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Portugal

Capital Lisbon
Continent Europe
Code +351
Currency Euro (€)
Languages Portuguese , Portuguese

Description

Portugal is a country whose mainland is located on the Iberian Peninsula, in Southwestern Europe, and whose territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira. It features the westernmost point in mainland Europe and its Iberian portion is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and the north and east by Spain, the sole country to have a land border with Portugal. Its two archipelagos form two autonomous regions with their regional governments. The official and national language are Portuguese. Lisbon is the capital and largest city.

Portugal is the oldest continuously existing nation-state on the Iberian Peninsula and one of the oldest in Europe, its territory having been continuously settled, invaded, and fought over since prehistoric times. It was inhabited by pre-Celtic and Celtic peoples, visited by Phoenicians-Carthaginians, Ancient Greeks, and ruled by the Romans, who were followed by the invasions of the Suebi and Visigothic Germanic peoples. After the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors, most of its territory was part of Al-Andalus. Portugal as a country was established during the early Christian Reconquista. Founded in 868, the County of Portugal gained prominence after the Battle of São Mamede (1128). The Kingdom of Portugal was later proclaimed following the Battle of Ourique (1139), and independence from León was recognized by the Treaty of Zamora (1143).

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal established the first global maritime and commercial empire, becoming one of the world's major economic, political and military powers. During this period, today referred to as the Age of Discovery, Portuguese explorers pioneered maritime exploration with the discovery of what would become Brazil (1500). During this time Portugal monopolized the spice trade, divided the world into hemispheres of dominion with Castile, and the empire expanded with military campaigns in Asia. However, events such as the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, the country's occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence of Brazil (1822) erased to a great extent Portugal's prior opulence. A civil war between liberal constitutionalists and conservative absolutists in Portugal over royal succession lasted from 1828 to 1834.

After the 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy, the democratic, but the unstable Portuguese First Republic was established, later being superseded by the Estado Novo authoritarian regime. Democracy was restored after the Carnation Revolution (1974), ending the Portuguese Colonial War. Shortly after, independence was granted to almost all its overseas territories. The handover of Macau to China (1999) marked the end of what can be considered one of the longest-lived colonial empires in history.

Portugal has left a profound cultural, architectural and linguistic influence across the globe, with a legacy of around 250 million Portuguese speakers, and many Portuguese-based creoles. It is a developed country with an advanced economy and high living standards. Additionally, it ranks highly in peacefulness, democracy, press freedom, stability, social progress, prosperity, and English proficiency. A member of the United Nations, the European Union, the Schengen Area, and the Council of Europe (CoE), Portugal was also one of the founding members of NATO, the Eurozone, the OECD, and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

History

The history of Portugal can be traced from circa 400,000 years ago when the region of present-day Portugal was inhabited by Homo heidelbergensis. The oldest human fossil is the skull discovered in the Cave of Aroeira in Almond. Later Neanderthals roamed the northern Iberian Peninsula. Homo sapiens arrived in Portugal around 35,000 years ago.

Pre-Celtic tribes such as Lusitanians, Turduli, and Oestriminis lived in the center and north. In the south, the Cynetes lived in the Algarve and Lower Alentejo regions before the 6th century BC developed the city of Tartessos and the written Tartessian language, and left many stelae in the south of the country. Early in the first millennium BC, waves of Celts from Central Europe invaded and intermarried with the local populations to form several ethnic groups and many tribes. Their presence is traceable, in broad outline, through archaeological and linguistic evidence. They dominated the northern and central areas, while the south retained much of its Tartessian character, combined with the Celtici until the Roman conquest. Some small, semi-permanent trading settlements were founded by Phoenician-Carthaginians on the southern coast of the Algarve.

The Roman invasion in the 3rd century BC, lasted several centuries and developed the Roman provinces of Lusitania in the south and Gallaecia in the north. Numerous Roman sites include works of engineering, baths, temples, bridges, roads, circuses, theatres, layman's homes, coins, sarcophagi, and ceramics. As elsewhere in Western Europe, there was a sharp decline in urban life during the Dark Ages following the fall of Rome. Germanic tribes (that the Romans referred to as Barbarians) controlled the territory between the 5th and 8th centuries. These included the Kingdom of the Suebi centered in Braga and the Visigothic Kingdom in the south. Eventually, the Visigoths seized power in the whole of Iberia. Under the Visigoths a new class emerged, a nobility, which played a tremendous social and political role during the Middle Ages, and also began to play a very important part within the state, but since the Visigoths did not know Latin, the Catholic bishops continued the Roman system of governance. The clergy started to emerge as a high-ranking class.

