Portugal, republic in south-western Europe, situated in the western portion of the Iberian Peninsula, bordered on the north and east by Spain and on the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean. The Azores and Madeira Islands in the Atlantic are considered integral parts of the republic. The total area of metropolitan Portugal, including the Azores (2,335 sq km/902 sq mi) and the Madeira Islands (796 sq km/307 sq mi), is 92,345 sq km (35,655 sq mi). Portugal owned the last European colony in the Far East, Macau (now Macao S. A. R.), for 442 years, but the territory was handed over to China in December 1999. The capital of Portugal is Lisbon.
The frontiers of Portugal are defined by mountains and rivers, and the interior is largely mountainous. In the west and south the mountains descend to a large coastal plain that is intensively cultivated. The highest range is the Serra da Estrela in central Portugal, rising to almost 2,000 m (6,562 ft).
Portugal is traversed by three great rivers, which rise in Spain and empty into the Atlantic Ocean. The Tagus (Tejo), with Lisbon situated at its mouth, is the largest river; followed by the Douro, with Porto at its mouth; and the Guadiana, which forms part of the eastern frontier. A fourth river, the Minho (Spanish, Miño), forms part of the northern frontier.
The climate varies according to altitude, and high temperatures occur only in the comparatively low regions of the south. The mean annual temperature north of the River Douro is about 10° C (50° F); between the Tagus and Douro, about 15.6° C (60° F); and in the valley of the Guadiana, about 18.3° C (65° F). Rainfall is heavy, particularly in the north, but there is virtually none in July and August throughout the country. Encarta
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