Area: 92,391 sq. km., including the Azores and
Madeira Islands; slightly smaller than the State
Cities: Lisbon (capital, metropolitan area pop.
1.9 million), Porto (metro. area 1.7 million),
Terrain: Mountainous in the north; rolling
plains in the central south.
Climate: Maritime temperate, average annual
temperature is 16°C (61°F).
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Portuguese
(singular and plural).
Population (2004): 10.56 million.
Population density: 113 per sq. km. (275 per sq.
Annual growth rate (2003): -1.3%.
Ethnic groups: Homogeneous Mediterranean stock
with small black African and Eastern European
Religion: Roman Catholic, 97%.
Education: Years compulsory--9.
Health (2004 est.): Birth rate--10.82/1,000.
Death rate--10.43/1,000. Infant
mortality rate--5/1,000. Life expectancy--77.53
Work force (5.48 million): Government and
Constitution: Effective April 25, 1976; revised
October 30, 1982, June 1, 1989, November 5,
1992, and September 3, 1997.
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).
Judicial--Supreme Court, district courts,
appeals courts, Constitutional Tribunal.
Administrative subdivisions: 18 districts, 2
Major political parties: Social Democratic Party
(PSD), Socialist Party (PS), Popular Party
(CDS/PP), Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), Left
GDP (2004): $188.7 billion.
Annual growth rate: 1.1%.
Per capita GDP (2004): $17,900.
Avg. inflation rate (2004): 2.1%.
Natural resources: Fish, tungsten, iron, copper,
tin, and uranium ores. Agriculture: Products--forestry,
fisheries, cork, wine.
Industry: Types--textiles, clothing,
footwear, wood and cork, paper, chemicals,
manufacturing, food and beverages.
Services: Commerce, government, housing, banking
Trade (2004): Exports--$37.68 billion;
clothing, footwear, machinery, cork and paper
products, petroleum, textiles. Imports--$52.1
billion: machinery, petroleum, textiles,
agricultural products, chemicals. Export
partners--Spain (25%), France (14%),
Germany (13.5%), U.K. (9.6%), United States
(6%), Italy (4.3%), Netherlands (4%). Import
partners--Spain (29.3%), Germany (14.3%),
France (9.3%), Italy (6.1%), U.K. (4.6%),
U.S. trade (2004): Exports--$1.046
billion: textiles; valves, tubes, transistors,
semiconductors; cork; petroleum oils; footwear;
alcoholic beverages; pottery; office machine
parts; men's apparel; non-electric machinery
parts. Imports--$2.243 billion: valves,
tubes, transistors, semiconductors; aircraft and
associated equipment; oil seeds and oleaginous
fruits; animal feed; vehicle and tractor parts;
telecommunications equipment and parts; engines;
automatic data processing machines; coal; fish.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Portugal moved from authoritarian rule to
parliamentary democracy following the 1974
military coup against dictator Marcello Caetano,
himself 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
communications 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 5-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
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 up to 230 deputies. Elected by
universal suffrage according to a system of
proportional representation, deputies serve
terms of office of 4 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
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.
Macau, a former dependency, reverted to Chinese
sovereignty in December 1999.
Parliamentary elections on February 20, 2005,
gave the Socialist Party a comfortable majority
for the new Prime Minister, Jose Socrates.
Socrates’ government formally assumed power
March 12, 2005.
The Socialist Party’s 2005 victory followed a
period of transition after center-right (PSD)
Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durão Barroso
resigned to accept the nomination as President
of the European Council. Durão Barroso, elected
in 2002, committed his government to
public-sector austerity and business incentives
to promote growth, trade, and productivity. It
faced rising unemployment, meeting euro-zone
fiscal requirements, and adapting to European
Union and NATO enlargement. After Durão
Barroso’s resignation, President Jorge Sampaio
asked the former mayor of Lisbon, Pedro Santana
Lopes, to form a new government. Sampaio lost
confidence in that government by the end of
2004, dissolved parliament, and called for new
Social Democrat Anibal Cavaco Silva, a
center-right candidate and former Prime
Minister, won the Portuguese presidential
election on January 22, 2006 with 50.6% of the
vote. He was sworn in on March 9, 2006,
replacing outgoing Socialist President Sampaio.
