Portugal Country Report
The post-election alliance between the Socialist Party (Partido Socialista: PS), the left-wing Left Bloc (Bloco de Esquerda: BE), and Unitary Democratic Union (Coligação Democrática Unitária: CDU) has proved more resilient than initially expected, given the various component parties’ divergent ideological positions. Continued stability of the coalition rests, however, on a benign external environment and sustained economic growth; a change in either would threaten the political alliance as far-left parties would likely oppose further spending cuts. The risk of large, multi-sector anti-austerity protests has been largely mitigated by the PS’s moves to ease the cost-cutting regime. Crime and security risks are limited though, in common with otherEuropean countries, Portugal’s tourist areas face a potential terrorist threat.
Portugal’s benign social climate, low crime rate, and high security standards mean that it offers a generally positive operational environment. The country continues to benefit from previous reforms that aimed to improve education levels, contain nominal wage growth, reduce public-sector bureaucracy, improve infrastructure, and expedite the creation and closure of companies. Excessive bureaucracy remains a problem, however, as does corruption in public works contracts. The PS’s partial rollbacks of austerity and privatisation have reduced the likelihood of widespread industrial action, although isolated sectoral strikes over wages and conditions continue to affect ports, marine cargo, and the public sector.
Portugal does not face a high terrorism threat, either domestic or international, and the risk is likely to remain moderate. No group that advocates political violence is currently present in the country. The most credible terrorism threat is the possibility of a low-capability attack by a lone actor. Although unlikely, such an attack would probably come from jihadist militants. The most likely targets would be state institutions and foreign embassies in Lisbon and public places most frequented by foreign tourists.
The risk of inter-state war is likely to remain low. The country’s principal diplomatic disputes are with neighbouring Spain over uninhabited islands in the Atlantic (Olivenza and the Savage Islands; known as ‘Ilhas Selvagens’ in Portuguese), fishing rights, and environmental concerns. Nonetheless, the strong ongoing commercial relationship between the two, coupled with their shared membership of the EU and NATO, mean any disputes are highly likely to be addressed at the political and diplomatic levels rather than through armed conflict. Beyond Europe, Portugal’s ties with its former colonies are likely to remain stable overall.
Risks of social instability have declined under the current PS administration, largely thanks to the country’s economic recovery and the end of Portugal’s bailout programme in 2014. The current centre-left administration continues to ease spending cuts and increase social welfare spending, reducing risks of anti-austerity disturbances. Although disputes over pay and conditions among transport and public-sector workers are likely to ignite occasional protests, these remain small and almost always peaceful.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all travelers entering the country from an endemic zone and wishing to travel to the Azores or Madeira islands.
Hepatitis B : a vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio : a booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Portugal is struck each year by a number of forest fires, some of which cause significant damage. Always obey safety instructions issued by authorities. From June 1st to September 30th, it is strictly forbidden to create fire in forest zones. This interdiction includes camp fires, barbeques, fireworks and firecrackers, matches, candles, and cigarettes. It is also forbidden to smoke on the roads crossing forest areas.
Furthermore, there is a substantial risk of earthquakes in the country; in 1755, Lisbon was destroyed by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, which was responsible for the deaths of nearly 100,000 people. Moreover Portugal as well as Acores and Madera can be subject to dangerous storms.
Beach goers should be aware that ocean currents along Portugal's coasts can be dangerously strong. It is advised to strictly follow advise provided by authorities; a fine of EUR 55 is imposed for swimming when a beach flag is red or yellow.
The quality of public transportation is high. However, it is necessary to be vigilant due to the presence of pickpockets on public transport, especially the Lisbon tramway system (electricos number E25 and E28).
The Portuguese motorway network is in good condition. Most of the country is connected by physical roads, except in very remoted areas or in historical centers. The toll system is entirely electronic. After taking a picture of the license plate, the payment can be done by direct debit or in a post office. This last option is only possible if the license plate is Portuguese. If you are driving a vehicle with a foreign license plate, it is necessary to consult the Portuguese toll website.
Driving in the Acores can be challenging due to the narrow paved streets, blind curves and herds of livestock on countryside roads. Unlike continental Portugal, in the Acores, toll payments cannot be made directly. Violations of road regulations are registered by radar and sent to the offender by mail.
Buses and taxis are reliable. It is advised to check the price of a taxi ride on the meter before paying. It is recommended not to use informal taxi companies. In the Acores, taxis do not have meters: the fare is based on a starting fare price plus an indicated kilometric rate. Buses are inexpensive. The services start at 07:00 and usually finish at 20:00 depending on the destination.
Portugal is served by five international airports: Acores - João Paulo II airport (PDL), Faro (FAO), Lisbon - Humberto Delgado airport (LIS) -, Madera - Cristiano-Ronaldo airport (FNC) and Porto - Porto-Francisco Sá-Carneiro airport (OPO)-.
The Acores (PDL) and Madera (FNC) airports are subject to temporary closures due to strong winds.
Portugal has a Mediterranean climate in the south and an oceanic climate in the north.
The average annual temperature inland is 13°C in the north and 18°C in the south. Springs and summers are generally sunny while autumns are rainy and windy. In the winter temperatures can fall very low in the north of the country (-12°C) while being very high in the summer in the south (44°C). Coastal regions have a milder climate, with temperatures fluctuating between -2°C on the coldest winter mornings to up to 37°C during the summer.
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz