More than eight out of ten Portuguese are Catholics, but there are also small groups of Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Jews in the country. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution, and the church is separate from the state.
The Roman Catholic Church has had a strong influence over Portuguese society for long periods in history. Since the end of the 1970s, the importance of the church has diminished, but still a large part of the population chooses to baptize their children and allow themselves to be baptized in the church. In northern Portugal, the church has maintained its strong position.
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims pilgrimage on May 13 and October 13 to Fátima, about ten miles north of Lisbon, where, according to tradition, Virgin Mary should have appeared for three children in 1917.
Portugal was already Christianized during the first centuries AD. Until the end of the 15th century, there was a fairly high tolerance for practitioners of other religions, but in 1497 Jews and Moors (Arabs) who refused to convert to Catholicism were expelled from the country. During the first republic (1910–1926), the ties between the church and the state were broken, but during the dictatorship (1926–1974), the Catholic Church’s position was strengthened again as it, together with the family, was seen as the foundation of society.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Portugal, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
The border between Portugal and Spain is reopened
Now Portugal and Spain open the border between the countries, which as a result of the corona pandemic has been closed since March 16. It will take place at a ceremony in which both Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister António Costa attend alongside Spanish King King Felipe VI and Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. It happens the day after the European Council agreed to allow people from 14 countries outside the EU to make unnecessary trips to the Union (Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay).
New restrictions against covid-19 in Lisbon
Prime Minister António Costa announces that restrictions to fight the new corona virus are being introduced in the north of Lisbon. This means that all public groups of more than ten people are banned and that all cafes and shops must close at eight in the evening. Since then, more than 9,000 new cases have been discovered between May 21 and June 21, primarily in the capital and the surrounding area. This risks being hit hard by the Portuguese tourism industry. In the area concerned 700,000 people live. There live many poor people who, according to local organizations, have had a hard time following the restrictions, since they had to work and travel by public transport in order to do so. Portugal has so far had nearly 40,000 confirmed cases of covid-19 and about 1,500 people have died in the disease.
Portugal will receive 500 refugee children
Portugal will receive 500 children from refugee camps in Greece. The children will travel to the country as soon as the travel restrictions due to the corona pandemic have been lifted. The first 60 children are expected to arrive in Portugal in a few weeks.
The corona crisis strikes low-income earners
Low-income Portuguese are most affected by the corona crisis. One such household of four has lost all their income, according to a study conducted at the end of April / May and involving 4,000 people. The same study shows that only 6 percent of those with income above EUR 2,500 were affected. More than a fifth of the Portuguese workforce lives on the minimum wage, which is EUR 635, which is the lowest in Western Europe.
Portugal eases the restrictions
The Portuguese government is now beginning to ease restrictions on the national emergency introduced in March. It will happen in several rounds. Today, the Portuguese are allowed to move more freely outdoors and parks are opened. On the beaches, visitors are only allowed to practice or practice water sports. However, the police will monitor that people keep their distances. From May 4, small shops, hairdressers and car dealers can resume their operations, however, everyone is requested to wear a mouthguard or visor when shopping in stores or using public transport (those who violate this may pay a fine of 350 euros). As of March 18, schools will be opened for older children, but younger children will continue to be taught remotely until the end of the year, but also museums, art galleries and bars. Anyone who can continue to work from home in May, and all groups of over ten people are prohibited. Portugal has just over 25,000 confirmed cases of covid-19 and just over 1,000 people have died in the disease.
Over 130 asylum seekers in Lisbon have been infected by the new corona virus
138 out of 180 asylum seekers who have lived in a hostel in Lisbon have been infected by the new corona virus and have been quarantined, according to the city’s mayor. The hostel was then emptied of a man who lived there sick and taken to hospital.
The Corona crisis hit hard for Portugal’s economy
A forecast by the IMF suggests that the Portuguese economy will shrink by 8 percent in 2020 as a result of the corona crisis. This is considerably more than in the Portuguese central bank’s own forecasts that projected GDP to fall by 3.7 to 5.7 According to the IMF, unemployment risks doubling to close to 14 percent, the budget deficit is expected to land at around 7 percent and the budget deficit to rise from the corresponding 118 percent of GDP in 2019 to 135 percent by 2020. Portugal, especially compared with neighboring Spain, has so far managed relatively well well under the corona pandemic, with just over 18,000 confirmed cases of covid-19 of which 599 people have died.
“Relieve the restrictions”
Business representatives, trade unions and doctors are urging the government to gradually begin to ease the restrictions introduced in March to prevent the spread of the new corona virus. The 167 who signed a letter to Prime Minister António Costa and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa believe that the government in preparing this should provide all residents with mouth protection and place hand-rubbing in public places. The President has previously said that he will propose that the shutdown of society be extended when the current restrictions expire on April 17. To date, Portugal has reported nearly 17,000 confirmed cases of covid-19 and 535 people have died in the disease.
