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Portugal -- Geography --

Official Name: Republic of Portugal
Capital City: Lisbon
Languages: Portuguese (official)
Official Currency: Euro,
Religions: Catholic, others
Population: 9,920,000
Land Area: 91,950 sq km
Landforms: Mountains and high hills cover the north, while smaller rolling hills and lowlands are south. Major rivers include Douro, Guadiana and Tagus.
Land Divisions: 18 districts, including: Aveiro, Beja, Braga, Braganca, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Evora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisboa, Portalegre, Porto, Santarem, Setubal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real andViseu. Autonomous regions, include the Azores and the Madeira islands.


Portugal -- History --

In the early first millennium BC, several waves of Celts invaded Portugal from Central Europe and intermarried with local peoples, the Iberians, forming the Celt-Iberians. Early Greek explorers named the region "Ophiussa" (Greek for "land of serpents") because the natives worshipped serpents. In 238 BC, the Carthaginians occupied the Iberian coasts. In this period several small tribes occupied the territory, the main tribes were the Lusitanians, who lived between the Douro and Tagus rivers, and the Callaeci who lived north of the Douro river among some other tribes. The Conii, influenced by Tartessos, were established in southern Portugal for a long time. The Celtici, a later wave of Celts, settled in Alentejo. In 219 BC, the first Roman troops invaded the Iberian Peninsula, driving the Carthaginians out in the Punic Wars. The Roman conquest of Portugal started from the south, where they found friendly natives, the Conii. Over decades, the Romans increased their sphere of control. But in 194 BC a rebellion began in the north, the Lusitanians successfully held off the Romans, took back land and ransacked Conistorgis, the Conii capital, because of their alliance with Rome. Viriathus, the Lusitanian leader, drove the Roman forces out. Rome sent numerous legions, but success was only achieved by bribing Lusitanian officials to kill their own leader. During this period, a process of Romanization was carried out, leading Lusitania to gain Latin Right in 73 AD.
The 10th-century Castle of Guimaraes, a national symbol, is known as the "Cradle of Portugal". The Battle of Sao Mamede took place nearby in 1128.In the 5th century, Germanic tribes, most notably the Suevi and the Visigoths, invaded the Iberian peninsula, set up kingdoms, and became assimilated in the Roman culture of the peninsula. An Islamic invasion took place in 711. Many of the ousted nobles took refuge in the unconquered north Asturian highlands. From there they aimed to reconquer their lands from the Moors. In 868, Count Vimara Peres reconquered and governed the region between the Minho and Douro rivers. The county became known as Portucale (i.e. Portugal), due to its most important city, Portucale (today's Porto) and founded a villa with his name - Vimaranes (today's Guimaraes) where he chose to live. While a dependency of the Kingdom of Leon, Portugal occasionally gained de facto independence during weak Leonese reigns, but it lost its autonomy in 1071 due to one of these attempts, ending the rule of the counts of the House of Vimara Peres. Then 20 years later, Count Henry from Burgundy was appointed Count of Portugal as a payment for military services to Leon, and with the purpose of expanding the territory southwards. The Portuguese territory included only what is now northern Portugal, with its capital in Guimaraes. Henry died and his son, Afonso Henriques took control of the county. The city of Braga, the Catholic centre of the Iberian Peninsula, faced new competition from other regions. The lords of the cities of Coimbra and Porto, together with the clergy of Braga, demanded the independence of the county. The first Portuguese flag, of D. Afonso HenriquesPortugal traces its emergence as a nation to 24 June 1128, with the Battle of Sao Mamede by Afonso I. On 5 October 1143 Portugal was formally recognized. Afonso, aided by the Templar Knights, continued to conquer southern lands from the Moors. In 1250 the Portuguese Reconquista ended when it reached the southern coast of Algarve. In an era of several wars when Portugal and Castile tried to control one another, King Ferdinand was dying with no male heirs. His only child, a single daughter, married King John I of Castile who would therefore be the King of Portugal after Fernando's death. However, the impending loss of independence to Castile was not accepted by the majority of the Portuguese people, which led to the 1383-1385 Crisis. A loyalist faction led by John of Aviz (later John I), with the help of Nuno Alvares Pereira, finally defeated the Castilians in the most historic battle of Portugal, the Battle of Aljubarrota. The victorious John was then acclaimed as king by the people. In the meantime, the Black Death reached Portugal.
