Pronounced As: pôrchgl , officially Portuguese Republic, republic
(1995 est. pop. 10,562,000), 35,553 sq mi (92,082 sq km), SW Europe,
on the western side of the Iberian Peninsula and including the Madeira
Islands and the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean. Portugal is bordered
by Spain on the east and north and by the Atlantic Ocean on the
west and south. The capital and by far the largest city is Lisbon.
The country is crossed by rivers rising in Spain and flowing to
the Atlantic; among them are the Douro, the Tagus, the Sado, and
the Guadiana. The river valleys support agriculture, and vineyards
are maintained in the Douro and Tagus valleys. On the lower hillslopes
there are olive groves; grains are grown and livestock are raised
on the flatter uplands as well as on the plains near the coast.
There are great variations in terrain and climate among the historic
provinces. Trás-os-Montes in the extreme northeast has a
rigorous mountain climate, as have parts of Entre-Minho-e-Douro
(officially Douro). Beira has the highest mountains of the country,
the scenic Serra de Estrela, dotted with resorts. Estremadura, in
W Portugal, has broad, alluvial plains, rising to cool and rocky
uplands; along the Atlantic coast is a celebrated resort region,
reaching to the town of Estoril, near Lisbon. Most of Alentejo has
a Mediterranean climate; although much of its soil is poor, together
with Estremadura it is the granary of Portugal. The southernmost
of the old provinces, Algarve, resembles the northern shores of
Africa; mountains curve across the north of the province down to
Cape St. Vincent, the southwestern tip of Europe; citrus and almond
groves and off-season vegetables thrive in the mild climate.
In addition to the capital, other notable cities are Oporto, Coimbra,
Setúbal, Braga, Évora, and Faro. The republic, including
the island groups, is divided into 18 administrative districts,
although the names of the six historic provinces are still used.
Under a 1987 agreement, Portugal's last overseas territory, Macao,
is scheduled to revert to Chinese sovereignty at the end of 1999.
The majority of the Portuguese people are Roman Catholic. Portugal
has several universities, including ones at Coimbra, Oporto, and