Portugal imposes restrictions on Easter traffic
In order to prevent further spread of the new corona virus, Portugal is now tightening restrictions over the Easter weekend. All commercial flights are stopped between 9 and 13 April. Only freight traffic and aircraft with Portuguese who are on their way home from other countries are allowed. There are also restrictions on all trips outside the municipality. However, this does not apply to those who have to travel in their work. After the Easter weekend, air traffic is to resume, but they are only allowed to receive one third of the number of passengers normally accommodated in one plane.
The restrictions are extended for two weeks
The Portuguese government now extends the restrictions imposed on March 19 to prevent the spread of the new corona virus for another two weeks. All residents are encouraged to stay home if they do not have to go to work, exercise, shop for groceries and medicines or help relatives.
Foreign nationals are guaranteed care
All foreign nationals in Portugal who applied for a permanent residence permit, including those seeking political asylum, will be treated as having been granted, at least until 1 July. The measure is designed to ensure that migrants receive care and opportunities to survive financially during the ongoing corona crisis. 5 170 cases of covid-19 have been reported in Portugal and 100 people have so far died in the disease.
Portugal announces 15 days of state of emergency
Portugal announces a 15-day state of emergency to combat the ongoing pandemic. This is done, among other things, for the government to be able to restrict people’s freedom of movement and this is the first time this opportunity has been used since the return to democracy in the 1970s. What measures will be taken at a government meeting on March 19. To date, 448 cases of covid-19 have been discovered in Portugal, and two people have died in the disease.
Tourism between Portugal and Spain is limited
Portugal and Spain agree to impose restrictions on tourism between the countries in the coming months. However, freight transport should be able to continue as before. Both countries also promise to respect labor laws.
Stimulus packages should help companies during the corona crisis
the 13th of March
The government announces a stimulus package of just over EUR 2 billion to help companies during the ongoing corona crisis. It includes loans for favorable terms, tax relief but also money for companies not to terminate staff. So far, 78 confirmed cases have been reported, but concerns about the disease have already hit the tourism industry that is so important to Portugal.
Portugal closes schools to prevent the spread of infection
the 12th of March
Prime Minister António Costa announces that all schools should keep closed and announced for the coming week to prevent the continued spread of the new corona virus. All workers who have to stay at home to take care of children up to the age of 12 must receive 66 percent of their basic salary. The care and rescue services are placed in the highest readiness. A few days later, a ban is introduced on all events that gather more than 100 participants.
Proposal on euthanasia is approved
Parliament, the National Assembly, is adopting several legislative proposals that will pave the way for Portugal to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide. However, the issue is sensitive and most members of the bourgeois Social Democratic Party, the Communist Party, the Conservative Democratic and Social Center People’s Party (CDS-PP) and the right-wing populist Chega voted against the proposals. The Catholic Church and parts of the medical profession also oppose the change of law. The five proposals that are approved are fairly similar and will now be assembled into a single proposal that the National Assembly will redo last summer. The proposals broadly mean that anyone over the age of 18, who is not mentally ill, can ask for help in dying if they suffer from a fatal illness, have very severe pain and there is no hope of finding a cure. But there is still a long process before a law can be finalized, in the next step the legislative proposals will be discussed in the Constitutional Committee which can propose changes in the law. The President may also veto and return it to the House. Several similar proposals were submitted in 2018, but then won the no-side by a small margin. Since then, the Catholic Church has begun advocating that the issue be decided in a referendum.
Portugal freezes dos Santo’s accounts
Portugal decides to freeze dozens of accounts in Portuguese banks belonging to Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s former president José Edaurdo dos Santos and former head of the Angolan state-owned oil company Sonangol. This is done after a request from Angola (read more in January 2020).
EU pensioners must pay tax in Portugal
Retirees from other EU countries are likely to have to pay tax in Portugal in the future. The government presents a proposal that means that EU pensioners moving to the country from 2020 onwards will pay 10 percent in tax. Under the current rules, they are completely exempt from tax during the first 10 years of the country. The change in the law takes place following pressure from other EU countries.
Portugal begins investigation of Angolan dos Santos business
Portuguese authorities say they have launched an investigation into Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s former president José Edaurdo dos Santos and former chief of state Angolan oil company Sonangol, after media reports that she was guilty of extensive fraud. Among other things, the Portuguese central bank has requested that the Portuguese bank Eurobic provide information on transfers between Angola and Dubai. EuroBic should already have broken all business relationships with companies related to dos Santos. Isabel dos Santos is one of the bank’s principal owners, but is not on its board of directors. The Portuguese central bank initiated its investigation into whether the bank was engaged in money launderingbefore Angolan authorities frozen dos Santos’s assets at the end of 2019. Isabel dos Santos and the circle around her have large shareholdings in at least 17 Portuguese companies. A few days later, dos Santos is charged in Angola. Shortly thereafter, the head of one of Portugal’s largest banks resigns after his name was mentioned in the investigation, and the head of EuroBic is found dead, he is believed to have taken his own life.