Portugal country profile

Portugal, a country with a rich history of seafaring and discovery, looks out from the Iberian peninsula into the Atlantic Ocean.

When it handed over its last overseas territory, Macau, to Chinese administration in 1999, it brought to an end a long and sometimes turbulent era as a colonial power.

The roots of that era stretch back to the 15th Century when Portuguese explorers such as Vasco da Gama put to sea in search of a passage to India. By the 16th Century these sailors had helped build a huge empire embracing Brazil as well as swathes of Africa and Asia. There are still some 200 million Portuguese speakers around the world today.

For almost half of the 20th Century Portugal was a dictatorship in which for decades Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was the key figure.

This period was brought to an end in 1974 in a bloodless coup, picturesquely known as the Revolution of the Carnations, which ushered in a new democracy.

A veteran of the centre-right Social Democratic Party, Mr Rebelo de Sousa went on to have a high-profile career in journalism and broadcasting before being elected to the largely-ceremonial post of president in March 2016.

He stood as an independent, campaigning to heal the divisions caused by Portugals 2011-2014 debt crisis and austerity measures.

In March 2020, Rebelo de Sousa asked parliament to authorize a state of emergency to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, the first time Portugal had declared a nationwide state of emergency since becoming a democracy in 1974.

He was re-elected in January 2021 presidential election.

Socialist leader Antonio Costa won his third term as Portugals prime minister in the snap January 2022 elections. His party unexpectedly won a majority of seats in the countrys assembly.

He originally took office in at the head of a left-wing coalition government in November 2015 after a month of political drama, amid expectations of an end to four years of fiscal austerity.

His party dissolved the coalition after the October 2019 elections to govern as a minority government, but faced rising difficulty in getting policies through parliament - which led to President Rebelo de Sousa calling an election in January 2022.

Born in 1961, Mr Costa is a veteran Socialist Party politician. He served as a minister twice before being elected mayor of the capital Lisbon in 2007, resigning to become the Socialists candidate for the premiership in 2015.

Portugals commercial TVs have a lions share of the viewing audience, and provide tough competition for the public broadcaster.

Public TV is operated by RTP. The main private networks are TVI and SIC. Multichannel TV is available via cable, satellite, digital terrestrial and internet protocol TV (IPTV). Cable is the dominant platform.

The switchover to digital TV was completed in 2012.

The public radio, RDP, competes with national commercial networks, Roman Catholic station Radio Renascenca and some 300 local and regional outlets.

Some key dates in Portugals history:

1908- King Carlos and eldest son assassinated in Lisbon. Second son Manuel becomes king.

1910- King Manuel II abdicates amid revolution; Portugal proclaimed a republic.

1911- New constitution separates church from state. Manuel Jose de Arriaga elected first president of republic.

1916-18- Portugal fights World War One on Allied side.

1926- Military coup. General Antonio de Fragoso Carmona becomes president.

1928- Carmona appoints Antonio de Oliveira Salazar minister of finance.

1932- Salazar becomes prime minister, a post he will retain for 36 years, establishing authoritarian Estado Novo (New State) political system.

1936- Salazar backs General Francos nationalists in the Spanish Civil War.

1939-45- Portugal maintains official neutrality during World War Two but allows UK to use air bases in Azores.

1949- Portugal becomes founding member of Nato.

1955- Portugal joins United Nations.

1968- Antonio Salazar dismissed from premiership after stroke; dies in 1970.

1974 -A near-bloodless military coup sparks a mass movement of civil unrest, paving the way for democracy. The 25 April coup becomes known as the Carnation Revolution.

1974-75- Independence for Portuguese colonies of Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Cape Verde Islands, Sao Tome and Principe, and Angola.

1982- Military Council of the Revolution abolished, civilian government formally restored.

1986- Portugal becomes member of EEC (later EU). Mario Soares elected president.

2016- Former prime minister Antonio Guterres appointed UN Secretary General.

2017- Portugal drops complaint to the EU over Spanish plan to build a nuclear waste storage facility which environmentalists fear could affect the River Tagus, after Spain agrees to share environmental information.

2020March - President Rebelo de Sousa asks parliament to authorize a state of emergency to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, the first time Portugal has declared a nationwide state of emergency since becoming a democracy in 1974.

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