National name: República Portuguesa
President: Aníbal Cavaco Silva (2006)
Prime Minister: José Sócrates (2005)
Land area: 35,382 sq mi (91,639 sq km); total area: 35,672 sq mi (92,391 sq km)
Population (2007 est.): 10,642,836 (growth rate: 0.3%); birth rate: 10.6/1000; infant mortality rate: 4.9/1000; life expectancy: 77.9; density per sq mi: 301
Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Lisbon, 2,618,100 (metro. area), 559,400
Other large city: Oporto, 264,200
Monetary unit: Euro (formerly escudo)
Languages: Portuguese (official), Mirandese (official, but locally used)
Ethnicity/race: homogeneous Mediterranean stock; less than 100,000 citizens of black African descent who immigrated to mainland during decolonization; East Europeans have entered since 1990
Religions: Roman Catholic 94%, Protestant (1995)
Literacy rate: 93% (2003 est.).
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2005 est.): $196.3 billion; per capita $18,600. Real growth rate: 0.8%. Inflation: 2.4%. Unemployment: 7.3%. Arable land: 17%. Agriculture: grain, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, grapes; sheep, cattle, goats, swine, poultry, dairy products; fish. Labor force: 5.52 million; services 60%, industry 30%, agriculture 10% (1999 est.). Industries: textiles and footwear; wood pulp, paper, and cork; metals and metalworking; oil refining; chemicals; fish canning; rubber and plastic products; ceramics; electronics and communications equipment; rail transportation equipment; aerospace equipment; ship construction and refurbishment; wine; tourism. Natural resources: fish, forests (cork), tungsten, iron ore, uranium ore, marble, arable land, hydropower. Exports: $38.8 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.): clothing and footwear, machinery, chemicals, cork and paper products, hides. Imports: $60.35 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.): machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum, textiles, agricultural products. Major trading partners: Spain, France, Germany, UK, U.S., Italy, Netherlands (2004).
Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 5.3 million (yearend 1998); mobile cellular: 3,074,194 (1999). Radio broadcast stations: AM 47, FM 172 (many are repeaters), shortwave 2 (1998). Radios: 3.02 million (1997). Television broadcast stations: 62 (plus 166 repeaters). Televisions: 3.31 million (1997). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 16 (2000). Internet users: 4.4 million (2002).
Transportation: Railways: total: 2,850 km (2002). Highways: total: 68,732 km; paved: 59,110 km (including 797 km of expressways); unpaved: 9,622 km (2000). Waterways: 820 km navigable; relatively unimportant to national economy, used by shallow-draft craft limited to 300 metric-ton or less cargo capacity. Ports and harbors: Aveiro, Funchal (Madeira Islands), Horta (Azores), Leixoes, Lisbon, Porto, Ponta Delgada (Azores), Praia da Vitoria (Azores), Setubal, Viana do Castelo. Airports: 66 (2002).
International disputes: Portugal has periodically reasserted claims to territories around the town of Olivenza, Spain.
Portugal occupies the western part of the Iberian Peninsula and is slightly smaller than Indiana. The country is crossed by three large rivers that rise in Spain, flow into the Atlantic, and divide the country into three geographic areas. The Minho River, part of the northern boundary, cuts through a mountainous area that extends south to the vicinity of the Douro River. South of the Douro, the mountains slope to the plains around the Tejo River. The remaining division is the southern one of Alentejo. The Azores stretch over 340 mi (547 km) in the Atlantic and consist of nine islands with a total area of 902 sq mi (2,335 sq km). Madeira, consisting of two inhabited islands, Madeira and Porto Santo, and two groups of uninhabited islands, lie in the Atlantic about 535 mi (861 km) southwest of Lisbon.
An early Celtic tribe, the Lusitanians, are believed to have been the first inhabitants of Portugal. The Roman Empire conquered the region in about 140 B.C. Toward the end of the Roman Empire, the Visigoths had invaded the entire Iberian Peninsula.
