Portugal, officially thePortuguese Republic (Portuguese: República Portuguesa), is a country located in Southwestern Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula. It is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and bySpain to the north and east. The Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira are Portuguese territory as well. Thecountry is named after its second largest city, Porto, whose Latin name was Portus Cale.
Portugal is a developed country with a very high Human Development Index, the world's 19th-highest quality-of-life as of 2005, and the 25th in Bloomberg's Global Innovation Index. It is one of the world's most globalized and peaceful nations a member of the European Union and the United Nations, and afounding member of the Latin Union, the Organization of Ibero-American States, OTAN, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the eurozone and the Schengen Agreement.
Portugal is defined as a Mediterranean climate (Csa in the south, interior, and Douro region;Csb in the north, centre and coastal Alentejo; and also Semi-arid climate or Steppe climate (Bsk in certain parts of Bejadistrict) according to the Koppen-Geiger Climate Classification), and is one of the warmest European countries: the annual average temperature in mainland Portugal varies from 12 °C (53.6 °F) in the mountainous interior north to over 18 °C (64.4 °F) in the south and on theGuadiana river basin. The Algarve, separated from the Alentejo region by mountains reaching up to 900 metres (3,000 ft) in Pico daFoia, has a climate similar to that of the southern coastal areas of Spain or Southern California.
Annual average rainfall in the mainland varies from just over 3,000 mm (118.1 in) in the northern mountains to less than 300 mm (11.8 in) in the area of the Massueime River, near Côa, along the Douro river. Mount Pico is recognized as receiving the largest annual rainfall (over 6,250 mm (246.1 in) peryear) in Portugal, according to Instituto de Meteorologia
Owing to humans occupying the territory of Portugal for thousands of years, little is left of the original vegetation. Protected areas of Portugal include one national park (Portuguese: Parque Nacional), 12 natural parks (Portuguese: Parque Natural), nine natural reserves (Portuguese: Reserva Natural), five natural monuments(Portuguese: Monumento Natural), and seven protected landscapes (Portuguese: Paisagem Protegida), which include the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês, the Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela and the Paul de Arzila.
These natural environments are shaped by diverse flora, and include widespread species of pine (especially the Pinus pinaster andPinus pinea species), the chestnut (Castanea sativa), thecork-oak (Quercus suber), the holm oak (Quercus ilex), the Portuguese oak (Quercus faginea), and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus). All are prized for their economic value. Laurisilva is a unique type of subtropical rainforest found in few areas of Europe and the world: in the Azores, and in particular on the island of Madeira, there are large forests of endemic Laurisilva forests (the latterprotected as a natural heritage preserve).
Portugal is among the 20 most visited countries in the world, receiving an average of 13 million foreign tourists each year. Tourism is playing an increasingly important role in Portugal's economy, contributing to about 5% of its Gross Domestic Product(GDP)
Tourist hotspots in Portugal are Lisbon, Algarve and Madeira, but the Portuguesegovernment continues to promote and develop new tourist destinations, such as the Douro Valley, the island of Porto Santo, and Alentejo. Lisbon is, after Barcelona, the European city which attracts the most tourists (with seven million tourists occupying the city's hotels in 2006, a number that grew 11.8% compared to previous year) Lisbon in recent years surpassed the Algarve as the leading tourist...
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