Tourism / Transport
By the early 1970s Portugal's fast economic growth with increasing consumption and purchase of new automobiles set the priority for improvements in transportation. Again in the 1990s, after joining the European Economic Community, the country built many new motorways. Today, the country has a 68,732 km (42,708 mi) road network, of which almost 3,000 km (1,864 mi) are part of system of 44 motorways. Opened in 1944, the first motorway (which linked Lisbon to the National Stadium) was an innovative project that made Portugal among one of the first countries in the world to establish a motorway (this roadway eventually became the Lisbon-Cascais highway, or A5).
Although a few other tracts were created (around 1960 and 1970), it was only after the beginning of the 1980s that large-scale motorway construction was implemented. In 1972, Brisa, the highway concessionaire, was founded to handle the management of many of the regions motorways. On many highways, toll needs to be paid, see Via Verde. Vasco da Gama bridge is the longest bridge in Europe.
Continental Portugal's 89,015 km2 (34,369 sq mi) territory is serviced by four international airports located near the principal cities of Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Beja. Lisbon's geographical position makes it a stopover for many foreign airlines at several airports within the country. The primary flag-carrier is TAP Portugal, although many other domestic airlines provide services within and without the country. The government decided to build a new airport outside Lisbon, in Alcochete, to replace Lisbon Portela Airport, though this plan has been stalled due to austerity measures. Currently, the most important airports are in Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Funchal (Madeira), and Ponta Delgada (Azores), managed by the national airport authority group ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal.
A national railway system that extends throughout the country and into Spain, is supported and administered by Comboios de Portugal. Rail transport of passengers and goods is derived using the 2,791 km (1,734 mi) of railway lines currently in service, of which 1,430 km (889 mi) are electrified and about 900 km (559 mi) allow train speeds greater than 120 km/h (75 mph). The railway network is managed by the REFER while the transport of passengers and goods are the responsibility of Comboios de Portugal (CP), both public companies. In 2006 the CP carried 133 million passengers and 9,750,000 t (9,600,000 long tons; 10,700,000 short tons) of goods.
The major seaports are located in Sines, Lisbon, Leixões, Setúbal, Aveiro, Figueira da Foz, and Faro.
The two largest metropolitan areas have subway systems: Lisbon Metro and Metro Sul do Tejo in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area and Porto Metro in the Porto Metropolitan Area, each with more than 35 km (22 mi) of lines. In Portugal, Lisbon tram services have been supplied by the Companhia de Carris de Ferro de Lisboa (Carris), for over a century. In Porto, a tram network, of which only a tourist line on the shores of the Douro remains, began construction on 12 September 1895 (a first for the Iberian Peninsula). All major cities and towns have their own local urban transport network, as well as taxi services.
Portugal has considerable resources of wind and river power, the two most cost-effective renewable sources. Since the turn of the 21st century, there has been a trend towards the development of a renewable resource industry and reduction of both consumption and use of fossil fuel resources. In 2006, the world's largest solar power plant at that date, the Moura Photovoltaic Power Station, began operating near Moura, in the south, while the world's first commercial wave power farm, the Aguçadoura Wave Farm, opened in the Norte region (2008). By the end of 2006, 66% of the country's electrical production was from coal and fuel power plants, while 29% were derived from hydroelectric dams, and 6% by wind energy.
In 2008, renewable energy resources were producing 43% of the nation's consumption of electricity, even as hydroelectric production decreased with severe droughts. As of June 2010, electricity exports had outnumbered imports. In the period between January and May 2010, 70% of the national production of energy came from renewable sources.
Portugal’s national energy transmission company, Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN), uses sophisticated modeling to predict weather, especially wind patterns, and computer programs to calculate energy from the various renewable-energy plants. Before the solar/wind revolution, Portugal had generated electricity from hydropower plants on its rivers for decades. New programs combine wind and water: wind-driven turbines pump water uphill at night, the most blustery period; then the water flows downhill by day, generating electricity, when consumer demand is highest. Portugal’s distribution system is also now a two-way street. Instead of just delivering electricity, it draws electricity from even the smallest generators, like rooftop solar panels. The government aggressively encouraged such contributions by setting a premium price for those who buy rooftop-generated solar electricity.