Principal Government Officials
President of the Portuguese Republic--Anibal
Prime Minister--Jose Socrates
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Luis Amado
Minister of Defense--Nuno Severiano Teixeira
Minister of State for Internal
Minister of the Presidency of the Council of
Ministers--Pedro Silva Pereira
Minister of State and Justice--Alberto Costa
Minister of Finance--Fernando Teixeira dos
Minister of Economy and Innovation--Manuel Pinho
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs--Augusto
Minister of the Environment--Francisco Nunes
Minister of Culture--Isabel Pires de Lima
Minister of Agriculture--Jaime Silva
Minister of Public Works--Mario Lino
Minister of Labor and Social Security--Jose
Vieira da Silva
Minister of Science, Technology and Higher
Education--Jose Mariano Gago
Minister of Education--Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues
Ambassador to the United States--Pedro Manuel
dos Reis Alves Catarino
Portugal maintains an embassy in the United
States at 2012 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20036; Tel. 202-350-5400; Fax
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.
The Portuguese National Tourist Office in the
United States is located at 590 Fifth Avenue,
New York, NY 10036 (tel: 212-354-4403).
Portugal's membership in the European Union (EU)
contributed to stable economic growth, largely
through increased trade and an inflow of EU
funds for infrastructure improvements. Until
recently, average annual growth rates
consistently exceeded those of the EU average.
Due to slow economic growth, Portugal has lost
ground relative to the rest of the EU since
2002. In 2002, Portuguese per capital GDP was
70.9% of the EU-15 average. In 2005, it is
expected to be 65.1%. Portugal's per capital GDP
is behind that of new members Slovenia, Malta,
and Cyprus and, since 2002, Greece.
In order to enter the European Monetary Union
(EMU) in January 1999, Portugal agreed to cut
its fiscal deficit and undertake structural
reforms. 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. However, private
sector borrowing increased dramatically. By
2001, the economy was in serious external
imbalance, with a large current and capital
account deficit. Portugal was the first country
to breach the Eurozone's Stability and Growth
Pact budget deficit target of 3%, with a gap
equal to 4.2% of GDP. The Government of Portugal
(GOP) met the 3% target in 2002 and 2003, but
only with substantial one-off revenues. Despite
a hiring freeze and other measures, the
Portuguese general government deficit was 3% of
GDP in 2004 and is projected by the European
Commission to reach almost 6% of GDP in 2005 and
close to 5% of GDP in 2006. To comply with EU
requirements to maintain fiscal austerity, the
2006 budget presented by the new Socrates
government in October 2005 includes reforms of
pension schemes and public administration,
including career and wage scales. There is a
freeze on public sector promotions until the end
of 2006. Revenue producing measures, adopted in
mid-2005, include an increase in VAT from 19 to
21%, and improved tax collection.
The Portuguese economy experienced a 1.3%
decline in 2003 but showed a slight recovery in
2004 of 1.1%. The European Commission projects
GDP growth of below 1% in 2006 and close to
1.25% in 2007. The government believes that
labor reform legislation, which took effect in
early 2004, corporate and personal tax cuts in
2004 and 2005, and other changes will support a
strong economic recovery and a return to faster
growth. Unemployment reached 7.7% in the third
quarter of 2005.
Portugal's economy is based on traditional
industries such as textiles, clothing, footwear,
cork and wood products, beverages (wine),
porcelain and earthenware, and glass and
glassware. In addition, the country has
increased its role in Europe's automotive sector
and has a world-class mold-making industry.