In 711–716 an invasion by the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate, comprising Berbers from North Africa and Arabs from the Middle East plus other Muslims from all around the Islamic world, conquered the Visigoth Kingdom and founded the Islamic State of Al-Andalus. The Umayyads advanced through Iberia and France until the Battle of Tours (732) and endured in the south until the final Reconquista of the Algarve (Gharb Al-Andalus) in 1294. Lisbon and the rest of what would become Portugal were reconquered by the early 12th century. At the end of the 9th century, a county-based in the area of Portus Cale was established under King Alfonso III of Asturias, and by the 10th century, the counts were known as the Magnus Dux Portucalensium (Grand Duke of the Portuguese). (Portucale, Portugal, Portugalliæ) The Kingdom of Asturias was later divided so that northern "Portugal" became part of the Kingdom of León.

Initially, a vassal of the Kingdom of León, Portugal, grew in power and territory and gained de facto independence during weak Leonese reigns. In 1071 Garcia II of Galicia was declared king of Portugal and in 1095, Portugal broke away from the Kingdom of Galicia. At the end of the 11th century, the Burgundian knight Henry became the count of Portugal and defended its independence by merging the County of Portugal and the County of Coimbra. Henry's son Afonso Henriques proclaimed himself prince of Portugal on 24 June 1128 and king of Portugal in 1139 with Guimarães (Vimarens) as capital. In 1179 a papal bull officially recognized Afonso I asking. The Algarve was conquered by the Moors in 1249, and in 1255 Lisbon became the capital. Portugal's land boundaries have remained almost unchanged since then.

During the reign of King John I, the Portuguese defeated the Castilians in a war over the throne (1385) and established a political alliance with England (by the Treaty of Windsor in 1386).

From the late Middle Ages, in the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal ascended to the status of a world power during Europe's "Age of Discovery" as it built up a vast empire, including possessions in South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Over the following two centuries, Portugal kept most of its colonies, but gradually lost much of its wealth and status as the Dutch, English, and French took an increasing share of the spice and slave trades by surrounding or conquering the widely scattered Portuguese trading posts and territories. Signs of military decline began with two disastrous battles: the Battle of Alcácer Quibir in Morocco in 1578 and Spain's abortive attempt to conquer England in 1588 using the Spanish Armada – Portugal was then in an uncomfortable dynastic union with Spain and contributed ships to the Spanish invasion fleet. The country was further weakened by the destruction of much of its capital city in an earthquake in 1755, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the loss of its largest colony, Brazil, in 1822. From the middle of the 19th century to the late 1950s, nearly two million Portuguese left Portugal to live in Brazil and the United States.

In 1910, there was a revolution that deposed the monarchy. Amid corruption, repression of the church, and the near-bankruptcy of the state, a military coup in 1926 installed a dictatorship that remained until another coup in 1974. The new government instituted sweeping democratic reforms and granted independence to all of Portugal's African colonies in 1975. Portugal is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). It entered the European Economic Community (now the European Union) in 1986.

Geography

The territory of Portugal includes an area on the Iberian Peninsula (referred to as the continent by most Portuguese) and two archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean: the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores. It lies between latitudes 30° and 42° N, and longitudes 32° and 6° W.

Mainland Portugal is split by its main river, the Tagus, which flows from Spain and disgorges in the Tagus Estuary, in Lisbon, before escaping into the Atlantic. The northern landscape is mountainous towards the interior with several plateaus indented by river valleys, whereas the south, including the Algarve and the Alentejo regions, is characterized by rolling plains.

Portugal's highest peak is similarly named Mount Pico on the island of Pico in the Azores. This ancient volcano, which measures 2,351 m (7,713 ft) is an iconic symbol of the Azores, while the Serra da Estrela on the mainland (the summit being 1,991 m (6,532 ft) above sea level) is an important seasonal attraction for skiers and winter sports enthusiasts.

The archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores are scattered within the Atlantic Ocean: the Azores straddling the Mid-Atlantic Ridge on a tectonic triple junction, and Madeira along a range formed by in-plate hotspot geology. Geologically, these islands were formed by volcanic and seismic events. The last terrestrial volcanic eruption occurred in 1957–58 (Capelinhos) and minor earthquakes occur sporadically, usually of low intensity.

Portugal's exclusive economic zone, a sea zone over which the Portuguese have special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, has 1,727,408 km2. This is the 3rd largest exclusive economic zone of the European Union and the 20th largest in the world.

Government and Politics

Portugal has been a semi-presidential representative democratic republic since the ratification of the Constitution of 1976, with Lisbon, the nation's largest city, as its capital. The Constitution grants the division or separation of powers among four bodies referred to as "organs of Sovereignty": the President of the Republic, the Government, the Assembly of the Republic, and the Courts.

The President, who is elected to a five-year term, has an executive role: the current President is Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. The Assembly of the Republic is a single chamber parliament composed of a maximum of 230 deputies elected for a four-year term. The Government is headed by the Prime Minister (currently António Costa) and includes Ministers and Secretaries of State. The Courts are organized into several levels, among the judicial, administrative, and fiscal branches. The Supreme Courts are institutions of last resort/appeal. A thirteen-member Constitutional Court oversees the constitutionality of the laws.

