General Info.

Climate

Portugal presents in general a mild climate, with medium daily temperatures between 8ºC to 18ºC in the winter and 16ºC to 30ºC in the summer. However, the differences between north and south, the coast and the interior areas are quite evident at certain periods of the year.

The north registers the highest precipitations and the lowest medium temperatures year-round and the interior areas the highest temperatures. The south side of Tagus River presents Mediterranean influences, having very hot and prolonged summers, and short winters with low rainfall. Madeira island has a typical Mediterranean climate with mild and pleasant temperatures year-round, whereas the Azores islands present a mild maritime climate with abundant rainfall.

History

In 1143 Afonso Henriques is recognized as the King of Portugal, breaking the vassalage link to his cousin Afonso VII of Castile. The conquest of several territories to the Moors permitted him to extend the Reign’s national borders. With the definitive conquest of the Algarve by King Afonso III, Portugal kept since then its final borders almost unchanged.

Portugal has had 4 Dynasties:

Dynasty of Borgonha or Afonsina – 1143 to 1383
Dynasty of Avis or Joanina – 1385 to 1580
Filipina Dynasty, of the Habsburgos or of the Austrias – 1580 to 1640
Dinasty of the Braganza or Brigantina – 1640 to 1910

The Republic is proclaimed in 1910 (5 October). King Manuel II, the last king of Portugal leaves to England, where he dies without descendants.

Language

Of all the Western European countries, Portugal is the country which presents the greatest linguistic uniformity, as Portuguese, the official language, is spoken from north to south and in the Azores and Madeira archipelagos.

Presently, the Lusophone world represents approximately 210 million people. Portuguese, the sixth spoken language of the world (third among Western languages, after English and Spanish), is the official language of seven countries: Angola (10.3 million inhabitants), Brazil (174.6 million inhabitants), Cape Verde (346 thousand), Guinea Bissau (1 million), Mozambique (15.3 million), Portugal (10.355 million), S. Tomé and Príncipe (126 thousand) and Timor (880 thousand, according to a 90’s census).

In Macau, Chinese territory under Portuguese Administration until 1999, Portuguese was one of the official languages, in parallel with mandarin.

Portuguese became one of the official languages of the European Union since 1986, at the time of its adherence. As a result of MERCOSUL agreements (The Common Market of the South), of which Brazil is a member state, the Portuguese language will be taught as a foreign language in all the Participant countries. The creation of «Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa» (CPLP), Community of the Portuguese-Speaking Countries, was decided in 1994, gathering the countries of Portuguese official language with the purpose to harmonize and spread the Portuguese language and increase the cultural interchange among Member States.

In the Northeast of Portugal, namely in Miranda do Douro, there is another language – informal and familiar, symbolic and social, patrimonial, not Portuguese, with historical character – the Mirandês, commonly used by approximately 15.000 people and which was recently declared official language (Law number 7/99, 29 January). The Camões Institute

Religion

The liberties of conscience, religion and worship are expressed in the Constitution of the Republic (Article 41). Churches and religious communities have independent existence, separated from the State. Portuguese society is mostly Roman Catholic. According to estimates, approximately 90% of the Portuguese population is Catholic.

Currency

Portuguese currency unit is the Euro. On the 1st of January 1999 Portugal, together with other 10 European Union Member States (Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Ireland), adopted the single currency –Euro – €.

http://www.bportugal.pt