Portugal - geography
Portugal occupies the southwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula as well as
the Azores and Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean. The mainland is administratively
divided into five regions and 18 districts.
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The landscape is predominantly lowland; with approximately 12% of the country is
located at altitudes above 700 m. The river Tejo (sp. Tajo) divides
the country into a northern, mountainous part and a southern with predominantly
gently hilly terrain.
The mountains lie mainly along the border towards Spain; the height of the
mountains is generally decreasing from north to south and from east to west. The
highest mountain on the Portuguese mainland is Torre da Estrela (1993 m) in the
Serra da Estrela mountain range.
The subsoil in Portugal consists predominantly of granite, sandstone, gneiss
and slate. The bedrock from the Hercynian fold was in Tertiary exposed to
fractures and displacements, which led to the formation of the mountain ranges
and valley depressions that largely characterize the landscape today. The
location of a tectonic active zone has exposed the country to earthquakes, worst
in 1755, when Lisbon was destroyed, and approximately 40,000 people died.
In the mountainous regions, a multitude of rivers originate, almost all of
which have their outlet in the Atlantic Ocean, Mondego, Vouga, Sado and
Zêzere. However, Portugal's largest rivers, the Tagus, the Douro, the Minho and
the Guadiana, all originate in Spain. The river valleys run parallel to the
mountain ranges and are cultivated in many places, for example around the Douro
and Mondego, where wine is grown. Dams across the rivers ensure that hydropower
is used for electricity production in several places.
The coast is characterized by flat sandy beaches, which in some places are
interrupted by steep rock formations, eg at Cape da Roca and Cape
Espichel respectively. west and south of Lisbon and Cape Saint Vincent on
the Algarve coast. Only in a few places are there natural protected ports. The
most important are Lisbon and Setúbal. Porto's commercial port of Leixões is
artificially constructed at the mouth of the river Leça. In the smaller coastal
towns, boats have traditionally been pulled up on the beach.
The climate in Portugal varies greatly considering the size of the
country. The variation is due in part to the height differences, in part to the
location between the cool Atlantic Ocean and the continental climate of the
Iberian Peninsula. In general, the northwestern part of the country has a
temperate climate, the southern part a subtropical climate, while the inner
eastern regions often have a continental climate with marked fluctuations
between winter and summer temperatures.
In Lisbon, the average temperature in January is 11 °C and in July 22 °C; the annual precipitation here is approximately 700 mm, but is higher to the north
(1150 mm in Porto) and lower to the south (415 mm in Sagres near Cape São
The indigenous Iberian people have throughout the ages been mixed with Celts,
Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, and 1500's introduced African slaves. Migrations have
characterized the development in the population: 1820-1920 emigrated over 1
million. Portuguese to Brazil. Also, Mozambique and Angola were targets of
Portuguese emigration; in the 1960's, emigration to France, Germany and the
United States in particular was such that the population of Portugal fell by
300,000 to 8.6 million.
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population pyramid and resident density about this country.
The page is approximately 800,000 Portuguese returned from the former colonies,
which again increased the population. The country's average population density
is 114 residents per capita. km2, but it varies greatly from the
very sparsely populated Alentejo region with only 24.6 residents per km. km2 to
the densely populated coastal areas, where the population density is between 150
and 300 residents per. km2.
approximately 75% of the population live within a third of the country's territory
in a wide belt along the coast from Setúbal in the south to the Spanish border
in the north. In this area you will also find the country's largest cities: the
capital Lisbon as well as Porto, Guimarães, Coimbra and Braga. Portugal has long
been one of Europe's least urbanized countries with a large proportion of the
population living in the countryside.
Following Portugal's accession to the EU in 1986, the country's
infrastructure has been significantly modernized. This has been particularly
evident in large-scale motorway facilities, which via Spain are to link the
country more closely with the other EU countries. EU structural funds have also
provided support for the construction of bridges and the modernization of port
facilities and airports.
Industry. approximately 28% of the working population is employed in
industry, which contributes 28% of GDP (2004). The vast majority of companies
are located in the coastal area. approximately 1/3 of the
industry's workforce is employed in the textile industry, but of vital economic
importance is also the chemical industry and shoemaking. Within the transport
area, e.g. cars (VW, Ford), while Sorefame AAB manufactures train equipment.
