Are you planning to move to Europe and consider Portugal as a very attractive choice? Then we will tell you a little about history and culture, about modern economy and politics, and about the advantages of living in this country.
For more detailed information and personal integration into the social environment, as well as on the issues of opening and developing business – contact Portugality agency.
MAIN DATA AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
The total area is 92 212 square meters.
Population – 10 337 000 (data of 2015).
Economically active population – 5 195 (data of 2015).
The population density is 112.6 people per square meter.
Official name – Portuguese Republic.
The population in the capital is 2.1 million inhabitants in Greater Lisbon.
The Portuguese state is one of the oldest in Europe and was founded in 1139. In ancient times, the territory between the rivers Douru and Tejo was called Lusitania by the name of the tribe that inhabited this region. From 139 BC, the Romans settled here, and since 711 the Moors have ruled. Christians were able to regain the lands in the north of Portugal only in the XI century, and in 1147 the royal residence housed in Lisbon.
The greatest prosperity Portugal reached in the era of the colonial conquests of the XV-XVI centuries. Since 1580 and for 60 years, the weakened country was ruled by the Spaniards. After the restoration of independence, the country’s economic position was strengthened due to the gold deposit found in Brazil. In 1755, a devastating earthquake led to long years of breakdown, but Marquis of Pombal reforms allowed the economy to recover quickly enough to overcome the political crisis. In 1807, Portugal was weakened by the invasion of Napoleon, and in 1825 Brazil gained independence. The Revolution of 1910 overthrew the monarchy, but in 1926, as a result of the military coup, the dictatorship of Antonio Oliveira Salazar was established, which was only overthrown in 1968 as a result of the Carnation Revolution.
Portugal maintained its neutrality during the Second World War, and in 1949 became part of the NATO bloc. In 1975, African colonies were granted independence, banks, large enterprises and landowners, insurance companies were nationalized. Democracy in the country was restored in 1976. In 1986, Portugal joined the European Union, which led to significant economic growth, which slowed down in 2001-2003. In 2002, the country switched from the national currency escudo to euro.
Portugal has a rich cultural heritage, in the formation of which the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors took part. Significant role in the Portuguese history was played by the Knights Templar, rendering assistance to the government, also during the time of great discoveries. The country has more than 200 medieval castles, many ancient monasteries, cathedrals and churches, ancient cities with a unique charm are the open-air museums.
At present, Portugal, having overcome the crisis, demonstrates political stability and constant economic growth, which is promoted by the development of tourism.
GEOGRAPHICAL AND CLIMATIC FEATURES
Modern Portugal includes the mainland, bordering with Spain, the Azov Archipelago and the island of Madeira. The geographical position of Portugal between the rest of Europe, America and Africa, provided its strategic destination for connecting the continents.
Portugal has the same time zone as Great Britain and Ireland, 1 hour difference with the countries of Central Europe and 3 hours with Moscow.
The climate in Portugal is subtropical Mediterranean with a pronounced influence of the ocean. The north of Portugal is characterized by a colder and more humid climate, in winter in the mountains in the north there is usually snow. In the south it is drier and warmer, the temperature in summer is 27-32 degrees, the water in the ocean warms up to 20 and more degrees.
Azores and Madeira Island are of volcanic origin, have a unique flora and fauna and are therefore very popular among fans of eco-tourism.
Cork oak, pine, eucalyptus forests are spread throughout the country, relict tropical forests have been preserved on the island of Madeira.
POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
According to data of 2016, the population of Portugal was 10.34 million people. The country is inhabited unevenly, with a higher density in coastal areas and in big cities – Lisbon, Porto, Funchal.
Portuguese is widely spoken on all continents, it is spoken by more than 200 million people. More than 61% of Portugal’s population speaks at least one foreign language, mainly English, French and Spanish.
The Portuguese are friendly and hospitable people. Having great pride and respect for the history and culture of their country, they also have an interest in everything new, that is why they happily communicate with foreigners and are always ready to help.
SECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE
The Institute of Economics and Peace of the USA put Portugal on the 3rd place in the rating of the safest countries in the world by the results of 2017. When compiling the rating, such factors as the level of personal and commercial security, international relations of the country, and expenditures for military needs were taken into account. Even in such a secure country as Portugal, you need to take care of the safety of your wallet and phone in overcrowded places, for example, at the markets.
Portugal occupies the 15th place in the world as per the level of infrastructure development. The country has a developed network of roads, the total length of which is 68.7 thousand kilometers, among them – high-speed motorways, national free highways, municipal roads, regional roads. The railways, with a total length of 2,544 km, provide fast, comfortable and affordable transportation.
The country has 15 airports: 3 international airports on the mainland (Lisbon, Porto and Faro), nine airports on the Azov archipelago and two on the island of Madeira. Eight largest seaports serve international transportation; the ports of Lisbon and Funchal receive the largest transatlantic liners.
ECONOMICS AND INDUSTRY OF PORTUGAL
The structure of the country’s economy according to the data of 2015:
– the share of services – 75.8%
– the share of the employed population – 68.1%
– the share of agriculture and forestry – 2.4%
– fishing – 7.5%
– industry, construction and energy – 21.9%
– water management – 24.5%
In the last decade significant changes have occurred in the industry of Portugal, high-tech industries such as automobile industry, electronics, energy, pharmaceutical industry, information and communication technologies have been successfully developing. In the north of the country the most successfully developing industries are textile and footwear production, as well as the production of furniture and consumer goods, wine production. The largest oil refinery in the country is located in Porto. The region of Alentejo is distinguished by agricultural products and food production, and is also the largest wine supplier. Mineral resources of the country are quite diverse, but mostly small businesses are involved in this industry.
In the energy sector, Portugal still depends on imported fuel (80% of consumption), but, at the same time, it has a high hydropower potential (Energy and water supply station provides 50% of the consumed electricity).
A significant length of the coastline (over a thousand kilometers) and a variety of fish species ensure the success of fishing. More than a third of the country’s territory is occupied by forests, so forestry and wood processing have a significant weight in the economy. The most valuable tree species are pine and cork oak, Portugal excels all other countries in the world in the production of cork products.
Portugal is a notable participant at the European market, which has more than 500 million consumers and another 250 million in other Portuguese-speaking countries. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE) GDP gross growth in 2015 was 1.5%, the forecast for acceleration to 4.7% in 2017. According to analysts of the Bank of Portugal in the coming years the increase of the exports share in GDP to 42% is expected by 2018. It is also projected to reduce the unemployment rate to less than 11% in 2017.
One of the most promising areas for the development of Portugal is tourism. In 2011-2015, the tourism industry each year showed an increase of an average of 8.9%.
The main income from tourism Portugal receives from the following countries (2016 data):
– Great Britain, 18.3%
– France, 15.5%
– Spain, 13.2%
– Germany, 12%
– the Netherlands, 4.9%
– the United States, 4.7%
– Brazil, 3.5%
– Switzerland, 2.7%
The financial system of Portugal has gone through several stages of reforming. By 1993, the banking sector was divided into the following groups: commercial banks (short-term operations), investment banks (medium-term) and savings banks (long-term). Portugal is known for its high activity and extensive use of bank cards. A single card system Multibanco allows you to not only receive cash 24 hours a day, but also carry out various operations to open deposits, pay for services, transfer money to other accounts, pay taxes and much more. Competition among banks allowed reducing the interest rate in the industry to 0% (current data). Mortgage loans for real estate became even more accessible; the lowest rate reached 1.75% in 2016.
QUALITY AND COST OF LIFE IN PORTUGAL
Comfortable environmental conditions, high-quality and diverse food, good education, medical care and social security, access to a variety of leisure activities, a developed transport infrastructure, all of this combined with a low level of costs (compared to the countries of the European Union) ensures a sufficiently high quality of life. The average lifespan in Portugal is over 80 years.
The minimum individual subsistence level in Portugal (as per the end of 2016) is 626 Eur per month, the minimum family subsistence level is 765 Eur.
Cost of real estate ownership
The annual municipal property tax (IMI) is 0.2-0.5% of the cadastral value.
