Portugal Country Information

Portugal Country Information

According to DIGOPAUL.COM, Portugal is a state in the west of the Iberian Peninsula. The capital is the city of Lisbon. The area, together with the islands, is 92.3 thousand square meters. km. From the south and west, the country is washed by the Atlantic Ocean, and in the north and east it borders on Spain.

In addition, Portugal includes the Azores, located in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,450 km west of Lisbon, and the Madeira archipelago, 970 km southwest of Lisbon.

The name of the country comes from the name of the Roman settlement Portus Cale at the mouth of the Douro River. In 1139 Portugal became a kingdom independent of Spain. At that time, it occupied only the northern third of its modern territory. In 1249, the last Muslim ruler in the south of the country was expelled, and since then its borders have changed little.

In the 15th century Portugal was the leading maritime power in Europe, and in the next century the first of the European countries to create a huge empire with overseas possessions in South America, Africa, India and the East Indies. In 1910, the monarchy was overthrown in Portugal, and in 1974 a democratically minded military junta put an end to the dictatorial regime that had existed since 1926. The constitution adopted in 1976 proclaimed Portugal a parliamentary republic with direct elections and universal suffrage for the adult population. In addition to modern administrative divisions, districts, division into 11 historical provinces is often used in Portugal.

Nature

Surface structure. On the territory of Portugal, the valleys of the Douro (Duero) and Tejo (Tajo) rivers are clearly distinguished.

In the upper reaches, they are narrow and deeply incised; downstream, they expand and, near the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, pass into flat lowlands. These rivers are the natural boundaries of five of the six geographic regions of the country. At the same time, the border between Portugal and Spain is almost never associated with natural boundaries. The relief of the provinces of Minho in the west and Traz-os-Montes and Alto-Douro in the east, located north of the Douro river, is rugged, mountainous. The province of Beira, extending from the river Douro to the upper part of the river Tejo, except for the coastal plain, is also occupied by mountains. In its central part there is the highest point of Portugal – Mount Estrela (1993 m above sea level).
The fertile plains in the lower reaches of the Tagus River (Ribatejo province) and in the coastal zone north and south of the country’s capital, Lisbon, belong to the province of Extremadura. To the east and south of it stretches the province of Alentejo, with a soft hilly relief, and the entire southern part of Portugal is occupied by the plains of the Algarve province, which are similar in natural conditions to the Mediterranean zone of North Africa. The soils of Portugal are mostly sandy, acidic, formed mainly on volcanic rocks. The exception is the fertile loamy soils of the alluvial plain in the lower reaches of the Tejo River.

Several seismically active zones are distinguished on the territory of Portugal, the largest of them are located in the Algarve, Minho and near Lisbon.

Climate

Portugal, influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, has a temperate Mediterranean climate. Several climatic regions can be distinguished: northwestern with abundant rains, mild winters and short summers; the northeast with longer, cold, snowy winters and hot summers, and the south with a deficit of precipitation, long hot, dry summers and mild winters.

In Lisbon, air humidity is low and average temperatures range from 10°C in January to 23°C in August. The average annual rainfall here is 700 mm.

Demography

For a century and a half, the population of Portugal has tripled – from 3.4 million people in 1841 to 10.6 million people in 1997. In the first half of the 1980s, per 1000 inhabitants, the birth rate was approx. 18, and mortality 9-10. By the end of the 1980s, the birth rate had fallen to almost 12. Natural population growth was partly offset by emigration.

Throughout the 20th century the largest number of emigrants went to America. However, in the 1960s, many Portuguese left in search of work in France, Germany and other countries of Western Europe. From 1960 to 1972 almost 1.5 million Portuguese emigrated. In the late 1970s, emigration declined sharply, and after the Portuguese colonies in Africa gained independence, several hundred thousand Portuguese returned to their homeland.

Cities

The largest and most important city in Portugal is Lisbon (2.1 million inhabitants with suburbs, 1996). This is the capital and main port of the country, an industrial center, a junction of roads and railways, as well as air traffic. The growth of the suburbs was so rapid that by the 1990s, almost 2.3 million people lived in the Lisbon metropolitan area, i.e. nearly a quarter of the country’s population. Petrochemical plants, shipyards and enterprises of many other industries form a powerful industrial complex, covering suburbs such as Amadora (140 thousand people in 1991), Barreira (59.5 thousand) and Almada (22.6 thousand).

Porto is the main city of the North – the second most populous in the country (302.5 thousand in 1991; in the entire agglomeration, about 1.2 million people). Porto, located on the right bank of the Douro River, the former capital of Portugal and a major port of the country, is famous for its port wine. On the opposite bank of the Douro River is the city of Vila Nova de Gaia (31.5 thousand inhabitants in 1991), where many warehouses of wine companies are concentrated. To the north of Porto is its suburb, Matosinhos (29.8 thousand), the center of fishing and canning sardines.

The main city of central Portugal, Coimbra (118.9 thousand), is known for its university, founded in 1290. It is also a trade and transport center.

Braga (102.7 thousand) – the residence of the Roman Catholic primate of Portugal, there are small factories and handicraft workshops.

Setubal (85.3 thousand) is the center of the fish processing industry, fruit processing and car assembly.

Portugal Country Information