The following excerpt on Portugal today was extracted from BBC News Country Profiles.
- Population: 10.7 million (UN, 2011)
- Capital: Lisbon
- Area: 92,345 sq km (35,655 sq miles)
- Major language: Portuguese
- Major religion: Christianity
- Monetary unit: Euro
- Main exports: Textiles and clothing, wood products, electrical equipment
- GNI per capita: US $21,880 (World Bank, 2010)
For almost half of the 20th century Portugal was a dictatorship in which for decades Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was the key figure. The dictatorship's stubborn refusal to relinquish its grip on the former colonies as demands for independence gained momentum there resulted in expensive wars in Africa.
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.
By the end of 1975 all of Portugal's former colonies in Africa were independent of Lisbon.
Since becoming a member of the then European Community in 1986, Portugal's traditionally largely agricultural economy became increasingly diversified and orientated towards the service sector.
It experienced solid growth in the 1990s, but GDP per head remains well under the EU average. The 2008 financial crisis left Portugal with a ballooning budget deficit, and in 2011 it became the third EU country after Greece and Ireland to ask for a financial bail-out.
For an idea of what Portugal looks like today, view the photos in the Portugal Photo Album on this website.