One of the oldest independent countries on earth, Portugal is known as a popular destination for migrants from many countries across the world. With near perfect weather for much of the year, has this pattern of net migration served to swell the population of Portugal in any way?
The last official census took place in Portugal in 2011 and it was confirmed at the time that 10,561,614 people were living here. A subsequent estimate was released later that same year that suggested that the Portugal population had grown very slightly to 10,576,252 and this would make the country the 84th most populous on the planet.
Portugal’s population records are among the oldest on earth and as far back as 1422, there is documentation to suggest that there were 1,043,274 people living here. Surveys from this point onwards were numerous, even if they didn’t follow a strict chronological pattern. They make for interesting reading too with large population spikes interspersed with a fall in numbers to coincide with some of the more turbulent stages in Portuguese history.
By the time of the Census of 1900, the population of Portugal had grown to 5,423,132 and the pattern through the remainder of the 20th century was generally one of small but consistent growth whereby the Portugal population of 2014 is starting to approach 11 million.
Portugal has traditionally been one of the most homogenous countries in the world but steady immigration has changed that to some extent.
It may be surprising to learn, however, that much of this immigration has taken place over the last twenty years and back in 1992, just 1.3% of the Portugal population was made up of other nationalities. By 2007, however, that figure had risen to 4.1%.
The median age among the Portugal population is currently at 42.2 years of age, with a total life expectancy of 79.4 years of age in 2018.
The age groups in Portugal are split at 15% under the age of 15, 40% between the ages of 25 and 54, and 20% over 65 years of age.
Portugal Religion, Economy and Politics
Although Portugal has no official religion, it is a very Christian country with 81.0% of the population being Catholic, and an additional 3.3% practicing another denomination of Christianity. Religion may not play a huge role in the everyday life of the people, however, as it is reported that only 19% of people attend church and take sacraments regularly. Even though the church does not have any official ties to the government, it still experiences a fair amount of privilege and until recently, the education and health care systems were deeply intertwined in the church, and the construction of any new building, road or bridge needed to be blessed by a clergyperson. The non-Christian population in Portugal, for the most part, don't identify with any religion, with very small numbers of people practicing Bahá'í, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism.
The economy in Portugal had to be bailed out by the EU during the 2008-2009 financial crisis but has been experiencing an upswing in the years since. Despite doing better financially, Portugal has historically underinvested in its infrastructure and it is unlikely that the growth they are experiencing will be sustainable if they do not do more to solidify the backbone of the country, particularly in terms of roads and transportation. Portugal is also heavily in debt, with their debt currently close to 120% of their GDP. Experts believe that the country needs to take a long, hard look at the way they are spending money if they want their current economic strength to be sustainable.
Portugal Population History
The first official census was taken in Portugal in 1864, claiming a population of 4.3 million. From this point until the 1930s, the population grew slowly at an annual rate of under 1%. During the 1930s and 40s, the population was decreasing around the same rate of -1% during the years of World War II. This decrease in population decreased significantly during the 60s and 70s due to emigration from the area because people were both struggling to find jobs and trying to avoid being drafted.
500,000-800,000 African refugees seeking asylum in Portugal gave the country its first sizable increase in a while during the early 1980s. This is been the trend in Portugal for the past few decades, wavering between slight increases and decreases in population.