Facts about Portugal

World Facts Index > Portugal > Lisbon, Porto

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.

Geography of Portugal

Southwestern Europe, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Spain
39 30 N, 8 00 W
total: 92,391 sq km
land: 91,951 sq km
note: includes Azores and Madeira Islands
water: 440 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than Indiana
Land boundaries:
total: 1,214 km
border countries: Spain 1,214 km
1,793 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
maritime temperate; cool and rainy in north, warmer and drier in south
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), tungsten, iron ore, uranium ore, marble, arable land, hydropower
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

More Geography

Population of Portugal

10,676,910 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 16.5% (male 915,604/female 839,004)
15-64 years: 66.3% (male 3,484,545/female 3,544,674)
65 years and over: 17.2% (male 751,899/female 1,070,144)
Median age:
38.5 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
4.98 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.7 years
male: 74.43 years
female: 81.2 years
Fertility rate:
1.47 children born/woman
noun: Portuguese (singular and plural)
adjective: Portuguese
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
Roman Catholic 94%, Protestant (1995)
Portuguese (official), Mirandese (official - but locally used)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.3%
male: 95.5%
female: 91.3%


Country name:
conventional long form: Portuguese Republic
conventional short form: Portugal
local long form: Republica Portuguesa
Government type:
parliamentary democracy
Administrative divisions:
18 districts (distritos, singular - distrito) and 2 autonomous regions* (regioes autonomas, singular - regiao autonoma); Aveiro, Acores (Azores)*, Beja, Braga, Braganca, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Evora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisboa, Madeira*, Portalegre, Porto, Santarem, Setubal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real, Viseu
1143 (independent republic proclaimed 5 October 1910)
National holiday:
Portugal Day, 10 June (1580)
25 April 1976, revised 30 October 1982, 1 June 1989, 5 November 1992, and 3 September 1997
Legal system:
civil law system; the Constitutional Tribunal reviews the constitutionality of legislation; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Anibal CAVACO SILVA (since 9 March 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Jose SOCRATES Carvalho Pinto de Sousa (since 12 March 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
note: there is also a Council of State that acts as a consultative body to the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 22 January 2006 (next to be held in January 2011); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the president.
Legislative branch:
unicameral Assembly of the Republic or Assembleia da Republica (230 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Supremo Tribunal de Justica (judges appointed for life by the Conselho Superior da Magistratura)


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.

$232.3 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 5.3%
industry: 27.4%
services: 67.3%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
5.52 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 10%
industry: 30%
services: 60%
revenues: $78.84 billion
expenditures: $90.27 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 64.5%
hydro: 31.3%
other: 4.1% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
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
grain, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, grapes; sheep, cattle, goats, swine, poultry, dairy products; fish
clothing and footwear, machinery, chemicals, cork and paper products, hides
Export partners:
Spain 25.5%, France 12.8%, Germany 11.8%, UK 8.1%, US 5.4%, Italy 4.1% 
machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum, textiles, agricultural products
Import partners:
Spain 28.5%, Germany 13.2%, France 8.5%, Italy 5.1%, UK 4.3%, Netherlands 4.2% 
euro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

Copyright 2004 - 2008 worldfacts.us