Portugal is southern Europe's outpost to the
Atlantic. The country's time as a leading colonial power
and maritime nation is long over. In 1974 Portugal went
from dictatorship to democracy. The country today has a
functioning democratic system. After a period of
difficult financial problems, when many Portuguese
emigrated in search of work, the situation has improved.
Brief profiles of Portugal, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Portugal is located on the west coast of the
Iberian Peninsula in Europe's southwest corner. In the
north and east, the country borders Spain. In the west
and south the Atlantic forms a land border. On the
surface, Portugal is about one fifth the size of Sweden.
In Portugal there are about 10 larger rivers. The
largest ones flow up into the Spanish highlands and flow
from there west through Portugal to open the Atlantic.
Tejo has its outlet at the capital Lisbon, Douro at the
second largest city of Porto in the north, while
Guadiana departs from the south and sometimes forms a
border with Spain before reaching the south coast.
The northern part of the country is hilly and
mountainous. The highest peaks reach almost 2,000 meters
in height and are found in the Serra da Estrela mountain
range, which extends in a northeast-southwest direction
through central Portugal. Further north, Douro flows
through another vast highland.
South of Tejo, the landscape changes character and
becomes lowland, especially the coastal strip to the
west. This plain, called Alentejo (beyond Tejo), is for
the most part less than 200 meters above sea level. An
exception is the mountains that mark the border with the
southernmost region, the Algarve. The south coast
consists of low sandy beaches and high cliffs.
More than a third of Portugal is covered by forest.
The most common tree species are pine, cork oak and
eucalyptus. The soil is generally lean. Severe forest
fires are common during the summer.
Portugal also includes the volcanic archipelago of
Madeira and the Azores in the Atlantic. Of the country's
former colonies worldwide, none are left. The last,
Macao, was surrendered to China in 1999 after 442 years
of Portuguese rule.
Southern Portugal has a warm and dry climate that is
mitigated on the west coast by the impact of the
Atlantic. In the interior and on the Algarve coast in
the south there is a risk of drought and water
The Algarve has a distinct Mediterranean climate and
is the center of the tourism industry. Northern
Portugal's hilly and mountainous landscape receives more
rain and is considerably cooler than the south. On the
highest mountains, snow can fall in winter. The
temperature differences between summer and winter are
greater in the north than in the southern part of the
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
92 100 km2 (2018)
Swedish - 1 hour
Adjacent country (s)
Capital with number of inhabitants
Lisbon with suburbs about 2.9 million (estimate 2019)
Other major cities
Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Brag, Amadora, Guimarães,
Pico (Azores, 2,351 m asl), Serra da Estrela (on the
mainland, 1,991 m asl)
Tejo, Douro, Guadiana
Average Precipitation / month
Lisbon 109 mm (Jan), 2 mm (July)
Average / day
Lisbon 11 °C (Jan), 22 °C (Aug)
The minimum wage is raised
The government and its support parties agree to raise the minimum wage from
530 euros per month to 557 euros from 1 January 2017.
Investments on vulnerable groups in budget proposals
In its draft budget, the government wants to make a number of social
initiatives: increased pensions, lower income taxes and increased support for
the poor. However, the Government stresses that the budget must comply with EU
rules. New income will come from a new sugar tax on soft drinks and a new
property tax on housing worth more than EUR 600,000. According to the
government's forecast, the 2016 budget deficit will land at 2.4 percent of GDP,
to reduce to 1.6 percent in 2017. The goal is to reduce the central government
debt to the equivalent of 129.7 percent of GDP in 2016 and 128.3 percent in
2017. The National Assembly will vote on the budget at the end of the month.
António Guterres becomes new UN chief
Former Prime Minister António Guterres is elected new Secretary-General of
the UN. He will take up the post on January 1, 2017. Guterres has also
previously been the UN Refugee Commissioner.
Severe forest fires in the north
Several extensive forest fires are affecting northern Portugal as a result of
prolonged drought and high temperatures. Madeira is also affected - three people
have died in the flames.
No fines for Portugal and Spain
The European Commission decides to refrain from fining Portugal and Spain.
They refer to the difficult economic situation in which the countries are
located and that they have nevertheless made great sacrifices. There is also
obviously a concern within the Commission that harsh sanctions would lead to
increased popular opposition to the EU in the wake of the British referendum on
leaving the Union (Brexit).
Fines are confirmed
At its meeting, the Eurozone's finance ministers agree with the EU
Commission's decision to impose fines on Portugal and Spain that have failed to
reduce their budget deficits. The finance ministers, where Germany's Wolfgang
Schäuble, among others, wants to see harsh fines while France's Michel Sapin
wants to let Portugal escape, has 20 days to decide the size of the fine. In
addition to fines, countries are also at risk of losing a number of EU grants.
A welcome break in the crisis is the final victory in the European Cup for
the Portuguese national team over the host country France.
Fines for Portugal and Spain?
The European Commission explains that Portugal and Spain are progressing too
slowly in attempts to rectify their budget deficits. This means, after all, that
the EU may impose fines on countries from a symbolic zero of up to 0.2 percent
of GDP. The latter would amount to around € 360 million for Portugal - a
considerable sum for the country in crisis. A decision is expected at a meeting
of the eurozone finance ministers on July 12.
Portugal and Spain receive respite
The European Commission chooses not to fine countries because they do not
adhere to the budget deficit framework applicable in the euro zone (3%).
Countries are given a year to deal with the problems. Portugal's budget deficit
for the year appears to be 4.4 percent.
The Minister of Culture is leaving
João Barroso Soares of the Socialist Party gives in to resignation
requirements, which came after he wrote on his Facebook page that two
journalists in the newspaper Público would feel good about an ear file. This
after the journalists in an editorial questioned the appointment of him and
accused him of an authoritarian leadership style, plumpness and for engaging in
friendship corruption. The day before, a high-ranking chief of the Defense
Forces had to leave his job after telling parents of gay cadets to urge their
children to quit education to protect them from other students.
Parliament approves the budget
In the middle of the month, Parliament votes to approve the Socialist Party's
budget (see January 2016). This means, among other things, that the minimum wage
is raised to EUR 618 a month.
The budget receives criticism from the European Commission
The draft budget is not rejected by the Commission, but the government is
forced to revise it after the criticism, and also to calm the financial markets.
Among other things, it is about raising tax revenues by one million euros. The
European Commission expresses concern that the budget deficit will again be
greater than the 3 percent that the euro zone sets as the maximum limit.
Civil victory in the presidential election
Social Democrat Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa already wins the first round of
elections on January 24 with just over half the votes. Left candidate António
Sampaio da Novoa, who is running for independence, gets 22 percent. Marisa
Matias from the Left Bloc receives 10 percent. After the election victory,
Rebelo de Sousa says he wants to contribute to a consensus in politics.
The budget is delayed
The Portuguese government is delayed in the budget work for 2016. However,
laws have been passed that pave the way for raising public sector wages, raising
pensions and minimum wages; four holidays that have been abandoned must be
reintroduced and a special crisis tax should be abolished. According to
government estimates, this will cost around 1.2 billion euros. The draft budget
receives criticism from several directions for risking to recreate the situation
that caused the economic crisis.