Geographic map of Portugal
Portugal is a member state of the European Union, located in the most western position among all the states of continental Europe.
It is the westernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula, in southern Europe, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Portugal develops with approximately 830 kilometers of coastline to the south and west and borders only with Spain (Galicia to the north, Castile and León, Extremadura and Andalusia to the east).
Its territory, corresponding to the ancient Roman province of Lusitania, occupies a strip of territory approximately 700 km long and 150/200 km wide which descends from the mountains of the Iberian Meseta to the Atlantic coast.
Portugal’s history has been greatly affected by its geographical position. In fact this country was favored by this particular position, over the centuries the kingdom of Portugal managed to acquire considerable maritime experience which allowed it to build a vast colonial domain, with possessions on all continents, which only dissolved in the 1970s. Of it, the two archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira remain, which are part of the national territory as autonomous regions.
Portugal today is part of NATO, the Council of Europe, the OECD and the European Union.
Entry into the European Union took place at the same time as Spain on 1 January 1986.
Portugal, located in the western part of the Iberian Peninsula, is characterized by several geographical characteristics that make it unique.
It has a long coastline that extends along the Atlantic Ocean. This coastline is diverse, with stretches of sandy beaches, rugged cliffs and picturesque coves.
Some major rivers flow through Portugal, including the Douro, Tagus and Mondego. The Douro River is particularly known for its valley, famous for its wine production.
The northern part of Portugal is characterized by mountain ranges, such as the Serra da Estrela, the highest in the country, which reaches 1,993 meters high. These mountains offer breathtaking scenery and are popular for hiking and skiing during the winter.
In addition to the mountains, Portugal also has vast plains and plateaus. The Alentejo plain is a vast region of fertile lands, while the Beira plateau is a more rugged area known for its spectacular landscapes.
Portugal also includes two archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean: the Azores and Madeira. These islands are famous for their natural beauty, volcanoes, reefs and subtropical climate.
The climate varies greatly from region to region. Northern and inland regions tend to have colder winters and warmer summers, while coastal regions enjoy a milder oceanic climate.
Thanks to its variety of habitats, Portugal is home to a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. Oak forests and pine forests dominate many areas, while coastal regions are important habitats for seabirds and other marine species.
The climate of Portugal, as mentioned, varies greatly from region to region, but in general it is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The climate of Portugal can be divided into 4 categories which are listed below.
Mediterranean climate: Present in the southern and western coastal region, characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Summer temperatures can exceed 30°C, while in winter they rarely drop below 10°C. Precipitation is more abundant in the winter months.
Oceanic climate: Prevalent along the western and northern coasts, with cooler summers than the Mediterranean climate and humid winters. Summer temperatures fluctuate around 20-25°C, while in winter they remain around 10°C. Rainfall is more evenly distributed throughout the year.
Continental climate: Present in the northern and eastern hinterland, with hot, dry summers and cold winters. Summer temperatures can exceed 35°C, while in winter they can drop below zero. Precipitation is heaviest during the winter and snowfall is common in mountainous areas.
Subtropical climate: It is found in the islands of Madeira and the Azores. In Madeira the climate is mild all year round, with summer temperatures around 25°C and winters that rarely drop below 15°C. In the Azores, the climate is more humid and temperatures are more moderate, with summers around 25°C and winters rarely dropping below 10°C.
In general, Portugal is known for its warm, sunny summers, ideal for beach tourism, while the northern and mountainous regions can offer a cooler, harsher climate during the winter. However, climatic characteristics can also vary within different regions of the country.
Portugal’s flora is diverse and influenced by its geographical location, climate and variety of ecosystems. Portugal has a wide range of plant species, ranging from oak and pine forests to more typical Mediterranean plants. Some of the most common and significant species and vegetation are as follows:
Oaks: Oaks are one of the dominant species in Portuguese forests. Among the most common varieties are the cork oak (Quercus suber) and the cork oak (Quercus ilex).
Pines: Pines are also widespread, with species such as maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and stone pine (Pinus pinea).
Olive trees: The olive tree is an iconic plant of the Mediterranean landscape and is grown in various regions of Portugal for the production of olive oil.
Mediterranean plants: Among the typical plants of the Mediterranean regions there are cistus (Cistus), lavender (Lavandula), rosemary (Rosmarinus), broom (Genista), myrtle (Myrtus), and others.
Mediterranean scrub: This type of vegetation is characterized by drought-resistant shrubs and typical of the Mediterranean regions, such as mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), and heather (Erica).
Coastal plants: Along the Portuguese coasts you can find plants adapted to the saltiness and sea winds, such as salsola (Salsola), sea lily (Pancratium maritimum), and sea lettuce (Limonium).
Portugal is home to a variety of animal species, both terrestrial and marine, thanks to its diversity of habitats which includes forests, plains, mountains and ocean coasts. Some of the most emblematic and significant species include:
Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus): This subspecies of wolf lives mainly in the mountainous regions of northern Portugal.
Iberian imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti): This large bird of prey is a threatened species found mainly in the mountain regions of northern and central Portugal.
Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus): This rare and beautiful species of feline is present in the forested regions of southern Portugal, although it is threatened with extinction.
Brown bear (Ursus arctos): Although rarely seen, brown bears are present in the northern mountainous areas of Portugal.
Wild goat (Capra pyrenaica): This species of goat lives in the mountains of northern Portugal.
Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and long-nosed dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): These are just two of the dolphin species that can be found along the Portuguese coasts.
Pilot whale (Globicephala melas) and fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus): These majestic cetaceans are spotted during seasonal migrations along the ocean coasts of Portugal.
Various species of migratory birds that use Portugal as a stopover during their seasonal migrations, including the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) and the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus).
These are just a few examples of the rich fauna found in Portugal, which offers a favorable environment for a wide range of animal species. However, some of these species are threatened by diminishing habitat and human pressure, so it is important to take conservation measures to protect the country’s biodiversity.