Fishing. In 2004, the Portuguese fishing fleet consisted of 10,000
vessels with a total tonnage of 113,000 gross registered tonnes with an annual
catch of 221,000 tonnes. Traditionally, fishing for sardines has been of great
importance also for employment on land.
In the mid-1990's represented by the following sardines more than 1/3 of
the catch, of which about 50% is processed in canneries and marketed as exports
to Italy, Spain and France in particular; however, the total volume has been
declining. In addition, horse mackerel, squid, tuna and hake are caught.
Portuguese fisheries have been in decline since joining the EU. In 2004,
Portugal imported 341,000 tonnes of seafood, including large quantities of
dried, salted cod, which are served everywhere as the national dish bacalhau (clipfish).
Agriculture and forestry. Agriculture, together with forestry and
fisheries, employs 12% of the active population, but with outdated production
methods and extensive farming, yields are modest and contribute only 3.5% of GDP
(2006); more than half of the main foods must be imported. The sizes of use vary
from north to south. In the north there are mainly smaller family farms, while
the southern part of the country has traditionally been run as large estates (latifundier). approximately 1/5 of
the cultivated land is irrigated.
The main crops are wine and cork, other crops are wheat, in more humid own
corn, in the coastal areas and along the rivers rice; in addition rye,
oats, potatoes, vegetables, citrus fruits, almonds, chestnuts and olives. Wine
is grown on a total area of up to 400,000 ha, and wine districts are found in
all regions. Most famous are the port wine from the Douro Valley, Vinho verde
from Minho and Dão and Bairrada from Beira Alta and Beira Litoral
respectively. Portugal is the world's largest cork producer; largest single item
is corks for wine bottles.
Since the mid-1970's, the fast-growing eucalyptus tree has begun to play a
major role in Portuguese forestry. It is used for both timber and paper and
cellulose production, but has had unfortunate consequences for the environment
in the form of pollution and because the groundwater level is lowered. In
addition, there is an increased frequency of extensive forest fires.
Mining. Portugal has a significant export of marble. The stone is
quarried in the province of Alentejo around the towns of Borba, Estremoz and
Vila Viçosa. In the European context, Portugal is also a leader
in copper mining. It also takes place in the Alentejo near the town of Neves
Corvo. Mineral extraction by mining also includes deposits of tin, tungsten,
uranium, gold, zinc and coal.
Service business and tourism. 57% of Portugal's working population
is employed in the service industries, contributing 71% of GDP (2006). Earnings
from tourism contribute 11% of GDP and employ 10% of the population.
Tourism is of particular economic importance on the Algarve coast and in the
Lisbon region, as well as in Madeira. In 2005, almost DKK 24 million
visited tourists Portugal, of which more than 15 million. from neighboring
Portugal is among the countries that have received significant funding from
the EU's Structural and Cohesion Funds for the modernization of society. This
also applies to agriculture, where there has been a structural rationalization
with e.g. closure of small holdings; However, Portugal's agriculture continues
to have low productivity compared to other EU countries. The energy supply is
mainly based on imports; 40% comes from the country's many hydropower plants and
5% from wind turbines (2006).
Portugal - language
Portugal is linguistically a very homogeneous country, with virtually the
entire population speaking Portuguese. The language border follows the state
border in the north towards the closely related Galician and towards Spanish in
the east except for small enclaves on both sides of the border. Mirandese,
spoken in Mirando do Douro in NE Portugal, has the status of coofficial language
for local use. The dialect differences are smaller than in Danish; most
deviating from the standard language are the dialects of the Azores and Madeira.
Portugal - religion
The Catholic Church is dominant; state and church have been separated since
1911. The church has its largest active support in the northern part of the
country, where over 90% of the population consider themselves Catholics, while
in some parts of the Alentejo it is less than 40%. Following the anti-clerical
policy of the First Republic, the miracle of the Fátima sm right-wing
dictatorship of 1926 strengthened the position of the church, sealed through the
Salazar regime's concordat with the Vatican in 1940; however, the right to civil
marriage and to divorce or to freedom of religion was not shaken. Other
religious denominations have in the late 1900-t. gained increasing support.