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02/03/2006 15:54 Local Time 
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Head of State
President Jorge Sampaio
Head of Government Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso
Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz
Area 92,000 km2
Population 10.3 million
Capital Lisbon
Language Portuguese
Currency Euro
Per capita GDP € 10,833 (1999 - Eurostat 1/2002)
GDP growth 3% (2000)

Constitution - Domestic politics

Portugal is a parliamentary republic. The four main branches of the national government are the presidency, the prime minister and Council of Ministers (the government), the Assembly of the Republic (the parliament) and the judiciary. The president is elected for a five-year term by direct, universal suffrage. The president has a range of powers which include appointing the premier and Council of Ministers, dismissing the prime minister, dissolving the Assembly for early elections and vetoing legislation.

The Assembly of the Republic is responsible for the exercise of legislative power. It is composed of 230 deputies, elected from twenty electoral constituencies by direct universal suffrage under a quasi-proportional system for a four-year term.

In the 2002 elections, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) won 105 of the seats in Parliament and formed a majority coalition government with the Popular Party (PP) under the leadership of Prime Minister Durao Barroso. The new government has committed itself to public-sector austerity and business incentives to promote growth, trade, productivity and reduce the country’s chronic external deficit. In an attempt to lessen the political impact of its austerity measures, the government has appealed to the opposition to enter into a national agreement concerning the means by which the budget deficit can be reduced to below 3% of GDP.


Economic policy in the 1990s focused on meeting the criteria for Economic and Monetary Union. Portugal adopted the Euro at its launch in January 1999. The government subsequently relaxed fiscal policy in the period 1999-2000, resulting in a marked deterioration of the budget deficit.

Portugal's economy is based on traditional industries such as textiles, clothing, footwear, wood products, wine, porcelain and glassware. Services, particularly tourism, are playing an increasingly important role in the economy. Portugal has made great progress in raising its standard of living to that of its EU partners and unemployment stood at 4.1% at the end of 2001, which is low compared to the EU average.

Foreign policy

EU membership and co-operation is the main pillar of Portuguese foreign policy. Its rapid integration into European structures gave Portugal a more central role within the EU in the 1990s. Portugal’s security is based on the country’s membership of NATO and participation in the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. Portugal was a founding member of NATO and is an active member of the Alliance. Lisbon also attaches great importance to close co-operation with the Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, as well as with Brazil and East Timor.


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