"Padrao dos Descobrimentos", Sculpture on the Discoveries Age and Portuguese Navigators in Lisbon, PortugalIn the following decades, Portugal created the conditions that would make it the pioneer in the exploration of the world, since most of the nobles had supported the King of Castile and with the victory of John I, the nobles either fled or were executed. Hence the Portuguese middle class who had supported and helped the victorious King suddenly rose up in the social ranks of Portugal, creating a new dynamic generation which allowed the discoveries to proceed. On 25 July 1415, the Portuguese Empire began when a Portuguese fleet, with King John I and his sons Duarte, Pedro, Henry the Navigator, and Afonso, along with the Portuguese supreme constable Nuno Alvares Pereira departed to besiege and conquer Ceuta in North Africa, a rich Islamic trade centre. On 21 August the city fell. In 1418 two captains of Prince Henry the Navigator, were driven by a storm to an island which they called Porto Santo, or Holy Port, in gratitude for their rescue from the shipwreck. Also in early 15th century, Madeira Island and the Azorean islands were discovered. Henry the Navigator's interest in exploration, together with some technological developments in navigation, made Portugal's expansion possible and led to great advances in geographic knowledge. The discoveries were financed by the wealth of the Order of Christ, an order founded by King Denis for the Templar knights, who found refuge in Portugal after being pursued all over Europe. The Templars had their own objective, searching for the legendary Christian Kingdom of Prester John. In 1434, Gil Eanes rounded Cape Bojador, south of Morocco. The trip marked the beginning of the Portuguese exploration of Africa. Before this voyage very little information was known in Europe about what lay beyond it. At the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th centuries, those who tried to venture there became lost, giving birth to legends of sea monsters. Fourteen years later, on a small island known as Arguim off the coast of Mauritania a castle was built, working as a feitoria (a trading post) for commerce with inland Africa thus, circumventing the Arab caravans that crossed the Sahara. Some time later, the caravels explored the Gulf of Guinea, leading to the discovery of several uninhabited islands and reaching the Congo River. A remarkable achievement was the rounding of the Cape of Good Hope by Bartholomew Dias in 1487. By then the spices of India were nearby, hence the name of the cape. In the last decade of the 15th century, Pero de Barcelos and Joao Fernandes Lavrador explored North America , Pero da Covilha reached Ethiopia, searching for the mythical kingdom of Prester John, and Vasco da Gama sailed to India. In 1500, Pedro Alvares Cabral landed on the Brazilian coast. Ten years later, Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa, in India. In 1578, the young King Sebastian decided to enlarge Portuguese possessions in northern Africa and, despite having no son and heir to the throne, decided to go into battle personally, where he was slain. Because Philip II of Spain was the son of a Portuguese princess, the Spanish ruler became Philip I of Portugal in 1581. Some men claimed to be King Sebastian between 1584 and 1598, originating the Sebastian myth. Portugal formally maintained its independent law, currency, colonies, and government, under a personal union between Portugal and Spain. New empires had emerged and started to assault the Portuguese Empire. The third Spanish king, Philip III tried to further enforce integration, openly attacking the Portuguese nobility that was not in his favour. In 1 December 1640, the Duke of Braganca, of the Portuguese Royal Family, John IV, was acclaimed after a revolutionary turmoil, and a Restoration War was fought for a few more years.
Palace of Pena in Sintra, over big mountain top rocks, is a mixture of neo-gothic, neo-manueline, neo-islamic, and neo-renaissance styles. (courtesy IPPAR)The 1755 Lisbon earthquake and tsunami, which killed more than a third of the capital's (Lisbon was at that time one of the largest and most important cities of Europe) population and devastated the Algarve as well, had a profound effect on domestic politics and on European philosophical thought. From 1801, the country was occupied during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1807, the Portuguese Court fled to Brazil. Shortly after, Brazil proclaimed its independence, under the rule of the Portuguese King Pedro IV (Emperor Pedro I of Brazil), who abdicated from the Portuguese Crown and left his daughter D. Maria II as Queen in a liberal regime. Portuguese 19th Century is marked by the Liberalism. The divisions between king Pedro IV - liberal - and his brother, King Miguel, a conservative who overthrew Queen Maria II, led to the civil war between 1832 and 1834 and the signing of the new constitution in 1836. The political and social evolution in the late 19th century was marked by instability.