Portugal is a developed and a high income country, with its GDP per capita in 2014 being 78% of the EU27 average – increasing from 76% in 2012. The Portuguese currency is the euro (€), which replaced the Portuguese Escudo, and the country was one of the original member states of the eurozone. Portugal's central bank is the Banco de Portugal, an integral part of the European System of Central Banks. Most industries, businesses and financial institutions are concentrated in the Lisbon and Porto metropolitan areas—the Setúbal, Aveiro, Braga, Coimbra and Leiria districts are the biggest economic centres outside these two main areas. According to World Travel Awards, Portugal is Europe's Leading Golf Destination 2012 and 2013.
Since the Carnation Revolution of 1974, which culminated in the end of one of Portugal's most notable phases of economic expansion (that started in the 1960s), a significant change has occurred in the nation's annual economic growth. After the turmoil of the 1974 revolution and the PREC period, Portugal tried to adapt to a changing modern global economy, a process that continues in 2013. Since the 1990s, Portugal's public consumption-based economic development model has been slowly changing to a system that is focused on exports, private investment and the development of the high-tech sector. Consequently, business services have overtaken more traditional industries such as textiles, clothing, footwear and cork (Portugal is the world's leading cork producer), wood products and beverages.
In the second decade of the 21st century the Portuguese economy suffered its most severe recession since the 1970s resulting in the country having to be bailed out by the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. The bailout, agreed to in 2011, required Portugal to enter into a range of austerity measures in exchange for funding support of €78 billion. In May 2014 the country exited the bailout but reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining its reformist momentum. At the time of exiting the bailout the economy had contracted by 0.7% in the first quarter of 2014, however unemployment, while still high had fallen to 15.3 percent.
The average wage in Portugal is 910 € per month (net), excluding self-employed individuals and the minimum wage, which is regulated/ref by law, is €530 per month (paid 14 times per annum).
The Global Competitiveness Report for 2014–2015, published by the World Economic Forum, placed Portugal on the 36th position on the economic index. This represents a sharp increase from the 51st position where Portugal appeared in 2013–2014.
The Economist Intelligence Unit's quality of life index placed Portugal as the country with the 19th-best quality of life in the world for 2005, ahead of other economically and technologically advanced countries like France, Germany, the United Kingdom and South Korea, but 9 places behind its only neighbour, Spain. This is despite the fact that Portugal remains one of the countries with the lowest per capita GDP in Western Europe.
Major State-owned companies include Águas de Portugal (water), Caixa Geral de Depósitos (banking), Comboios de Portugal (railways), Companhia das Lezírias (agriculture) and RTP (media). Some former state-owned entities are managed by state-run holding company Parpública, which is a shareholder of several public and private companies. Among former State owned companies recently privatized are CTT (postal service), TAP Portugal (airline) and ANA (airports).
Companies listed on Euronext Lisbon stock exchange like EDP, Galp, Jerónimo Martins, Mota-Engil, Novabase, Semapa, Portucel Soporcel, Portugal Telecom and Sonae, are among the largest corporations of Portugal by number of employees, net income or international market share. The Euronext Lisbon is the major stock exchange of Portugal and is part of the NYSE Euronext, the first global stock exchange. The PSI-20 is Portugal's most selective and widely known stock index.
The International Monetary Fund issued an update report on the economy of Portugal in late June 2017 with a strong near-term outlook and an increase in investments and exports over previous years. Because of a surplus in 2016, the country was no longer bound by the Excessive Deficit Procedure which had been implemented during an earlier financial crisis. The banking system was more stable, although there were still non-performing loans and corporate debt. The IMF recommended working on solving these problems for Portugal to be able to attract more private investment. "Sustained strong growth, together with continued public debt reduction, would reduce vulnerabilities arising from high indebtedness, particularly when monetary accommodation is reduced."
Agriculture in Portugal is based on small to medium-sized family-owned dispersed units. However, the sector also includes larger scale intensive farming export-oriented agrobusinesses backed by companies (like Grupo RAR's Vitacress, Sovena, Lactogal, Vale da Rosa, Companhia das Lezírias and Valouro). The country produces a wide variety of crops and livestock products, including tomatoes, citrus, green vegetables, rice, corn, wheat, barley, olives, oilseeds, nuts, cherries, bilberry, table grapes, edible mushrooms, dairy products, poultry and beef.
Forestry has also played an important economic role among the rural communities and industry (namely paper industry that includes Portucel Soporcel Group, engineered wood that includes Sonae Indústria, and furniture that includes several manufacturing plants in and around Paços de Ferreira, the core of Portugal's major industrial operations of IKEA). In 2001, the gross agricultural product accounted for 4 per cent of the national GDP.
