- Portugal is the most southwesterly country in mainland Europe; its only neighbour is Spain with which it shares one of the longest and most established borders in Europe.
- The country occupies an area of approximately 92,000 square kilometres with a surprisingly diverse landscape – from the steep mountains of the north to the arid plains of the Alentejo and the wetlands of the southeast coast. The entire coastline of 1,793km borders the Atlantic Ocean.
- A significant proportion of the population still works in agriculture and other traditional industries remain an important part of the economy, including textiles, wine (especially port wine from the Douro) and cork production. However, tourism and other service industries play an increasingly important economic role, while the country is a major investor (one of the biggest in Europe) in renewable energy and communications technology.
- Portugal joined the European Union in 1986 yet, despite rapid economic growth, remains one of the EU’s poorest countries. Even so, it often ranks higher than richer European countries in quality-of-life surveys.
- Apart from brief periods of Spanish occupancy, Portugal has been an independent country since 1140. It became a republic in 1910 and is now a parliamentary democracy divided into eighteen regions, together with two autonomous regions (the islands of Madeira and the Azores).