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92,390sq km (35,670sq mi)



capital (population):

Lisbon (556,797)


Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Portuguese 99%, Cape Verdean, Brazilian, Spanish, British


Portuguese (official)


Christianity (Roman Catholic 95%, other Christians 2%)


Zloty = Euro = 100 cents

Republic in sw Europe. The Republic of Portugal lies on the w side of the Iberian Peninsula. The Atlantic coastal plain includes the capital, Lisbon, and Oporto. In the s lies the Algarve. In central Portugal, the Serra da Estrela contains Portugal's highest peak, at 1991m (6352ft). The Tagus and Douro river valleys support most of Portugal's agriculture. Portugal also includes the autonomous islands of the Azores and Madeira. The overseas territory of Macao returned to China in 1999.

Climate and Vegetation

Portugal has a maritime climate. Compared to other Mediterranean lands, summers are cooler and winters are milder. Most rain falls in winter. Forests cover c.36% of Portugal. It is the world's leading producer of cork, made from the bark of the cork oak. Olive trees are common. Almond, carob and fig trees are found in the far s.

History and Politics

Visigoths conquered the region in the 5th century ad. In 711, the Moors ejected the Visigoths. In 1139, Alfonso I defeated the Moors. Spain recognized Portuguese independence in 1143. The reconquest ended when the Moors retreated from the Algarve in 1249. John I founded the Aviz dynasty in 1385, and launched Portugal's colonial and maritime expansion. His son, Henry the Navigator, captured the Azores and Madeira. The reign of Manuel I was Portugal's ‘golden age’. By 1510, Portugal had established colonies in Africa, Asia and South America. The fall of the Aviz dynasty brought Philip II of Spain to the throne. For the next 60 years, Portugal was under Spanish control. John IV established the Braganza dynasty (1640–1910). In the 18th century, Marquês de Pombal reformed Portugal's institutions and rebuilt Lisbon. John VI fled to Brazil during the Peninsular War (1808–14) and his son, Pedro I, declared Brazilian independence in 1822.

In 1910, Portugal became a republic. In 1926, a military coup overthrew the government. António de Oliveira Salazar became prime minister in 1932. The terms of the 1933 constitution enabled Salazar to become Western Europe's longest-serving dictator. The Estado Novo (‘New State’) was repressive and the economy stagnated. In 1968, Marcello Caetano replaced Salazar. Failure to enact liberal reforms, and the cost of fighting liberation movements in Portugal's African colonies, led to a military coup in 1974. In 1975, many Portuguese colonies gained independence. In 1976, a new liberal constitution was adopted. In 1986, Portugal joined the European Union and Marco Soares became president. Jorge Sampaio became president in 1996 elections. He was re-elected in 2001.


In 1999, Portugal was one of the 11 states to adopt the euro. Its commitment to the European Union (EU) saw the economy emerge from recession (2000 GDP per capita, US$15,800). Manufacturing accounts for 33% of exports. Textiles, footwear, and clothing are major exports. Portugal is the world's fifth-largest producer of tungsten, and the world's eighth-largest producer of wine. It also produces olives, potatoes, and wheat. Tourism is a rapidly growing sector.

Political map

Physical map


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John I (king of Portugal)

John I (John the Great), 1357?–1433, king of Portugal (1385–1433), illegitimate son of Peter I. He was made (1364) grand master of the Knights of Aviz and exercised his influence in opposition to Leonor Teles, the queen of his half-brother, Ferdinand I. After Ferdinand's death (1383), his widow and her lover, the conde de Ourém, set up a regency in the name of Ferdinand's daughter Beatrice, wife of John I of Castile. This provoked a popular national revolt, led by John of Aviz, who murdered Ourém, and Nun' Álvares Pereira. The Castilians invaded (1384) Portugal, but their forces were decimated by the plague while they laid siege to Lisbon. John was elected king in 1385, and in the same year a great victory over the Castilians at Aljubarrota assured Portuguese independence (though peace was not finally concluded until 1411). John's position was strengthened by an alliance with England, sealed by a treaty (1386) and by John's marriage (1387) to Philippa, daughter of John of Gaunt. The reign of John the Great was one of the most glorious in medieval Portuguese history. His popularity was heightened by his administrative reforms. His sons, Duarte, Peter, Henry the Navigator, John, and Ferdinand, were important in inaugurating the era of Portuguese colonial and maritime expansion. Ceuta in N Africa was conquered from the Moors in 1415. John was succeeded by his son Duarte.

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Aviz (ävēzh´), village, Portalegre dist., central Portugal, in Alto Alentejo. The Castilian order of the Knights of Calatrava assisted in driving the Moors from Portugal and in 1166 settled at Évora. Alfonso II granted (1211) them Aviz, and this branch of the order became separate and was known as the Order of Aviz, a strictly Portuguese organization. The knights played an important part in Portuguese history. After the death of Ferdinand I in 1383, his illegitimate brother, John, who was master of the Order of Aviz, led a revolution to prevent the crown from going to Beatriz of Castile. He himself became king as John I. Thus the house of Aviz was established on the throne. It was the most distinguished of Portuguese dynasties, reigning until 1580, when Portugal passed for a time under Spanish rule (see Portugal). Aviz is sometimes spelled Avis.

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