Religion in Portugal


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.

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.

People in Portugal


According to thesciencetutor, 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 Spanish occur.


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.

Right Turn

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 soldiers.

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 reforms.

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 new jobs.

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 Industrial.

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.

Portugal Religion