General Information

Located at the extreme southwest of Europe, the Republic of Portugal is constituted by the continental territory and two Autonomous Regions, the archipelagos of Madeira and Azores (Açores). The Continent is divided into 18 districts. Portugal’s total area is of 92.000 Km2 and there are around 10 million inhabitants. The Portuguese Republic borders Spain North and East and has an extensive maritime coastline South and West that bathes the Atlantic Ocean. The country’s capital is Lisbon and the official language is Portuguese.

History

Portugal was founded in 1143, being one of the oldest countries in Europe. Until the 5th October 1910, when the foundations of the Modern Portuguese Republic were laid, the Portuguese monarchy had developed a long history of discoveries and conquests in Africa, India and Brazil. In 1926, the parliamentary regime was replaced by a military dictatorship leading to the formation of the Estado Novo in 1933. Democracy was restored 41 years later, on the 25th April 1974, through a nearly bloodless coup, later nicknamed the Revolution of the Carnations, which are still a national symbol of freedom. In the following years, mostly as a consequence of the restoration of democracy, independence was granted to some of Portugal’s last colonies: São Tomé & Principe, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Cape Verde.

A special relationship has been maintained with these Portuguese speaking countries, along with Brazil and East Timor, and developed through the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP).

Portugal is part of diverse international organizations (e.g. United Nations, OECD, NATO, CoE) and is a member of the European Union (EU) since 1986.

Political system

Portugal is a Parliamentary Republic. The President is directly elected by universal adult suffrage every 5 years. Executive power is exercised by the Council of Ministers. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament. Since 1975 the party system is dominated by the Socialist Party (Partido Socialista) and Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrata). Other political parties include: Bloco de Esquerda, Partido Comunista Português, CDS/Partido Popular.

Economy

After the accession to the EU in 1986, Portugal benefited from a significant economic growth and development throughout the 90s, largely thanks to the funds allocated by the European Union to improve the country's infrastructures. Portugal is a modern economy where the service industry, particularly tourism, is playing an increasingly important role. Today Portugal is also part of the “euro area” (Economic and Monetary Union).