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Information about Portugal

Official name

Portugal, Republic of Portugal

Area

Total: 92,212.0 sq km
Water: 440 sq km

Population

10,406mln

Official language

Portuguese

Capital

Lisbon

Administrative division

Portugal is divided in 19 districts:
Aveiro, Beja, Braga, Bragança, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Évora, Faro, Funchal (in Madeira), Guarda, Leiria, Ponta Delgada (in the Azores), Portalegre, Porto, Santarém, Setúbal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real and Viseu.
308 Municipalities, 4261 Civil Parishes

Location
Portugal is geographically located in Europe’s West Coast, on the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered by Spain to the North and East and by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South, making it a privileged geo strategic location between Europe, America and Africa.

 

Climate

Portugal’s climate offers mild winters and pleasant summers. The wettest months are November and December, whilst the driest are from April to September.

Time zone

Summer (DST)
WET (UTC+0)
WEST (UTC+1)
Note that the Azores are in a different time zone.

Neighbours

Spain

Mountains

The highest peaks are found in a mountainous range in the centre of the country, of which Serra da Estrela is the highest with 1,991 m. On the archipelagos, Pico (2,351 m) is the highest peak in the Azores, while Pico Ruivo (1,862 m) is the highest peak in Madeira.

Main/ major rivers

*Tejo 1038 km
*Douro (897 km)
*Guadiana (778km)
*Minho (350 km)

Largest lakes

Alqueva (458 sq m)

Mineral resources/wealth

Iron ore, copper, zinc, tin, silver, gold, uranium, marble, clay, gypsum, salt, arable land

Major cities

Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Coimbra, Funchal

Demography

*Population – 10,50 millions
*Urban population – 6,46 millions
*Rural population – 4,04 millions
*Working age population – 67%

Main religion

Roman Catholic

GDP

Per capita: 20.100 EUR (2013)
Total: 171,2 million EUR (2013)

Currency

Euro (EUR)
EUR = 1.3281 USD (average rate in 2013)

Emergency telephone numbers

European emergency number: 112

Constitution

Constitution of the Portuguese Republic

The political system
The Republic of Portugal is a Parliamentary democracy, based on the respect and the effective guarantees for fundamental rights and freedoms and the separation and interdependence of powers.
President

Anibal Cavaco Silva

Prime Minister

Pedro Passos Coelho

The Legislature

Legislative power lies in the Parliament (Assembly of the Republic) represented by 230 members which are elected by popular vote to serve a four year term.

The Executive

Executive power lies in the Government, headed by the Prime Minister, the Ministers and the Secretaries of State.

The judicial branch

The Portuguese judicial system consists of several categories of Court, independent of each other, with their own structure and rules. Two of these categories are composed only by one Court (the Constitutional Court and the Court of Auditors). The Judicial, Administrative and Fiscal Courts are numerous, hierarchically structured and respond to a Supreme Court. In addition, there are Maritime Courts, Courts of Arbitration and Justices of the Peace.

Foreign Policy

Membership in International Organisations
*(EU)European Union
*NATO
*(OECD) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
*(CPLP)  Community of Portuguese Language Countries
*(UN) United nations
*(LU) Latin Union
*(IMF) International Monetary Fund
*(OIAS) Organization of Ibero-American States
*(EMU) Economic and Monetary Union
*(EIB) European Investment Bank
*(ILO) International Labour Organization
*(WTO) World Trade Organization

Road transport

 

Portugal has a developed road network, comprising of motorways (AE), main roads (IP), secondary roads (IC), national roads (EN) and municipal routes. In 2012, the mainland road network reached 14,284 km, of which 2,988 km was motorway, more than 1/5 of the total road network.

 

Rail transport

 

The rail network comprises 2,541 km providing North-South connection down the coastline and East-West across the country. Railway network density tends to be more significant in regions with a higher population concentration.

 

*Lisbon- Porto: 274,28 km
*Lisbon- Faro: 215,61 km
*Lisbon- Braga: 322,04 km

 

Alfa Pendular and Inter-City

 

Alfa Pendular high-speed tilting trains operate many of the services between Lisbon and Porto. They also run twice a day between Lisbon and the Algarve. Fares are slightly higher than on the ‘Inter-City’ trains, which run also between Lisbon and Porto (with more stops) and to other destinations around the country.

 

Inter-Regional and Regional

 

Inter-regional and regional (local) trains fill in the gaps, but services are irregular and sometimes infrequent. Most trains are fairly new but especially down south in the Algarve, it has seen better days. Large areas of the country however have no rail service at all.

 

City Suburban Networks 

 

Good networks of mainly electric suburban trains (Urbanos) operate around Lisbon and Porto, connecting those cities to towns up to about an hour’s journey away.

