Geographic and Governmental Profile of Portugal

Following its heyday as a global maritime 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 of its wealthiest colony of Brazil in 1822. 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. In January 2011, Portugal assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term.
Southwestern Europe, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Spain
Geographic coordinates
39 30 N, 8 00 W
Continent / Subcontinent
92,090 sq km
91,470 sq km
620 sq km
includes Azores and Madeira Islands
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than Indiana
Land boundaries
1,214 km
border countries:
Spain 1,214 km
1,793 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
24 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
continental shelf:
200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
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), iron ore, copper, zinc, tin, tungsten, silver, gold, uranium, marble, clay, gypsum, salt, arable land, hydropower
Land use
arable land:
permanent crops:
74.87% (2005)
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Irrigated land
5,840 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
73.6 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
11.09 cu km/yr (10%/12%/78%)
per capita:
1,056 cu m/yr (1998)
Natural hazards
Azores subject to severe earthquakes
limited volcanic activity in the Azores Islands; Fayal or Faial (elev. 1,043 m) last erupted in 1958; most volcanoes have not erupted in centuries; historically active volcanoes include Agua de Pau, Furnas, Pico, Picos Volcanic System, San Jorge, Sete Cidades, and Terceira
Environment - current issues
soil erosion; air pollution caused by industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution, especially in coastal areas
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified:
Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Environmental Modification
Geography - note
Azores and Madeira Islands occupy strategic locations along western sea approaches to Strait of Gibraltar
Country name
conventional long form:
Portuguese Republic
conventional short form:
local long form:
Republica Portuguesa
local short form:
Government type
republic; parliamentary democracy
geographic coordinates:
38 43 N, 9 08 W
time difference:
UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time:
+1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
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 (Lisbon), Madeira*, Portalegre, Porto, Santarem, Setubal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real, Viseu
1143 (Kingdom of Portugal recognized); 5 October 1910 (republic proclaimed)
National holiday
Portugal Day (Dia de Portugal), 10 June (1580); note - also called Camoes Day, the day that revered national poet Luis de Camoes (1524-80) died
adopted 2 April 1976; subsequently revised
the revisions placed the military under strict civilian control, trimmed the powers of the president, and laid the groundwork for a stable, pluralistic liberal democracy; they allowed for the privatization of nationalized firms and government-owned communications media
Legal system
civil law system; Constitutional Tribunal review of legislative acts
International law organization participation
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Anibal CAVACO SILVA (since 9 March 2006)
head of government:
Prime Minister Pedro Manuel Mamede PASSOS COELHO (since 21 June 2011)
Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
there is also a Council of State that acts as a consultative body to the president
president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 23 January 2011 (next to be held in January 2016); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the president
election results:
Anibal CAVACO SILVA reelected president; percent of vote - Anibal CAVACO SILVA 53%, Manuel ALEGRE 19.8%, Fernando NOBRE 14.1%, Francisco LOPES 7.1%, Manuel COELHO 4.5%, Defensor MOURA 1.6%
Legislative branch
unicameral Assembly of the Republic or Assembleia da Republica (230 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
last held on 5 June 2011 (next to be held in 2015)
election results:
percent of vote by party - PPD/PSD 38%, PS 28%, CDS/PP 11%, PCP/PEV 7%, BE 5%; seats by party - PPD/PSD 108, PS 74, CDS/PP 24, PCP/PEV 16, BE 8
Judicial branch
Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional) consists of 13 judges (10 appointed by the Assembly and 3 are coopted by the 10 judges) for six-year terms; Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal de Justica); Audit Court (auditoria do Tribunal); Supreme Administrative Court (Supremo Tribunal Administrativo); all judges are appointed for life by the Conselho Superior da Magistratura
Political parties and leaders
Democratic and Social Center/Popular Party or CDS/PP [Paulo PORTAS]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Pedro Manuel PASSOS COELHO]; Socialist Party or PS [Jose SEGURO]; The Left Bloc or BE [Francisco LOUCA]; Unitarian Democratic Coalition or CDU [Jeronimo DE SOUSA] (includes Portuguese Communist Party or PCP and Ecologist Party ("The Greens") or PEV)
Political pressure groups and leaders
Armed Forces Officers' Association (AOFA) [Colonel Pereira CRACEL]; the Desperate Generation (youth movement protesting against low wages, precarious labor conditions, and unemployment); the General Workers Union or General Confederation of Portuguese Workers (UGT) [Joao PROENCA]; Portuguese National Workers' Conference (CGTP) [Armenio CARLOS]; TugaLeaks (a website that has become a mouthpiece for publicizing diverse protest action)
the media; labor unions
International organization participation
ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Australia Group, BIS, CD, CE, CERN, CPLP, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club (associate), PCA, Schengen Convention, SELEC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, Union Latina, UNMIT, UNSC (temporary), UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Nuno Filipe Alves Salvador e BRITO
2012 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
[1] (202) 332-3007
[1] (202) 462-3726
consulate(s) general:
Boston, New York, Newark (New Jersey), San Francisco
New Bedford (Massachusetts), Providence (Rhode Island)
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Allan J. KATZ
Avenida das Forcas Armadas, 1600-081 Lisbon
mailing address:
Apartado 43033, 1601-301 Lisboa; PSC 83, APO AE 09726
[351] (21) 727-3300
[351] (21) 726-9109
Ponta Delgada (Azores)
Flag description
two vertical bands of green (hoist side, two-fifths) and red (three-fifths) with the national coat of arms (armillary sphere and Portuguese shield) centered on the dividing line; explanations for the color meanings are ambiguous, but a popular interpretation has green symbolizing hope and red the blood of those defending the nation
National symbol(s)
armillary sphere (a spherical astrolabe modeling objects in the sky)
National anthem
"A Portugesa" (The Song of the Portuguese)
adopted 1910; "A Portuguesa" was originally written to protest the Portuguese monarchy's acquiescence to the 1890 British ultimatum forcing Portugal to give up areas of Africa; the lyrics refer to the "insult" that resulted from the event
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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