Coat of Arms
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
»92,212 km2 (111th)
»$285.439 billion (53rd)
» Per capita -$27,180 (42nd)
»$231.970 billion (48th)
» Per capita –$22,089 (37th)
»Euro (€)b (EUR)
Portugal is a country in southwest Europe. It is located on the Iberian Peninsula, and it is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, being bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. Aside from continental Portugal, the Portuguese Republic holds sovereignty over the Atlantic archipelagos of Azores and Madeira, which are autonomous regions of Portugal.
The country is named after its second largest city, Porto, whose name derives from a combination of Latin “Portus”, and the Celtic place-name “Cale”.
The land within the borders of the current Portuguese Republic has been continually fought over and settled since prehistoric times.
The Celts and the Romans were followed by the Visigothic and the Suebi Germanic peoples, who were themselves later invaded by the Moors. These Muslim peoples were eventually expelled during the Christian Reconquista of the peninsula.
By 1139, Portugal established itself as a kingdom independent from León. In the 15th and 16th centuries, as the result of pioneering the Age of Discovery, Portugal expanded western influence and established the first global empire, becoming one of the world’s major economic, political and military powers.
The Portuguese Empire was the longest-lived of the modern European colonial empires, spanning almost 600 years, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to the handover of Macau to the People’s Republic of China in 1999 (de facto) or the granting of sovereignty to East Timor in 2002 (de jure) after occupation by Indonesia since 1975.
The empire spread throughout a vast number of territories that are now part of 53 different sovereign states, leaving a profound cultural and architectural influence across the globe with a legacy of over 250 million Portuguese speakers today (making it the sixth most spoken first language) and a number of Portuguese-based creoles.
The Portuguese currency is the euro (€), which replaced the Portuguese Escudo, and the country was one of the original member states of the eurozone.
Portugal’s central bank is the Banco de Portugal, an integral part of the European System of Central Banks. Most industries, businesses and financial institutions are concentrated in the Lisbon and Porto metropolitan areas—the Setúbal, Aveiro, Braga, Coimbra and Leiria districts are the biggest economic centres outside these two main areas.
According to World Travel Awards, Portugal is the Europe’s Leading Golf Destination 2012 and 2013.
Since the Carnation Revolution of 1974, which culminated in the end of one of Portugal’s most notable phases of economic expansion (that started in the 1960s), a significant change has occurred in the nation’s annual economic growth.
After the turmoil of the 1974 revolution and the PREC period, Portugal tried to adapt to a changing modern global economy, a process that continues in 2013. Since the 1990s, Portugal’s public consumption-based economic development model has been slowly changing to a system that is focused on exports, private investment and the development of the high-tech sector.
Consequently, business services have overtaken more traditional industries such as textiles, clothing, footwear and cork (Portugal is the world’s leading cork producer), wood products and beverages.
In the second decade of the 21st century the Portuguese economy suffered its most severe recession since the 1970s resulting in the country having to be bailed out by the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The bailout, agreed to in 2011, required Portugal to enter into a range of austerity measures in exchange for funding support of €78 billion. In May 2014 the country exited the bailout but reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining its reformist momentum.
At the time of exiting the bailout the economy had contracted by 0.7% in the first quarter of 2014, however unemployment, while still high had fallen to 15.3 percent.
Portugal is the top exporter of Agglomerated Cork, Natural Cork Articles, and Hat Forms.
Top 5 Products exported by Portugal
- Refined Petroleum (7.4%),
- Cars (4.7%),
- Vehicle Parts (3.7%),
- Leather Footwear(3.3%),
- Uncoated Paper (2.5%)
Top 5 Export destinations of Portugal
Top 5 Products imported by Portugal
- Crude Petroleum (12%),
- Vehicle Parts (3.7%),
- Packaged Medicaments (3.1%),
- Cars (3.0%),
- Petroleum Gas (2.9%)
Top 5 Import origins of Portugal
- Spain (27%),
- Germany (11%),
- France (6.2%),
- Italy (5.3%),
- China (4.9%)
Portugal is among the 20 most visited countries in the world, receiving an average of 13 million foreign tourists each year. Tourism is playing an increasingly important role in Portugal’s economy, contributing to about 5% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Tourist hotspots in Portugal are Lisbon, Algarve, Madeira and the city of Coimbra, also, between 4-5 million religious pilgrims visit Fátima each year, where apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children reportedly took place in 1917. The Sanctuary of Fátima is one of the largest Roman Catholic shrines in the world.
The Portuguese government continues to promote and develop new tourist destinations, such as the Douro Valley, the island of Porto Santo, and Alentejo. Lisbon is the 16th European city which attracts the most tourists (with seven million tourists occupying the city’s hotels in 2006, a number that grew 11.8% compared to previous year).
Lisbon in recent years surpassed the Algarve as the leading tourist region in Portugal. Porto and Northern Portugal, especially the urban areas north of Douro River valley, was the tourist destination which grew most (11.9%) in 2006, surpassing Madeira (in 2010), as the third most visited destination.
- If you are into visiting beautiful monuments and enjoy remarkable views, then Lisbon, Sintra, and Porto are the top three places, and all of them are well worth a visit.
- The most popular beaches are in the Algarve, which has stunning coastlines and gobs of natural beauty.
- The water along the southern coast tends to be warmer and calmer than the water along the west coast, which is definitely Atlantic and doesn’t benefit of the Gulf Stream. For surfing, or just playing in the surf there are great beaches all along the west coast, near Lisbon and Peniche.
- And even if you wish to observe wild life in its natural state, Madeira and Azores Islands are places to remember, not forgetting of course the Natural Reserve of Peneda-Gerês, the Douro Valley and Serra da Estrela.