Portugal is part of the Iberian peninsula, bordering Spain and the
Atlantic Ocean. Portugal covers an area of 92,391 sq km. Quite different from
Spain and is split by the river Tagus. Almost half of the area north of the
Tagus lies above 400 m.
South of the Tagus, the land only reaches that height in a few places. The
north is hilly and mountainous and reaches heights from 500-800 metres. The
highest summits, almost 2,000 metres, can be found in the central Serra da
Estrela, a mountain range going from northeast to southwest leading to the mouth
of the Tagus. The valley of the Tagus is a flat area. The coast line of 800 km
is mostly flat and sandy, often with dunes. Near Lisbon at Cabo the Roca, the
most western point of Europe, and at Cabo the São Vicente, there are
The longest rivers are: the Minho, the Douro, the Tagus and the Guadiana and
they all originate in Spain. The Mondego and the Sado are the main rivers that
flow entirely within the country's borders.
Despite the influences of the relative cold Atlantic Ocean the climate is
mostly Mediterranean. Cool, rainy winters are alternated with hot and dry
summers and a clear difference between the north and south. In the north, on the
mountain slopes, which turn towards the western winds, there is a noticeable
rain shadow effect and an average of 2,540 mm precipitation a year. South of the
Tagus, this is about 800 mm, in the east of Algarve less than 406 mm.
In general, the wind blows from the west and there is often a fog on the sea
along the northern coast in the province Minho. Winter temperatures along the
coast are between 10-12° C (higher in the south) and more interior between 4-7°
C. Summer temperatures along the coast are an averagely 20-24° C and in the
northern interior about 18° C. The hottest month is August when temperatures
are sometimes in the low 40° Cs.
The Azores stretch over 547 km in the Atlantic and consist of nine islands
with a total area of 2,335 square km. Madeira lies in the Atlantic about 861 km
southwest of Lisbon. Consisting of two inhabited islands of Madeira and Porto
Santo and two groups of uninhabited islands.