- Overview of social and political situation
The Portuguese Republic is located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost state of the European continent, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. With its small area (92,385 km2) and its population of nearly 11 million people; Portugal is a developed country, geographically, economically and politically important in the European Union.
Portugal is an average South American developed economy (GDP in 2014 was $ 276 billion), ranked 28th in the OECD.
Since 1974, Portugal has had a firm parliamentary democracy. The four most important political institutions in Portugal are the President, the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, the National Assembly and the Judiciary. The president is elected directly for a term of five years and is also the highest commander of the military. The President appoints the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers as a result of parliamentary elections. The National Council is the Presidential Advisory Council composed of all former Presidents, Prime Ministers, Presidents of the Constitutional Court, People’s Inspectorates, the two Presidents of Açores and Madeira, five people elected by the President and five people elected by the National Assembly. The National Assembly called Assembleia da República consists of a congregation with a maximum of 230 delegates. Delegates are elected every four years in the proportion of votes cast for political parties. The president has the right to dissolve Parliament and request a new election. The supreme court is the highest court of the Portuguese judiciary, including the Supreme Military Courts, administrative and tax laws. The Portuguese Constitutional Court consists of nine members and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the law in accordance with the Constitution. Portugal has two major parties. The Socialist Party (Partido Socialista) with social democratic orientation and the Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrata) with a conservative orientation. In addition, the People’s Party (Partido Popular) is considered the most righteous party in Congress, the Portuguese Communist Party has a long tradition and the Bloco de Esquerda of the left-wing intellectuals. All five parties have representatives in Congress.
Population – Society
In terms of language, ethnicity and religion, Portugal is a very homogeneous country, at least for population. Portuguese is spoken throughout the country and in only a few villages in the Miranda do Douro, people speak their local language.
Portugal is a member of the European Union and the United Nations, a founding member of the Latin Union, the Organization of Latin American Nations, the OECD, NATO, Community of Portuguese-speaking countries (CPLP), the euro area (Euro Zone) and the Schengen area.
Since its accession to the European Union in 1986, the Portuguese economy has grown more diversified and more oriented towards service. In recent times, services have accounted for 75-80% of gross domestic product. Privatization is proceeding vigorously.
Structural issues such as the poor education, high illiteracy rate, partially poor infrastructure and ineffective administration are seen as obstacles to quicker productivity growth and employment growth. For this reason, Portugal is increasingly experiencing low-wage competition from Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and North Africa, and is not particularly attractive to direct investments from foreign. The biggest investment ever is the construction of the Auto-Europa auto factory.
About Industry: Accounting for 22% of GDP, of which the key industries are oil recycling, petrochemical, cement, automobile, shipbuilding, electricity, electronics, technology, telecommunications, machinery, paper, textile yarns, food, dairy products, wine … Manufacturing accounts for 33% of exports.
About foreign trade: exchanging with the EU partners accounts for 80%. Portugal exports mainly clothing, footwear, machinery, chemical products, cork, pulp and paper; importing machinery, motor vehicles, oil and oil products and agricultural products. Portugal has many resources, including coal, copper, tin, gold, iron ore such as pyrite and chalcopyrite, kaolinite, wolframite and uraninite. Portugal is among the leading countries in the production of tungsten and uranium.
About Agriculture: (2.3% of GDP) is one of the least productive agricultural societies in Europe. This has led to the situation that many agricultural businesses have stopped functioning and recently nearly half of the food has to be imported. Plantations of oak trees Quercus suber in Alentejo and Plantations of almond trees (Prunus dulcis) are also in serious crisis.
About marine products industry: has to deal with efficiency issues. The Portuguese fishing fleets are left behind the Spanish ones. Most of the fish have to be imported.
Tourism: brings about 8% of gross domestic products, which tends to increase. Most tourists are from Spain and England. The Algarve is the center of tourism.
In the global financial crisis of 2008, Portugal was one of the weakest and most affected sectors. Portugal’s economy fell into recession from 2011 with negative GDP growth up to 2013, a debt ratio of 127.8% of GDP in 2013, a budget deficit of 11.2% in 2010, unemployment rate up to 18% in 2013. In response to the crisis, the government has implemented a number of policies to reduce the budget deficit as well as raise taxes, reduce public investment, cut spending to achieve budget targets. In April 2011, Portugal received a bailout package of EUR 78 billion from the EU, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund.
In 2014, Portugal’s economy is showing signs of growth again (1%), although public debt, budget deficits and unemployment remain high but have improved in comparison with previous years. In May 2014, Portugal withdrew 78 billion euro bailout package. In the 2014-2015 Global
Competitiveness Report, Portugal ranks 36th (2013 at 51).
3.Culture – Religion – Cuisine – Festivals
Culture: Portugal is sometimes called the country of poets. In Portuguese literature, poetry is more influential than prose.
Religion: About 97% of Portuguese are Roman Catholics. The pilgrimage of Fatima in Portuguese territory is a memorial to Jesus’ mother, Maria.
Cuisine: Portuguese cuisine is varied as The Portuguese have brought in their traditions gastronomic cuisine known for their adventures. The national dish is the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), which is said to have 365 different processing methods. Portuguese wines are also famous, as early as the Roman period, Portugal was associated with Bacchus, the god of wine and the festival in Roman mythology. Today, some Portuguese wines belong to the finest wines in the world, especially sweet porto wines.
Festival: The celebration of the three saints (Santos Populares) is celebrated every June throughout Portugal. These three saints are Anthony Padua, John the Baptist and Peter. The Portuguese celebrate this festival with wine, água-pé (wine made with fermented fruit), bread with sardines, make up and dance on the streets, weddings and fireworks. The anniversary of Santo António takes place on the night of the twelfth and the morning of the thirteenth of June, especially in Lisboa (where the saint was born and lived there) with the costumes on the street (Marchas Populares). The most admired saint is John the Baptist, celebrated on the birth of John (June 24), especially in Porto and Braga, traditionally with sardines and Caldo Verde soup and people use the plastic hammers to knock on each other because they believe that will bring good luck. The celebration of São Pedro was celebrated on the twenty-eighth and the twenty-ninth of June, especially in Póvoa de Varzim and