Portugal Country Facts

Capital city Lisbon
Surface 92,345 km²
Population 10,487,000
Road network length 68,732 km
Length of highway network 3,904 km
First highway 1944
Motorway name autoestrada
Traffic drives Right
License plate code P

Portugal is a country in Southwestern Europe. The country has 10.4 million inhabitants and is about twice the size of the Netherlands. The capital is Lisbon (Lisbon).


Portugal occupies the westernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula and only has a land border with Spain. The country measures approximately 560 kilometers from north to south and a maximum of 200 kilometers from east to west. Portugal includes Madeira, which is located 900 kilometers southwest of the mainland in the Atlantic Ocean, and the Azores, a group of islands 1,400 to 1,900 kilometers west of Portugal. The most distant islands of the Azores are located about halfway between Portugal and Canada.

The mainland of Portugal mainly consists of hills to low mountains, although there are also coastal plains. The highest mountain on the mainland is the 1,993 meter high Serra da Estrela. The highest mountain in Portugal is Montanha do Pico in the Azores with a peak of 2,351 meters. In general, the northeast of Portugal is quite mountainous, with plateaus and deep valleys. The south, consisting of the Alentejo and Algarve regions, is flat to sloping with only limited mountain areas.

The Tejo (Taag) is the most important river in Portugal and flows east-west through the country and flows into a large bay near the capital Lisboa (Lisbon). The Douro is the most important river in the north of the country. The River Guadiana partly forms the border with Spain in the south of Portugal. The Minho partly forms the border with Spain in the north.

Portugal has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. However, there are major regional differences, the mountains in the northeast are colder, the highest mountains regularly snow in winter. The interior of the south is very hot in summer. Precipitation is highest in the north and lowest in the south. In the Azores, there is also a lot of precipitation on some islands. The sea temperature is lower than in the Mediterranean, also along the Algarve.


Portugal has a relatively developed economy, although the income is the lowest in Western Europe, with a significantly lower income than in neighboring Spain. The differences between the large cities and the countryside are relatively large. From 2009 Portugal experienced a deep recession. Agriculture in Portugal is still relatively small-scale. Fishing is an important export product. Like most developed countries, Portugal’s economy is largely service-based. The tourism sector is relatively large in Portugal. Well-known tourist attractions are the capital Lisboa (Lisbon), the wine regions around Porto and mass tourism in the Algarve. In addition, Madeira attracts tourists, and to a lesser extent the Azores, because of its isolated location and high transport costs.

The country has relatively little heavy industry. Some earth metals are mined in Portugal, but the country has few raw materials. There are relatively few Portuguese companies that are internationally known. One of the better-known Portuguese companies that operate internationally is the construction company Mota-Engil. Portugal has traditionally had an emigration of labor to other parts of Europe, from the old days in mining and steel construction in Luxembourg for example. Unemployment is relatively high, especially among young people.


Portugal has approximately 10.5 million inhabitants. The population grew relatively slowly after the Second World War, from 5.4 million in 1900 to 8.5 million in 1950 and 10.3 million in 2010. Madeira has 268,000 inhabitants and the Azores have 250,000 inhabitants. Relatively few foreigners live in Portugal compared to many other western countries, with the largest share coming from the former colonies such as Cape Verde, Angola and Guinea. In addition, many Brazilians live in Portugal because of the shared language. In recent years, the number of Romanians, Ukrainians and Moldovans has increased sharply. However, Portugal does not have nearly as many migrant workers as Spain.

More than a quarter of the Portuguese live in and around the capital Lisboa (Lisbon). The second largest agglomeration is Porto in the north of the country. There are also several smaller agglomerations. Portugal has only 7 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants.


Portugal was one of the greatest world powers in history, with colonies in what are now 53 countries. Partly because of this, Portuguese is spoken by 250 million people, despite the fact that Portugal itself only has 10 million inhabitants. Portugal’s global influence declined sharply in the 19th century after Brazil gained independence. Portugal was under an authoritarian anthem between 1933 and 1974. In contrast, it remained outside World War II. After that, Portugal’s colonies gradually became independent, especially in Africa and Asia. In 1961, some small overseas territories in India became part of that country. Guinea-Bissau became independent in 1973. In 1975 Angola, Cape Verde, obtainedMozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe ‘s independence. In 1999, Macau was transferred as a special administrative region of China. East Timor was last formally given independence in 2002.


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