Christianity has shaped much of the country’s history and culture and is still an important part of every day life to many Portuguese. About 95% of the population is Roman Catholic with the remaining 5% made up of Protestants, Muslims and Jews.
Portuguese is the official language of Portugal. It is spoken by about 200 million people worldwide – in Portugal, Brazil and parts of Africa and Asia. A Romance language, Portuguese is derived from Latin and related to Spanish, French and Italian. Some Portuguese people are able to speak English in cities and main tourist areas, but in rural areas and amongst older people it is harder to find English speakers.
Area (sq. km):
92,391 square meters
Portugal is on the same time zone as GMT. Daylight savings run from March to October so the time is 1 hour ahead of GMT.
The climate in Portugal varies considerably from one region to another and is influenced by the latitude and proximity to the sea, which offers mild winters, especially in the Algarve. Further inland, nearer Spain, the winters are colder, although the temperatures are still mild when compared to the rest of Europe. There is some snowfall. It occurs most in the Serra da Estrela mountains, where we find the highest point in mainland Portugal (1,991 m) and where it is sometimes possible to ski. The summers are hot and dry, especially in the inland areas. Temperatures are slightly lower in the coastal areas, because of the influence of the sea. There are often warm, sunny days in autumn. Nice weather at the beginning of November is often called "St. Martin’s Summer" as this saint’s day is on 11 November.
Mid-June to mid-September is high season in Portugal.
Lisbon Portela Airport is located 7km (4 miles) from Lisbon city centre. Metered taxis are available 24 hours a day and are situated outside the Arrivals and Departures areas. The CARRIS AeroBus no.91 runs to the city centre (journey time: 20 minutes) and to the Cais do Sodré railway station. Local buses nos.5, 22, 44, 45 and 83 reach several destinations in Lisbon. Facilities include a bank and a post office in the Departures area and bureaux de change in the Departures and Arrivals areas. ATMs situated throughout the airport.
IDD is available. Portugal’s country code is 351. The outgoing international code is 00. There are call boxes in most villages and all towns; there are also public telephones in many cafes and bars, from which international calls may be made.
230 volts AC, 50Hz. 110 volts in some areas and 230 DC in parts of the south. Continental two-pin plugs are used.
For a taste of traditional Portuguese cuisine try pastiés de bacalhau (cod fish cakes), prego em pão (meat and egg roll), bife de atúm (tuna steak) or presunto (ham). For cerveja (beer) drinkers, Super Bock and Sagres are worth sampling. Portugal also produces a wide variety of good value and great tasting wine and port.
Shopping in Portugal is relatively inexpensive and a wide range of local produce is available for purchase. Products such as ceramics, leatherwork, jewelry, rugs, lace, port and wine are all on sale in Portugal’s shops and markets.
The Portuguese: The Land and its People - Marion Kaplan The Food of Portugal – Jean Anderson A Concise History of Portugal – David Birmingham Journey to Portugal: In Pursuit of Portugal’s History and Culture – Jose Saramago.