For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.
Area: 92,391 sq. km.; includes continental Portugal, the Azores (2,333 sq. km.) and Madeira Islands (828 sq. km.); slightly smaller than the State of Indiana; located in Europe's southwest corner bordered by Spain (North and East, 1,214 km.) and the Atlantic Ocean (West and South, 1,793 km.).
Major cities: Lisbon (capital, metropolitan area pop. 2.1 million); Porto (metropolitan area pop. 1.9 million).
Terrain: Mountainous in the north; rolling plains in the central and southern regions.
Climate: Maritime temperate (Atlantic-Mediterranean); average annual temperature is 61°F. Temperatures may drop into the low 30s (°F) at night during the coldest months, with daytime highs in the 50s and 60s. The remainder of the year is normally sunny with minimal rainfall. Days are pleasant, with temperatures seldom exceeding 95°F, except in the southern interior of the country; afternoons and evenings are breezy, with nighttime temperatures in the 60s and low 70s; May-October (dry and warm), November-April (cool with rain and wind in the north, mild in the south).
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Portuguese (singular and plural).
Population (2008 est.): 10.6 million. Ages 0 to 14 years--1.6 million (male 832 488; female 790 503). Ages 15 to 24 years--1.2 million (male 615 532; female 591 528). Ages 25 to 64 years--5.9 million (male 2 912 025; female 3 010 965). Ages 65 and over years--1.9 million (male 782 521; female 1 091 688).
Population density: 114 per sq. km. (44 per sq. mi.).
Annual growth rate (2008 est.): 0.8%.
Ethnic groups: Homogeneous Mediterranean stock with small minority groups from Africa (Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique), South America (Brazil) and Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Romania).
Religion: Roman Catholic 92%, Protestant 4%, atheists 3%, others 1%.
Education: Years compulsory--12. Literacy (2004)--93.3%.
Health (2009 est.): Birth rate--9.8/1,000 (1.07 male/female). Death rate--10.48/1,000. Infant mortality rate--3.25/1,000. Life expectancy--78.70 years.
Work force (2008 est.): 5.6 million. Government and services (60%); industry and manufacturing (30%); agriculture and fishing (10%).
Constitution: Effective April 25, 1976; revised 1982, 1989, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2004, and 2005.
Branches: Executive--president (head of state), Council of State (presidential advisory body), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers. Legislative--unicameral Assembly of the Republic (230 deputies): PS=97, PSD=81, PCP=13, CDS/PP=21, BE=16, PEV=2. Judicial--Supreme Court, District Courts, Appeals Courts, Constitutional Tribunal.
Major political parties: Socialist Party (PS), Social Democratic Party (PSD); Portuguese Communist Party (PCP); Popular Party (CDS/PP); Left Bloc (BE); Green Party (PEV).
Administrative subdivisions: 18 Districts (Lisbon, Leiria, Santarem, Setubal, Beja, Faro, Evora, Portalegre, Castelo Branco, Guarda, Coimbra, Aveiro, Viseu, Braganca, Vila Real, Porto, Braga, Viana do Castelo); 2 Autonomous Island Regions (the Azores and Madeira).
GDP (2009 est.): €163 billion (approx. $220 billion).
Annual growth rate (2009 est.): -2.9%.
Per capita GDP (2009 est.): €15,176 (approx. $20,508).
Avg. inflation rate (2009 est.): -1.0%.
Services (71.4% gross value added: Wholesale and retail trade; hotels and tourism; restaurants; transport, storage and communication; real estate; banking and finance; repair; government, civil, and public sectors.
Industry (26.3% gross value added): Textiles, clothing, footwear, wood and cork, paper, chemicals, auto-parts manufacturing, base metals, dairy products, wine and other foods, porcelain and ceramics; glassware, technology; telecommunications.
Agriculture (2.3% gross value added): Livestock, crops, fish.