Portugal won its independence from Moorish Spain in 1143. King John I (1385–1433) unified his country at the expense of the Castilians and the Moors of Morocco. The expansion of Portugal was brilliantly coordinated by John's son, Prince Henry the Navigator. In 1488, Bartolomeu Dias reached the Cape of Good Hope, proving that Asia was accessible by sea. In 1498, Vasco da Gama reached the west coast of India. By the middle of the 16th century, the Portuguese empire extended to West and East Africa, Brazil, Persia, Indochina, and the Malayan peninsula.
In 1581, Philip II of Spain invaded Portugal and held it for 60 years, precipitating a catastrophic decline in Portuguese commerce. Courageous and shrewd explorers, the Portuguese proved to be inefficient and corrupt colonizers. By the time the Portuguese monarchy was restored in 1640, Dutch, English, and French competitors had begun to seize the lion's share of the world's colonies and commerce. Portugal retained Angola and Mozambique in Africa, and Brazil (until 1822).
The corrupt King Carlos, who ascended the throne in 1889, made João Franco the prime minister with dictatorial power in 1906. In 1908, Carlos and his heir were shot dead on the streets of Lisbon. The new king, Manoel II, was driven from the throne in the revolution of 1910, and Portugal became a French-style republic. Traditionally friendly to Britain, Portugal fought in World War I on the Allied side in Africa as well as on the Western Front. Weak postwar governments and a revolution in 1926 brought Antonio de Oliveira Salazar to power. As minister of finance (1928–1940) and prime minister (1932–1968), Salazar ruled Portugal as a virtual dictator. He kept Portugal neutral in World War II but gave the Allies naval and air bases after 1943. Portugal joined NATO as a founding member in 1949 but did not gain admission to the United Nations until 1955.
Portugal's foreign and colonial policies met with increasing difficulty both at home and abroad beginning in the 1950s. In fact, the bloodiest and most protracted wars against colonialism in Africa were fought against the Portuguese. Portugal lost the tiny remnants of its Indian empire—Goa, Daman, and Diu—to Indian military occupation in 1961, the year an insurrection broke out in Angola. For the next 13 years, Salazar, who died in 1970, and his successor, Marcello Caetano, fought independence movements amid growing world criticism. Leftists in the armed forces, weary of a losing battle, launched a successful revolution on April 25, 1974. After the 1974 revolution, the new military junta gave up its territories, beginning with Portuguese Guinea in Sept. 1974, which became the Republic of Guinea-Bissau. The decolonization of the Cape Verde Islands and Mozambique was effected in July 1975. Angola achieved independence later that same year, thus ending a colonial involvement on that continent that had begun in 1415. Full-scale international civil war, however, followed Portugal's departure from Angola, and Indonesia forcibly annexed independent East Timor. Also in 1975, the government nationalized banking, transportation, heavy industries, and the media. Portugal continued to experience social, economic, and political upheavals for the next decade.
Portugal was admitted to the European Economic Community (now European Union) on Jan. 1, 1986, and on Feb. 16, Mario Soares became the country's first civilian president in 60 years. Aníbal Cavaço Silva, an advocate of free-market economics and the Social Democratic candidate, had been elected as prime minister in 1985, signaling a more politically stable era. General elections in Oct. 1995 went to the Socialist Party, which fell just short of an absolute majority in the assembly. Lisbon mayor Jorge Sampaio, a Socialist, won the race for president in Jan. 1996. Portugal's Socialist government continued to take advantage of rosy economic conditions in 1997, and in 1999, Portugal became a founding member of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).
Portugal gave up its last colony, Macao, on Dec. 20, 1999, turning the small Asian seaport over to China.
In 2002, center-right Social Democrat leader José Manuel Durão Barroso became prime minister, after the Socialist Party suffered defeats. In the summer of 2003, more than a thousand people died during an unprecedented heat wave that caused fires to ravage Portugal's forests. Prime Minister Barroso resigned in July 2004 to become president of the European Commission. Pedro Santana Lopes, the new leader of the Social Democrats, succeeded him as prime minister. In Feb. 2005 elections, the Socialist Party won 45% of the vote, and José Sócrates became prime minister.