 

International

 

Portugal is almost isolated from the rest of Europe in passenger railway terms. Plans to link Portugal to the European high-speed newtwork will not come about for a very long time in the future.

 

Buses

 

Long-distance Buses (Coaches)

 

  • Long-distance buses connect every large city and town, as well as many smaller locations all over the country. There are many operators, some of whom do not have websites. Advance reservation is highly recommended wherever possible. You may have to go to the local bus station to do this. If possible, go a day or two before you wish to travel.
  • Some of the major companies have banded together under the brand Rede-Expressos. Their website offers services direct and indirect between almost any two towns and cities across the country. On-line reservation is available on the website, but one word of caution: in Lisbon and Porto there is more than one bus terminal. Rede-Expressos uses the “Sete Rios” terminal in Lisbon and the “Batalha” terminal in Porto.
  • The RENEX company operates routes between Lisbon and the Algarve, also between Lisbon and various northern cities. In Lisbon, RENEX uses the Gare Oriente terminal, next to the railway station of the same name.
  • Rodoviária do Norte has a network mainly in the north of Portugal.
  • Rede Expressos, ALSA and several other companies run services to and from various Spanish cities.

Air transport

 

There are 15 airports. On the mainland the three major international airports are located in the coastal cities of Lisbon, Porto and Faro. Due to the isolation of the Autonomous Regions there are a larger number of airports. The Azores have nine and Madeira has two. Most international airlines serve the country’s main airports.

Excerpt from the European Commission’s “Country Report Portugal 2015“:

 

After a prolonged recession, the Portuguese economy started to recover in 2013. Real GDP has been growing in year-on-year terms since the fourth quarter of 2013, following eleven consecutive quarters of negative growth. Recently, economic growth has been driven by accelerating private consumption and investment. The latest economic sentiment data and confidence indicators suggest that domestic demand is continuing to recover, with imports growing faster than exports. Economic expansion is expected to accelerate slightly in the medium term as a result of gradually improving financing conditions and external demand. (…)

 

The labour market situation has been improving since the spring of 2013. In the first three quarters of 2014, employment growth averaged 2% year-on-year, thereby outpacing GDP growth. However, the decline in unemployment has recently come to a halt and the unemployment rate has stabilised since October 2014 with the employment reduction. Looking ahead, job creation is set to slow down and employment growth is expected to become more aligned with GDP growth. (…)

 

A robust export performance contributed to the external rebalancing of the Portuguese economy. Export growth was subdued in the 2000s. Since 2008, however, this trend has been reversed by significant improvements in external competitiveness, and exports’ share in GDP rose from 27% in 2009 to around 40% in 2013 (see Graph 2.1.8). This is still a relatively low level compared with other small and open economies in the euro area. It is a reminder that the rebalancing towards export-led growth needs to continue in order to sustain the improvement in the current account.(9 ) Export growth was driven mainly by exports of goods, which increased their share in GDP from 19% in 2009 to 29% in 2013. In the same period, Portugal’s export market share increased as annual export growth outpaced growth in foreign demand for Portuguese exports products by 3.7% on average, In National Accounts terms. (…)

 

Portugal has improved its capacity to compete in export markets by improving in production efficiency and product quality. Relative physical unit labour costs (PULCs) in Portugal fluctuated at about 90% of the EU average until 2011, but have since dropped markedly, highlighting the competitiveness gains resulting from lower production costs. This fall, however, has not been matched by a similar fall in relative export prices, which suggests that Portuguese exporters have managed to extract higher profit margins from their exports, possibly by ‘upgrading’ their export product portfolio. Indeed, there is evidence of continued improvement in the quality of Portuguese exports by comparison with the EU average. This is captured by the ‘Quality Index’ (Graph 2.1.13), which measures the capacity of exporting companies to charge higher prices. However, while the quality of Portuguese exports has outperformed the rest of the EU in some specific sectors, Portugal’s export sector still specialises in products with lower average prices and quality. (…)

 

Please click here to see the full European Commission’s report.

Accommodation

Hotel buildings: 941
Private rooms: 101892
Rural tourism: 542
Holiday camp: 81

Tourist attractions

Lisbon, Sintra, Évora, Óbidos, Coimbra, Porto, Batalha, Alcobaça, Tomar, Lagos, Sagres, Marvão and Braga, Fatima
Regions: Algarve, Madeira, Azores

The most visited voivodeship

Lisbon, Porto, Fatima, Algarve

Tourist trails

Walking, mountain hiking, bicycle and canoe trips

Months of summer holidays

June, July, August

Months of winter holidays

December, January, February

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