Services (electricity, gas and water supply, sewerage) on average:
– apartments with an area of 70 sq.m – 70-100 Eur per month
– villa, with an area of 250 sq.m – 250-300 Eur
The condominium services are approximately 200 – 2000 euros per year for apartments, with an area of 70 sq.m with a common pool and garage, for a villa of 250 sq.m – 2000-5000 euros per year with a management company.
In Portugal, 3 major telecom operators provide telecommunication services: Vodafone, Meo and Nos. On average, a minute of conversation on the mobile phone – 0,22 Eur. You can buy a mobile Wi-Fi modem for about 30 Eur and pay about 30 Eur a month or contract for installing a cable television, a landline phone and a wired Internet and pay about 30-35 euros for a package of services a month. The quality of communication is good, coverage across the country depends on the population density, but overall satisfactory.
Portugal is famous for its fresh and diverse products, which can be purchased in supermarkets, small grocery stores, at urban and farm markets. In the store, the cost of fresh fish and seafood – 6-16 Eur per kilogram, at the markets it’s a bit more expensive. The assortment amazes the imagination of even sophisticated gourmets: salmon, sea bass, dorada, tuna, swordfish, sardines, mackerel and many more. All year round there are octopuses, crabs, lobsters, shrimps, mussels, squids, oysters, cuttlefish and other marine delicacies on sale. Fresh vegetables and fruit are always available – 0.5-3 Eur per kilogram, wine – 2-10 Eur per bottle. Fresh chicken meat – from 2 Eur per kilogram, pork – from 2.5 Eur, beef – from 5.7 Eur per kilogram, lamb – from 7, eggs from 80 cents for 6 pieces. A cup of coffee in a cafe – from 0,65 cents. Olive oil – from 2.7 per bottle of 0.75 liters. Water from mineral springs costs from 0.2 Eur for 1.5 liters, from 0.55 Eur for 5 liters. Among the most famous sources – Luso, Glaciar, Monchique, almost all types of mineral water of Portugal are exported.
Portuguese cuisine is very simple and healthy, slightly different from the Mediterranean. To understand the specifics, you need to go to local restaurants more often. The average bill per person in an ordinary Portuguese restaurant is from 10 to 30 Eur, portions are usually large, a bottle of dry wine – from 10 Eur.
To buy a car in Portugal is not difficult, it can be done in specialized salons or by using the sites olx.pt, standvirtual.com and others. The cost of new cars is quite high. A used car can be purchased at a very low price, for example, a ten-year car will cost 3-5 thousand Eur depending on the brand, condition and mileage. Registration of the car will take 5 minutes, also you need to pay the registration fee. Every year, it is necessary to pay a transport tax, the amount of which depends on the engine volume and carbon dioxide emissions. Mandatory minimum annual insurance – from 120 euros. The cost of gasoline in Portugal in recent years is about 1.6-1.8 Eur per liter, depending on the brand, diesel fuel – 1.5 Eur. The fuel quality is very good. We can say the same about the quality of highways. It is necessary to remember the speed limits, as fines in Portugal are very high. The maximum speed of traffic in the city is limited to 50 km / hour, in the countryside – 90, on highways the maximum speed is up to 120 km / h. Travel on most motorways and some bridges is paid, the payment is about 4 Eur per 100 km. There are several ways to pay for the roads – an electronic card that is “tied” to a car number, an electronic device associated with a bank account, a prepaid card or in post office as per the number plate of the car.
In Portugal it is convenient to take a taxi to get from the airport or from the restaurant, or just get home from guests. Unlike most countries in Europe, taxi services in Portugal are not expensive, especially beneficial if the car is taken by several people. Traveling is comfortable and safe. The taxi usually uses Mercedes, other brands are less common. Passenger traffic in Portugal is licensed and controlled, private transportation is not available. You can take a taxi in special parking lots, call a taxi to help you at the reception of any hotel or you can make an order by phone. A single telephone for a taxi call is 707 277 277. The cost of a taxi in all localities is the same, the tips are not obligatory, you need to pay as per meter. The taxi start fee costs 3.25 Eur, payment for a kilometer is about 0.25 Eur around the city, an hour of waiting is 15 Eur, a taxi call is 0.80 Eur. There is a daily and nightly rate (from 21.00 to 06.00). Transportation of luggage and animals can be paid separately, highways and bridges are paid by the passenger.
