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Agriculture, forestry, and
Vineyards in the Minho area, Portugal. Crop
yields and animal productivity in Portugal are
well below the EU average because of low
agricultural investment, minimal mechanization,
little use of fertilizers, and the fragmented
land-tenure system. The main crops grown in
Portugal are cereals (wheat, barley, corn
[maize], and rice), potatoes, grapes (for wine),
olives, and tomatoes. Since 1999, Portuguese
farmers have planted genetically modified corn.
Portugal is among the world's largest exporters
of tomato paste and is a leading exporter of
wines. Port and muscatel, both dessert wines,
are among Portugal's most famous varieties of
wine. In mainland Portugal, where there are ...
Portugal, a country with a rich history of seafaring and discovery, looks out from the Iberian peninsula into the Atlantic Ocean.
When it handed over its last overseas territory, Macau, to Chinese administration in 1999, it brought to an end a long and sometimes turbulent era as a colonial power.
The roots of that era stretch back to the 15th century when Portuguese explorers such as Vasco da Gama put to sea in search of a passage to India. By the 16th century these sailors had helped build a huge empire embracing Brazil as well as swathes of Africa and Asia. There are still some 200 million Portuguese speakers around the world today.
Lisbon's Rossio Square, a popular meeting place
Portugal's history has had a lasting impact on the culture of the country with Moorish and Oriental influences in architecture and the arts. Traditional folk dance and music, particularly the melancholy fado, remain vibrant.
For almost half of the 20th century Portugal was a dictatorship in which for decades Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was the key figure. The dictatorship's stubborn refusal to relinquish its grip on the former colonies as demands for independence gained momentum there resulted in expensive wars in Africa.
This period was brought to an end in 1974 in a bloodless coup, picturesquely known as the Revolution of the Carnations, which ushered in a new democracy.
By the end of 1975 all of Portugal's former colonies in Africa were independent of Lisbon.
Anibal Cavaco Silva won the January 2006 presidential poll, becoming the first centre-right president since the coup of 1974. He defeated two Socialist candidates to win a first round election victory.
The president's role is mainly ceremonial, but incumbents can appoint prime ministers, dissolve parliament and call elections.
Prime minister: Jose Socrates
Jose Socrates, whose governing Socialist Party came to power in 2005, led his party to another election victory in September 2009.
The party, however, lost its overall majority. Final results from the general election gave the Socialists 36% the vote, seven points ahead of the centre-right Social Democrats.
Following talks with other political parties, Mr Socrates decided in October to form a minority government and to negotiate support for changes in legislation on a case-by-case basis.
Ruling in a minority is likely to present a tough challenge, as Portugal needs to swiftly address problems such as rising debt and unemployment, a growing budget deficit
and a widening wealth gap with its European partners.
In the 2005 elections, the Socialists gained their first absolute majority in parliament since democracy returned to Portugal in 1974.
On taking office then, Mr Socrates - who had led the Socialists since 2004 - said his priority would be to revive the economy and stem rising unemployment.
His first government sharply cut spending, by reducing pensions, raising the retirement age and withdrawing civil service benefits in an attempt to reduce one of Europe's biggest budget deficits.
Jose Socrates formed his second government in 2009
Despite the tough economic medicine administered by Mr Socrates during
his first term in office, Portugal is still Western Europe's poorest country.