U.S. Department of State
Background Notes:  Portugal, August 1995
Bureau of Public Affairs

August 1995
Official Name:  Republic of Portugal


Area: 94,276 sq. km. (36,390 sq. mi.), including the Azores and 
Madeira Islands; about the size of Indiana.
Cities: Capital--Lisbon (pop. 1.9 million). Other major city--Oporto 
(1.7 million). 
Terrain: Mountainous in the north; rolling plains central south. 
Climate: Maritime temperate. 


Nationality: Noun and adjective--Portuguese (sing. and pl.). 
Population:  9.8 million.
Annual growth rate:  0.06%. 
Ethnic groups: Homogeneous Mediterranean stock with small black 
African minority. 
Religion: Roman Catholic 97%. 
Language: Portuguese. 
Education: Years compulsory--nine. Attendance--60%. Literacy--87%. 
Health:  Infant mortality rate--10/1,000. Life expectancy--75 yrs. 
Work force (4.6 million): Government, commerce, and services--55%. 
Industry--33%. Agriculture--12%. 


Type: Parliamentary democracy. Constitution: Effective April 25, 
1976; revised October 30, 1982, and June 1, 1989.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state), Council of State 
(presidential advisory body), prime minister (head of government), 
Council of Ministers. Legislative--unicameral Assembly of the 
Republic (between 230 and 235 deputies). Judicial--Supreme Court, 
district courts, appeals courts, Constitutional Tribunal. 
Major political parties: Social Democratic Party, Socialist Party, 
Portuguese Communist Party, Popular Party (formerly Social Democratic 
Suffrage: Universal at age 18.
Subdivisions: 18 districts, two autonomous regions, and 1 dependency.


GDP (1994): $88 billion. 
Annual  growth rate (1994): 1.1%.
Per capita GDP (1994): $8,925.
Natural resources: Fish, cork, tungsten, iron, copper, tin, and 
uranium ores. 
Agriculture (5% of GDP): Forestry, fisheries. 
Industry (34% of GDP): Types--textiles, clothing, footwear, 
construction, food, beverages, tobacco.
Services (61% of GDP): Commerce, government, housing, banking, and 
Trade (1994): Exports--$17.5 billion: clothing, footwear, electrical 
machinery and appliances, automobiles. Imports--$24 billion: 
electrical and non-electrical machinery, automobiles, fuel, 
appliances. Major partners--European Union, U.S., European Free Trade 
Association (EFTA).
Official exchange rate (August 1995): 
U.S. $1 = 150 escudos.


The United States encourages a stable and democratic Portugal that is 
closely associated with the industrial democracies of Western Europe 
and NATO; it has supported Portugal's successful entry into the West 
European economic and defense mainstream. Portugal's commitment to 
democratic values is demonstrated by the country's transition from 
authoritarian rule to constitutional democracy following a nearly 
bloodless 1974 coup and its excellent human rights record. 

Bilateral ties date from the earliest years of the United States. On 
February 21, 1791, President George Washington opened formal 
diplomatic relations, naming Col. David Humphreys as U.S. minister. 
Portugal's history of looking toward the Atlantic rather than 
continental Europe and the U.S. position as an Atlantic power have 
fostered close contact between the two nations. Emigration and 
sizable Portuguese communities in the United States contribute to a 
strong cultural bond.

The U.S. and Portugal share a mutually beneficial economic 
relationship, with bilateral trade of $1.8 billion in 1994. While 
total Portuguese trade has increased dramatically over the last 10 
years, the U.S. percentage of it--both exports and imports--has 
declined. The Portuguese Government is seeking to increase exports of 
textiles and footwear to the United States and is encouraging greater 
bilateral investment.

U.S.-Portuguese defense cooperation continues to be excellent. The 
Agreement on Cooperation and Defense, signed June 1, 1995, provides 
for continued U.S. access to the Lajes Air Base in the Azores as well 
as cooperation in non-military endeavors. The air base provides 
valuable service, as illustrated most recently by Operation Desert 
Storm and by Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. The United States and 
other NATO allies provide equipment and training to the Portuguese 

From 1975 through 1992, U.S. economic assistance to Portugal managed 
by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was $1.3 
billion, including refugee and disaster assistance, agriculture, 
schools and rural education, health, low-income housing and housing 
guaranties, basic sanitation, consultants and training, balance-of-
payments loans, PL 480 loans, and Economic Support Funds (ESF) cash 
transfers. The economically underdeveloped Azores Islands group was a 
major recipient of targeted USAID assistance. All forms of economic 
assistance ended by 1993; Portugal continues to participate in U.S. 
military training programs.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Ambassador--Elizabeth Frawley Bagley
Deputy Chief of Mission--Sharon Wilkinson
Political Affairs--Julien LeBourgeois
Economic Affairs--Donald Cooke
Consular Affairs--David Bocskor
Administrative Affairs--Raymond Boneski
Public Affairs--Kathleen Brion
Commercial Affairs--Daniel Thompson
Agricultural Affairs--Franklin Lee
Defense and Air Attache--Col. David Bell
Army Attache--Lt. Col. Rudolph Garcia
Navy Attache--Capt. James Ponzo
Office of Defense Cooperation--Col. Jesse Perez

Consul, Ponta Delgada--Luis Espada-Platet

The U.S. embassy is at Avenida Forcas Armadas, Lisbon 1600 (tel. 
7266600). The Ponta Delgada consulate is at Avenida Infante D. 
Henrique, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores 9502 (tel. 22216). The 
consular agent in Funchal, Madeira is Antonio Drummond Borges (tel. 


