Most of Portugal's population lives in the coastal
districts, especially from Setúbal and the north. About 75
percent of the population lives in cities, of which the
capital Lisbon (552 700 residents, 2011, in the metropolitan
area 1.9 million) and Porto (237 600) are the dominant. The
most important cities are Setúbal, Coimbra and Braga as well
as Funchal in Madeira.
Countryaah data, Portugal has long had significant emigration, formerly
mainly to Brazil, but from around 1960 mainly to Western
Europe, where mainly France received many Portuguese as
guest workers. In the late 1970s, Portugal received a stream
of return migrants, retornados, from the
former colonies, giving the country an additional 700,000
people. As a result of the economic problems in Portugal,
many Portuguese people have begun to move abroad, including
to the former colonies of Angola, Brazil and Mozambique.
The official language is Portuguese. Linguistically,
Portugal is one of Europe's most unified nations. Portuguese
is the language spoken throughout the territory, except in a
few localities on the border with Spain, where dialects of
Approximately 93% of the population (1994) belongs to the
Roman Catholic Church. Among the approximately 80,000
Protestants, the Pentecostal Movement and Jehovah's
Witnesses are the largest groups. Christianity reached
Portugal in the first centuries AD Through the immigration
of the Visigoths, Aryanism came to dominate, but the
Catholic faith was established through the church meeting in
Toledo 589. Most of Portugal was 711 to 1139 under Islamic
rule. When Portugal became colonial power in the late 1400s,
it became the center of a worldwide mission.
However, the course change was not able to lift the
social tensions, and there was increasing pressure from the
trade union movement led by the communists and the council
movement dominated by groups on the far left. The turning
point came on November 25, 1975. A few spontaneous and
isolated uprisings in some military barracks were
interpreted by the Conservative officers and the Socialist
Party as a Communist coup attempt and used as a pretext for
a complete purge of the most leftist officers, including the
hero of April 25, Otelo de Carvalho.
From now on, a significant right turn in Portuguese
politics was implemented. At the same time, the
neutralization of retained progressive officers continued.
The new strong man was General Eanes, who in June 1976 was
elected by a large majority to the president - supported by
the socialists and the right wing. The election to the
National Assembly two months earlier - after the Socialist
emblematic constitution had been completed - continued to
give the left majority: the Socialists gained 35%, the
Communists and their allies 16%, the far left 3% against the
right wing 41%. Yet military, economic and foreign pressure
made a left-wing government impossible. The Socialist Party
formed a minority government with Prime Minister Mario
Soares at the helm and, in the spring of 1978, entered a
coalition with the conservative Christian Democratic CDS.
The major financial problems and the need for
strengthened credit abroad caused governments to limit or
cancel several of the April 25 conquests of the revolution.
The locks opened to foreign capital, members of Caetano's
former political police escaped from prisons, while senior
MFA officers were kept under surveillance and threatened
with legal action.
The most controversial was the landslide in land reform
policy: occupied and single expropriated large estates were
returned to their former owners. The country workers who had
transformed the estates into cooperatives or collectives
were repeatedly chased away by the National Garden's
Democracy and crisis
Nevertheless, the political and economic crisis
continued, and both the trade and political opposition were
extremely active, which quickly undermined the socialists.
However, they also helped themselves in implementing a tough
economic horse race.
The transition process continued through the 80s.
Internationally, the country implemented rapid political and
economic integration in Europe and was admitted to the EC in
86. That same year, for the second time, the Socialists lost
government power to their old political ally, the
center-right-wing Social Democracy (PSD).
Portugal experienced high economic growth in the late
1980s, but remained far from the average for the rest of
Europe. The changes gained momentum after PSD's election
victory. It opened a swift opening to foreign countries and
liberalized the economy. The new aggressive economic policy
created a strong opposition. Especially among the public
sector workers, who represented 5% of those employed in the
country, and some jobs were threatened by PSD's economic
The trade union movement on several occasions completely
or partially paralyzed the country in protest against the
privatization of public companies, the repeal of labor laws
passed in the wake of the revolution in 74, as well
as the attempts to completely repeal the land reform laws.
For the same reason and with a demand for respect for the
achievements of the revolution, the left-wing
political-military movement, the People's Forces of April 25
(FP-25), initiated military action in 1984.
In April 87, Portugal and the People's Republic of China
signed an agreement under which Portugal would continue to
govern the small Macao colony off Hong Kong until 1999. From
then on, the supremacy was to pass to the Chinese on the
principle of "one country, two systems", which should also
apply to the incorporation of Hong Kong into China.
After more than a month of negotiations, the PSD and the
Socialist Party in 1988 agreed to amend the constitution,
with the aim of privatizing a large number of the companies
that had nationalized the carnival revolution, and with a
view to further limiting the president's power. The
President of the Republic and the Socialist Party's historic
leader, Mario Soares, strongly opposed this change and the
consequence was that he broke with the Socialist Party's
leadership and got into constant clamor with Prime Minister
Aníbal Cavaço Silva.
Portuguese politics were polarized between the ruling PSD
and the Socialist Party, which were further strengthened as
a left-wing alternative following the collapse of Eastern
Europe and the Soviet Union. Still, during the 1991
parliamentary elections, PSD gained over half of the vote,
while the Socialists gained less than 30%. The victory of
Prime Minister Cavaço Silva was mainly due to the fact that
the party's orthodox liberal orientation was obscured by
social democratic demagoguery. In the same election, the
right-wing Social Center Democratic Party sank to 4% of the
vote, and its leader had to withdraw. The Communists
declined 3% over the 87 elections.
In the first half of 92 Portugal held the presidency of
the EU, and its Minister of Industry, Luis Mira de Amaral,
stated that he would promote EU industrial cooperation with
Latin America, Africa and Central Europe. In August 93,
Parliament passed restrictions on asylum law, and at the
same time made it possible to expel any foreigner from the
country. It was based on arguments to protect the labor
market, but at the same time was a step President Soares
countered. Unemployment rose to 8% with the prospect of
further increase the moment the state airline, ship and
steel yards were closed or privatized. At the same time, a
plan was to be funded by the EU - for the benefit of the
Union's poorest countries. It involved investments in
education, transport, industrial change and the creation of
The political panorama was characterized by extensive
student protests against the cost and quality of education.
At the same time, strikes were made with demands for wage
increases within the public sector. As the fee for crossing
the bridge into Lisbon was raised by 50%, it triggered
several blockades on the part of motorists. The government
justified the increase with the need to finance a new bridge
to be ready for the last century's world exhibition to take
place in Lisbon in 98.
The relationship between Socialist President Soares and
center-right-wing Prime Minister Cavaco Silva was getting
worse. Soares criticized the prime minister's far-reaching
powers and warned of the danger of a "majority
dictatorship". Up to the 95 elections, PSD managed to
privatize 28% of Portugal Telecom and 40% of Portucel
At the October 95 parliamentary elections, the Socialist
Party gained an absolute majority in parliament, and Antonio
Guterres was appointed new prime minister. During his ten
years in power, PSD had been oriented towards integration
into Europe and liberalism. The Socialists now benefited
from the widespread dissatisfaction with PSD's policy on
education and health. However, Guterres rushed to reassure
the financial market that the new government would not
change existing monetary policy or privatization.