Trade (2008): Exports--€37.9 billion (approx. $55 billion): machinery and tools 19%; vehicles and other transport materials 12.8%; base metals 9.1%; clothing 6.3%; oil products 6.1%; plastics and rubber 5.9%; minerals and mineral products 5.6%; chemical products 4.5%; food products 4.4%; agricultural products 4.4%; wood pulp and paper 4.2%; wood and cork 4.2%; textile materials 4.1%; footwear 3.3%; optical and precision instruments 0.9%; skin and leather 0.3%. Imports--€61 billion (approx. $91 billion): machinery and tools 18.3%; oil products 16.7%; vehicles and other transport material 13.1%; chemical products 9.7%; agricultural products 9.1%; base metals 8.5%; plastics and rubber 4.7%; food products 3.4%; textile materials 2.8%; clothing 2.4%; wood pulp and paper 2.2%; optical and precision instruments 1.9%; minerals and mineral products 1.5%; wood and cork 1.2%; skins and leather 0.9%; footwear 0.9%. Export partners - Spain (27.2%); Germany (12.9%); France (11.7%); Angola (6.0%), United Kingdom (5.5%); Italy (3.8%), United States (3.5%); Netherlands (3.3%); Belgium (2.5%); Singapore (2.3%); others (21.3%). All EU-27 (73.7%). Import partners - Spain (30.8%); Germany (12.4%); France (8.3%); Italy (5.3%); Netherlands (4.6%) ; United Kingdom (3.2%); Nigeria (2.8%); Belgium (2.7%); Brazil (2.2%), China (2.2%); United States (1.7%); others (23.8%). All EU-27 (73.5%).
U.S. trade with Portugal (2008): Exports--$2.6 billion: electrical machinery, telecommunications 32.1%; aerospace 26.5%; machinery and mechanical appliances, computers 7.2%; oil seeds and grains 4.7%; all others 29.5%. Imports--$2.4 billion: vehicles and parts 15%; mineral fuels, oils 14.5%; electrical machinery, telecommunications 13.5%; cork and articles of cork 8.5%, all others 48.5%.
Foreign direct investment (FDI, 2008): Incoming FDI by industry: manufacturing 32.1%; wholesale and retail 30%; real estate, rentals and services to companies 23.5%; financial activities 4.5%; transport, warehousing, and communication 3.6%; electricity, gas, water 1.4%; construction 0.8%; agriculture, forestry, and fisheries 0.3%; mining 0.2%; other 3.6%.
Incoming FDI by country in Euros (total €31.9 billion; approx. $46 billion): Germany 20%; United Kingdom 15.6%; Spain 13.6%; Netherlands 13.4%; France 12.8%; Switzerland 6%; Luxembourg 5.4%; Canada 2.1%; Belgium 1.9%; Sweden 1.9%; United States 1.4%; other 5.9%.
Portuguese FDI abroad by country in Euros (total €10 billion; approx. $ 14billion): Netherlands 30.8%; Spain 15.9%; Brazil 11.2%; Angola 5.8%; United Kingdom 4.5%; France 3.4%; Luxembourg 3.2%; Denmark 3.2%; United States 1.6%; Ireland 1.3%; other 19.1%.
Exchange rate: (2008) US$1 = €0.67 EUR; (2009) US$1 =€0.74
Portugal is one of the oldest states in Europe. It traces its modern history to A.D. 1140 when, following a nine-year rebellion against the King of Leon-Castile, Afonso Henriques, the Count of Portugal, became the country's first king, Afonso I. Afonso and his successors expanded their territory southward, capturing Lisbon from the Moors in 1147. The approximate present-day boundaries were secured in 1249 by Afonso III.
By 1337, Portuguese explorers had reached the Canary Islands. Inspired by Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), explorers such as Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeu Dias, and Pedro Alvares Cabral made explorations from Brazil to India and Japan. Portugal eventually became a massive colonial empire with vast territories in Africa (Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome) and Latin America (Brazil), and outposts in the Far East (East Timor, Macau, Goa).
Dynastic disputes led in 1580 to the succession of Philip II of Spain to the Portuguese throne. A revolt ended Spanish hegemony in 1640, and the House of Braganca was established as Portugal's ruling family, lasting until the establishment of the Portuguese Republic in 1910.
During the next 16 years, intense political rivalries and economic instability undermined newly established democratic institutions. Responding to pressing economic problems, a military government, which had taken power in 1926, named a prominent university economist, Dr. Antonio Salazar, as finance minister in 1928 and prime minister in 1932. For the next 42 years, Salazar and his successor, Marcelo Caetano (appointed prime minister in 1968), ruled Portugal as an authoritarian "corporate" state. Unlike most other European countries, Portugal remained neutral in World War II. It was a charter member of NATO, joining in 1949.
In the early 1960s, wars against independence movements in Portugal's African territories began to drain labor and wealth from Portugal. Professional dissatisfaction within the military, coupled with a growing sense of the futility of the African conflicts, led to the formation of the clandestine "Armed Forces Movement" in 1973.
