Portugal

Portugal and Its Place in Europe




Europe is the 6th largest continent, including adjacent islands. It is actually a vast peninsula of the great Eurasian land mass. It is separated from Asia by the Urals and the Ural River in the east; by the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus in the southeast; and by the Black Sea, the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles in the south. It is separated from Africa by the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar. Europe is washed in the north by the Arctic Ocean and in the west by the Atlantic Ocean, with which the North Sea and the Baltic Sea are connected.

The highest points in Europe are Mt. Elbrus (18,481 ft/5,633 m) in the Caucasus and Mont Blanc (15,771 ft/4,807 m) in the Alps. Europe's lowest point (92 ft/28 m below sea level) is the surface of the Caspian Sea.

Europe can be divided into geographic regions with member countries of the European Union in each region:

  • Scandinavia (Sweden, Finland, Denmark);
  • The British Isles (United Kingdom and Ireland);
  • Western Europe (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg);
  • Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta);
  • Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary);
  • South East Europe (Slovenia, Greece, Cyprus);
  • Eastern Europe (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania);


Portugal is situated on the west coast of Spain and has the Atlantic Ocean to its West

Climate

The climate varies considerably from one region to another and is influenced by the relief of the land and closeness to the sea where winters are very mild, especially in the Algarve. Although still mild compared with much of Europe, inland, nearer Spain, the winters are colder and there is some snowfall in the mountains. Summers are hot and dry.


The official flag of Portugal


Portugal’s flag is red and green with the Portuguese coat of arms placed where the two colours meet. The green symbolizes hope for the future; the red symbolizes the blood of the nation. The Portuguese coat of arms has a white shield (containing five small blue shields with white dots) within a red shield (with seven small yellow castles), surrounded by yellow straps. The five blue small shields represent the five Moorish kings who were defeated by the first King of Portugal.

The green part of the flag is by the flagpole and makes up two-fifths of the flag. This flag was first used in 1910.

Facts about Portugal

  • Official Name - Portuguese Republic
  • Founding of the Portuguese State - 1143
  • Founding of the Republic - 1910
  • Political System - Democracy
  • National Symbols - National Flag and National Hymn
  • Language - Portuguese
  • Capital - Lisboa (Lisbon)
  • Area - 92,142 km2
  • Population - 10,536 thousand (2004)
  • Active population - 5,523 thousand (2004)
  • Currency - Euro (divided into 100 centimes)


Language

Of Latin origin, Portuguese is the third most widely spoken European language in the world and is mother tongue to about 200 million people.

Portuguese is the official language in many countries: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe in Africa, Brazil in South America and East Timor in Asia. There are also Portuguese-speaking communities in other countries: important communities of recent immigrants in France, Luxembourg and Germany, in Europe, in the United States, Canada and Venezuela, in the Americas, in South Africa, in Africa, in Australia, and small groups of people in old colonies in Asia.

In Portugal itself a considerable number of the citizens can communicate easily in English, French and Spanish.

Religion

The Portuguese people are mainly Roman Catholic, but the Portuguese Constitution guarantees religious freedom, which results in the presence in Portugal of various different religions: Christians ( Protestants of various denominations and Orthodox), Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, etc.

In the Continente is located Fátima, one of the greatest Roman Catholic sanctuaries of the world.