Friday, January 3, 2014

Portuguese Republic

Portugal, on the Iberian Peninsula, is mainland Europe's westernmost country.  It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and SpainThe Portuguese Republic includes continental Portugal as well as the Azores and Madeira Islands in the Atlantic.  All together, it is home to over 10.5 million people and is a little smaller than Indiana.  Lisbon is the capital and its largest city.


The area of Portugal was ruled by the Romans, Visigoths, and the Moors.  In 1139 it became an independent kingdom.  During the Age of Discovery, in the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal became the first global empire.

In 1910 a revolution deposed the monarchy.  In 1933, António de Oliveira Salazar took over the country.  The right-wing Estado Novo regime held power until 1974 when the Carnation Revolution removed the regime from power.

Although Salazar was pro-fascist, Portugal was officially neutral during WWII.  Portugal exported goods to both Germany and the Allies.  However, 10,000 men were sent to Northern France, under the British flag to fight Germany.

Of all the modern European colonial empires, the Portuguese Empire survived the longest – almost 600 years.  Macau was handed over to China in 1999 and East Timor gained independence in 2002.  Today there are 53 different countries on territory that was once ruled by Portugal.  With more than 250 million speakers, Portuguese is the world's 6th most spoken first language.

Reach of the Portuguese Empire
















Portuguese Euro
Today, Portugal is a modern republic.  It is a member of the European Union, NATO, the Schengen Area and the Eurozone.

Portugal was one of the world's first countries to abolish the death penalty.  The maximum jail sentence for a crime is 25 years.  In 2001, it fully decriminalized drug use including the possession of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and LSD.  Decriminalized.  Not legalized.  The country treats drug use as a medical problem and not as a criminal issue.  As a result overall drug addiction has actually decreased in the country along with the number of new cases of HIV infection.  Here's a video I found out on YouTube which talks about the country's drug policy. 



In 2010, Portugal became the 8th country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage.  

The government is pretty heavily indebted.  In 2011 it received a €78 billion bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund.  The overall unemployment rate is around 18% but youth unemployment is around 40%.

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