Portugal is located west and south of Spain. Part of Portugal is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. The Tagus River divides mainland Portugal into two sections. Mountains dominate the northern section, and rolling plains cover the southern section.
The capital of Portugal is Lisbon, which also is Portugal’s largest city. More than two million people, approximately 20 percent of the total population of Portugal, live in Lisbon.
The land that forms the Portuguese Republic also includes two archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores and the Madeira. The two Azores islands most heavily populated are Terceira and São Miguel. These islands are situated at the top of old volcanoes and are popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy whale watching, birding, sailing, swimming, surfing or windsurfing and hiking.
Politics and Languages
Portugal is a member of the European Union as well as one of the 26 countries that have signed the Schengen Agreement.
The Portuguese government is a parliamentary democracy, and the official language is Portuguese.
English is the second language of approximately 80 percent of Portuguese citizens.
Currency and Banking
Portugal has accepted the euro, which is shown by the symbol “€,” as its form of currency.
The country’s central bank, the Banco de Portugal, is connected to the European System of Central Banks.
Many industrial endeavors currently thrive in the two largest metropolitan areas, Lisbon and Porto. In addition, large economic sectors exist in the districts of Coimbra, Braga, Leira and Aveiro.
The three top industries in terms of revenue are fishing, mining and agriculture.
Next come automobile and airplane manufacturing, electronics, clothing and processed foods, chemicals, wood chips, cork and cement.
Several industries based on modern technologies also have come into being in recent years. Examples include biotechnology, aerospace, business services and information services.
Portugal’s public school system provides free education for students in first grade through twelfth grade. Basic education through ninth grade is compulsory.
Preschool activities are furnished by private providers for children whose parents can afford to send them, and several universities and polytechnic schools provide opportunities for higher education.
The University of Lisbon and the University of Porto are the two largest public universities in Portugal.
The University of Lisbon ranks first among universities in Portugal, and the University of Porto is ranked among the top 100 universities in Europe.
Three health care systems coexist in Portugal. First is the National Health System, or “NHS,” which provides coverage to all residents.
Approximately 25 percent of persons living in Portugal also have coverage through health subsystems, which are special coverage schemes for certain professions.
Another 10 percent carry private insurance coverage.
In addition to these three systems, about 7 percent of Portugal’s population have coverage through mutual funds.
Quality of Life
The 2011 Human Development Report stated that, in Portugal, 79.5 years is the average life expectancy.
According to a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2005, Portugal ranks higher in quality of life than Germany, France, Korea and the United Kingdom.
Among all countries in the world, Portugal was 19th best.