Portugal: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country Portugal.



Location--On the western coast of the Iberian peninsula in southwest Europe, mainland Portugal is bounded on the north and east by Spain and on the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean. Metropolitan Portugal includes the Azores (9 islands 740 mi. west of Portugal) and the archipelago of Madeira (600 mi. to the southwest).

How Created--By the 12th century the Moors controlled all of what is now Portugal except for a small area in the north. In 1139, Affonso, son of Henry of Burgundy, defeated the Moors in Santarem and declared himself King of Portugal.

In 1147 Lisbon was taken from the Moors and in 1249 the Portuguese drove them from the Algarve. The boundaries of continental Portugal have remained virtually unchanged since, and, except for a 60-year period from 1580-1640 when Spain ruled the country, it has been an independent nation.

Size--35,383 sq. mi. (91,641 sq. km.), about the size of Indiana.

Population--10 million: Portuguese, 99.7%. 98.4% Roman Catholic.

Who Rules--On April 25, 1974, a group called the Movement of Armed Forces overthrew the right-wing dictatorship of Premier Marcello Caetano in an almost bloodless coup d'etat. In 1975, Portugal's 1st elections in 50 years resulted in a victory for the Socialists and Popular Democrats.

Who REALLY Rules--The military is still in power. Until the coup the Government represented the interests of the "10 families" who are in control of interlocking cartels and conglomerates, and of various international corporations such as Shell Oil, which has interests in Angola.

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