification is the one established since 1976 into either mainland Portugal (Portugal Continental) or the autonomous regions of Portugal (Azores and Madeira).
Portugal joined the European Union in 1986 and started a process of modernization within the framework of a stable environment. It has achieved a healthy level of growth. Successive governments have implemented reforms and privatized many state-controlled firms and liberalized key areas of the economy. Portugal was one of the founding countries of the euro in 1999, and therefore is integrated into the Eurozone.
Major industries include oil refineries, automotive, cement production, pulp and paper industry, textile, footwear, furniture, and cork (the world's leading producer). Agriculture no longer represents the bulk of the economy, but Portuguese wines, namely Port Wine (named after the country's second largest city, Porto) and Madeira Wine (named after Madeira Island), are exported worldwide. Tourism is also important, especially in the mainland Portugal's southernmost region of the Algarve and in the Atlantic Madeira archipelago.
The Global Competitiveness Report for 2005, published by the World Economic
Forum, places Portugal on the 22nd position, ahead of countries like Spain,
Ireland, France, Belgium and Hong Kong. This table shows that Portugal has
stepped two places regarding the 2004 ranking. On the Technology index,
Portugal was ranked 20th and on the Public Institutions index Portugal is
the 15th best.
A research about standard of living by Economist Intelligence Unit or EIU Quality-of-life Survey places Portugal as the country with the 20th-best quality of life in the world.
The major Portuguese stock exchange is the Euronext Lisbon which is part of the NYSE Euronext, the first global stock exchange.
In 2006 the world's largest solar power plant began operating in the nation's sunny south while the world's first commercial wave power farm opened in October 2006 in the Norte region. As of 2006, 55% of electricity production was from coal and fuel power plants. The other 40% was produced by hydroelectrics and 5% by wind energy. The government is channeling $3.8 billion into developing renewable energy sources over the next five years.
Portugal wants renewable energy sources like solar, wind and wave power to account for nearly half of the electricity consumed in the country by 2010.
An Airbus A330-200 from national airline TAP Portugal.Transportation was seen as a priority in the 1990s, pushed by the growing use of automobiles and industrialization. The country has a 68,732 km (42,708 mi) network of roads, of which 2,000 km (1,240 mi) are part of 44 motorways.
The two principal metropolitan areas have subway systems: Lisbon Metro and Metro Sul do Tejo (in final stages of completion) in Lisbon and Porto Metro in Porto, each with more than 35 km (22 mi) of lines. Construction of a high-speed TGV line connecting Porto with Lisbon and Lisbon with Madrid will begin in 2008; it will replace the Pendolinos. Ota Airport will replace the present Lisbon airport. Currently, the most important airports are in Lisbon, Faro, Porto, Funchal (Madeira), and Ponta Delgada (Azores).
Portugal has one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the world (the number of operative mobile phones already exceeds the population). As of October 2006, 36.8% of households had high-speed Internet services and 78% of companies had Internet access. Most Portuguese watch television through cable (June 2004: 73.6% of households).