Population, society and rights
Until a few years ago, Portugal was considered a country of emigration, especially to former colonies such as Brazil. Since the 1990s, especially after joining the European Economic Community, this phenomenon has reversed, only to resume coinciding with the global crisis of 2008-2009, accompanied by a steady decline in immigrants. The growing emigration towards the former colonies (mainly Brazil, Angola and Mozambique) was encouraged by the protracted economic and financial crisis in the country and in the eurozone, and by the high rate of unemployment, although this figure is decreasing. So far, immigration has helped to keep the population stable, which is progressively aging: 19.1% are over 65, while about 14.6% are under the age of 14. In the light of these data, Portugal will face a number of challenges in the future, especially in the field of the welfare and pension system. The density of the population is not evenly distributed throughout the territory: about one third of the residents are concentrated in the urban coastal areas of the capital and in the large metropolitan area of Porto, in the north, the second largest city in the country. The Portuguese education system has some structural deficits compared to Western European countries, despite spending on education being higher than the European average. Private education is a very important sector: almost 20% of secondary school students and 40% of university students attend private institutions. The delay of the educational standards compared to the rest of the EU is highlighted by the fact that only 15% of the population has a secondary school diploma and almost one in three young people drop out after the age of 14. Freedom of the press and political and civil liberties are generally respected – including the law on abortion -, even if only 20% of workers are members of a trade union. The great majority of Portuguese (about 85%) are Christian-Catholic and religious freedoms are guaranteed: according to the law on religious freedom, any community that has been in the national territory for at least 30 years or, alternatively, is recognized at the international for 60 years, has the right to some benefits that were previously only granted to the Catholic Church. Among these, the exemption from certain taxes and the legal recognition of the marriage celebrated according to its own rites. Internet freedom is not hindered by institutions, but access to the internet still remains relatively low. For Portugal society, please check homosociety.com.
Economy, energy and environment
Since joining European Community organizations, the Portuguese economy has witnessed growth and significant structural change. Since the second half of the 1980s, the tertiary sector – in particular the service sector – has accounted for more than two thirds of GDP. Despite this development, Portugal remained a relatively underdeveloped country compared to the rest of Western Europe, due to significant shortcomings in the economic system. The economy suffers from the delay of the industrial sector, which has been affected by the entry of Eastern countries into the EUand it has lost the competitiveness it had previously gained due to low wages relative to the rest of Western Europe. The country still does not attract a large flow of investment and suffers from a lag in the infrastructure and transport system. The country’s objective is therefore to plan investments to improve the railway system and thus create an efficient connection with Spain and, therefore, with the rest of Europe.
Agriculture accounts for less than 3% of GDP and is largely supported by subsidies from the European Union. The sector employs about 11% of the entire Portuguese workforce and is therefore not very productive. Portugal possesses some relevant natural resources, such as copper – of which it is one of the first producers in Europe – and cork, of which it holds almost half of the world resources and is the first producer in the world. Strategic for the economy of the country is the coast, especially for fishing (cod is the national product par excellence) and for the tertiary sector, in particular foreign tourism (about 5% of GDP).
Portugal remains one of the poorest countries in the euro area, with a per capita income lower than the European average and a level of unemployment – slightly down compared to pre-crisis levels – which is around 16% (over 37 % for youth). Due to its precarious financial situations linked to the economic crisis that hit the country – between 2011 and 2013 the Portuguese economy underwent a 6% downsizing of its size -, Lisbon has been subjected to severe structural adjustments in recent years. which were part of a rescue program, arranged by the Eu, Imf and Ecb, from 78 billion dollars. The measures undertaken by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho have mainly focused on the privatization of the energy, transport and communications sectors, on cuts in education and health and, finally, on promoting greater flexibility in the labor market, allowing for a moderate recovery in GDP starts. This situation led Prime Minister Passos Coelho to announce the country’s exit from the international bailout on May 17, 2014. Nevertheless, there are still factors of concern linked on the one hand to the crack bank of Banco Espirito Santo, the country’s largest national bank – saved by the government through a € 4.4 billion liquidity injection -, on the other hand to the negative data of the other national indicators. The data on unemployment and the budget deficit are of major concern. However, the government managed to reduce the rate from 10% of GDP in 2009 to 6.8% in 2012. The goal is to further lower the deficit and reach the 4% threshold.
Portugal has a large energy deficit and imports around 78% of the energy it consumes. Main partners for oil and gas are African countries, such as Angola, Algeria, Nigeria and Libya. However, the country has an ambitious investment program in the renewable energy sector, especially in hydroelectricity, wind power and the exploitation of sea waves, and has therefore become one of the most advanced European players in this sector. In the energy mix, renewables are therefore the second primary source of energy, after oil and gas.