Traditionally a sea-power, Portugal has had a strong tradition in the Portuguese fishing sector and is one of the countries with the highest fish consumption per capita. The main landing sites in Portugal (including Azores and Madeira), according to total landings in weight by year, are the harbours of Matosinhos, Peniche, Olhão, Sesimbra, Figueira da Foz, Sines, Portimão and Madeira. Portuguese processed fish products are exported through several companies, under a number of different brands and registered trademarks, such as Ramirez, the world’s oldest active canned fish producer.
Portugal is a significant European minerals producer and is ranked among Europe's leading copper producers. The nation is also a notable producer of tin, tungsten and uranium. However, the country lacks the potential to conduct hydrocarbon exploration and aluminium, a limitation that has hindered the development of Portugal's mining and metallurgy sectors. Although the country has vast iron and coal reserves—mainly in the north—after the 1974 revolution and the consequent economic globalization, low competitiveness forced a decrease in the extraction activity for these minerals. The Panasqueira and Neves-Corvo mines are among the most recognised Portuguese mines that are still in operation.
Industry is diversified, ranging from automotive (Volkswagen Autoeuropa and Peugeot Citroen), aerospace (Embraer and OGMA), electronics and textiles, to food, chemicals, cement and wood pulp. Volkswagen Group's AutoEuropa motor vehicle assembly plant in Palmela is among the largest foreign direct investment projects in Portugal. Modern non-traditional technology-based industries, such as aerospace, biotechnology and information technology, have been developed in several locations across the country. Alverca, Covilhã, Évora, and Ponte de Sor are the main centres of the Portuguese aerospace industry, which is led by Brazil-based company Embraer and the Portuguese company OGMA. Following the turn of the 21st century, many major biotechnology and information technology industries have been founded, and are concentrated in the metropolitan areas of Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Coimbra and Aveiro.
The banking and insurance sectors performed well until the late-2000s financial crisis, and this partly reflected a rapid deepening of the market in Portugal. While sensitive to various types of market and underwriting risks, it has been estimated that overall both the life and non-life sectors will be able to withstand a number of severe shocks, even though the impact on individual insurers varies widely.
Travel and tourism continue to be extremely important for Portugal. It has been necessary for the country to focus upon its niche attractions, such as health, nature and rural tourism, to stay ahead of its competitors.
Portugal is among the 20 most visited countries in the world, receiving an average of 13 million foreign tourists each year. In 2014, Portugal was elected The Best European Country by the USA Today.
Tourist hotspots in Portugal are Lisbon, Algarve, Madeira, Porto and the city of Coimbra. Lisbon attracts the 16th most tourists among European cities (with seven million tourists occupying the city's hotels in 2006).
Also, between 4–5 million religious pilgrims visit Fátima each year, where apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children reportedly took place in 1917. The Sanctuary of Fátima is one of the largest Roman Catholic shrines in the world. The Portuguese government continues to promote and develop new tourist destinations, such as the Douro Valley, the island of Porto Santo, and Alentejo.
The legend of the Rooster of Barcelos tells the story of a dead rooster's miraculous intervention in proving the innocence of a man who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death. The story is associated with the 17th-century calvary that is part of the collection of the Archeological Museum located in Paço dos Condes, a gothic-style palace in Barcelos, a city in northwest Portugal. The Rooster of Barcelos is bought by many tourists as a souvenir.
On November 30, the United Nations added the Portuguese Bisalhães tradition of making black pottery to the UNESCO Heritage Protection List.
Scientific and technological research activities in Portugal are mainly conducted within a network of R&D units belonging to public universities and state-managed autonomous research institutions like the INETI – Instituto Nacional de Engenharia, Tecnologia e Inovação and the INRB – Instituto Nacional dos Recursos Biológicos. The funding and management of this research system is mainly conducted under the authority of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) itself and the MCTES's Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT).
The largest R&D units of the public universities by volume of research grants and peer-reviewed publications, include biosciences research institutions like the Instituto de Medicina Molecular, the Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, the IPATIMUP, the Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular and the Abel Salazar Biomedical Sciences Institute.
