The first global power during the 15th and 16th centuries, with territories in four continents, Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence of Brazil, its wealthiest colony, in 1822.
A 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy and for most of the next six decades, repressive governments ran the country. In 1974, a military coup installed broad democratic reforms. The following year, Portugal granted independence to all of its African colonies. Portugal entered the EC (now the EU) in 1986.
Portugal has 18 districts and 2 autonomous regions*; Aveiro, Acores (Azores)*, Beja, Braga, Braganca, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Evora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisboa (Lisbon), Madeira*, Portalegre, Porto, Santarem, Setubal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real and Viseu.
Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy. The country qualified for the Economic and Monetary Union, in 1998, and began circulating the euro in 2002. The economy grew by more than the EU average for much of the 1990s, but the rate of growth slowed after 2001.
Main source: The World Factbook, 2014.
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