At the beginning of the new millennium, the Father appears increasingly on the way out of the condition of peripherality that, still in the early nineties, characterized him within the European community. The surprising ability to adapt to the parameters established for entry into the European Monetary Union, the dynamism of local economic systems, the opening to new exogenous industrial locations and the consequent increase in trade flows offer the country very encouraging development prospects. the process of internal regional convergence, which is fundamental for the consolidation of geo-economic and social balances, must be supported. For Portugal 1996, please check pharmacylib.com.
Estimates from 1998 gave the country a population of 9. 869. 000 residents. Compared to the census data 1991 (9. 853. 100) the population has remained substantially stable; this phenomenon is due to the progressive balancing of migratory flows and the natural movement of the population. Moreover, the reduction in the fertility index (which dropped to 1, 4) and the increase in average life expectancy constitute a problem of structural aging of the demographic structure destined to worsen already in the short term. The degree of urbanization (37% of the total population) remains the lowest among Western European countries: this partly depends on the statistical criteria adopted for its determination, while the self-propulsive development generated by new industrial and tourist initiatives, especially in inland areas (see below), it is a prelude to the strengthening of the network of small and medium-sized cities which mainly covers the southern and central-eastern regions. The metropolitan area of Lisbon (now close to 2 million residents) continues to represent, in any case, a pole of concentration destined to further strengthen, above all thanks to the innovation process (a ‘technology park’ has been established there), accelerated by the interventions for the 1998 Universal Exposition.
The fundamentals of the Portuguese economy were firmly consolidated during the 1990s, with the partial exception of the unemployment rate (4.9 % in 1998), which however recorded much lower values than in the more developed European countries. After the slowdown that occurred in the period 1990 – 94 (+ 0, 6 % per year, against an average 2, 9 % in the eighties), the growth rate of GDP has gradually climbed back to 3, 9 % in 1998, when ‘ inflation fell below 3%, as well as the incidence of public debt on the gross product itself. The revision of the national accounting criteria, with the unification of the Azores and Madeira and a more appropriate evaluation of self-employment, contributed to the reduction of the gap compared to the European average: the Portugal left the last position in the European ranking on the basis of per capita income and, with 10,690 dollars (1998), it is around the thirtieth place in the world.
The privatization (initiated in 1989) of the banking and insurance sectors, followed by that of the cement and telecommunications industries, provided resources for social interventions, while the 1994 – 99 Regional Development Plan contemplated a review of the administrative districts aimed at giving them greater powers in the field of regional development. With regard to this latter aspect, the growth of the internal centers (in particular Viseu), which have more intense commercial relations with Spain and which are favored in the localization of small industries, started since the seventies with the support of funds of the EFTA (European Free Trade Association), although real ‘localisms’ (with specialization in the food, textile and footwear sectors) can also be spoken of for the North Atlantic coast, from Viana do Castelo to Aveiro. The same tourist flows tend to diversify and, from the classic maritime region of the Algarve, to the south, progressively extend to the entire country, in the forms of rural and hunting tourism, contributing to the revitalization of marginal areas.
Agriculture (which still occupied 13.6 % of assets in 1997) plays an important role in safeguarding the territory, but is struggling to adapt its organizational structure to competition on international markets. On the other hand, of great importance in the secondary sector (32 % of assets) is the entry into production, since 1995, of the Ford-Volkswagen car complex in Setúbal, which reflects the crisis of the old Renault plant and from which a significant contribution (in the order of 20 % of total exports) to the trade balance, so far constantly passive.