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Country Profiles: Portugal


Flag, map and facts courtesy of CIA World Factbook 2008

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 is a founding member of NATO and entered the EC (now the EU) in 1986.

Location
Map of Portugal

Southwestern Europe, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Spain

Area

total: 92,391 sq km
land: 91,951 sq km
water: 440 sq km

Note: includes Azores and Madeira Islands
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
Elevation extremes

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Ponta do Pico (Pico or Pico Alto) on Ilha do Pico in the Azores 2,351 m

Natural resources

fish, forests (cork), iron ore, copper, zinc, tin, tungsten, silver, gold, uranium, marble, clay, gypsum, salt, arable land, hydropower

Land use

arable land: 17.29%
permanent crops: 7.84%
other: 74.87% (2005)

Natural hazards Azores subject to severe earthquakes
Environment - current issues soil erosion; air pollution caused by industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution, especially in coastal areas
Geography - note

Azores and Madeira Islands occupy strategic locations along western sea approaches to Strait of Gibraltar

Population 10,676,910 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure

0-14 years: 16.4% (male 912,995/female 835,715)
15-64 years: 66.2% (male 3,514,905/female 3,555,097)
65 years and over: 17.4% (male 764,443/female 1,093,755) (2008 est.)

Population growth rate 0.305% (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate

total: 4.85 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.31 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.36 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78.04 years
male: 74.78 years
female: 81.53 years (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups

homogeneous Mediterranean stock; citizens of black African descent who immigrated to mainland during decolonization number less than 100,000; since 1990 East Europeans have entered Portugal

Religions Roman Catholic 84.5%, other Christian 2.2%, other 0.3%, unknown 9%, none 3.9% (2001 census)
Languages

Portuguese (official), Mirandese (official - but locally used)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.3%
male: 95.5%
female: 91.3% (2003 est.)

Government type republic; parliamentary democracy
Capital Lisbon
Independence

1143 (Kingdom of Portugal recognized); 5 October 1910 (republic proclaimed)

Legal system based on civil law system; the Constitutional Tribunal reviews the constitutionality of legislation; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Flag description two vertical bands of green (hoist side, two-fifths) and red (three-fifths) with the Portuguese coat of arms centered on the dividing line

Flag of Portugal
Economy - overview Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Community in 1986. Over the past two decades, 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 the euro on 1 January 2002 along with 11 other EU member economies. Economic growth had been above the EU average for much of the 1990s, but fell back in 2001-07. GDP per capita stands at roughly two-thirds of the EU-27 average. 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. The budget deficit surged to an all-time high of 6% of GDP in 2005, but the government reduced the deficit to 2.6% in 2007 - a year ahead of Portugal's targeted schedule. Nonetheless, the government faces tough choices in its attempts to boost Portugal's economic competitiveness while keeping the budget deficit within the eurozone's 3%-of-GDP ceiling.
GDP - per capita $21,800 (2007 est.)
Labor force 5.618 million (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate 8% (2007 est.)
Industries

textiles, clothing, footwear, wood and cork, paper, chemicals, auto-parts manufacturing, base metals, diary products, wine and other foods, porcelain and ceramics, glassware, technology, telecommunications; ship construction and refurbishment; tourism

Agriculture - products grain, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, grapes; sheep, cattle, goats, swine, poultry, dairy products; fish
Exports - commodities agricultural products, food products, oil products, chemical products, plastics and rubber, skins and leather, wood and cork, wood pulp and paper, textile materials, clothing, footwear, minerals and mineral products, base metals, machinery and tools, vehicles and other transport material, and optical and precision
Imports - commodities agricultural products, food products, oil products, chemical products, plastics and rubber, skins and leather, wood and cork, wood pulp and paper, textile materials, clothing, footwear, minerals and mineral products, base metals, machinery and tools, vehicles and other transport material, and optical and precision instruments, computer accessories and parts, semi-conductors and related devices, household goods, passenger cars new and used, and wine products

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