The Portuguese Republic, (República Portuguesa) is made up of Mainland Portugal and the two autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores.
Portugal is known worldwide for its’ golden beaches and extensive Golf Courses in the Algarve, but the country has much more to offer.
Mainland Portugal covers 89,015 km² and has a population of 10,555, 853 (2011 census).
Portugal is in the southwest of Europe in the Iberian Peninsula and is the westernmost country in Europe. There have been many changes of regions, municipalities and districts since the 1974 revolution and even some official divisions have not fully been adopted due to local resistance to change.
The 2011 bailout accord resulted in the proposed reduction of the number of municipal and parish local governments after July 2012, so there will be more changes yet. The most used terms are those of the 7 regions (North, Central, Alentejo, Algarve, Lisbon plus Madeira and Azores). The most relevant and historic subdivision (created in 1835) is the districts, there are 18 on the mainland and they are subdivided again into 308 Municipalities. Each Municipality is made up of a number of Freguesias (Parish Councils). The main tourist areas are The Algarve and The Silver Coast, as well as the cities of Lisbon and Oporto.
Portugal has a long, chequered history with its boarder changing as far back as prehistoric times. It was integrated into the Roman Republic and then overthrown by the Moors in the 8th century.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Portuguese pioneered sea travel; this time is known as the Age of Discovery. Portugal established a global empire (the first official global Empire in history) including conquests in Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America; they became one the world’s major political, economic and military powers and also the longest lived of the European colonial empires.
The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 cost the Portuguese a lot, financially as all the major cities had to be re-built. The Portuguese Empire was greatly reduced following the independence of Brazil, in the 19th century.
The 1910 Revolution saw the royal family deposed and the establishment of the First Portuguese Republic. This was superseded by the dictatorship of Salazar which continued until The Carnation Revolution of 1974.
Portugal is a developed country with much of the Tourism in the Algarve, in the south of the country.
In all regions, away from the tourist areas, you can be ‘whisked’ back to the old days where everyone speaks to their neighbours and the young as well as the old have traditional values. Family is very important to the Portuguese and most Sundays the extended family will gather for a big family meal.
There are many very different areas for such a small country, which means that whatever you are looking for you will find it here. If you are looking for the Expat life in the popular Algarve Golf Resorts then Albufeira, Portimao or Lagos might be for you. But from that end of the scale Portugal has every step along the way to living in the interior of central Portugal. For example Arganil or Gois in the foothills of the Serra de Estrella mountains, where you still buy a piece of land for a few thousand euros and live ‘off grid’ producing your own electric and food in a sustainable way, in some of the most beautiful lands in Europe.
Portugal is a very peaceful country, which generally manages to stay out of major world conflicts. It is a member of the European Union and the United Nations, as well as a founding member of the Latin Union, the Organization of Ibero-American States, OECD, NATO, Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Eurozone and the Schengen Agreement.
It is well reported the Portugal is currently in economic crisis but so are many developed countries. Portugal elected a new government in 2011 and they are tackling the economic problems with the help of financial assistance from the EU and IMF.
Property prices are subdued at present and still falling on some areas, so now is the best time to be looking at buying property in Portugal. Whether you are planning to buy a holiday home, investment property or looking to re-locate you should look very seriously at Portugal.
You will find a lot of information about these subjects on www.heyportugal.com Portugal has a State Health system that entitles all ‘residents’ to basic healthcare. Although in some areas there is a shortage of familiy doctors, you will still get medical treatment at your local Health Centre when you need it.
There is a good schools system here, where education is compulsory for age 6 to 18, and many new schools have been built in recent years.
There are universities in most big cities and colleges in all major towns.