The downfall of the Portuguese corporate state came on April 25, 1974, when the Armed Forces Movement seized power in a nearly bloodless coup and established a provisional military government.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Portugal moved from authoritarian rule to parliamentary democracy following the 1974 military coup against dictator Marcelo Caetano, who embodied a continuation of the long-running dictatorship of Antonio Salazar. After a period of instability and communist agitation, Portugal ratified a new Constitution in 1976. Subsequent revisions of the Constitution placed the military under strict civilian control; trimmed the powers of the president; and laid the groundwork for a stable, pluralistic liberal democracy, as well as privatization of nationalized firms and the government-owned media. Portugal joined the European Union in 1986 and has moved toward greater political and economic integration with Europe ever since.
The four main branches of the national government are the presidency, the prime minister and Council of Ministers (the government), the Assembly of the Republic (the parliament), and the judiciary. The president, elected to a five-year term by direct, universal suffrage, also is commander in chief of the armed forces. Presidential powers include confirming the prime minister and Council of Ministers; dismissing the prime minister; dissolving the assembly to call early elections; vetoing legislation, which may be overridden by the assembly; and declaring a state of war or siege. The Council of State, a presidential advisory body, is composed of six senior civilian officers, former presidents elected under the 1976 constitution, five members chosen by the assembly, and five selected by the president.
The government is headed by the prime minister, who is nominated by the assembly for confirmation by the president. The prime minister then names the Council of Ministers. A new government is required to present its governing platform to the assembly for approval.
The Assembly of the Republic is a unicameral body composed of 230 deputies. Elected by universal suffrage according to a system of proportional representation, deputies serve terms of office of four years, unless the president dissolves the assembly and calls for new elections. The national Supreme Court is the court of last appeal. Military, administrative, and fiscal courts are designated as separate court categories. A nine-member Constitutional Tribunal reviews the constitutionality of legislation.
The Azores and Madeira Islands have constitutionally mandated autonomous status. A regional autonomy statute promulgated in 1980 established the Government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores; the Government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira operates under a provisional autonomy statute in effect since 1976. Continental Portugal is divided into 18 districts, each headed by a governor appointed by the Minister of Internal Administration.
Parliamentary elections on September 27, 2009, gave the Socialist Party a plurality for incumbent Prime Minister Jose Socrates. Socrates' government formally assumed power October 26, 2009.
On September 27, 2009, the ruling center-left Socialist Party, led by Prime Minister Jose Socrates, was reelected in parliamentary elections with 37 percent of the vote and assumed power October 26. Although reelected, it lost the absolute majority it had enjoyed in Parliament since 2005, with the loss of 24 (from 121 to 97) of the Parliament’s 230 seats. During the early months of its second mandate, PM Socrates’ minority government has faced numerous challenges, including attempts by the opposition to block key legislation. While it has aligned with left-wing parties on social issues, such as same-sex marriage, it has looked to right-wing parties for support on fiscal policies and the 2010 budget. With rising unemployment and a growing budget deficit exceeding the mandated euro-zone limit, Socrates’ challenge will be ensuring long-term economic and political stability and restoring public confidence amid increasing attack by the opposition.
Social Democrat Anibal Cavaco Silva, a center-right candidate and former prime minister (1985-1995), won the Portuguese presidential election on January 22, 2006 with 50.6% of the vote, becoming Portugal’s first center-right head of state in three decades. He was sworn in on March 9, 2006, replacing outgoing Socialist President Sampaio. A new president will be elected in 2011.
Principal Government Officials
President of the Portuguese Republic--Anibal Cavaco Silva
Prime Minister--Jose Socrates
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Luis Amado
Minister of State and Finance--Fernando Teixeira dos Santos
Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers--Pedro Silva Pereira
Minister of Defense--Augusto Santos Silva
Minister of Internal Administration--Rui Pereira
Minister of Justice--Alberto Martins
Minister of Economy and Innovation--Jose Vieira da Silva
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs--Jorge Lacao
Minister of the Environment--Dulce Passaro
Minister of Culture--Gabriela Canavilhas
Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries--Antonio Serrano
Minister of Public Works--Antonio Mendonca
Minister of Labor and Social Security--Helena Andre
Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education--Jose Mariano Gago
Minister of Education--Isabel Alcada
Minister of Health--Ana Jorge
President of the Government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores--Carlos Cesar
President of the Government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira--Alberto Joao Jardim
Ambassador to the United States--Joao de Vallera
Portugal maintains an embassy in the United States at 2012 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036 (http://www.embassyportugal-us.org/); Tel. 1-202-350-5400; Fax 1-202-462-3726 and consulates general in New York City, Boston, San Francisco, and Newark, NJ; consulates in Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA; and honorary consulates in Honolulu, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, San Juan, and Waterbury, CT. The Portuguese National Tourist Office in the United States is located at 590 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10036 (tel: 1-212-354-4403).
