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Destinations - Europe - Portugal - World Facts

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.

Location

Southwestern Europe, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Spain
 
Climate

Maritime temperate; cool and rainy in north, warmer and drier in south

People
Population: 10,707,924 (July 2009 est.)

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

Religion: Roman Catholic 84.5%, other Christian 2.2%, other 0.3%, unknown 9%, none 3.9% (2001 census)
Languages: Portuguese (official), Mirandese (official - but locally used)

Area

Total: 92,090 sq km
Land: 91,470 sq km
Water: 620 sq km
Note: includes Azores and Madeira Islands

Economy
 
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 2001-08, and shrank 3.3% in 2009. 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. Portugal's financial sector has been relatively insulated from the global financial crisis and the government has not spent much on shoring up banks. Nonetheless, the government faces tough choices in its attempts to stimulate the economy, while trying to keep the budget deficit within the euro-zone 3%-of-GDP ceiling. In 2009, the deficit reached 6.8% of GDP.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$233.4 billion (2009 est.)
$240.1 billion (2008 est.)
$240.1 billion (2007 est.)
Note: data are in 2009 US dollars

*Source: Central Intelligence Agency

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