In 1910 a republican revolution deposed the Portuguese monarchy starting the First Republic. Political chaos, strikes, harsh relations with the Catholic Church, and considerable economic problems aggravated by a disastrous military intervention in the First World War led to a military coup d'etat (28th May 1926 coup d'etat), that installed the Second Republic that would become the New State in 1933, led by Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, an authoritarian right-wing dictatorship, which later evolved into a type of single party corporate regime. Later, Portugal became a founding member of NATO and EFTA, as well as OECD. India invaded Portuguese India in 1961. Independence movements also became active in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea, and a series of colonial wars started. The burden of the many colonial overseas wars and the lack of political and civil freedoms led to the end of the regime after the Carnation Revolution in April 25 of 1974, an effectively bloodless left-wing military coup, that promised to install a new democratic regime. General Spinola, placed in power by the April 25th coup, was cast in the press as a knight in shining armour. Yet in reality as Commander-in-Chief of the Portuguese forces in Guinea he earned the nickname "butcher." In addition, prior to the coup he was a director of two of Portugal's leading private monopolies. In 1975, Portugal had its first free multi-party elections since 1926 and granted independence to its colonies in Africa. In March 1975 it was Spinola himself who led a comic opera of a coup, with a few old Second World War planes and a handful of paratroopers, who were rapidly won over to the side of the workers. The workers themselves responded to the coup attempt with massive demonstrations. Bankworkers occupied the banks, demanding their nationalisation. Previously the CP and SP leaders had opposed this, postponing the question to the indefinite future, but the bankworkers weren't to be bought with vague promises. In the end the banks were nationalised, with no compensation for the private owners, in just one week. Because of their key position in the Portuguese economy this meant the AFM and the Provisional government, between whom a kind of dual power had developed, were forced to nationalise 50% of the economy. Eventually as a result of the actions of the workers, three-quarters of the Portuguese economy was nationalised. In 1976 Indonesia invaded and annexed the Portuguese province of Timor in Asia before legal recognition of its independence by Portugal. In 1999, the Asian dependency of Macau, was returned to Chinese sovereignty, a process considered a success by China and Portugal. After a UN sponsored referendum endorsed by Indonesia and Portugal, in 1999, East Timor voted for independence, which materialised in 2002. In 1986, Portugal entered the EEC (and left EFTA), which was later transformed into the European Union.


Portugal -- Economy --

Portugal is a market economy with its per capita output now standing at 66% of the European Union average. Portuguese GDP grew by 1% in real terms in 2004. It was expected to grow 1.8% by the (IMF) in 2005. Overall, the country's recovery is gradual, although the financial sector has remained strong. In the second quarter of 2005, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.2%, still lower than the EU average but converging (this was the first decrease since 2001). A new Labour Law published in December 2003 increased the flexibility of working arrangements, although it has yet to prove its role in decreasing unemployment, especially among the youngest and the oldest of working-age population. The current administration is committed to expand market liberalisation, privatisation, and deregulation of the economy and simplifying the admistrative burden on companies. It is also committed to promote investment in research and information technologies to improve productivity and competitiveness. Industrialisation boomed in the 1950s with Salazar's regime, leading to an average of 6% annual growth of the GDP between 1959 and 1963, 7% between 1965 and 1967, after dropping to 5.2% in 1964. Due to international crisis, the growth largely stopped. Since 1985, the country started its modernization in a very stable environment (1985 - to the present day) and it joined the European Economic Community in 1986. Successive governments have implemented various reforms and privatised many state-controlled firms and liberalised key areas of the economy, including the financial and telecommunications sectors. Portugal developed an increasingly service-based economy and it was one of the eleven founding countries of the Euro in 1999, with very restrictive criteria, and began circulating the new currency on January 1, 2002 along with eleven other EU members. A considerable part of