Railway transport in Portugal complies with international standards of service quality. In addition to the advantages of speed and comfort, traveling by train, you can admire the beautiful views from the window, as the routes often pass very picturesque places. There are several possibilities for buying tickets: at ticket offices at the train station, in vending machines, at cashier machines or via the Internet. The approximate cost of tickets from Lisbon to Albufeira is 20-24 Eur (travel time is about 2.5 hours), from Lisbon to Porto – 24-30 Eur (travel time – 2.5-3 hours). There is a flexible system of discounts.
Separate attention is paid to the bus service in Portugal, which is a convenient and not expensive alternative to the railway travel. Bus routes exist between all major cities and other large population centers. Dozens of transport companies in competition among themselves offer affordable services and have a flexible payment system. The organization of bus transport is coordinated by the Rede Nacional de Expressos company. The trip from Lisbon to Porto will cost about 18 Eur per person, from Lisbon to Faro – 18.50, to move from Faro to Porto, crossing almost the whole country – for 27 Eur. You can get on the bus at the car terminal, in the terminal (there can be several in large cities) and at bus stops, if it is a question of local transport. To receive all the necessary information, as well as order a ticket, you can visit rede-expressos.pt.
Basic tax indicators
The rate of income tax is 21%
Sales tax – 23%
The social security rate is 34.75%
The social insurance rate for employees is 11%
The rate of social insurance for companies is 23.75%
HEALTH AND MEDICAL INSURANCE IN PORTUGAL
According to the main criteria – the level of emergency care, technical equipment and the quality of medical services, Portugal takes a fairly good position and rises annually in the ranking of European countries. The Ministry of Health is in charge of this area. For health needs, the Ministry allocates about 10% of GDP, which is quite high in the European Union. The universal national health system (NHS), special public and private programs and private systems of voluntary medical insurance provide modern health in Portugal. The NHS system provides (but does not fully cover the cost) only the most essential services: first aid, general practitioner services and care for the mother and child. Dental services, diagnostics, physiotherapy and other directions are available only on a private basis.
Nowadays, there are 19 companies operating in Portugal that provide voluntary health insurance services, which covers about 20% of the population and this indicator is growing every year. Any interested person can use the voluntary insurance system, insurance companies operating in Portugal offer different packages of services. Working owners of policies can count on a tax deduction. The most popular insurance company among foreigners is international Grupo Allianz.
Having become a holder of a residence permit in Portugal, everyone has the right to state medical care. To do this, you can contact the nearest Center of Health (Centro de Saude) and obtain an Individual Number (Número de utente) for access to a single electronic patient database that allows you to receive medical care throughout the country, with your doctor’s access to history of the disease, tests, vaccinations and so on. For those who contribute to the Social Insurance Fund, medical care will be free of charge or on preferential terms.
EDUCATION IN PORTUGAL
Preschool education in kindergartens in Portugal are free and is funded by the state, children can attend the groups when they are three years old. Commercial kindergartens have an extended program, the average level of payment is 400 Eur per month for the child.
Basic schooling is compulsory in Portugal. Elementary education lasts four years, and from the age of 6 the pupils switch to a five-year secondary education program corresponding to European models. The next level of full-fledged secondary education is paid, so for most children, education ends at 15 years. To enter higher education you must pass a state examination.
In Portugal, there are international schools, where the entire educational process is carried out in English, and a successful ending is a stepping-stone to entering the best higher education institutions of the world. Of course, such education will not be cheap.
Higher educational institutions in Portugal provide quality European education for a moderate fee. Annual training will cost about 1000 Eur per year. Higher education institutions are divided into academic universities and polytechnic institutes. The most prestigious are the pedagogical, engineering and administrative areas. For foreigners, an easier way to enter a higher education institution in Portugal, and, in terms of further adaptation, there can be language courses at an educational institution. Almost any graduate of a university with a bachelor’s diploma from another country can enter a Portuguese university for a master’s degree. Lisbon University is widely known outside of Portugal, and in the city of Coimbra there is one of the oldest universities in the world, founded in 1290.