Country of the World Portugal

About the country Portugal, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: In western Europe, forming the western strip of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is bounded on the north and east by Spain and on the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean. The Tagus River bisects the country on a northeast-southwest slant, entering the Atlantic at Lisbon. The mountainous north enjoys considerable rainfall, while the drier south has a gentler terrain.

Size: 35,553 sq. mi. (92,082 sq. km.).

Population: 9.2 million. Language: Portuguese.

Who Rules: In July, 1976, Portugal ended 48 years of dictatorial rule with the inauguration of Pres. Antonio Romalho Eanes, who, in turn, appointed socialist leader Mario Soares as premier. In January, 1978, Soares's Socialist Party, which has moved progressively to the right, allied itself with the conservative Center Social Democrat party, which Soares had called, only three years earlier, "a refuge for capitalists and fascists."

Who REALLY Rules: While the moderate center parties are the nominal rulers of Portugal, the real power in the country, which keeps them in office and the Communists out, is the Portuguese Army. During the Communist uprising of 1975, the Army, which has the financial and military backing of the U.S., defeated the leftists by distributing arms to "democratic elements," including non-Communist labor unions and political parties. With Western diplomatic and capitalist monetary support, the military dominated High Council of the Revolution, semiofficial watchdog committee, is the most influential institution in Portugal and has an unstated veto power over government decision-making.

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