continental Portugal is dedicated to agriculture, although it does not represent most of the economy. The south has developed an extensive monoculture of cereals and olive trees and the Douro Valley in vineyards. Olive trees (4,000 km?), vineyards (3,750 km?), wheat (3,000 km?) and maize (2,680 km?) are produced in vast areas. Portuguese wine and olive oil are especially praised by nationals for their quality, thus external competition (even at much lower prices) has had little effect on consumer demand, a situation that does not occur with other products. Portugal is a traditional wine grower, and has exported its wines since the dawn of western civilization; Port Wine and Vinho Verde (Green Wine) are the leading exporters. Portugal is also a quality producer of fruits, namely the Algarve oranges and Oeste region's Pera Rocha (a type of pear). Other exports are horticulture, floriculture, beet sugar, sunflower oil, and tobacco. Natural resources such as copses cover about 34% of the country, namely pine trees (13,500 km?), cork oak (6,800 km?), holm oak (5,340 km?), and eucalyptus (2,430 km?). The large-scale growing of eucalyptus for the paper and woodchip industries has been controversial, as eucalyptus trees have very deep roots, and lead to a lowering of the water table. This has been a contributory factor in the high rate of arson, as failing farmers vent their frustrations. Cork is a major export, Portugal produces half of the world's cork. Significant mining resources are tungsten, tin, and uranium. The major industries are the textile, footwear, leather, furniture, ceramics (highlighting the international popularity of Vista Alegre), and cork. Modern industries have developed significantly, including: oil refineries, petrochemistry, cement production, automotive and ship industries, electrical and electronics industries, machinery and paper industries. Portugal has an ambitious and well-planned complex of petrochemical industries in Sines where the biggest oil refinery of the Iberian peninsula will be built. Automotive and other mechanical industries are located in Setubal, Porto, Aveiro, Braga, Santarem, and Azambuja. Portugal's balance of trade is negative. It buys mostly in the European Union from: Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. It also sells most of its products within the union to: Germany, Spain, and France mostly. Portugal is trying to develop a cultural and rustic tourism, rather than only beach tourism, in order to attract more affluent tourists often concerned in getting to know the real Portugal. The interior of the nation has a decreasing population, but exceptional touristic potential. The Algarve, with its different beaches has been the primary attraction for decades, but it has suffered from mass tourism, and the authorities have been working to recover the 1960's Algarve, namely recovering the coast and demolishing illegal urbanizations. Mass tourism has caused some ecological damage in the Algarve, for example water shortages. The Lisbon area has recently become a very popular destination, mostly due to the city of Lisbon urban historical attractions, but also due to Sintra's fabled palaces and castles located in very romantic and exotic scenery. The island territories of Madeira and the Azores also have a growing potential.


Portugal -- Culture --

Portugal is an ancient nation and for more than 1000 years it has maintained its specific culture through a self-governing venture while being influenced by the various civilizations that crossed the Mediterranean world. Thus, it has always absorbed habits and traditions from such early civilizations and from the regions that it discovered and conquered throughout the world during the Portuguese empire, establishing a specific legacy. An explicit instance of this absorption and adaptation of previous culture is seen in the countless festivals to pagan local and Roman deities which were transformed into festivals to Christian saints; only some pagan festivals have changed little over 2,000 years, due the religious passion of the Middle Ages and the inquisition. Portuguese music is represented by a wide variety of forms. The most renowned Portuguese music is Fado, a form of melancholic music. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese guitar and the Portuguese word saudade. Although without an accurate equivalent in English, saudade is describable as a common human feeling; it occurs when one is in love with someone or something yet apart from him, her, or it. The style conveys a distinct mixture of sadness, pain, nostalgia, happiness and love. Fado origins are probably from a mixture of African slave rhythms with traditional music of Portuguese sailors, with Arabic influence. There are two varieties of Fado; that of Lisbon and that of Coimbra. Lisbon Fado was primarily of popular origins, often performed by women, while Coimbra's had a more literate vein and was often performed by men; both are nowadays seen as ethnic music appreciated abroad. Some of its most internationally notable performers are Amalia Rodrigues, Mariza, Ana Moura, Misia, Dulce Pontes, Madredeus, and Cristina Branco. Currently, mainstream music in Portugal is in a rural and urban duality where the Portuguese pop-rock and hip hop tuga (a mixture of hip-hop, African music and Reggae, primarily performed by African-Portuguese) are popular with the younger and urban population, while pimba (a simple and cheery variety of folk music) and folklore are more popular in the rural areas. Portuguese literature is one of the earliest western literatures, and it developed as the 13th century arrived, through texts and songs. And until 1350, the Portuguese-Galician troubadours spread their literary influence to most of the Iberian Peninsula. The adventurer and poet Luis de Camoes (c.1524 - 1580) wrote the epic The Lusiads, a work that he developed in his journeys in Africa and Asia. However, he was shipwrecked in Cambodia, and he saved himself and his work by floating on a board. Modern Portuguese poetry, since the 19th century, is essentially rooted in a handful of relevant poets, ranging from neo-classicism to contemporary styles. One such famous poet is Fernando Pessoa (1888 – 1935), who wrote poetry in the voice, style and manner of many fictional poets under a large number of heteronyms. Modern literature also became internationally known, mostly through the works of Almeida Garrett, Alexandre Herculano, Camilo Castelo Branco, Eca de Queiros, Ferreira de Castro, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Herberto Helder, Antonio Lobo Antunes and the 1998 Nobel Prize for literature winner, Jose Saramago. Portuguese traditional architecture is distinct precisely due to the variety of influences it features, with several examples throughout the world, some of which are classified as world heritage sites. Modern Portugal has one of the best architecture schools in the world, known as "Escola do Porto" or School of Porto, renowned by the names of Souto Moura and Alvaro Siza.


Portugal -- Life style --

Portugal's education system is divided into Pre-Escolar (children less than 6 years old), Ensino Basico (three phases in a total of 9 years), Ensino Secundario (three years, several areas) and Ensino Superior (Universities and Colleges grouped into Polytechnic Institutes). Education is free and compulsory for 9 years of study. A newly undertaken scheme will make education compulsory until the student becomes an adult (18 years old). The country still has a 6.7% illiteracy rate, almost exclusively among the elderly. The first Portuguese university – The Estudo Geral (General studies, Today's University of Coimbra) - was created on March 1st, 1290 in Lisbon with the document Scientiae thesaurus mirabilis by King Denis. The university was transferred to Coimbra in 1308, though the university moved several times between the two cities until 1537. In 1559, the University of Evora was founded in Portugal by Cardinal Henry, future king of Portugal and Pope Paul IV and it was delivered to the Society of Jesus. In the 18th century, Sebastiao de Melo, Marquis of Pombal closed the University of Evora, because he wanted to exterminate the Jesuit power in Portugal and in its empire. He also reformed the University of Coimbra, as it was divorced from the true exact sciences. The 19th century - the industrialization era - created the need for new education institutions in the country, the "industrial studies". In 1837, the Escola Politecnica (Polytechnic School) in Lisbon and the Academia Politecnica opens. The rhetorical behaviour of these new institutions led the Prime-Minister of the Kingdom Fontes Pereira de Melo in 1852 to create the Instituto Industrial de Lisboa (Institute of Industry, today's IST and ISEL) in Lisbon and the Escola Industral (School of Industry, today's ISEP) in Porto. In 1825, the Lisbon Royal School of Surgery and Porto Royal School of Surgery had also opened. With the advent of the republic, the polytechnic and surgery schools were incorporated as faculties into the newly created University of Lisbon and the University of Porto. The Lisbon Institute of Industry led to the creation of IST (the Institute of Technology) which was grouped with other colleges in the Technical University of Lisbon in the 1930s. In the 1960s the first non-governmental institution opened, the Portuguese Catholic University. The 1970s marked a new era in Portugal's higher education with many universities and polytechnics opening in many cities, such as the University of Aveiro and the University of Minho in the universitary subsector, and the Lisbon Polytechnic and Porto Polytechnic in the polytechnic subsector. Subsequently, several private universities opened.
