Portuguese - Orientation



Location. Continental Portugal occupies approximately one-sixth of the Iberian Peninsula in western Europe. It is bordered on the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the east and north by Spain. Portuguese also inhabit the islands of the Azores and Madeira in the Atlantic. As a result of colonial expansion and of massive emigration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Portuguese-speaking peoples live in Asia, Africa, South America, the United States, Canada, Australia, and northwestern Europe.

Demography. In 1984 the population of continental and island Portugal was estimated at 10,128,000. The population increased during the twentieth century until the 1960s, when it declined by more than 200,000 because of the extensive emigration to northern Europe after 1961. In the 1970s, the population of continental Portugal increased by more than a quarter of a million, largely as a result of the retornados, the settlers who returned to Portugal from Africa after deColonization. By comparison with other nations of Europe, Portugal has a high birthrate, though this rate is regionally differentiated and has declined in recent years. In 1985 the birthrate was 12.5 and the death rate 9.6.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Portuguese language has largely Latin roots, though some words are Arabic in origin. Portuguese was made the official language under the reign of King Dinis (1279-1325). Unlike Spain, continental Portugal demonstrates a high degree of linguistic homogeneity.

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