Topography of Portugal
Portugal has a very long sea coast, a reason for many sailing adventures and arrival of various civilizations in the past history of Portugal. Portugal has a mixed population from different origins settled here and influenced the present language of Portugal totally different from the Portugal’s original language. Besides all these upheavals, Portugal is the oldest nation of Europe.
Brief History of Portugal
During the 12th Century Portugal gained it’s independence from the erstwhile ruling kingdom. Thus Count Afonso Heneriques was the first king as per the wishes of Portugal people. With the conquest of Algarve Portugal possessed its continental border. During the thirteenth century a University was founded at Coimbra in Portugal.
Territories Archipelagos of Azores and Madeira were discovered and form part of Portugal. The Portuguese attained their First Feat among European Nations by sailing to Africa, bringing back wealth of treasures.
Portugal witnessed Dynasty problem and were ruled under Spanish King in the beginning of sixteenth century, which was taken over by a Portugese King. King Joao V, an art lover built a huge palace and a convent at Mafra. The water supply system to Lisbon was completed in the 19th century.
The monarchy failed and a Republic was established in 1910.
Portugal Political & Administrative Set Up
Portugal has the status of Democratic Republic and its rule is governed by the Constitution of 1976 with Lisbon, Portugal’s Mega sized city being its capital. There are four main wings, which in combination form part of the Government run by the President of the Republic.
The Parliament is comprised of Assembly of the Republic. The Government is headed by a Prime Minister. There are courts to look after judicial function in the country. Portugal has no state religion hence making it a secular state.
The president, gets elected to serve a five-year term, has a supervisory non-executive role. The government is run by the Prime Minister. He selects the Council of Ministers and secretaries to help him run the government.
The courts are set up to make several categories forming the judicial, administrative, and fiscal Services to handle respective issues of the country. The supreme courts are courts of last appeal. A thirteen-member constitutional court oversees the constitutionality of the laws.
Climate of Portugal
Portugal’s climate differs drastically from one region to the other due to factors like latitude, distance from sea and mountains on the land resulting into tolerable winters in Algarve in contrast to colder regions at Porto e Norte near Spain.
The Temperature is mild as compared to rest of Europe. Serra da Estrela mountain, witness snowfall and is a place to do skiing during winters. The summer season is hot and dry witnessed in the inland regions as compared to coastal regions, where the temperatures are lower. Weather is good in the month of November commonly called “St. Martin’s Summer” because saint’s day falls on 11th November.
Azores and Madeira have a mild climate all the time because of varying geographical positioning in contrast to other territories of Portugal.
Portugal is member of EU since 1986 and Euro is its official Currency, which is common to other 16 countries of Europe.
Through out Portugal – Automatic Teller Machines ATMs are installed and are effectively dispensing cash to the needs of the population
Exchange of currency can be made at Banks and with the help of automatic currency exchange machines.
Portugal population has access to Popular Credit Cards of Visa, American Express, Diners Club, Master Card, Euroclub etc. which are supported by good customer care service.
There are coin operated public telephone booths. Virtual cards are also available, which can be procured from Telecom shops, post offices and some designated public counters.
The telephone numbers have 9 digits for making a call outside Portugal digits 00 and 351 are to be suffixed.
Similarly for making a call abroad, dial 00, the country code, the area code followed by the number to be accessed. Information of country codes is available at the booths.
Portugal has the highest number of mobile phone users and the service is provided by TMN, Vodafone and Optimus all have roaming arrangements with international mobile phone service providers. There is good coverage by these network arrangements. Another option is to get a prepaid phone with an international plan before traveling to Portugal, to save you the hassle of having to buy one when you get there.
Under the Portuguese Highway Rules one can not use mobile phones, while driving the vehicle except when there is hands free appliance.
Internet services can be accessed on payment in some cafés, in post offices having Net post service. A number of hotels and public places like Airports, Conference centers, Restaurants, Service Areas in motor-ways and shopping centers, wireless internet service is available.