Portuguese cuisine is particularly diverse; various recipes of rice, potatoes, bread, meat, sea-food, and fish are the staple foods in the country. The Portuguese have a reputation for loving cod dishes (bacalhau in Portuguese), for which it is said that there are 1001 ways of cooking it: Pasteis de Bacalhau, Bacalhau a Bras and Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa are some of the most popular ones. The art of pastry, having its origins in old and rich conventual pastry recipes, is very popular across the entire country. Desserts and cakes, such as Lisbon's Pasteis de Nata (best eaten with a strong coffee), Aveiro's Ovos-Moles, and many other, are very appreciated. Portugal has its own adaptation of fast-food; one of the most popular is Porto's Francesinha. Other recipes include the Feijoada, made with pieces of meat, sausages and beans served with white and dry rice and the Cozido a Portuguesa, made with various kinds of meat, rice, potatoes and other vegetables, all boiled. Portuguese wines have been exported since Roman times. The Romans associated Portugal with Bacchus, their god of Winery and Feast. Today the country is known by wine lovers, and its wines had won several international prizes. Many famous Portuguese wines are known as some of the world's best: Vinho Verde, Vinho Alvarinho, Vinho do Douro, Vinho do Alentejo, Vinho do Dao, Vinho da Bairrada and the sweet: Port Wine, Madeira wine and the Moscatels of Setubal and Favaios (Douro). Porto Wine is widely exported, followed by Vinho Verde. Exports of Vinho Verde are increasing rapidly, in response to the growing international demand.
Festivals play a major role in Portugal's summers. Even though they have religious connotations, most of these celebrations are, in fact, anything but religious. Every city and town has its own festivals. The June Festivities are very popular. These festivities are dedicated to three saints known as Santos Populares (popular saints) and take place all over Portugal. Why the populace associated the saints with these pagan festivities is not known. The practice is possibly related to Roman or local deities before Christianity spread into the region. The three saints are Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter. A common denominator in these festivities are the wine and agua-pe (a watered kind of wine), traditional bread along with sardines, marriages, traditional street dances, fire, fireworks and celebration. Saint Anthony is celebrated on the 13th, mainly in Lisbon and Saint John on the 24th, especially in Porto and Braga, where the sardines, Caldo Verde (traditional soup) and plastic hammers to hammer on other peoples' heads for luck are indispensable. The final saint is Saint Peter, celebrated on the nights of 28th and 29th, especially in Povoa de Varzim and Barcelos, festivities are similar to the others, but mostly dedicated to the sea and extensive use of fire (fogueiras). In Povoa de Varzim, there is the Rusgas in the night, another sort of street carnival. Each festivity is a municipal holiday in the cities and towns where it occurs. Carnival is also widely celebrated in Portugal, some traditional carnivals date back several centuries. Loule, Alcobaca, Mealhada and above all Ovar hold several days of festivities, with parades where social and political criticism abound, music, dancing in an environment of euphorya. On January 6, Epiphany is celebrated by some families, especially in the North, where the family gathers to eat "Bolo-Rei" (literally, King Cake, a cake made with crystalized fruits); this is also the time for the traditional street songs - "As Janeiras" (The January ones). Saint Martin Day, is celebrated on November 11. This day is the peak of three days, often with very good weather, it is known as Verao de Sao Martinho ("Saint Martin summer"), the Portuguese celebrate it with jerupiga (a sweet liqueur wine) and roasted Portuguese chestnuts (castanhas assadas), and it is called Magusto.