The Portuguese economy experienced a boost when Portugal joined the European Union (EU) in 1986 and the European Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999. In recent years, however, it has suffered from sluggish to negative growth, a ballooning budget deficit, and high unemployment, which have led to record-high spreads on sovereign debt, downgrades in credit ratings, and comparisons to Spain and Greece.
Portugal's membership in the EU contributed to stable economic growth, largely through increased trade fostered by Portugal’s low labor costs and an inflow of EU funds for infrastructure improvements.Portugal's subsequent entry into the EMU brought exchange rate stability, lower inflation, and lower interest rates. Falling interest rates, in turn, lowered the cost of public debt and helped the country achieve its fiscal targets. Until 2001, average annual growth rates consistently exceeded those of the EU average. However, a dramatic increase in private sector loans led to a serious external imbalance, with large capital account deficits that year.
The Government of Portugal managed to keep the budget deficit under 3% in accordance with the Eurozone's Stability and Growth Pact during 2002-2004. However, in 2005 Portugal’s budget deficit surged to an all-time high of 6.1%. Since then, the Socrates government has undertaken efforts to bring the budget situation under control. In 2006, the government reduced the deficit to 3.9%, mainly through revenue-generating measures, including increased collection enforcement and higher taxes. The 2007 budget further reduced the deficit to 2.6% through spending cuts and structural reforms, and the 2008 budget brought the deficit down further to 2.2%, the lowest rate in 30 years. In 2009, however, the budget deficit soared to 9.3% of GDP as a result of a more than 11% drop in tax revenue. Portugal’s public debt reached 66.3% of GDP in 2008 and 76.6% (est.) in 2009, with a projected increase to 85.4% of GDP in 2010.
Helped in part by a wider EU recovery, the Portuguese economy grew by 1.9% in 2007, up from 1.4% the previous year. But a slowing regional economy saw the Portuguese economy stagnate in 2008 with 0.0% growth, short of predictions, and decline by 2.6% in 2009. The economy is expected to slowly pick up in 2010 with projected growth of 0.7%, and 1.0% in 2011.
Unemployment was 9.5% in 2009, up from 7.6% in 2008. The number of unemployed totaled an estimated 528,600 in 2009, an increase of 23.8% from the previous year. In the fourth quarter of 2009, unemployment reached an all-time high of 10.1%.
The service sector, which includes the public service, wholesale and retail trade, tourism, real estate, and banking and finance, is now Portugal's largest employer, having overtaken the traditionally predominant manufacturing and agriculture sectors since the country joined the EU in 1986. EU expansion into Eastern Europe has negated Portugal's historic competitive advantage of relatively low labor costs, particularly in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors. Under the leadership of Socialist PM Jose Socrates, who was reelected in September 2009 on a platform of modernization and innovation, the government has been working to change Portugal's economic development model from one based on public consumption and public investment to one focused on exports, private investment, and development of the high-tech sector.
Due to slow economic growth, Portugal has lost ground relative to the rest of the EU since 2002. Portugal's 2008 per capita GDP stood at 76.0 purchasing power standards (PPS) as compared to the EU-27 average of 100 PPS, leaving the country in last place among its Western European counterparts after accounting for differences in prices (but ahead of EU’s newest members). Now among the weaker economies in the EU, Portugal has until 2013 to bring its budget deficit back below the mandated 3% euro-zone limit. The government has pledged to reduce the budget deficit by freezing public sector wages, reducing attrition replacement hiring, decreasing pension benefits for government employees who retire early, creating jobs, and promoting productivity and competitiveness.
Portugal has consistently supported EU expansion, including entry talks with Turkey. Of Portugal’s three foreign policy priorities (EU, transatlantic ties, Lusophone states), the EU is the most important. EU policies and regulations increasingly direct Portuguese law and policy, and Portuguese foreign policy is increasingly influenced by a need for EU consensus. Portugal is a member of the “Schengen” passport-free zone.