Portugal's economy is based on traditional industries such as 
textiles, clothing, footwear, cork and wood products, beverages 
(wine), porcelain and earthenware, and glass and glassware. Portugal 
will strengthen its position in the automobile industry in 1995 when 
the multibillion-dollar AutoEuropa project begins producing the Ford 
"Galaxy" and Volkswagen "Sharan" vans at a state-of-the-art plant in 
Setubal for export to European markets. The country is also a major 
European tourist destination: In 1994, more than 21 million tourists 
arrived in Portugal from Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, 
and the United States.

Portugal traditionally runs a merchandise trade deficit, which it 
finances through net receipts from tourism, remittances from 
Portuguese workers abroad, and net transfers from the European Union 
(EU). Net EU transfers in 1995 are expected to be $2.8 billion, or 3% 
of GDP. During 1989-93, its current account was broadly in balance 
and foreign direct investment averaged close to $2 billion per year.

The country's entry into the EC--now the EU--in 1986 and the 
accompanying obligations to open its markets and compete freely with 
its EU partners stimulated economic reforms and continue to influence 
economic policy and business strategy.

Portugal's privatization program has reduced the state presence in 
the economy and yielded substantial revenues to the government. It is 
the third-largest privatizer in the OECD, after the United Kingdom 
and New Zealand. The first phase of privatization--"de-
nationalization" of the banking and insurance sector--is virtually 
complete. The state presence is now concentrated in oil refining, 
shipbuilding, steel, cement, basic chemical products, and public 
utilities such as telecommunications and energy. The second phase of 
privatization will focus on parastatals in many of these areas.

Unemployment has become a greater problem in recent years. The 1993 
recession and deepening structural change in agriculture and industry 
caused unemployment to increase from 4.1% in 1992 to 6.8% in 1994. 
This is still low compared to the EU average of 10.8% and is expected 
to come down as the economy strengthens in 1995. Nevertheless, the 
concern remains that unemployment may settle at a higher rate in the 
coming years as economic change and international competition 
eliminate lower-skilled jobs.

Real wages are flexible--contractual wages have declined in recent 
years in both nominal and real terms--but high social costs and 
severance make labor resemble a fixed rather than a variable cost in 
many instances, slowing the recovery in employment.


Portugal's April 25, 1976, constitution reflected the country's 1974-
76 move from authoritarian rule to provisional military government to 
a parliamentary democracy with some initial communist and left-wing 
influence. The 1976 constitution, which defined Portugal as a 
"Republic . . . engaged in the formation of a classless society," was 
revised in 1982 and  in 1989.

The 1982 revision placed the military under strict civilian control, 
trimmed the powers of the president, and abolished the Revolutionary 
Council (a non-elected committee with legislative veto powers). The 
1989 revision eliminated much of the remaining Marxist rhetoric of 
the original document, abolished the communist-inspired "agrarian 
reform," and laid the groundwork for further privatization of 
nationalized firms and the government-owned communications media.

The constitution provides for progressive administrative 
decentralization and calls for future reorganization on a regional 
basis. The Azores and Madeira Islands have constitutionally mandated 
autonomous status: A regional autonomy statute promulgated in 1980 
established the Government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, 
and the Government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira operates under 
a provisional autonomy statute in effect since 1976. Apart from the 
Azores and Madeira, the country is divided into 18 districts, each 
headed by a governor appointed by the Minister of Internal 
Administration. Macau--a dependency which will revert to Chinese 
sovereignty in 1999--is headed by a presidentially nominated governor 

The four main organs of the national government are the presidency, 
the prime minister and Council of Ministers (the government), the 
Assembly of the Republic (parliament), and the courts.

The president, elected to a five-year term by direct, universal 
suffrage, is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces. 
Presidential powers include appointing the prime minister and Council 
of Ministers (in which the president must be guided by the assembly 
election results), dismissing the prime minister, dissolving the 
assembly to call early elections, vetoing legislation (which may be 
overridden by the assembly), and declaring states of war or siege.

The Council of State, an advisory body to the president, is composed 
of the incumbents of six senior civilian offices, any former 
presidents elected under the 1976 constitution, five members chosen 
by the assembly, and five chosen by the president himself.

