Portugal is situated in the southwest coast of Europe with borders only with Spain. With a territory of 92,152 Km2 Portugal has the largest maritime zone in Europe. Its continental platform borders the American platform.

Portugal’s total population is approximately 10 million. Most of the country’s population lives in the mainland; less than 5% live in the Azores and Madeira Islands

Portugal has an 800-year history and its European borders have been established for over 500 years. Because of this, the country has a homogeneous population, sharing similar values, despite slight regional differences.

During the last century’s 50’s, 60’s and 70’s emigration to other European countries and America was common, especially to Germany, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland but also to the United States and Canada.

More recently, depending on economic cycles, we have seen many Portuguese move to out of the country; this time with better working skills. Portugal is also a country of destination of many foreign investors and retirees.

The Portuguese language is one of the «Roman» languages that evolved from Latin.

Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world, spoken by 270 million people in Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe and Timor.

English is widely spoken in Lisbon, Oporto, Algarve and other main tourist destinations. Although most Portuguese nationals do not speak Spanish, most people can understand it. French is less spoken since English replaced it as the second language in schools but is still spoken by some people.


In the last quarter of the XX century, Portugal underwent several major political, social and economic changes.

Portugal is a parliamentary republic. The legislative power lays with a national parliament (Assembleia da República), with 230 seats. The members of parliament are elected by universal vote for four-year terms. The Government depends on the parliament’s support which has the power to overthrow it.

The cabinet of ministers led by a Prime Minister, who holds the executive power. Currently, the country´s Prime Minister is António Costa, the leader of the Socialist Party.

The President of the Republic has limited powers but has the power to influence the Parliament’s and the Government’s decisions, as well as the power to dissolve the Parliament in extraordinary circumstances. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is currently the President of the Republic, who took office in 2016 and was re-elected in January 2021 for a five-year term.

The President of the Republic promulgates laws, approved by the Parliament, and decree-laws, approved the Government. The President may veto or send laws to the Constitutional Court to verify their conformity with the Constitution.

1/5 of the members of the parliament can also require the constitutional revision of laws and decree-laws enacted by the Parliament of the Government. The Constitutional Court’s decisions are binding for all courts and public authorities.

Portugal is a member of the EU since 1986, a founding member of the Euro and of the Portuguese Speaking Countries Community (Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa, CPLP), which groups all Portuguese speaking countries. Portugal is also a member of the United Nations, NATO and the OECD.

The current Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, is Portuguese.


Portugal is one of the founding members of the «Euro», the currency of 19 European countries. The Euro is the second most traded currency in the World after the US Dollar.

The currency symbol is «EUR.». The Euro circulates with seven banknotes and eight different coins: banknotes of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and five euros, and coins of two and one euro and 50, 20, 10, five, two and one cent. The 500 euros bank note is no longer in production because it is not accepted in all EU countries and was preferred by organised crime.

The Bank of Portugal (Banco de Portugal, BdP) is the central monetary authority that oversees the banking system and is a member of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB).

The main banks operating in Portugal are:

  • Caixa Geral de Depósitos, owned by the State;
  • Millennium BCP, listed in Euronext Lisbon;
  • Santander Totta, 100% owned by the Spanish giant Santander;
  • •BPI, now controlled by Spanish bank, LaCaixa; and
  • Novo Banco, which succeeded to Banco Espírito Santo, then Portugal’s oldest bank, following its resolution in 2014. Novo Banco now belongs to Lone Star, an international private equity firm.

Portugal’s banking system is efficient, modern and offers advanced financial products, despite the upheaval that followed the international financial crisis of 2008 and the Portuguese sovereign debt crisis of 2011 which led to the change in ownership of some banks and to the collapse of Banco Espírito Santo, Banif, BPN and BPP.

Credit is available throughout the system at competitive rates and banks are willing to lend to corporations and individuals, although credit conditions have tightened as a result of stronger regulatory pressure.
Portuguese capital markets are organised following domestic legislation codified in the Securities Code (Código de Valores Mobiliários, CVM) and European regulations and directives. The Portuguese stock Exchange, Euronext Lisbon, is part of the Euronext Group.

Portugal was the pioneer in establishing a countrywide ATM network, which allows the withdrawal of cash, money transfers and other services across the country.

Debit and major credit cards (especially Visa and MasterCard) are accepted in the majority of establishments in Portugal.

Relevant legislation

Constitution of the Portuguese Republic [Portuguese] [English]


International organisations' reports 

Banco Mundial: «Doing Business 2020» (Full Report)

Banco Mundial: «Doing Business 2020» (Portugal Economy Profile)

Fórum Económico Mundial: «Global Competitiveness Report 2020»


Macedo Vitorino's briefings

«WhyPortugal 2021 - Guia do Investidor» (2021) [Português] [Inglês]

«WhyPortugal 2020 - Guia do Investidor» (2020) [Português] [Inglês]

«WhyPortugal 2019 - Guia do Investidor» (2019) [Português] [Inglês]


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