Portugal -- Political system, law and government --

The four main organs of Portuguese politics are the President of the Republic, the Assembly of the Republic, the Government, and the Courts. The Constitution grants the complete separation between these powers. The President of the Republic, elected to a 5-year term by universal suffrage is also commander in chief of the armed forces. Presidential powers include appointing the Prime Minister, as advised by the Parliament which elects the Prime Minister, and the Council of Ministers, named by the Prime Minister. Some other major powers include dismissing the Government, dissolving the Parliament, and declaring war or peace. These have several constitutional restrictions, namely the need to consult the presidential advisory body. This is the Council of State, composed of six senior civilian officers, all former presidents elected since 1976, and ten citizens, five chosen by the President and the other five by the Parliament. The most commonly used power is that of approving or vetoing any legislation. The Parliament, or Assembly of the Republic (Assembleia da Republica in Portuguese) is a unicameral body composed of 230 deputies. It is elected by universal suffrage, and the seats are allocated using the d'Hondt method in 22 constituencies that elect a number of deputies proportional to the respective population, 18 for each District, 1 for Madeira, 1 for Azores and 2 for the diaspora, on Europe and outside Europe. Deputies serve terms of office of 4 years. The Assembly of the Republic, along with the government, holds the legislative power and the government support lies upon it. The General Budget and the Program of the Government must be approved by a majority of the deputies, otherwise the government falls. The Assembly may also let the government fall by approving a motion of no confidence. The President of Parliament substitutes for the President of the Republic in the event of his absence. The Government is headed by the Prime Minister, who names the Council of Ministers. The Courts have several categories, including judicial, administrative and fiscal. The national Supreme Court is the court of last appeal. A nine-member Constitutional Court reviews the constitutionality of legislation. The national and regional governments are dominated by two political parties, the PS, a Social Democratic party, that resembles the British Labour or the German SPD, and the PSD, a conservative party, member of the European People's Party, both with similar base politics: pro-European, and focusing on market economy. Other parties with seats in the parliament are the Portuguese Communist Party, the People's Party, the Leftwing Bloc and the Green Party. The Communists and the Greens are coalited as the Unitarian Democratic Coalition. As of 2005, Jose Socrates is the prime minister for the Socialists, and the party also has an absolute majority in the parliament with 121 MPs, the Social Democratic Party holds 75 MPs, the Communist Party 12 MPs, the People's Party 12 MPs, the Leftwing Bloc 8 MPs and the Green party 2 MPs. Portuguese public opinion and media tend to be Europhile. In the EuroBarometer's 2004 Spring survey, 60% of the Portuguese said they trusted the European Union. Abortion law is restrictive, allowing for legal abortion under some circumstances, such as rape or a life-threatening situation for the mother or the fetus. In a referendum held in 1998 proposing almost free abortion until 12 weeks of gestation, the results were 51% against, 49% in favour. However, the turnout of this election was a scant 31% of the population. A new referendum is promised to be held soon. Possessing small doses of drugs for personal use is not a crime in Portugal, but it can be seen as a cause for civil disorder. Handing out or producing drugs is considered a crime. Gay rights are also upcoming as the sexual orientation is now protected by the Portuguese Constitution following EU's directives, and gay couples can form civil unions.
Foreign relations are essential to Portugal. The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, an alliance dating from 1294, has been retained throughout its history, making it the oldest alliance still in force in the world. This English–Portuguese alliance was renewed in 1386 with the Treaty of Windsor. The treaty established a pact of mutual support between the countries. This alliance was used in the successive expulsion of the Spanish kings and broke England's isolation from continental Europe during Napoleon's era. The alliance is kept through NATO, a military organization in which both countries are founders along with 10 other countries including the United States of America. Beyond the EU, the country has established a community with its former colonies, the CPLP, and today has very close and prosperous relations with all of them, including close relations with Cape Verde and East Timor. It has a friendship alliance and a dual citizenship treaty with Brazil. The new government has also prioritized relations with neighbouring Spain. It also has very good relations with China, due to Macau, a meeting-point of both nations, and century-old diplomatic ties with Morocco. Portugal considers Olivenca (Olivenza in Spanish, administrated by Spain) Portuguese territory de jure, based on agreements of both nations in the Vienna Treaty of 1815 , but there are not strong diplomatic actions to take it back. Yet, this issue has been discussed at the Portuguese Parliament as recently as 2004. The Portuguese Armed Forces are divided into three branches: Army, Navy, and Air Force. In the 20th century, Portugal engaged in two major military interventions, namely the 1st World War and the colonial wars between 1961 and 1974. Portugal has participated in several peacekeeping missions abroad, namely in East Timor, Bosnia, and Kosovo. During the Durao Barroso government the Armed Forces were fully professionalized and obligatory military service was abolished in 2003.


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