Portugal officially called as Portuguese republic is located in south west Europe. In fact Portugal is the western most country of Europe and it is surrounded by Atlantic Ocean in west and Spain in east. Portugal has got a long story in history and it is known as peace making country. Portugal has experienced a diverse mix of civilization in the past millennium. Lisbon the capital of Portugal is the largest city in the country. Portugal enjoys two dominant climatic conditions. They are Mediterranean climate and oceanic climate. In spring and winter it is characterized by heavy winds and rainfall. During autumn and summer it enjoys sunny and pleasant climatic condition.
Average temperature ranges from thirteen degree Celsius to eighteen degree Celsius. However in northwestern and in southwestern parts of the country absolute temperature readings are as low as minus sixteen degree Celsius in winter and as high as forty degree Celsius in summer. Several rivers flow down the Portugal mainland and the major river named Tagus had formed beautiful river valleys in the north and rolling plains in the south. The islands of Madeira and Azores which form the Atlantic archipelago fall into the territory of Portuguese republic. Portugal has a high number of natural reserves, protected landscapes and wildlife sanctuaries for its small land area when compared to other countries. The country makes the most out the marine resources and has achieved the exclusive economic zone status. Monarchy ruled the Portugal until the beginning of twentieth century. However a dictatorship was started a few decades after the establishment of Portuguese republic. The dictatorship was initiated by Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. After the Carnation revolution that started in 1974, Portugal was announced as democratic republic by the constitution.
There is not specific state religion in Portugal and hence it announced itself as secular. Portugal defense system comprises of Army, Navy and Air Force. The military system in Portugal primarily serves self defense and peace keeping missions. Portugal defense houses nearly 45,000 armed personal including about 3000 women. Compulsory military service is not longer practiced in Portugal. The first Great War and the Portuguese colonial war are the two major military interventions engaged by Portugal. French law was the main influence until the end of nineteenth century. Continental family legal system is the Portuguese legal system and it is a part of civil law legal system. Portugal is the one of the principal founder member of NATO and it joined in European Union in 1986. Painting, music and literature are the major fields where Portugal shines in cultural heritage. Portuguese cuisine is known for its quality, taste and rich diet. One of the main aspects that have to be mentioned is Portuguese wine. Portugal is one of the leading wine producers in the world and there is demand for Portuguese wine all over the world.
Portugal has become the favorite choice for the tourists and recent statistics say that nearly 13 million tourists flooded in Portugal in the year 2006 alone. The major places in Portugal that are of tourist interest are Lisbon, Madeira and Algarve. The tourism department in Portugal states that it might become the leading source of income and will contribute to the nationís economic prosperity.
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