Portugal operates a multi-party system of competitive legislatures/local administrative governments at the national, regional, and local levels. The Assembly of the Republic, Regional Assemblies, and local municipalities and parishes are dominated by two political parties, the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party, in addition to the Unitary Democratic Coalition (Portuguese Communist Party and Ecologist Party "The Greens"), the Left Bloc and the Democratic and Social Centre – People's Party, which garner between 5 and 15% of the vote regularly.

Economy

Portugal is a developed and high-income country, with a GDP per capita of 77% of the EU28 average in 2017 (increasing from 75% in 2012) and an HDI of 0.850 (the 40th highest) in 2018. By the end of 2018, Portugal's GDP (PPP) was $32,554 per capita, according to OECD's report. The national currency of Portugal 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, Leiria, and Faro districts are the biggest economic centers outside these two main areas. According to World Travel Awards, Portugal was Europe's Leading Golf Destination in 2012 and 2013.

Since the Carnation Revolution of 1974, which culminated at 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, 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 (IMF). The bailout, agreed to in 2011, required Portugal to enter into a range of austerity measures in exchange for funding support of €78,000,000,000. 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%.

The average salary in Portugal is €910 per month, excluding self-employed individuals, and the minimum wage, which is regulated by law, is €635 per month (paid 14 times per annum) as of 2020.

The Global Competitiveness Report for 2019, published by the World Economic Forum, placed Portugal in the 34th position on the economic index.

The Economist Intelligence Unit's quality of life index placed Portugal as the country with the 19th-best quality of life in the world for 2005, ahead of other economically and technologically advanced countries like France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and South Korea, but 9 places behind its sole neighbor, Spain. This is even though Portugal remains one of the countries with the lowest per capita GDP in Western Europe.

Major state-owned companies include: Águas de Portugal (water), Caixa Geral de Depósitos (banking), Comboios de Portugal (railways), Companhia das Lezírias (agriculture) and RTP (media). Some former state-owned entities are managed by state-run holding company Parpública, which is a shareholder of several public and private companies. Among former state-owned companies recently privatized are CTT (postal service) and ANA (airports).

Companies listed on Euronext Lisbon stock exchange like EDP, Galp, Jerónimo Martins, Mota-Engil, Novabase, Semapa, Portucel Soporcel, Portugal Telecom, and Sonae, are amongst the largest corporations of Portugal by several employees, net income, or international market share. Euronext Lisbon is the major stock exchange of Portugal and is part of the NYSE Euronext, the first global stock exchange. The PSI-20 is Portugal's most selective and widely known stock index.

The International Monetary Fund issued an update report on the economy of Portugal in late-June 2017 with a strong near-term outlook and an increase in investments and exports over previous years. Because of a surplus in 2016, the country was no longer bound by the Excessive Deficit Procedure, which had been implemented during an earlier financial crisis. The banking system was more stable, although there were still non-performing loans and corporate debt. The IMF recommended working on solving these problems for Portugal to be able to attract more private investment. "Sustained strong growth, together with continued public debt reduction, would reduce vulnerabilities arising from high indebtedness, particularly when monetary accommodation is reduced." The OECD economic reports since 2018 show recovery, albeit slow; and Portugal's growth prospects continue positively for 2020.

Culture

The culture of Portugal is a very rich result of a complex flow of many different civilizations during the past millennia. From prehistoric cultures to its Pre-Roman civilizations (such as the Lusitanians, the Gallaeci, the Celtici, and the Cynetes, amongst others), passing through its contacts with the Phoenician-Carthaginian world, the Roman period (see Hispania, Lusitania, and Gallaecia), the Germanic invasions of the Suebi, Buri (see Kingdom of the Suebi) and Visigoths (see the Visigothic Kingdom), Viking incursions, Sephardic Jewish settlement, and finally, the Moorish Umayyad invasion of Hispania and the subsequent expulsion, during the Reconquista, all have made an imprint on the country's culture and history.

The name of Portugal itself reveals much of the country's early history, stemming from the Roman name Portus Cale, a Latin name meaning "Port of Cale" (Cale likely is a word of Celtic origin - Cailleach-Bheur her other name; the Mother goddess of the Celtic people as in Calais, Caledonia, Beira. She was the one who, with a hammer created mountains and valleys; the one who hid in stones and trees - Mother nature), later transformed into Portucale, and finally into Portugal, which emerged as a county of the Kingdom of León see County of Portugal) and became an independent kingdom in 1139. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal was a major economic, political, and cultural power, its global empire stretching from the Americas to Africa, and various regions of Asia and Oceania.

Portugal, as a country with a long history, is home to several ancient architectural structures, as well as typical art, furniture, and literary collections mirroring and chronicling the events that shaped the country and its peoples. It has a large number of cultural landmarks ranging from museums to ancient church buildings to medieval castles, which testify to its rich national cultural heritage. Portugal is home to fifteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ranking it 8th in Europe and 17th in the world.

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