macrohistory & world report

Portuguese Republic

Map of Portugal

Portugal (capital Lisbon)

World Factbookas of November 2014: "Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Community - the EU's predecessor - in 1986. Over the following two decades, successive governments privatized many state-controlled firms and liberalized key areas of the economy, including the financial and telecommunications sectors. The country qualified for the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1998 and began circulating the euro on 1 January 2002 along with 11 other EU members. The economy grew by more than the EU average for much of the 1990s, but the rate of growth slowed in 2001-08. The economy contracted in 2009, and fell again from 2011 to 2013, as the government implemented spending cuts and tax increases to comply with conditions of an EU-IMF financial rescue package, signed in May 2011. Austerity measures also have contributed to record unemployment and a wave of emigration not seen since the 1960s. Booming exports will contribute to growth and employment in 2014, but the need to continue to reduce private- and public-sector debt could weigh on consumption and investment. The government of Pedro PASSOS COELHO has stated its intention to reduce labor market rigidity, and, this, along with steps to trim the budget deficit, could make Portugal more attractive to foreign investors. The government reduced the budget deficit from 10.1% of GDP in 2009 to 5.1% in 2013, lower than the EU-IMF fiscal target of 5.5%. Despite these efforts, public debt has continued to grow and, in 2013, stands among the highest in the EU. As a result, the government may have difficulty regaining full bond market financing when the EU-IMF financing program expires in May 2014."

GDP annual real (not per capita) growth rate estimate
2011: minus 2.2%
2010: 1.3%
2009: minus 2.5%

Unemployment rate
2011: 12.4%
2010: 10.8%
2009: 9.2%
2008: 7.6%

Public Debt
2011: 103.3% of GDP
2010; 93.5% OF GEP

Import/export balance
2011: exports 73.4% of imports in cash value – an unfavorable balance

Exports "clothing and footwear, machinery, chemicals, cork and paper products, hides."

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 73rd among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal).

Health expenditures
2009: 11.3% of GDP

Currency: the euro.


2001 census: Roman Catholic 84.5%, other Christian 2.2%, other 0.3%, unknown 9%, none 3.9%

Living in an urban area
2010: 63%

Migration rate
2012: More arriving than leaving. A net gain of 2.9 persons per 1,000 population per year

In the year 2000, immigrants started coming from East and Central Europe. Many were from Ukraine.01)

Literacy, Age 15 and Older
2003: males 95.5%, females 91.3%

Roman Catholic 94%.


On the Iberian Peninsula, west of Spain. 1,793 kilometers of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. Capital: Lisbon.


Portugal is a parliamentary democratic republic, its monarchy having been deposed in 1910. For most of the following six decades Portugal had repressive government.

Recent History

Portugal is one of the 1949 founding members of NATO

A left-wing military coup in 1974 returned the country to democracy.

Portugal gave up its African colonies in 1975.  

Portugal enters the European Community, now the European Union, in 1986.

In the elections of February 2005, Portugal's Socialist Party, led by Jose Socrates, returns to power, having won their first absolute majority in parliament.

April 2005: Portugal's abortion laws have been among the strictest in Europe, but parliament agrees to hold a referendum on relaxing these laws.

An abortion referendum occurs on February 11, 2007, to decide whether to legalise abortion to ten weeks of pregnancy. The vote is 59.24% in favor. In April a new law expands the circumstances under which abortion is allowed.

October 2009: Socialist Party leader Jose Socrates forms a minority government.

March 2010: The government announces austerity measures, including cuts in public spending and tax increases.

March 2011: Parliament rejects the government's new austerity package. Jose Socrates continues as Prime Minister in a caretaker capacity.

April 2011 - Portugal becomes the third European Union country after Greece and Ireland to apply for EU financial assistance to help it cope with its budget deficit.

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.