The government is headed by the presidentially appointed prime 
minister, who names the Council of Ministers. A new government is 
required to define the broad outline of its policy in a program and 
present it to the assembly for a mandatory period of debate. Failure 
of the assembly to reject the program by a majority of deputies 
confirms the government in office.

The Assembly of the Republic is a unicameral body composed of up to 
235 deputies. Elected by universal suffrage according to a system of 
proportional representation, deputies serve terms of office of four 
years, unless the president dissolves the assembly and calls for new 

The national Supreme Court is the court of last appeal. Military, 
administrative, and fiscal courts are designated as separate court 
categories. A nine-member Constitutional Tribunal reviews the 
constitutionality of legislation.

Current Administration

The most recent presidential elections were held in January 1991. 
Mario Soares of the Socialist Party--first elected President in 1986-
-was re-elected in a landslide victory, garnering a full 70% of the 
popular vote. The October 1991 general election produced a victory 
for Anibal Cavaco Silva's Social Democratic Party, which received 
just over 50% of the popular vote.

Prime Minister Cavaco Silva--now in his second four-year term--has 
been committed to privatizing and modernizing the economy. His 
government and the Socialist Party have cooperated over the years to 
encourage privatization of public sector enterprise. The Cavaco Silva 
government has implemented economic and social reforms designed to 
help Portugal compete with other European nations. 

General elections are scheduled for October 1995 and presidential 
elections for February 1996.

Principal Government Officials
President of the Portuguese Republic--Mario Soares 
Prime Minister--Anibal Cavaco Silva
Ambassador to the United States--Fernando Antonio Andresen Guimares

Portugal maintains an embassy in the United States at 2125 Kalorama 
Road NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-328-8610); consulates general 
in New York City, Boston, and San Francisco; consulates in 
Providence, RI; Newark, NJ; and New Bedford, MA; and honorary 
consulates in Honolulu, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, Chicago, 
Philadelphia, Miami, Puerto Rico, and Waterbury, CT. The Portuguese 
National Tourist Office in the United States is located at 548 Fifth 
Avenue, New York, NY 10036 (tel: 212-354-4403).


The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides 
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are 
issued when the Department of State recommends that Americans avoid 
travel to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for 
all countries and include information on immigration practices, 
currency regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime 
and security information, political disturbances, and the addresses 
of the U.S. embassies and consulates in the subject country. They can 
be obtained by telephone at (202) 647-5225 or by fax at (202) 647-
3000. To access the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board by computer, dial 
(202) 647-9225, via a modem with standard settings. Bureau of 
Consular Affairs' publications on obtaining passports and planning a 
safe trip abroad are available from the Superintendent of Documents, 
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402 (202) 783-

Emergency information concerning  Americans traveling abroad may be 
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-

While planning a trip, travelers can check the latest information on 
health requirements and conditions with the U.S. Centers for Disease 
Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at (404) 332-
4559 provides telephonic or fax information on the most recent health 
advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice 
on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A 
booklet entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS 
publication number CDC-94-8280, price $7.00) is available from the 
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 
Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to 
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's 
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see 
"Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).
Upon their arrival in a country, U.S. citizens are encouraged to 
register with the U.S. embassy (see "Principal U.S. Embassy 
Officials" listing in this publication). Such information might 
assist family members in making contact en route in case of an 

Further Electronic Information:

Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). Available by modem, the CABB 
provides Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and helpful 
information for travelers. Access at (202) 647-9225 is free of charge 
to anyone with a personal computer, modem, telecommunications 
software, and telephone line.

Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the 
Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. 
foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background 
Notes; Dispatch, the official weekly magazine of U.S. foreign policy; 
daily press briefings; directories of key officers of foreign service 
posts; etc. DOSFAN is accessible three ways on the Internet:

Gopher:  dosfan.lib.uic.edu

URL:  gopher://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/

WWW:  http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/dosfan.html

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a quarterly 
basis by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on 
the Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an 
array of official foreign policy information from 1990 to the 
present. Priced at $80 ($100 foreign), one-year subscriptions include 
four discs (MSDOS and Macintosh compatible) and are available from 
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 
P.O. Box 37194, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-
1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.

Federal Bulletin Board (BBS). A broad range of foreign policy 
information also is carried on the BBS, operated by the U.S. 
Government Printing Office (GPO). By modem, dial (202) 512-1387. For 
general BBS information, call (202) 512-1530.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information, 
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet 
(gopher. stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at 
(202) 482-1986 for more information.

Published by the United States Department of State  --  Bureau of 
Public Affairs  --  Office of Public Communication  --  Washington, 
DC  --  August 1995  --  Managing Editor:  Peter A. Knecht  --  
Editor:  Marilyn J. Bremner

Department of State Publication 8074  --  Background Notes series  --  
This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without 
permission; citation of this source is appreciated.

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing 
Office, Washington, DC  20402.  

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