Services, particularly tourism, are playing an
increasingly important role. Portugal’s EU
funding will be cut by 10%, to 22.5 billion
euros, during the 2007-2013 period. EU expansion
into eastern Europe has erased Portugal's
historic competitive advantage and low labor
costs. The government is working to change
Portugal's economic development model from one
based on public consumption and public
investment to one focused on exports and private
Portugal has been a significant beneficiary of
the European Union and is a proponent of
European integration. Portugal held the
presidency of the EU for the second time during
the first half of 2000. Portugal used its term
to launch a dialogue between the EU and Africa
and to begin to take steps to make the European
economy dynamic and competitive. In 2002, the
Euro began to circulate as Portugal's currency.
Portugal was a founding member of NATO; it is
an active member of the alliance by, for
example, contributing proportionally large
contingents in Balkans peacekeeping forces.
Portugal proposed the creation of the Community
of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) to
improve its ties with other Portuguese-speaking
countries. Additionally, Portugal has
participated in a series of Ibero-American
summits. Portugal was a strong advocate of
independence for East Timor, a former Portuguese
colony, and has committed troops and money to
East Timor, in close cooperation with the United
States, Asian allies, and the United Nations.
Portugal contributed a small gendarme force to
Iraq that it withdrew in February 2005, and has
contributed funds for other training and
development projects for Iraq reconstruction,
including the NATO Training Mission.
Bilateral ties date from the earliest years of
the United States. Following the Revolutionary
War, Portugal was the first neutral country to
recognize the United States. On February 21,
1791, President George Washington opened formal
diplomatic relations, naming Col. David
Humphreys as U.S. minister.
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 defense relationship between the United
States and Portugal is excellent, centered on
the 1995 Agreement on Cooperation and Defense (ACD).
Lajes Air Base in the Azores has played an
important role in supporting U.S. military
aircraft engaged in counter-terrorism and
humanitarian missions, including operations in
Afghanistan and Iraq. Portugal also provides the
United States and other allies access to Montijo
Air Base and a number of ports.
Portugal defines itself as "Atlanticist,"
emphasizing its support for strong European ties
with the United States, particularly on defense
and security issues. The Portuguese Government
has been a key ally in U.S.-led efforts in Iraq,
and hosted the Azores Summit that preceded
military action. Portugal sees its role as host
of NATO's newly renamed "Headquarters West"
(formerly SOUTHLANT), located near Lisbon, as an
important sign of alliance interest in
transatlantic security issues. As a staunch NATO
ally since the founding of the organization,
Portugal is a participant in NATO peacekeeping.
It used its 2002 chairmanship of the OSCE to
advance U.S. and European security objectives.
U.S.-Portuguese trade is relatively small,
with the United States exporting $863 million
worth of goods in 2002 and importing an
estimated $1.67 billion. While total Portuguese
trade has increased dramatically over the last
10 years, the U.S. percentage of it--both
exports and imports--has declined. The
Portuguese Government is seeking to increase
exports of textiles and footwear to the United
States and is encouraging greater bilateral
investment. U.S. firms play a significant role
in the automotive, pharmaceutical, computer, and
retailing sectors in Portugal.
Principal U.S. Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--Adrienne O'Neal
Political/Economic Affairs--Matthew Harrington
Consular Affairs--Brian Oberle
Management Affairs--John Olson
Public Affairs--Joao Ecsodi
Regional Security Officer--Thomas Haycraft
Commercial Affairs--Gregory Taevs
Defense Attache--Col. Richard Villalobos
Office of Defense Cooperation--Capt. Francis
Consul, Ponta Delgada--David Scott
U.S. Embassy is located at Avenida das
Forças Armadas, 1600-081 Lisbon, Portugal (tel.:
351-21-727-3300). The embassy homepage is
The Ponta Delgada consulate is located at
Avenida Principe Monaco, 6-2 Frente, Ponta
Delgada, 9500-237 Sao Miguel, Azores (tel.:
296-282216). The consular agent in Funchal,
Madeira is Edgar Potter (tel.: 291-741088).