Among the largest non-state-run research institutions in Portugal are the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência and the Champalimaud Foundation, a neuroscience and oncology research centre, which in addition awards every year one of the highest monetary prizes of any science prize in the world. A number of both national and multinational high-tech and industrial companies, are also responsible for research and development projects. One of the oldest learned societies of Portugal is the Sciences Academy of Lisbon, founded in 1779.
Iberian bilateral state-supported research efforts include the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory and the Ibercivis distributed computing platform, which are joint research programmes of both Portugal and Spain. Portugal is a member of several pan-European scientific organizations. These include the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), ITER, and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
Portugal has the largest aquarium in Europe, the Lisbon Oceanarium, and the Portuguese have several other notable organizations focused on science-related exhibits and divulgation, like the state agency Ciência Viva, a programme of the Portuguese Ministry of Science and Technology to the promotion of a scientific and technological culture among the Portuguese population, the Science Museum of the University of Coimbra, the National Museum of Natural History at the University of Lisbon, and the Visionarium. With the emergence and growth of several science parks throughout the world that helped create many thousands of scientific, technological and knowledge-based businesses, Portugal started to develop several science parks across the country. These include the Taguspark (in Oeiras), the Coimbra iParque (in Coimbra), the biocant (in Cantanhede), the Madeira Tecnopolo (in Funchal), Sines Tecnopolo (in Sines), Tecmaia (in Maia) and Parkurbis (in Covilhã). Companies locate in the Portuguese science parks to take advantage of a variety of services ranging from financial and legal advice through to marketing and technological support.
Egas Moniz, a Portuguese physician who developed the cerebral angiography and leucotomy, received in 1949 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine – he is the first Portuguese recipient of a Nobel Prize and the only in the sciences.
The European Innovation Scoreboard 2011, placed Portugal-based innovation in the 15th position, with an impressive increase in innovation expenditure and output.
Depending on the purpose of your travel to Portugal, there are different types of visas that will apply to the occasion. Whether you are planning to go on a visit, study or work and reside there permanently, you will have to apply for a different Portuguese Schengen Visa, accordingly.
General required documents for a Portuguese Visa Application:
- Download the Visa application form, fill it completely and with sincerity. You can also fill the Portugal Schengen Visa application form electronically and then print a hard-copy.
- 2 photos must be attached; the photo should be of passport format – a recent whole-face capture with a light background. Learn more about photo requirements and specifications for a Portuguese Visa.
- Your passport and copies of your previous visas – valid for at least 3 months beyond return date – are required. Your passport must have at least two blank pages.
- A copy of your return-ticket reservation. It is not recommended to purchase the ticket before obtaining the visa – if not otherwise required
- Schengen Travel Insurance confirmation of minimum 30,000 € coverage within Portugal and the entire Schengen area
- A cover letter stating the purpose of visit to Portugal and itinerary
- Booked Flight Itinerary with dates and flight numbers specifying entry and exit from Portugal
- Hotel Booking Reservation for the whole duration of the intended stay in Portugal
- Proof of civil status (marriage certificate, birth certificate of children, death certificate of spouse, ration card if applicable)
- Means of subsistence – Proof of sufficient financial means for the period of stay in Portugal.
- Employment contract
- Current bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Leave permission from employer
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form or Certificate of Income Tax deducted at the source of salary
- A copy of your business license
- Company bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Income Tax Return (ITR)
If a student:
- Proof of enrollment
- No-objection certificate from school or university
- Pension statement of the latest 6 months
- Regular income generated by property proof of the latest 6 months
*Note: The signed application form must be accompanied the rest of the above-mentioned mandatory documents and handed personally at the appropriate embassy/consulate or its representative in your home country.
List of additional documents required for the most frequent purposes of Portugal Visa Application:
Portugal Tourist Schengen Visa:
- Invitation letter with the address and phone number from family member or sponsor – if applicable
- Bank statement of the last 6 months
- Passport copies
Portugal Visa for Business Purposes:
- Invitation letter from the Portuguese company you will be visiting and their detailed address accompanied with the dates of your visit
- A certificate from your employer stating/allowing your business travel
- If there were previous trade relations between the two companies, proof of such events must be provided
- Business bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Memorandum and Article of Association in original certified copy (registered with joint stock companies) Trade License (first issued and present renewal), Proprietorship/Partnership documents
- Regarding the applicant’s expenses during stay in the Schengen zone, either the employer or the partner company must state coverage of expenses on the letter or invitation.