Portugal joined the United Nations in 1955, and held a rotating Security Council seat in 1979-80 and 1997-98. Portugal has been lobbying for another term in a rotating Security Council seat in 2011-2012 and is seeking support from the U.S. and many others. It is an active participant in UN organizations and Portuguese forces participate in many UN operations, including Congo, Guinea, Lebanon, and East Timor.
Portugal is a founding member of NATO; it is an active member of the alliance and Portuguese forces participate in NATO operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Portugal will host the 2010 NATO Summit.
Portugal is a key member of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), an organization headquartered in Lisbon intended to unite Lusophone nations and discuss promoting the Portuguese language as well as political and economic linkages. Portugal is also a member of the Community of Democracies (CD) and has participated in a series of Ibero-American summits. Portugal was a strong advocate of independence for Timor-Leste, a former Portuguese colony, and has provided troops and money to Timor-Leste in close cooperation with the United States, Asian allies, and the United Nations.
Bilateral ties date from the earliest years of the United States. Following the Revolutionary War, Portugal was among the first countries to recognize the United States. On February 21, 1791, President George Washington opened formal diplomatic relations, naming Col. David Humphreys as U.S. minister. The oldest continuously-operating U.S. Consulate in the world, since 1795, is in Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel in the Azores.
Contributing to the strong ties between the United States and Portugal are the sizable Portuguese communities in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, California, and Hawaii. The latest census estimates that 1.3 million individuals living in the United States are of Portuguese ancestry, with a large percentage coming from the Azores. There are about 20,000 Americans living in Portugal.
The United States–Portugal defense relationship is strong and enduring. The current U.S.-Portugal Agreement on Cooperation and Defense (ACD) was signed in 1995, however U.S. military forward presence at Lajes Field, in the Azores, extends back to World War II. 65 Air Base Wing, U.S. Air Forces Europe, in close cooperation with the Portuguese Air Force, ensures that Lajes Field remains a critical logistic hub for U.S. Transportation Command, European Command and our NATO Allies. Access to Lajes Field is an essential component of U.S. European Command’s engagement in Portugal. This access supports deployed U.S. forces throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. U.S. missions currently supported by our presence at Lajes Field include, counter-terrorism, humanitarian, and combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Portugal values the transatlantic alliance and advocates within the European Union and NATO for strong European ties with the United States, particularly on defense and security issues. The Portuguese Government is seeking greater cooperation with U.S. Africa Command to synchronize engagement efforts, and to enhance bilateral and multilateral cooperation with the U.S. on the African Continent. Portugal hosts NATO Allied Joint Command Lisbon and envisions expanding the command’s role to facilitate intensifying NATO’s engagement on the African Continent. The Portuguese Government continues to struggle to meet NATO’s Defense Spending Target, but is in the process of completing a transformation of its military command structure and will accept delivery new/upgraded advanced weapons systems throughout 2010.
U.S.-Portuguese trade is relatively small, with the United States exporting $2.6 billion worth of goods in 2008 and importing an estimated $2.4 billion. While total Portuguese trade has increased dramatically over the last 10 years, the U.S. percentage of Portugal's exports and imports has been growing at a slower rate. The Portuguese Government is seeking to increase technology and service exports, as well as traditional products (textiles and footwear) to the United States and is encouraging greater bilateral investment. U.S. firms play significant roles in the pharmaceutical, computer, and retail sectors in Portugal, but their involvement in the automotive manufacturing sector has declined in recent years.
Principal U.S. Officials
Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.--David Ballard
Political/Economic Affairs--Richard Reiter
Consular Affairs--Eugene Sweeney
Management Affairs--Jesse Coronado
Public Affairs--Abigail Dressel
Acting Regional Security Officer--Robert Holbrook
Commercial Affairs--Dillon Banerjee
Defense Attache--COL Karl Johnson
Office of Defense Cooperation--CDR Ted Bradfield
Principal Officer, Ponta Delgada--Gavin Sundwall
The U.S. Embassy is located at Avenida das Forcas Armadas, 1600-081 Lisbon, Portugal (tel.: +351-21-727-3300). The embassy homepages are: http://portugal.usembassy.gov and http://lisbon.usembassy.gov/.
The Ponta Delgada consulate is located at Avenida Principe Monaco, 6-2 Frente, Ponta Delgada, 9500-237 Sao Miguel, Azores (tel.: +351-29-628-2216). The consulate homepage is: http://www.usconsulateazores.pt/. The consular agent in Funchal, Madeira is Edgar Potter (tel.: +351-29-174-1088).