Monday, 10 November 2014

Portugal - Some Basic Facts

Mainland Portugal is located at the far south-west of Europe but the country includes the Azores and Madeira archipelagos in the Atlantic. The mainland occupies an area of nearly 89,000 square kilometres, is 218 km wide and 561 km long.

The Azores lie in the Atlantic between Europe and North America, have an area of 2,355 km2 and comprise nine islands - São Miguel, Santa Maria, Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico, Faial, Flores and Corvo.

Madeira has a total land area of 741 km2 and lies in the Atlantic some 500km from the African coast and 1,000km from Europe. It consists of the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo, as well as the uninhabited Desertas and Selvagens islands.

The climate in mainland Portugal varies considerably from region to region. Much of it enjoys mild winters, especially the Algarve.

Closer to the Spanish border the winters are cooler, although the temperatures are still mild in comparison with much of Europe. There is some snowfall, primarily in the Serra da Estrela mountains - the highest point in mainland Portugal.

The summers are hot and dry, especially inland. Temperatures are slightly lower in the coastal areas due to the influence of the sea.


Portugal's population is around ten million. As could be expected density is highest in Lisbon and its suburbs, where about 1.9 million people live. The second largest city in Portugal is Oporto in the north of the country. Generally more people live in the country’s coastal regions than in the inland areas.

The majority of Portuguese people are Roman Catholic, however the Portuguese Constitution guarantees religious freedom and there are many different religions practiced in Portugal.

Portuguese is the third most spoken European language and the native tongue of about 250 million people. It is the national language of Brazil.

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